The Cavapoo dog is one of the most popular hybrid dog breeds and is bred from a miniature or toy poodle with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Below we look at the characteristics of this playful, affectionate little dog, why it has become so popular and dive into the facts and information to ask the question: is the right small dog for you?
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Cavadoodle Or Cavoodle?
The Cavapoo, Cavadoodle or Cavoodle as it is known in Australia is a little dog and one of the oldest hybrid or so-called “designer dogs.” However, unlike so many of the mixed breed dogs we are familiar with today, they weren’t bred for appearance, although they could have been because they’re mega cute!
As well as producing a fun-loving, loyal, affectionate companion, crossbreeding with the poodle which is a hypoallergenic non-shedding breed made it suitable for people suffering from allergies, along with people who love dogs but dislike the hairs and distinctive doggy smell they bring to the party.
The potential benefits of hybrid vigour (which are hotly disputed) mean Cavapoos rarely suffer from the inherent health problems of the Spaniel or Poodle.
“The highest level of hybrid vigor is obtained from F1’s, the first cross of unrelated populations.” From a United States Department of Agriculture, University of Arkansas, and CountyArticle Source: EzineArticles.com/232782
The result was a small, placid friendly dogs with lower energy levels than the Cockapoo and some of the other similar mixes. The perfect dog for everyone, from families to older people and first-time owners. Calm, affectionate and loyal.
The 1980s saw an increase in the popularity of hybrid dogs and the Cavapoo became much sought after in the UK and Australia. as did many of the other Poodle mixes. Loyal, easy to train and loving these playful little characters are the perfect addition to any family. They are not recognised by the KC at the moment, but that doesn’t detract from their popularity and many breeders are watching with interest to see if this will change in the coming years. After all most established breeds are, like the Cavapoo, hybrids.
As when choosing any cross dog breeds, the traits and characteristics puppies inherit from their parents vary, so to truly understand the Cavapoo breed we must look at both parent breeds.
What is a Cavapoo?
These small dog breeds come in 3 sizes but usually, only the miniature and toy are used for breeding Cavapoos, with the miniature being the most common.
Originated in Germany its name deriving from the German word pudel which means “to splash around” The breed was then standardised in France becoming their national dog although known as the French Poodle in other countries, in France the breed was called “Caniche” which means “duck dog” as it was used primarily as a gundog, retrieving ducks from water while hunting.
Excellent swimmers (they have webbed feet) Poodles are highly intelligent and keen to please. The fancy cuts of the show ring we see today (and laugh at) are in fact traditional, the trimmed hindquarters helping with swimming and the pom-poms left on the legs and tail serving as protection from the cold water and sharp reeds of European rivers.
The standard Poodle is the oldest of the breed and was bred down over the years to produce the smaller miniature version much loved by French nobility and royalty during the 18th century Louis the XIV had a favourite called Filou which features in several royal portraits of the time.
By the 20th century, the smaller poodles had increased in popularity and were mainly used as circus dogs due to their high intelligence, easiness to train and ability to perform many tricks. They were also often companion dogs to wealthy ladies.
Unlike most dogs that have a double coat, poodles have a single layer of dense curly fur in a range of colours including:
There are 2 reasons poodles are good for people who suffer from allergies the first being although they do shed, the hair they lose gets tangled in the coat and does not fall out like other canines so is not left on furniture or around the house.
Another reason is, contrary to popular belief, the main cause of allergies to dogs is caused not by the hair, but by the dander. Most dogs shed this dead skin every 3-4 days while a few breeds like the poodle and schnauzer only shed every 21 days thus reducing the number of allergens that get caught in the hair.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel originated in the UK and is a direct descendant of the Toy Spaniels we see in so many paintings from the 16th century onward. These little Spaniels had longer muzzles and were thinner than the ones we are familiar with today.
King Charles II was a fan and was rarely seen without 2 or 3 at his feet as he walked about his court, it was his love of the breed that gave them their name.
The breed fell out of favour during the subsequent reign of William III and his queen, Mary II, who brought her beloved Pug from the Netherlands which saw that breed become more popular at court along with Japanese Chins. The Spaniels were saved from extinction by being bred with the short-muzzled usurper, producing a stockier shorter-nosed variety. These little Spaniels were historically lapdogs and remained popular for centuries.
Queen Victoria’s favourite dog was a King Charles Spaniel called Dash. She adored her faithful friend and when he died at the age of 10 she erected a marble effigy upon his grave in Windsor Home Park.
