The Cockapoo – Cute? Or Chaos?
In another of our Holiday4Dogs breed articles, we focus this time on the popular cockapoo. We take an in-depth look at the history, care and personality of these much-loved family companions.
Cockapoos have become very popular over the last decade and would-be dog owners are still finding them incredibly appealing. These fun-loving little cross breed dogs are often chosen over their pure-bred counterparts. Even though the breed is not officially recognised by the Kennel Club, their popularity means that everyone knows one when they see one. They are literally everywhere!
What are cockapoos crossed with?
The cockerpoo, as the name suggests, is a cross between a miniature poodle and a cocker spaniel, although there are some crossed with standard poodles. Both of these breeds have their good and bad points, so in theory it can be a bit of a lottery. Spaniels are notoriously loopy and poodles have a reputation for being feisty and yappy.
Opinion can be divided on their suitability as family pets. They are made up of two different breeds, both of which typically require a lot of exercise and training. Because they are not pure-bred, their appearance can differ; with different sizes, colours and coat types. They have the appearance of cutesy teddy bear, but can take some serious strimming to keep them from looking like a grubby floor mop.
In addition, while they may look like the cutest, perfectly formed family pet, personalities can vary greatly in individual dogs. While many individuals make wonderful family companions, others can be complete lunatics and may not be for the faint hearted!
History of the cockapoo.
There is actually very little known about the history of this breed. However, there is some agreement that they were developed in the U.S in the 1960’s. They were bred to be companion dogs and regarded as one of the first examples of ‘designer dogs’.
Designer dogs are a cross-mating between two pure bred dogs. In recent years, the popularity of these deliberate crosses has soared and cockapoos have been one of the most sought after.
The two breeds that make up a cockapoo have long histories. Cocker spaniels, the smallest of the working spaniels, were bred to hunt woodcock. However, like all spaniels they are ‘busy’ dogs; always on the go and never seem to tire.
Spaniels need a lot of mental and physically stimulation to thrive. They are renowned for their unstoppable energy. And, as gundog people will attest;
‘whilst the Labrador is born half trained, the spaniel goes to his grave half trained’
Poodles have similar energy, but although originally bred to retrieve game, they haven’t done so for decades. Only a handful of people in the UK work standard poodles in the field with some success. You can read more about working poodles in a Holidays4Dogs interview with Dave Thomas from Clavidd working standard poodles, located in Wales.
With all this in mind, critics suggest that the idea of combining these two breeds to create the ideal family pet, is somewhat of a misnomer. Not only can these dogs be rather ‘jekyll and hyde’ in character, there are real concerns for their health and welfare, due to poor breeding practices.
Make no mistake; these cute bundles of fluff are very active creatures. Being the product of two active working breeds, they can be demanding dogs, especially in the hands of the novice owner. It is very important that cockapoos have plenty to keep them active, both mentally and physically.
Training and socialization is important for any dog, but cockapoos most definitely need adequate early training to bring the best out in them. These gregarious dogs prefer wide open spaces and a busy outdoor life in the countryside. They are definitely not couch potatoes and sitting still isn’t usually an activity that is on their radar!
However, cockerpoos are generally sweet and friendly dogs. They are small to medium sized dogs, so easy to take around too. Generally, these dogs are regarded as good pets for active families.
Taking care of a cockapoo is much the same as caring for any dog. They do tend to be susceptible to health issues found in the Cocker spaniel and the Poodle. These include eye disorders and hip and knee problems. It is always wise to choose a puppy from health tested parents. Many would-be owners of cockapoos do not realise that health screening is relevant for the breed.
The booming trade in designer cross-breed dogs has led to unscrupulous breeding practices. This means the welfare of the breed is at risk due to inherited diseases.
Are cockapoos hypoallergenic?
This is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about cockapoos. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. It is not the dog’s fur which causes allergies but the proteins secreted by the dog’s skin and this can happen with any dog.
Many unsuspecting people have bought cockerpoos without expecting them to cause an allergic reaction. It is one of the main reasons why these dogs end up in rescue kennels.
The cockerpoo, like many ‘designer dogs’ is essentially a mongrel (a very expensive one at the height of the pandemic puppy boom!) Temperament isn’t always as predictable as it might be with some other breeds. While they are as cute as teddy bears, they are not toys and can be quite demanding exercise-wise.
However, for the dedicated dog lover they can make engaging and unique companions, ready to join in with lots of family adventures.