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The Cavachon is a fairly new yet increasingly common hybrid dog breed that combines characteristics of two other popular dogs: the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and the bichon frise. The result is a small, attentive, athletic, and nearly hypoallergenic dog full of personality. Cavachons make intelligent and loving companions for young families as they are extremely loyal and love to please their owners. Although they typically have less pet dander, the pups still need regular grooming to maintain their fluffy fur. Cavachons are both active play pals and adorable snuggle companions.
With Cavalier King Charles spaniel and bichon frise parents, Cavachons are on the small side. A full-grown adult Cavachon is between 12–13 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs in at a compact 15–20 pounds.
"Because Cavachons are a mix between two breeds with very different coats, the appearance of a Cavachon's fur will vary," says Alicen Tracey, DVM at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, and a member of the Daily Paws Advisory Board.
Most Cavachons will have a combination of brown, white, and black fur with brown eyes. Their coats are typically silky, medium in length, and have a varied level of wave or curl. "Cavachons shed very little but do require frequent grooming due to their fine coat growing out," Tracey says.
While no dog is truly 100 percent hypoallergenic because all dogs produce dander and shed their hair, the Cavachon's coat makes them a low-allergen pet for some allergy sufferers. But before bringing home a Cavachon puppy, spend some time with the mixed breed to see how your allergies react.
Cavachons are very loyal, playful, and affectionate dogs. Although they tend to bark at strangers, they enjoy meeting new people and make friends quickly and easily. Cavachons are active, especially as puppies, but they also make fantastic lap dogs and cuddle buddies.
"They are very easy to train simple commands and tricks," Tracey says. Without proper socialization and training as puppies, Cavachons can become nervous around strangers or new environments. "It is extremely important to properly introduce and develop positive experiences for Cavachon puppies with new people and situations," Tracey says.
Big home or small apartment, Cavachons aren't particular. They're highly adaptable to all environments and don't require a large outdoor space for activity. They will enjoy their time outside, but they also look forward to cuddles on the couch.
"Cavachons require a lot of attention from their owners as they enjoy the company of others and do not prefer to be alone," Tracey says. Therefore, Cavachons are great family dogs and wonderful companions for young children. They'll eagerly join in on kids' games or sit in their laps. They also tend to be tolerant of noise and commotion, though young children should be taught not to pick up a Cavachon on their own since the small dogs can be fragile.
Cavachons are extremely social and can get along with pet siblings with proper introductions and training. As long as they receive their fair share of attention from their owner, Cavachons will remain their happy selves.
"Cavachons require routine grooming appointments that involve bathing and trimming as their coat continuously grows," Tracey says. She recommends Cavachon parents make grooming appointments every two to three months. Between appointments, it is particularly important to keep the hair around their eyes short to help prevent build up of hair. Owners should also regularly clean beneath their eyes with a warm washcloth or tear-stain wipes.
As with any dog, Cavachons require routine walks and playtime. However, Cavachons have relatively low exercise requirements—a half-hour walk is usually enough. Cavachons are generally very active and playful, so don't be surprised if they are up for more.
The best training for any dog is positive reinforcement training. It is important to start behavior training with Cavachons when they are young, and provide them with a lot of positive experiences.
"As with any small dog breed, it is important to get them used to you playing with their feet, messing with their ears, and having them be held in different positions when they are young," Tracey says. This provides exposure to make them comfortable in different situations—like for teeth brushing and nail trims—and also allows you the opportunity to examine them for health concerns.
The typical lifespan of a Cavachon is between 10–12 years old. As a mixture of two breeds, Cavachons have the potential to develop health conditions that their two parent breeds (and small dogs in general) are more prone to.
As a small dog breed, Cavachons are prone to issues like dental disease, eye problems, medial patella luxation, sebaceous adenomas, and collapsing tracheas.
"All small breed dogs are prone to dental disease as there are more spaces for bacteria and debris to accumulate," Tracey says. The best way to prevent dental disease is by daily teeth brushing and annual dental cleanings at a veterinary office. Small dogs are also prone to eye issues like dry eye (also known as keratoconjunctivitis), eye ulcers, and cherry eye.
Many small dog breeds are prone to medial patella luxation, or slipping kneecaps, in their hind limbs. Small dogs, such as the Cavachon, also seem to be prone to developing small, hairless, irregular growths called sebaceous adenomas. Tracey recommends that you alert your veterinarian and groomer to any new lumps or bumps on your Cavachon. Small dogs can also suffer from the development of collapsing trachea, a condition in which the dog's windpipe begins to collapse, causing irritation and coughing.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are extremely prone to the development of degenerative mitral valve disease, so Cavachon owners should watch for symptoms in their dog. This type of heart disease is often characterized by a murmur detectable by your veterinarian.
Cavachons are specifically prone to obesity and subsequent joint diseases like arthritis. "It is important to check with your veterinarian about the body condition score, or relative weight compared to their height and frame, of your dog and how to keep them at their optimal weight," Tracey says. Cavachons are also prone to allergies and may become itchy or have frequent skin or ear infections.
Breeders began intentionally mixing the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and bichon frise for the first time as recently as the 1990s. Cavachons possess characteristics that many people look for in a companion or family dog including a friendly nature, intelligence, gentleness, small size, low exercise requirements, and a low or no-shed coat. Demand for the hybrid breed as a companion dog has grown throughout and outside of the U.S. in recent years.
One thing to keep in mind when looking to make a Cavachon a part of your family is the prevalence of puppy mills when it comes to hybrid breeds. Unfortunately, as certain dog breeds quickly rise in popularity, puppy mill schemes—where dogs are bred in inhumane conditions without regard for their health or well-being—can become more common. Here are some red flags to watch out for when searching for your new pet:
- Multiple mixed breeds are for sale from the same breeder
- Website offers wait times for puppies
- Breeder offers to ship puppies
- Difficult to identify breeder contact information (no phone number, contact email, etc.)
- While Cavachon is the most common breed name, you may also hear of these little floof balls referred to as a Cavashon, Cavalier-bichon, or bichon-King Charles.
- What's the difference between a Cavachon vs. Cavapoo? Both of these hybrid breeds share the Cavalier King Charles spaniel as a parent, but the Cavachon's other parent is a bichon frise and a Cavapoo's is a toy poodle. Both are known for their friendliness and their tendency to be a low-shedding option for households with allergy sufferers.