In the early day’s size and the type was extremely varied but during the early part of the 20th century, an American spaniel lover Mr Roswell Eldridge arrived in the UK and was disappointed to find few of the longer nosed spaniels of King Charles’ era left.
He offered a £25 prize at Crufts for 5 years as an incentive for breeders to produce dogs that looked more like the early breed and this is a quote taken from the Crufts catalogue of the time
“As shown in the pictures of King Charles II’s time, long face, no stop; flat skull, not inclined to be domed and with the spot in the centre of the skull.”
This wasn’t a popular move as breeders had spent years developing the short nose and flatter face a trend which unfortunately has continued with a lot of breeds right up to the current time.
However, a few enthusiasts continued with the breeding program during this time including a lady called Mrs Hewitt Pitt and in 1928 a club was formed and the new type became known as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
1945 saw the breed formally recognised by the UK Kennel Club and the first Cavalier Champion CH Daywell Rodger owned by Mrs. Pitt’s daughter was crowned in 1946.
Over the ensuing years their popularity increased and today they regularly feature in the top ten most popular dog breeds in the UK.
In the past, irresponsible breeding techniques have resulted in Spaniels suffering from their fair share of genetic health issues, these days there are several tests and screening programs available to minimise these inherited conditions.
With their sunny dispositions, permanently wagging tail and affectionate, loving nature, they are the perfect pet for families, they love young children and happily adapt to life with older people as well, although they do not like being left at home for long periods.
Cavalier Spaniels are the smallest of the Spaniels and stand between 11-13″ weighing in at 13-18 lbs they come in 4 colours
- Blenheim- White with chestnut coloured markings
- Tricolor – White black and tan
- Black and Tan – black with tan markings
- Ruby – Solid chestnut colour with no white markings
The crossbreeding of these 2 amiable, smart breeds has produced one of the most popular family pets in the world. Sharp minds make them easy to train and fun to be around while their affectionate natures make them the perfect companion and loyal friend.
Size – How big does a Cavapoo get?
What size a Cavapoo is can vary depending on whether the toy or miniature Poodle is one of the parents but in general they range from 9-14 inches (23-35 cm) It is possible a standard Poodle could be used which would result in a larger dog but it is rare.
They are quite a small dog and an adult Cavapoo can weigh up to 20lbs or 9 kg.
A Cavapoo’s coat is soft, it can be wavy resembling the Spaniel or more tightly curled like the Poodle. Colours range from a solid black Cavapoo, gold, white, chocolate, fawn and grey. Plus, any of these colours with white.
A relatively healthy dog breed they have a lifespan of between 10 – 15 years
The Cavapoo breed is one of the smaller mixed breed dogs, they are compact with a round face, long, floppy ears, and large dark eyes. They have a very expressive face which gives them a personality all of their own and makes saying no extremely difficult.
Now for the complicated bit, there are several types of Cavapoos and this is something to be taken into consideration if you do suffer from allergies because the genetics of your puppy can make a huge difference not just to their appearance but also whether they will be hypoallergenic or not
This is the 1st generation Cavapoo and is 50% Poodle and 50% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The offspring can inherit the appearance and coat of either parent or fall somewhere in between. These offspring are suitable for people who suffer from mild and moderate allergies as they should be fairly low-shedding
The F1 back-cross Cavapoo is 25% Cavalier and 75% poodle and is produced by mating a first-generation Cavapoo with a Poodle. Their appearance and coat will lean towards the dominant breed of the Poodle and are more suitable for moderate to severe allergy sufferers as they have a higher success rate of non-shedding
This is a second-generation Cavapoo which is bred from 2 first-generation F1s Once again they are 50% Poodle and 50% Cavalier but the outcome is more expected as they will look more like the first generation Cavapoo rather than the grandparents. They tend to be non-shedding although this is never guaranteed and are recommended for mild to moderate allergy sufferers
This might seem complicated but put simply, the F means filial or offspring, B is a back- cross and the numbers refer to the generation. These can go up to 10 when the dog is no longer considered a mixed breed but instead a breed, in its own right.
As one of the oldest so-called designer dogs, with its floppy ears, the Cavapoo breed has a bit more history than the more modern combinations. Bred in the USA during the 1950s to produce a low to non-shedding dog with fewer health problems than the parent breeds. A fantastic companion, Cavapoos are now one of the most popular Poodle mixes and are beloved family pets around the world.
Owning a Cavapoo dog will undoubtedly be a pleasure. They are small extremely friendly dogs eager to please, making them easy to train. A Cavapoo loves to be around people, both young and old. They are extremely cute, loyal, affectionate and do not do well left for long periods on their own.
