The Cockapoo is a crossbreed. Opening your heart and home to a crossbreed is like opening a beautifully wrapped package on your birthday: you can never be sure what’s inside. It’s often assumed that a crossbreed will combine the best of two or more breeds, but genetics doesn’t always work that way. The way genes express themselves is not always subject to a breeder’s control, even less so when two different breeds are crossed. That’s something to keep in mind before you lay down lots of money for a dog that you have been assured will be hypoallergenic or healthier than a purebred.
Before anyone ever realized the marketing potential of so-called “designer dogs,” one crossbreed had already established a hold on America’s heart. The Cockapoo is the result of mating a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle or is the offspring of two Cocker/Poodle mixes bred with each other. Cockapoos are bright-eyed, scruffy-coated puppies that can grow into dogs that retain a puppy-dog charm.
Cockapoos who are carefully bred and lovingly raised should be happy, affectionate dogs that love families, children, other dogs, and even cats. Without the benefit of health and temperament testing, however, they can be a mess of genetic and behavioral problems.
Cross-bred puppies like the Cockapoo can look very different even if they’re from the same litter. The Cockapoo’s size, color, coat type, temperament, activity level, and health risks will vary depending on what traits an individual puppy has inherited.
Generally, they should weigh less than 30 pounds and are somewhere between fluffy and scruffy in a variety of colors and markings. Like the poodle, they can also be curly. If that description seemed a little vague, it’s because the Cockapoo is just that diverse.
At their best, they are friendly and affectionate, and, at weights ranging from 6 to 30 pounds, they are a comfortable size for most homes.
Poodles have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, meaning that they can supposedly be tolerated by people who have allergies to dogs. Because they have the Poodle in their heritage, Cockapoos are sometimes promoted as being hypoallergenic. But allergies are caused not by a particular dog coat type but by dander (the dead skin cells
The Cockapoo’s temperament will vary depending (in part) on what traits an individual puppy has inherited from his parents. At his best, the Cockapoo is friendly, people-oriented, and easy to train. He’s a companion dog on both sides of the pedigree, so he should live indoors with his family and never be kept in the backyard or garage for long amounts of time. He’s also a hunting and working dog on both sides of his pedigree, so he needs a certain amount of activity to keep him from becoming bored.
If you begin socialization and training early and use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards, you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion.
Cockapoos are typically friendly with other dogs and with cats, and they tend to like children. The smallest dogs need to be protected from overly rough play.
Cockapoos have a moderate activity level that is adaptable to their owner’s lifestyle. They need a nice walk or active playtime each day. If you’re interested and the dog is in overall good health (your vet can help determine this), they are athletic enough to participate in such dog sports as agility, flyball, obedience, and rally.
The perfect Cockapoo doesn’t come ready made from the breeder. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop obnoxious habits such as barking, digging, and counter-surfing if left untrained or unsupervised. And any dog can be a trial to live with in adolescence. Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is six months old to begin training, or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with.
If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Cockapoo, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.