What's a cavapoo? She's the popular, heart-melting designer crossbreed offspring of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a miniature or toy poodle. A friendly social butterfly, she's gentle with people and other pets and loves to be where you are all the time! A cavapoo is a terrific pup for first-time dog owners, families in search of an adorable playmate for children, or seniors who want an endearing companion.
Another reason these dogs are often in high demand is the belief that their low-shedding poodle genes increase the likelihood that cavapoos are hypoallergenic. While the Mayo Clinic stresses that no dog is allergen-free, some people might have less reaction to the proteins found in a cavapoo's dander, saliva, and urine.
A cavapoo dog's round eyes are like liquid chocolate—soft, warm, and inviting. They're deep-set above a tiny short snout tipped with a black button nose. From her Cavalier King Charles spaniel and poodle parents, a cavapoo inherits long, silky, flopped ears that frame her face and sometimes tufted fur around the mouth that forms a fuzzy little mustache, too.
A cavapoo's coat features wavy, smooth curls that are uber-fluffy and pleasant to touch. Both her parents provide extensive color combinations, but it's unlikely she'll be tricolor like a traditional Cavalier King Charles. Instead, cavapoo colors are often in a range of solid hues, including black, gray, red, brown, tan, beige, and white. Some cavapoo puppies are born with fur of one color, such as reddish-brown, but as they mature, their coats change into another color! You might also find a cavapoo with a different tint around the muzzle, on the ends of her ears and paws, and on her chest.
A cavapoo's size varies based on whether she has a miniature or toy poodle parent, so height ranges between 9 and 14 inches, and weight averages 8–25 pounds. While she's not exactly a small toy breed, she'll be a "If I fits, I sits" lapdog, no matter what!
Patrick Singletary, DVM, owns Good Dog Veterinary Care in Marietta, Ga. He says this designer crossbreed was developed to enhance specific qualities. "Cavapoo breeders have produced a hybrid from the gentle but fun-loving disposition of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and the non-shedding, hypoallergenic miniature poodle." This means a cavapoo can be your loyal BFF and dedicate sweet attention to you and your family. She's sensitive to human moods and understands right away when you need extra doggie love.
Some cavapoo breeders might teach basic skills when dogs are approximately 8 weeks old, but you'll have a much better-behaved pooch if you continue her training with a puppy kindergarten and other behavior classes after vaccinations at 10–12 weeks. Since she needs a moderate amount of daily exercise, use it as bonding time and add a tricks or skills session afterward to help keep her engaged and responsive. She'll love the attention and the opportunity to show you what she can do. Cavapoos can also channel their abundant good vibes and intelligence into becoming exceptional therapy dogs.
A cavapoo's strong attachment to humans means she may develop separation anxiety if left alone too long. While she usually gets along well with cats and other dogs, especially when socialized as a puppy, simply having these critters in the house won't curb her desire for your attention. A distressed cavapoo can default to behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing, and digging.
Singletary says that while cavapoos do well in many environments, from apartment living to large properties, they still need plenty of designated activity and mental stimulation.
While a Cavalier King Charles is more laid back, a poodle appreciates having more exercise. Your cavapoo's personality might be a little of both. Regular walks are always good, and easy for children and seniors to do two or three times daily. Entertaining agility, treasure hunt, and hide-and-seek games also help keep your cavapoo in top form and reinforce important social connections.
All her fluffy fur doesn't necessarily mean a cavapoo will be comfortable in temperature extremes. In winter, you might need to outfit her with special boots and sweaters for extra protection. In summer, you can trim her body coat to allow for better cooling, and provide plenty of shady spots, water, and chilled toys, too.
Cavapoos love to play at dog parks for small dogs, but they still want you to be part of the action. It's best to keep her on a leash when out on walks—while she doesn't have a high prey drive, her natural spaniel tracking genes might prompt giving chase to a zippy squirrel, chipmunk, or rabbit!
It's a good thing this dog loves people, because cavapoo grooming requires a lot of attention. Let's start with that luxurious coat.
