The Cavapoo is what is known as a “Designer Dog,” a combination of two AKC recognized breeds to create a third, non-recognized breed.
In theory, the puppies resulting from a combined lineage of two purebred dogs will display the best and most sought after characteristics of each breed, and while this may be true, they may also manifest the breed-related health problems associated with each parent breed.
Designer dogs do not have a breed standard to adhere to, and there are no regulatory bodies such as the AKC to deter “backyard breeders” from indiscriminately breeding pups with no regard for potential hereditary medical disorders.
For this reason, if you choose to make a Cavapoo or other designer dog a part of your family, it is critical that you do your research.
In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about the loveable Cavapoo.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel + Poodle =
Both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Toy Poodle are cute and cuddly companions.
Both tend to be friendly, but the Cavalier King Charles is especially known for a sweet and gentle disposition, making it a popular choice for families.
Aggression is very rare in the King Charles. They are affectionate, social, charming little dogs.
Poodles can be great family dogs as well, but toy and teacup poodles occasionally display a less stable temperament than their standard poodle relatives, and may not be as uniformly good-natured as the King Charles.
Poodles are also recognized as highly intelligent.
Both breeds have favorable characteristics, and it is easy to see how a combination of the two could be appealing.
However, while both have a long list of positive attributes, personality should not be the only consideration when choosing a pet.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels very frequently suffer from congenital heart conditions.
Congenital conditions are inherited at birth.
Crossing a Cavalier with a poodle will not necessarily produce a puppy with a functional heart, and as we all know, the heart is a pretty important organ.
Cardiac issues are so prevalent with the Cavalier that it is strongly suggested potential dams and sires (moms and dads) undergo an OFA Cardiac Evaluation prior to being bred, to assure that they are not going to pass on a genetic defect to their pups.
Sadly, many breeders do not take their responsibility seriously, so it is up to the buyer to seek out a breeder who has done their due diligence.
Make certain the parents meet OFA standards.
Toy poodles have their own set of special needs.
A common ailment among poodles and other toy breeds is a luxating patella.
This condition arises when one or both of the animal’s kneecaps are loose and “slip” laterally, or sideways, resulting in a periodic limp or “skipping gait.”
There are varying degrees of severity with this condition, ranging from minor to severe enough to impede movement, in which case the surgical correction is usually recommended.
Note: Orthopedic surgery is a big deal. It isn’t cheap, and it isn’t fun.
Cardiologist services are not cheap, either.
My point here?
If you decided not to select a puppy from OFA cleared parents, you might want to consider setting up a savings account for potential future medical costs.
The coat of the Cavalier and that of the poodle are quite different.
In fact, poodles are hypoallergenic dogs because their “fur” isn’t fur at all.
It is hair. (Just because a parent poodle is hypoallergenic does not ensure its offspring will be unless the other parent is as well, though poodle mixes very often do end up with the poodle coat).
Poodle hair grows differently than fur and requires regular, professional grooming.
Their hair is curly, dense, water-resistant, and grows continuously.
Cavaliers have long, silky coats of regular fur, but because their fur is on the long side and very straight, they too require frequent grooming to avoid snarls, mats, and tangles.
In short, regardless of which breed your Cavapoo favors, you will need a professional groomer.
Both breeds also have a tendency to grow fur/hair inside of their ear canals, which needs to be plucked by a professional to avoid nasty bacterial and fungal infections. Hair/fur + nice, warm, ear flap covered canal = ear infections galore.
So do yourself a favor, and don’t skip the groomer.
Poodles and Spaniels are both sporting breeds, though toy poodles are not used as water retrievers the way their standard relatives are.
This means both breeds tend to be vibrant, playful, and energetic, though not to such an extreme that it makes them unsuitable for apartment living or smaller spaces.
Both are clever and very loyal.
If you don’t want a buddy hanging out with you around the clock, neither breed is for you.
Both are sweet, but I especially stress the great disposition of the Cavalier. They really are awesome companions, loving and very gentle, but also sensitive.
Be prepared to give lots of love and attention, or you may find yourself with a depressed dog.
Both breeds do require some exercise and fresh air, but not to the extent of a herding breed or some of the larger sporting breeds.
A moderately paced walk of 30-60 minutes daily will probably be adequate, but individual requirements may vary.
NOTE: Because Cavaliers are prone to heart conditions and neither breed is suited to extreme temperatures, you should not walk your Cavapoo in hot weather.
If it’s warm out, be aware of your dog’s breathing patterns and comfort level.
If your Cavapoo seems to be struggling, stop.
Take a peek at the gums; red, white, and blue are warning colors that require immediate medical attention.
Syncopal episodes, or “fainting episodes” can occur, and lead to dangerous fluctuations in blood pressure.
Do not precipitate a syncopal event by over-exercising your dog in inclement weather.
Cavaliers and Poodles are both small breeds with delicate digestive systems.