This is definitely not the breed for someone who is out at work all day unless they can provide daycare. Cavapoos can suffer from separation anxiety with can lead to stress and behavioural issues like nuisance barking and you don’t want to upset the neighbours.
They are recommended for people with allergies due to the fact they shed little if at all (this does depend on which parents coat they inherit) which also makes them the perfect choice for the more house-proud dog owner too as they also have very little “doggy odour.”
They are not overly energetic but Cavapoo’s need regular daily exercise to keep them healthy and active. They have an endearing expression giving them an eternal “puppy look” with large expressive eyes that can prove hard to resist where treats are concerned, they definitely know how to work this to their best advantage and can be prone to overeating.
A Cavapoo adapts well to most lifestyles and is just as happy living in an apartment with a single person as they are with a family. They are gentle dogs and not a great choice as a watchdog.
Here are Some of the Things You Need to Know
Cavapoo V Cockapoo
Both breeds have their fans and are in fact quite similar in looks and personality although the Cockapoo will be slightly larger.
The biggest difference between the 2 breeds are is training. Both make excellent family pets but as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is more of a lapdog and the Cocker Spaniel a working dog their offspring will be more energetic.
They also like swimming, retrieving and because the Cocker Spaniel is a hunting dog they will have more of a tendency to wander and are generally considered more excitable than the laid-back Cavapoo. Both breeds need regular grooming and both are great with kids and other pets. So do your research to find out which of these gorgeous breeds will fit in with your lifestyle the best.
Cavapoo Puppies For Sale
So, you have decided you want a Cavapoo. The first decision you need to make is whether to buy a puppy from a Cavapoo breeder or rescue an older dog. There are no official UK rescues for Cavapoos but check out adoption sites like the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Battersea or your local shelter who might be able to help.
The cost of adoption ranges from £75-£200. There are lots of groups on social media where you can find advice on the breed, lots of cute pictures, Cavapoo puppies for sale and links to adult Cavapoos that need rehoming. So, whether you are looking for Cavapoo puppies or general Cavapoo info you will be sure to find what you need.
If you decide you would like to purchase a puppy there are a few questions you need to ask yourself;
- Is your home a safe comfortable dog-friendly environment?
- Have you considered the costs of vaccinations, micro-chipping, neutering, food and vet bills?
- Have you got the time to spend with your new puppy housebreaking and training?
- Have you researched the breed?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then it is time to find reputable Cavapoo breeders.
You can expect to pay between £450-£1000 for your Cavapoo puppy. When you visit the breeder, it is important you meet the puppy’s mother and father if he is present. Check the conditions are of high standard, the pups look healthy, happy and that the breeder has conducted all the necessary health screening, before going ahead.
Once you have brought your new four-legged friend home it is time to decide on a name. Popular names for Cavapoos include:
Are Cavapoos Easy to Train
Cavapoos are very eager to please and curious which makes them easy to train. The Poodle is the 2nd most intelligent breed of dog after the Border Collie and the smaller versions have been used as a circus dog for many years which is seen in the Cavapoos ability to learn a variety of tricks. They are busy little dogs that do well in agility, obedience and are quick to solve problems.
Training should begin at an early age, as with any dog. A gentle approach using positive reinforcement works best. Keep the sessions short, fun and rewarding and your Cavapoo will soon pick up what you want him to do. Some Cavapoos can be quite sensitive so it is important to introduce them to as many experiences as possible from an early age ensuring a calm, well-behaved adult Cavapoo when fully grown.
Need Much Grooming
Starting a grooming regime early will not only get your puppy used to the process but will build a bond between owner and pet. It will also help to condition their coat by distributing the natural oils and remove any debris caught in the fur.
Cavapoos suffer from tear stains and their eyes should be wiped regularly to prevent them from looking unsightly and neglected can result in soreness and infection. Male Cavapoos can also develop pee stains on their belly fur if not regularly trimmed which can result in an unpleasant smelling dog and skin irritation. Special care should also be taken at the rear end as poop can get caught in the fur if not regularly trimmed unpleasant for both dog and owner.
The best supplies to start grooming your Cavapoo would include a medium and wide-toothed comb, round-ended scissors for the facial area and backside and a slicker brush. Pay special attention to the collar area, armpits and ears as matts can develop quickly. There are several de-matting and conditioning sprays you can buy which will help you care for your Cavapoos coat to ensure he always looks his best.