"Be prepared for continuous grooming, and save accordingly for this important aspect of maintenance," Singletary says. "Regular grooming can prevent infections of the ears, eyes, and skin, so it shouldn't be overlooked as an important aspect of your dog's health." Frequent brushing—at least three times a week—with a slicker brush and de-matter should be on the schedule for a quality coat, along with professional grooming every six weeks or so. Matting around the tail, hindquarters, and lower belly is particularly common, and some dogs are quite sensitive in these areas, so keep that in mind.
Do cavapoos shed? A little, usually in the spring and fall. Consistent grooming habits help minimize the floof.
Many people believe these and other designer hybrids with poodle genes are good choices since they don't shed as much, which hopefully means fewer allergens and less mess. But reduced cavapoo shedding isn't a guarantee against allergic reactions. It really depends on how a person's immune system responds to the Can f1 protein present in an animal's dander, saliva, and urine. A veterinarian can test your cavapoo for this protein level and provide recommendations.
RELATED: How to Reduce Pet Allergens at Home
Singletary also advises cavapoo owners to brush their pup's teeth daily. "They have the propensity for dental disease that progresses faster than most breeds," he says. "Regular preventive care like teeth brushing, proper chew toys, dental treats and of course, annual professional teeth cleaning will help you protect your dog's teeth and gums."
Certain purebreds and crossbreeds, like cavapoos, sometimes develop reddish-brown tear stains. There are numerous reasons why, according to the AKC. Usually you can wipe them away with a warm, wet cloth each day.
To know how healthy your cavapoo will be—and this is essential, because she could be your faithful, loving companion for up to 15 years!—we first have to understand the process of cross-breeding dogs.
"The basic concept of breeding and genetics is that the strongest traits (phenotype) from the bitch and sire will be passed on to the offspring," Singletary says. "Dogs have 39 chromosomes. When a male and a female are bred, they have to pass along 20,000 genes that will be carried on all 39 chromosomes for each of their puppies. These genes make up the genotype. There will also be bad genes passed along, which leads to specific health problems in certain breeds. These 'bad genes' are passed down from generation to generation."
Singletary adds that when he talks with a client about what health concerns to be aware of in their cavapoo adult dogs, he discusses both parent breeds, since there's no way to predict which genes are passed on to the pup.
Although cavapoos are generally healthy pooches, here's what you should know:
Ask your vet to check your cavapoo for allergies, too. Singletary says poodles and their hybrid offspring are often more susceptible to food and environmental allergies. "Additionally, regular flea and tick prevention is important to prevent flea allergy dermatitis for any dog but especially in a dog with a higher risk for allergies in general."
Singletary explains the breeding science for developing cavapoos. "In genetics, F1 hybrid refers to a breeding of two individuals to create a crossbreed or hybrid. For instance, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel bred with a miniature poodle will produce an F1 offspring, the cavapoo," he says. "F2 hybrid is created from breeding two F1 hybrids together—breeding an F1 hybrid cavapoo with another F1 hybrid cavapoo to create an F2 cavapoo. Knowing these intricacies is important because of inbreeding."
Because of the potential for low-allergen benefits, cavapoos are in high demand. Singletary recommends to take your time choosing a new pup, especially when evaluating breeders and cavapoo costs.
"Selecting any dog should be done over months to years, depending on the time someone has to devote to research and vetting a breeder. This is especially true for hybrid breeds," Singletary says. "I feel breeders should strongly vet their prospective puppy owners as well. If the breeder is asking you tough questions, then they're likely passionate about what they do and have the health and wellness of their dogs at the forefront of their minds."
RELATED: 3 Places You Should Never Get a Dog
While he believes a lot of time, knowledge, and passion goes into creating and maintaining a successful breeding operation, "there are also some awfully inflated prices for hybrid dogs." Before your heart is set on a particular designer crossbreed, Singletary advises you to consult a theriogenologist (reproductive specialist) or a dog-specific veterinarian to gain knowledge about what to ask breeders and what to look for in certain hybrid lines.