I strongly advise against any sort of raw diet or grain-free diet unless it is recommended by a veterinarian, not a breeder.
Neither breeders nor groomers are medical professionals. You wouldn’t take medical advice from your hairstylist.
The same theory applies to your pet.
You should avoid fatty foods and table scraps, as excess fat is likely to lead to pancreatitis in either breed.
A high- quality kibble, fed in a measured quantity, twice daily, is the ideal way to ensure that your pet is receiving adequate nutrition and appropriate calories.
It is crucial to make sure your pet does not become obese.
It is easy to overfeed a small dog such as a Cavapoo.
Keep in mind that the stomach is proportionate to body size.
Your dog should have a waistline when viewed from above, and you should be able to feel his or her ribs when touching their sides, but not be able to see them.
Excess weight is hard on the heart and hard on the knees, and both are already tagged as areas of concern.
Usually, the recommended feeding guidelines tend to be a little generous, so reduce the manufacturer’s recommended quantity by around ten percent and see how your pet does.
You want your pet to maintain a stable weight, so you can make subsequent adjustments accordingly. Puppies have higher caloric and nutritional needs, so a good quality puppy chow should be fed until your pet reaches maturity.
Store brands are typically full of “fillers” and have less protein and more fat than other brands.
When you look at the kibble, try to steer clear of anything with a lot of color to it.
Although the reds and greens you see are meant to give you the impression of meat and vegetables, what you are really looking at is a bunch of food coloring and preservatives.
Bright colors don’t have any place in dog food.
While there is some debate about wet vs. dry diets, crunchy food can help reduce tartar buildup. Toy poodles are extremely prone to dental disease.
You will want to find ways to reduce their dental issues, not exacerbate them, so a diet where there is a mechanical benefit to chewing is a good idea.
As long as your Cavapoo has constant access to fresh water, the added moisture in a canned or “wet” diet is not necessary.
All puppies chew, but your Cavapoo doesn’t need industrial-strength chew toys.
You should select a toy that is labeled appropriate for moderate chewers.
There are several options for durable, nylon chews at most commercial pet supply stores. Stuffed animals and toys with squeakers are appropriate for some puppies and not for others.
You should monitor your puppy with any new toy to make sure he or she is not reducing it to ingestible pieces.
At no point are rawhides recommended for any puppy, but especially not for a smaller breed.
Rawhides are heavily processed, unhealthy, and very difficult for the digestive system to break down, resulting in potential digestive upset.
They can even become an intestinal foreign body that might require medical intervention and surgical removal, so it is better to stay on the safe side.
Give edible treats for snacks and non-edible toys for chewing.
Every dog needs socialization.
This is true for every breed or breed mixture without exception.
Socializing your puppy is part of being a responsible dog owner.
This means exposing your puppy gradually to new things, people, and experiences while it is still young, so he or she grows up stable and well adjusted.
That being said, some breeds are much easier to socialize than others.
Poodles are reasonably easy to socialize, and Cavaliers are very easy to socialize, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to expose them to the world around them.
Both breeds can be great family dogs.
Because the Cavapoo is a mixed breed, it is nearly impossible to predict which breed it will favor in temperament or appearance, but odds are, your Cavapoo will be highly trainable and easily socialized.
The passive, friendly nature of the Cavalier makes it a good choice for children, but you should carefully monitor the exchange between child and dog to make sure that your child is treating his or her new friend with respect and kindness and not taking advantage of the dog’s tolerant disposition.
Be a responsible pet owner.
Just because your dog is tolerating a behavior does not mean he or she is enjoying it.
Cavapoos are not large or robust and can be easily injured by rough handling.
Only you know your child well enough to determine how they will interact with their new pet.
Keep in mind that ANY dog will eventually reach a point where they have had enough rough treatment and that despite what we have come to expect as standard breed dispositions, dogs are individuals.
Your Cavapoo didn’t spring from a factory, cookie-cutter mold, but it is reasonable to expect that with a proper trainer, you will end up with a cheerful, friendly companion.
Make sure you are ready to be a responsible and attentive owner.
Like any breed, your Cavapoo will require vaccinations and routine checkups to ensure healthy development.
Do your research when selecting a breeder.
Ask your breeder if they have proof that the parents are free of congenital issues, especially the Cavalier.
Don’t be afraid to ask for OFA cardiac certification.
You want your new family member to be happy and healthy, and healthy parents are far more likely to produce healthy puppies.
Ask to meet and greet the parents, see their living environment, and make sure both the sire and the dam are at least two years of age prior to being bred.
Keep in mind that Cavapoos are not an official AKC recognized breed, so appearance, temperament, and health may vary more significantly and with less predictability than an established AKC breed.
Remember that a dog is a long- term commitment, emotionally and financially, and make sure you are ready to make that commitment before bringing a new member into your family.