When you bring your new Cavapoo puppy home the breeder usually provides some of the food it has been weaned on and a diet sheet. If you wish to change the food it is best to do so over a period of days slowly replacing a small percentage of the old with the new to avoid tummy upsets.
Cavapoos are not normally fussy eaters and are happy with either wet or the most popular dry food. Smaller dogs do suffer from dental problems, though, so dental chews or a high-quality kibble is preferable to maintain healthy teeth and gums. If you do feed wet food make sure to clean your best friend’s teeth regularly to keep breath fresh and that lovely smile gleaming.
Puppies need feeding frequently about 4 times per day, this can be reduced over time and by adulthood should consist of 1-2 meals daily. The amount you feed depends on the activity levels of your dog, feeding guides can be found on the back of most food packaging and if you think your beloved pet is putting on too much weight cut back a little. find out everything you need to know about dog food here.
A Cavapoo’s lifespan can be anything from 10 – 15 years and although relatively healthy dogs can suffer from hereditary conditions to which their parent breeds are susceptible. As long as you ensure your puppy comes from a reputable breeder who has conducted all the recommended testing on the parents they shouldn’t be an issue but as an owner, you should be aware of them. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are especially prone to some of these conditions including:
Mitral valve disease
A degenerative heart condition, although any breed can suffer this condition it is extremely common in King Charles Spaniels. In fact, it is the main cause of death for this breed affecting over 50% of dogs by the age of 5 and 100% by the time they reach 10 years old.
The mitral valve is located between the left ventricle and atrium of the heart and as it degenerates, fails to close properly allowing the blood to flow backward from the atrium into the ventricle. In the final stages, it can collapse completely resulting in congestive heart failure. Screening should be carried out regularly so the disease can be caught in the early stages and medication can be prescribed.
Brought to attention by the BBC investigative documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed in 2008 Syringomyelia is a chronic condition found in smaller dogs especially Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Caused by irresponsible breeding practices it is extremely serious and is caused by the skull being too small to contain the brain, fluid-filled cavities develop on the spinal cord around the neck area which results in intense pain around the head, neck and shoulders causing the dog to scream and yelp.
An uncontrollable urge to scratch the area is one of the symptoms and is why the condition is also known as “neck scratchers disease”. As the disease progresses it destroys sections of the spinal cord eventually resulting in paralysis. Although only a small proportion of cases are severe enough to display clinical signs owners should watch out for these symptoms:
- Pain – The most important and obvious sign is dogs that react badly to being touched around the neck and head region. This is more common when just getting up or becoming excited and can result in the dog eating and sleeping with the head raised.
- Air Scratching – This is when the afflicted dog scratches the air around the neck and shoulders, frequently occurring during walks.
- Scoliosis – The neck and spine become twisted more commonly seen in younger dogs it results in a curved body shape.
- Wobbliness – Particularly when standing up often accompanied by weakness in the hindquarters.
- Facial Nerve Paralysis – Because this is a neurological disorder trapped nerves can result in facial paralysis and or seizures.
Symptoms are usually observed between 6 months old and 3 years of age and if noticed require immediate veterinary advice. The kennel club, animal charities, and several vets are involved in trying to reduce this disease offering breeding incentives and reduced cost MRI screening.
There is a screening program run by the British Veterinary Association, Kennel Club which should be carried out by responsible Cavapoo breeders. It is important when purchasing a Cavapoo that you choose a reputable breeder who has done the testing required for health issues.
Both the miniature Poodle and the Cavalier are prone to cataracts which is a cloudiness of the lens, this prevents light from reaching the retina resulting in loss of vision.
Most cases are inherited and are expensive to treat so check with the breeder if they have carried out eye screening on both parents.
Also known as “floating kneecap syndrome” this is where the patella is too shallow to hold the kneecap in place resulting in it becoming dislodged. It can be genetic or bad breeding. Again, both parent breeds are susceptible to this condition, there is currently no BVA/KC screening program for this condition so it is the breeder’s responsibility to get this done by their vet.
Repeated seizures, prevalent in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels who suffer from a form called “idiopathic epilepsy” and is caused by an inherited mutated gene from one of the parents. Some dogs suffer more frequent seizures than others but the condition can usually be treated with medication.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Poodles are more susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy than many other breeds. An inherited disease the eye slowly degenerates causing eventual blindness, the condition affects both eyes and is not painful for the dog. It is not curable but some studies have shown feeding an anti-oxidant rich diet can slow the progression. Most canines adjust to blindness without too much trouble but changes to their environment should be kept to the minimum to avoid stress.
