An adorable small dog with the personality of a big clown, the Cockapoo is the first of the "designer dogs" (not a "pure" dog breed), dating back to the 1960s rather than to just a few years ago. Completely people-oriented, the Cockapoo is intelligent enough to train easily, hardly sheds, forgives quickly, and is so affectionate that you'll never feel alone. You might even have to shut the bathroom door for a minute of privacy. He's happy running around an agility course, showing off his tricks to company, being petted as a therapy dog, or just hanging out on your lap. Your lap is his, by the way.
He's affectionate and accepts everyone old folks, kids, and other pets. He's also of an easy size, being small enough to cuddle and big enough to romp with bigger dogs. Cockapoos have an infectious zest for life that spreads to everyone around them, that essential joie de vivre that makes every day a celebration. These guys are just plain happy to be alive.
Generally, the Cocker Spaniel used to create the Cockapoo is an American Cocker Spaniel, but some are the offspring of Poodles and English Cocker Spaniels; the latter is often called a Spoodle. Efforts have been made over the last decade to clearly separate Cockapoos and Spoodles into two different hybrids, and some success has been achieved. If the type of Cocker involved is important to you, be sure to ask.
- The Cockapoo is not known to be a barker. Some, however, will bark when they see someone approaching their house, or when they're left alone for long periods at a time.
- The Cockapoo should be a nonshedding dog with little doggy odor to the skin and coat. He requires daily brushings and will need his hair trimmed and clipped occasionally.
- Cockapoos are usually good for people with allergies since they produce low amounts of dander and hair.
- Cockapoos were developed to be companion dogs and are usually friendly and extraordinarily happy. They can do well with other dogs, pets, and children; older, more considerate children are generally best, however.
- Although the Standard or Maxi Cockapoo doesn't adapt as readily to apartment life as his smaller cohorts do, he can do well if exercised properly. The ideal situation is a house with a small, fenced yard.
- The Cockapoo is so intelligent that he's easy to train with positive reinforcement.
- Cockapoos have a moderate energy level but still need daily exercise. Expect to give him at least 15 minutes per day and offer a variety of activities, such as games of fetch, walks, and good runs.
The Cockapoo is bred in four different size categories:
- The Teacup Toy is less than 6 pounds in weight and less than 10 inches in height.
- The Toy Cockapoo can reach 10 inches in height but has a sturdier build, the bigger ones tipping the scales at just under 12 pounds.
- The Miniature Cockapoo weighs 13 to 18 pounds and ranges between 11 and 14 inches high.
- The Standard or Maxi Cockapoo should weigh more than 19 pounds and be at least 15 inches in height.
Not all Cockapoos will get any or all of these diseases, but
it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
- Cataracts: Cataracts cause opacity on the lens of the eye, resulting in poor vision. The dog's eye(s) will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve vision.
- Patellar Luxation: Also known as slipped stifles, this is a common problem in small dogs. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
- Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and the Cockapoo is no exception. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
- Liver Disease: This condition is becoming more prevalent in Cocker Spaniels in two forms: chronic active hepatitis and copper toxicosis (poisoning). Both conditions may or may not be genetic; at this point no one is certain. More research is needed, but meanwhile ask your Cockapoo breeder about the parent Cocker's liver history.
- Ear Infections: These afflictions may plague the Cockapoo because of his floppy Cocker ears, which can trap moisture, dirt, and debris. The Cockapoo's ears should be regularly checked and cleaned. Ask your veterinarian about appropriate ear care products.
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