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Buying a pet

Cockapoo: Breed info and health advice

Date updated: 17 11 2017

Take the intelligence of a Poodle and the spark of a Cocker Spaniel and what do you get? Meet the Cockapoo: probably the most successful hybrid in history.

With that gorgeously curly coat, this guy definitely knows how to make a first impression; but be prepared for regular appointments with the groomer! Cockapoo’s love meeting new people, learning new tricks and spreading happiness wherever they go.

So if you’ve got space for a smart, friendly and energetic character new family member, the Cockapoo could be just the pooch to fill it...

Stats
Average lifespan: 14 years - 18 years

Weight: 5.4 to 10.9 kg,

Height: 25-38 cm  

Colouring: A wide variety, including solid black, “tuxedo” (black with a white chest), red, white, chocolate and silver

Grooming requirements: high-maintenance due to the long, curly fur

Average purchase cost: around £750

via GIPHY

Bet you didn’t know…

  • It’s one of the oldest hybrid breeds. Cockapoos were first developed in the States in the 1950s. Bringing together the best traits of both breeds, the most common type in the UK is a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Mini Poodle. Despite only being on the UK scene for the last decade or so, Cockapoos have become the nation’s most popular hybrid breed.
  • They’re also one of the hardiest and healthiest dogs. Hereditary issues are a lot less common with Cockapoos than with purebred Cocker Spaniels. It’s not unusual for Cockapoos to live well into their teens. Looked after well, this buddy’s with you for the long haul.
  • Less hoovering than you might think! Once the puppy fur’s gone, the adult coat comes in. Especially if you choose a puppy whose coat follows the poodle lineage, you can generally expect tightly curled hair with little shedding.
  • They’re always happy to help. Cockapoo’s make great working dogs due to their intelligence and friendly nature. This includes working as hearing dogs for the deaf.
  • Lady Gaga, Jennifer Aniston, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Lena Dunham, Ashley Judd: just a few of the celebrities seen out and about with their Cockapoo!

Great for…
Cockapoos are “people dogs”; they thrive on companionship - but can get agitated and restless if they don’t get it. So if you’ve got the time to devote to your buddy, this could be the breed for you. On the other hand, if your Cockapoo’s going to be left alone for long periods, prepare for some serious crate training to help your buddy get over their separation anxiety.

Cockapoos love any excuse for a play, so they tend to get along nicely with kids. If fun and games and long rambling walks are your thing, you and a  Cockapoo could be a great match.

Behaviour and Training
If you want a dog that’s easy to train, you need that dream combo of intelligence and an eagerness to please. Good news: with Cockapoos, both of these traits are in plentiful supply.

On the house-training front, these guys tend to grasp what’s expected of them quickly. Furniture chewing can be an issue with youngsters, but again, throw some chew toys into the mix and make it clear that the sofa’s out of bounds, and your buddy should soon get it.

While a Cockapoo is more than content to sit back and chill with you, he’ll get cabin fever if there isn’t enough mental and physical stimulus. With this in mind, agility could be a good idea: it’s a great way of keeping your buddy in shape, it keeps their mind active - and it means quality time together.

On the whole, these are not easily agitated or noisy dogs. The big exception can be where a Cockapoo has been left alone for long periods - which can cause excessive barking and destructive behaviour. Rather than leaving your buddy alone all day out of the blue, one of the best ways to deal with this involves gradually increasing the amount of time you’re away from the home. This should help, your Cockapoo understand that heading off to the office doesn’t mean going away forever.

via GIPHY

TLC...
Although these guys don’t tend to be greedy eaters, to ensure your buddy stays strong and trim, follow your vet’s advice on what type of food to give, how much and how often. Exercise is the other part of this. Around 40 to 60 minutes each day should do - and try to split it into two or more sessions if possible. Quality of exercise is important, too. So where possible, allow some off the lead time, a game of fetch and some time to explore. Remember; it’s all about giving mind and body a satisfying workout.

If your Cockapoo has inherited wavy Cocker Spaniel hair, it will need to be brushed two to three times a week. Tight-curled Poodle hair is especially prone to dirt build-up and matting, so a daily brush is needed. While brushing, check inside your dog’s ears for dirt buildup and clean as necessary. Redness is a sign of infection and should be reported to the vet.

Unless your buddy has been exploring in the mud, a bath every four to six weeks is enough; more than this risks stripping away the natural oils that keeps the skin moisturised. Professional grooming, trimming and clipping three or four times a year makes regular grooming much easier.

Common health issues to watch out for...

  • Patellar Luxation (aka “floating kneecap syndrome”) can arise in Cockapoos. This means the kneecap can easily become dislocated or dislodged, resulting in pain and difficulties with mobility. Treatment depends on severity and can range from manipulation, lifestyle management and physiotherapy, through to surgical correction. 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetic condition that leads to gradual blindness. It can’t be reversed, but vet management can help your buddy live a happy life for as long as possible.
  • Hip Dysplasia is where the hip joint fails to develop properly, leading to malformation, pain and an inability to move properly. Treatment can involve surgery.
  • Otitis. Like their Cocker Spaniel cousins, Cockapoos are especially prone to getting seeds and other debris stuck in the ear canal - even with regular inspection and cleaning. Common symptoms include pain, scratching, discharge and bad odour - and if left untreated can lead to deafness and facial nerve paralysis.  Methods of diagnosis can include skin biopsies, X rays and microscopic examination of the discharge. Depending on the cause, the appropriate treatment might involve antibiotics or antifungals, together with follow up consultations and monitoring.
  • Phosphofructokinase deficiency (PFK) is present in the Cockapoo population through the Cocker Spaniel side. This genetic metabolic disorder results in a deficiency in oxygen-carrying red blood cells and glucose, often causing anaemia. DNA testing can reduce the risk of inheriting the disease. If it occurs, then depending on the severity, it is possible for dogs to lead a happy life with it - with the help of veterinary input.
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