This is a condition unique to Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It has been recognised since the 1960s and is more prevalent solid-coloured dogs. A lifelong condition it is very painful. The muscles seize up causing the back to arch and rear legs to stiffen. The dog is conscious throughout but unable to control their bodies. All Cavalier King Charles Spaniels should be DNA tested to ensure they are not carriers before breeding.
Curly Coat/Dry Eye
This condition is a combination of eye and skin and is found in puppies, with in the past as many as 12% of CKCS being affected. The eye does not produce moisture consequently dust and hairs cannot be removed and cause painful infections resulting in blindness. Teeth and toenails are often deformed and the puppy’s coat is tightly curled like a lamb with a greasy texture.
Puppies suffering from CCDE rarely survive past a few weeks’ old and once again DNA testing should be carried out on the parents to ensure they do not carry the disease before mating, with the affected dog removed from any breeding program.
Poodles are prone to skin allergies and although rarely seen when crossed with a Cavalier it is something to be aware of. If your dog seems to be scratching excessively or has red or inflamed skin it is important to seek advice from your local vet who can perform tests to rule out food allergies. A regular bathing and grooming regime are important to stop dead skin and debris within the coat from causing skin problems.
The mixture of the two breeds produces hybrid vigour in varying degrees and this hopefully cancels out some of the genetic health problems resulting in less health issues in puppies. It is rare for Cavapoos to suffer these conditions to the extent of the parent breed so don’t worry. However, as these are serious conditions it is important to get your puppy from a reputable breeder that has completed all the relevant screening on both parents.
Recommended Health Tests
- Breed Club-Heart Testing (Mitral Valve Dysplasia)
- Curly Coat/Dry Eye (CC/DE)
- BVA/KC Chiari-Malformation/Syringomyelia Scheme (CM/SM)
- Progressive Retinol Atrophy (prcd-PRA)
- BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme
- Episodic Falling (EF)
Cavapoos are a short nosed breed and as such do not cope with heat very well so it is important they do not become overheated in the summer months.
Temperament of Cavapoo Dogs – Are They Good With Kids
It would be hard to find a breed with a gentler temperament both parent breeds are outgoing and friendly and both thrive on human companionship. The Cavapoo temperament allows them to get on well with children but due to being small in stature especially when a puppy is recommended for families with older children, as smaller children can be a bit rough.
Cavapoos also get on well with other dogs, cats, and small family pets. Their need for human companionship means they do not do well for long periods of time left alone, they can suffer from separation anxiety which can lead to behavioural problems such as excessive barking. Because of their calm gentle nature and sunny disposition, they make great therapy dogs.
Male V Female
Many people mistakenly believe that female Cavapoos will make the better family pet. In actual fact, the female Cavapoo is much more independent, stubborn and territorial than the male. Females are more likely to bond with only one person while males will bond with the whole family and are quicker to become friendly with children.
Females like to be the boss and are more reserved than males who are more affectionate and demand more attention. Boys are likely to be playful and puppy-like all their lives while females will become more dignified and reserved as they age. These factors might not seem important but giving careful thought to the people living in your home will ensure you choose the Cavapoo that is right for you and your family.
The average cost of a well-bred Cavapoo puppy is between £500-£1000. They are not fussy eaters but smaller dogs can develop dental problems so always buy the best quality wet or dry food you can afford and be sure it is appropriate for the different stages of their life. This will set you back between £15-£30 a month.
Insurance costs vary but for a lifetime policy depending on the location and age of the dog you would be looking at another £20-£30 per month plus you need to factor in the cost of neutering, micro-chipping, and annual boosters. Excluding the initial cost of the puppy, you would be looking at anything between £40 to £80 a month.
Are These Dogs the Right Breed for You?
- Easy to train
- Extremely loving
- Needs little walking
- Great with children
- Coat needs regular attention
- Doesn’t like to be left alone
- Relatively Healthy
If you are looking for a small, placid family dog that adapts well to your lifestyle and will wake up every morning with a smile and wagging tail these dogs are a perfect choice. They do need lots of attention so are not suitable for people who are out at work all day.
Great with children and other pets they are easy to train and relatively healthy with a long lifespan of up to 16 years. They are real characters and need mental stimulation to prevent boredom. These highly social little dogs are keen to please and are great dogs for first-time owners.
Low or non-shedding, they are perfect for people who suffer from allergies. Though anyone suffering should spend time with the breed before purchasing, just to make sure.
What’s not to love? A Cavapoo is the perfect family pet.