As their popularity continues to grow, let’s take a deep dive into what makes Cockapoos so wonderful, and everything you need to know about this popular breed – the good, the bad, and everything in between!
What is a Cockapoo?
The Cockapoo is a popular crossbreed between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, however they can vary widely. For example, the Cocker Spaniel could be an English Cocker Spaniel or American, from a show background or a working background, which can have a huge impact on their temperament and exercise needs. The Poodle comes in three sizes (Standard, Miniature, and Toy) which means Cockapoos can also vary in size.
As well as this, because they are a crossbreed, they can be bred in a variety of combinations – with either more Cocker Spaniel, or more Poodle, in their family tree.
This is a stock image – but how cute is this pup?
History of Cockapoos
Cockapoos are one of the oldest cross breeds, originally bred in the US in the 1950s. It’s thought that the first breeding of a Cockapoo could have been an accident, but the resulting litter of intelligent, loving and low-shedding puppies quickly made the cross-breed very popular by the 1960s. They continue to be an extremely popular cross breed today, perhaps the most popular of the Doodle varieties, in the UK as well as the US.
Interestingly, Cockapoos are noted to be one of the few “designer cross breeds” who aren’t commonly seen surrendered by their owners to rescues and shelters. They are often praised as fantastic family dogs, but it’s worth noting that any dog with a working line will need lots of physical and mental enrichment to keep them happy and healthy.
My Cockapoo puppy, Lyra, on her first day home.
Unfortunately, the popularity of Cockapoos can have heart-breaking consequences, as Cockapoo puppies are commonly found in puppy farms or sold by backyard breeders, which means that if you want a Cockapoo to join your family, you should be very cautious about where they come from.
A dog’s early life experiences and socialisation will absolutely impact their future temperament and behaviour, so you want them to have the best start possible! And that’s without considering the potential health issues related to bad breeding.
When meeting a breeder, you should always be able to see the puppy with Mum, Dad and littermates, and everyone should look happy and comfortable. Ask to see the results of health tests, quiz the breeder about their socialisation efforts, and be prepared to walk away if things don’t feel right. Never pay a penny before you meet the pups, and look out for breeders with a watertight contract and breeder back up, who ask you as many questions as you ask them!
Cockapoos in rescues
Cockapoos can often be found in rescues, you can even occasionally find puppies rescued from puppy farms. If you’re interested in adopting a Cockapoo, keep an eye on breed specific rescues like Spaniel Aid UK, or enquire at local rescues in your area.
My Cockapoo puppy, Lyra.
Cockapoos are predicted to live for around 13 years. However, as we’ve discussed, everything from their size and temperament, to coat type and life span, is variable depending on their breeding.
Generally, Cockapoos will either have a tight curly coat, a loose and wavy coat, or a straighter coat akin to a standard Cocker Spaniel. Cockapoos can be low-shedding, but it’s not a guarantee.
It’s hard to give an exercise estimate for Cockapoos because again, it depends on their breeding. If your Cockapoo is bred from a working line English Cocker Spaniel, they may need a lot more physical and mental stimulation than those bred from a show line. It’s essential to ask your breeder or rescue about this so you can ensure your lifestyle will suit their needs!
What you need to know about Cockapoos…
Do not underestimate the grooming demands of a Cockapoo. Depending on their coat variety, they may need brushing as often as once a day, as their low-shedding coat can matt or knot very easily and this can be extremely painful for them. Professional grooming is highly recommended to avoid matting and maintain the fur around their eyes and face.
Places to keep a close eye for matts include under their elbows and legs, their ears, on their belly and tail, and anywhere their harness or collar may rub. Pretty much everywhere, to be honest! Try and make grooming a pleasant experience from day one, and if you’re struggling to avoid matting, ask your groomer for a shorter cut.
You may find it helpful to learn about co operative care, which can make grooming a more pleasant experience for you and your Cockapoo.
