Cavapoos

The Cavapoo, also known in some circles as a Cavoodle, is a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle, usually a Miniature Poodle. Dogs such as Cavapoos are known as hybrids, or cross-breeds. Sometimes they are called designer dogs to differentiate them from mixes of unknown heritage. Opening your heart and home to a hybrid dog is like opening a beautifully wrapped package on your birthday: you never know what’s going to be inside.

It’s often assumed that a hybrid will combine the best of two or more breeds, but genetics doesn’t always work that way. The way genes combine and 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. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering adopting a Cavapoo.

Is the Cavapoo the Right Dog for You?

It would be difficult for a Cavapoo not to be charming. Both of his parent breeds are outgoing, loving and playful. Cavapoos generally weigh 12 to 20 pounds, making them a comfortable size for most homes. They are not necessarily the best watchdogs, but they will greet visitors and intruders alike with a smile.

Cavapoos have the potential to be highly trainable, although some may prefer to sit on your lap rather than do a sit/stay. They will all be happy to sit for a cookie, though.

Cavapoos are fun-loving and can be good playmates for children who are at least six years old. Younger children should be supervised carefully any time they are with a small dog such as a Cavapoo. Even though he’s pretty sturdy, if they accidentally fall on or hit the dog, they could hurt him.

Cavapoos have a moderate activity level that is adaptable to their owner’s lifestyle. They need a good walk or active indoor playtime each day, and if you’re interested, they are athletic enough to participate in such dog sports as agility, obedience and rally. Cavapoos are good at playing fetch and will chase a ball endlessly.

Both of the breeds used to create Cavapoos are smart and learn quickly. If you begin socialization and training early, keep training sessions short and fun, and use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards, you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion.

Poodles have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, meaning that they can be tolerated by people who have allergies to dogs. Because they have the Poodle in their heritage, Cavapoos are sometimes promoted as being hypoallergenic. But allergies are caused not by a particular dog coat type but by dander, the dead skin cells that are shed by all dogs (and people, for that matter). There is no scientific evidence that any breed or cross breed is more or less allergenic than any other dog. Some people with allergies react less severely to particular dogs, but no reputable breeder will guarantee that her dogs are hypoallergenic.

Cavapoos can have different types of fur, depending on which genes they inherit, but most have a curly or wavy coat. A Cavapoo coat looks its best with professional grooming every four to six weeks, and it requires brushing or combing every two to three days to prevent mats or tangles as well as regular bathing in between appointments with the groomer. Their long, hanging ears can be prone to infection, so check and clean them regularly.

Cavapoos are among the breeds that commonly develop reddish-brown tear stains beneath their eyes. Sometimes the stains are related to the dog’s diet, and changing foods can help. Your best bet, though, is to wash the face daily, carefully wiping beneath the eyes, to prevent stains from setting.

Your Cavapoo doesn’t need a bikini wax, but you do need to trim the genital area for cleanliness or have the groomer shave the lower belly area. This prevents urine from staining and stinking up the coat and feces from getting caught in the hair around the anus.

In addition, trim his nails at least monthly—more frequently if necessary—and brush his teeth as often as possible. Small dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease.

Cavapoos are companion dogs. They need to live in the house, never outdoors. Because they may have a short muzzle, they can be sensitive to heat. Never leave them outside on a hot day.

Cavapoo puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Cavapoo a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. But there’s no need to pay big bucks for a Cavapoo. You can often find a wonderful example of this hybrid dog at your local shelter or through adoption organizations.

If you do choose to buy one, however, select a breeder who has done the health testing to ensure that her puppies won’t carry the genetic diseases common to both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles. And while there are no guarantees in life, it’s also a good way to minimize the possibility of big veterinary bills in the future.

Variations of the Cavapoo

He may have the curly coat of a Poodle or the long, straight coat of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but he always has a sweet expression and a sturdy body. Like his parent breeds, the Cavapoo can come in a multitude of solid colors or in a particolor pattern (a color plus white).

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Cavapoo Puppy

  1. Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.
  2. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Cavapoos aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Cavapoos can live 10 or more years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.
  3. Puppy or adult, take your Cavapoo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues. Ask specifically about dental care, as most toy breeds suffer from dental problems, as well as tips on dealing with tear staining.
  4. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You’re more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
  5. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Cavapoos

All hybrid dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as purebred dogs can and just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the Cavapoo is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the Cavapoo and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Cavapoos may develop health conditions common to both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles, especially if you aren’t cautious about whom you buy from. They include luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, a heart condition called mitral valve disease, epilepsy and eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy, entropion, cataracts and glaucoma.

Many toy breeds and small dogs have a condition known as luxating patellas, in which one or both knees are unstable and occasionally slip out of place. Depending on the level of severity (1 being mild and 4 being severe), luxating patellas can be a minor issue that cause the dog little problem or pain or serious enough to require surgical correction.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have OFA patella (knee) and cardiac clearances as well as certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Entropion
Medium $300-$1,500
Patellar Luxation
Medium $1,500-$3,000
Mitral Valve Disease Medium $500-$2,000
Cataracts Medium $1,500-$3,000
Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet Insurance


Pet Insurance for Cavapoos

Pet insurance for Cavapoos costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Cavapoos are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Cavapoos are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Cavapoo is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.