Dogs such as Cavapoms, a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Pomeranian, 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. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering adopting a Cavapom.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

It would be difficult for a Cavapom not to be charming. Both of his parent breeds are affectionate and playful, although the Pomeranian is more likely to be a one-person dog. The Cavalier tends to love one and all. Cavapoms may or may not be good watchdogs, depending on whether the watchful Pomeranian or laidback Cavalier temperament dominates, but they will greet visitors and intruders alike with a smile.

Cavapoms have the potential to be highly trainable. Both of the breeds used to create Cavapoms are smart and learn quickly when you use the right training techniques. 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.

Cavapoms 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 Cavapom. Even though he's pretty sturdy, if they accidentally fall on or hit the dog, they could hurt him.

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

Brush or comb the Cavapom coat every other day to prevent or remove mats and tangles. Bathe him as needed. That might be weekly or monthly.

Cavapoms 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.

In addition, trim his nails at least monthly --more frequently if necessary --keep his ears clean and dry to prevent ear infections and brush his teeth as often as possible. Small dogs are especially prone to periodontal disease.

Cavapoms are companion dogs. They need to live in the house, never outdoors.

Cavapom puppies are adorable, and it's one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Cavapom a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. But there's no need to pay big bucks for a Cavapom. 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 Pomeranians and Pomeranians. 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 Cavapom

Cavapoms vary widely in appearance because the two breeds are so different. A Cavapom might have prick ears or drop ears, a medium-length straight coat or a thick, offstanding coat, a pointed muzzle or a shorter, more rounded muzzle. What he will always be is cute, with a sweet expression, big eyes and a sturdy body. Like his parent breeds, the Cavapom can come in a multitude of solid colors or in a particolor pattern (a color plus white). His weight can range from 8 to 20 pounds.

Health Issues Common to Cavapoms

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 Cavapom 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 Cavapom and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Cavapoms may develop health conditions common to both Cavaliers and Pomeranians, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include luxating patellas, a heart condition called mitral valve disease, and eye diseases such as progressive retinal atrophy and entropion.

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 proof that both of a puppy's parents have OFA patella (knee) and cardiac clearances and 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

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Cavapom Puppy

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.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Cavapoms aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Cavapoms can live 15 or more years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Cavapom 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.

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.

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.

Pet Insurance for Cavapoms

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

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Cavapoms are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Cavapom 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.