Cockapoos can shed
On a similar theme, while most Cockapoos are low or no shedding, this isn’t a guarantee. A low-shedding Cockapoo is considered allergy-friendly, but there’s no such thing as hypoallergenic. If someone in your family has allergies, please make this decision carefully.
While some Cockapoos with show lines may be more inclined to chill out, many Cockapoos are super energetic and high energy, as a result of their Spaniel breeds. You can keep them busy with lots of enrichment, games, training, and exercise, but make sure they are also getting enough sleep. A puppy should sleep up to 20 hours a day, while adult dogs should sleep for around 16 hours. Your Cockapoo may need encouragement to settle and rest.
There’s some suggestions online that Cockapoos are more prone to separation anxiety than other breeds, and not one to break a stereotype, my Cockapoo Lyra does indeed struggle to be left alone. Cockapoos love their people and make very strong bonds. We really recommend Julie Naismith’s book Be Right Back!: How To Overcome Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom to help you start leaving your puppy at home.
Many Cockapoos will love training! As always, we recommend positive reinforcement and force free training. If you’re getting a puppy, going to puppy classes is a great place to start. You can also take a look at our practical puppy tips for new dog owners.
How happy does Lyra look in this pic?
Cost of Cockapoos
Because of their popularity, Cockapoos can be expensive, and in an effort to find good homes for their puppies, reputable breeds can be charging upwards of £2,000 for Cockapoo puppies in 2023. Be suspicious of anyone charging much less or much more.
Potential health problems
Cockapoos are prone to ear issues, including infections, so keep a close eye on their ears and if your dog is shaking their head or scratching their ear a lot. They can also have skin issues as a result of allergies or similar
Gastrointestinal problems are also common – look out for vomiting or diarrhoea.
Cockapoos can also be prone to luxating patella (aka a dislocating kneecap) and hip dysplasia, which is why it’s important to limit their exercise when they are a puppy. Try not to let them jump on and off furniture or take themselves up and down stairs repeatedly, and be cautious of high energy activities like fetch and agility before they are fully grown.
You may find it helpful to take a dog first aid course, to help you identify potential health issues with your pup. I recommend Animal Love Pet First Aid.
My Cockapoo, Lyra
My Cockapoo, Lyra, is a F1B American Cocker Spaniel and Toy Poodle cross, meaning she has a Cockapoo mum and a Toy Poodle Dad. She is very tiny, maxing out at around 4kg fully grown, which is very unusual for a Cockapoo!
Me and Lyra.
Because her breeder focused on creating happy, healthy dogs bred to be pets, Lyra is very happy to spend Saturday out and about and Sunday lazing on the sofa. While all dogs need enrichment, games and training to keep their brains happy, she’s pretty easy going for a Cockapoo. However, when it comes to grooming, she’s a proper princess! She needs grooming at least every few days and has expensive professional grooming appointments every 2 months. She will get matts if you skip grooming too many days in a row.
Since we brought her home around a year ago, Lyra has had an eye infection, two ear infections, and a small intestine infection, a few bouts of diarrhoea, but no serious or long-term health conditions. However, we are currently looking into the possibility that she may have some allergies, due to some irritation with her skin.
She does have issues being left alone (which we’re working on), and she can be a little fussy with her food, but we’ve recently hit the jackpot with a kibble and wet food mix.
10/10 puppy eyes.
Lyra is the most amazing, most adorable dog. She has such a charming and bright personality, and while her small size makes her unusual, she also has some very traditional Cockapoo traits. She enjoys training and playing with her favourite people, she gets very excited about saying hello to other dogs, and she has a delightfully contagious enthusiasm for life.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Cockapoos. This fantastic cross breed can be amazing little dogs, but their breeding and grooming requirements need to be kept in mind. Some Cockapoos can make great dogs for families or first time dog guardians, but be aware that if your Cockapoo has a working background, they might need a hobby to keep them busy!
At Woof by Hollie, I sell super cute dog gifts for humans, including adorable Cockapoo gifts! From keyrings to stickers to prints, you can find the cutest gift ideas for Cockapoo lovers and Cockapoo owners in my store.