Is a Cockapoo for You?

The Cockapoo ranks number 1 as the country’s most popular hybrid dog and is continuing to generate interest at an increasing rate. Our previous, article about why Cockapoos are so popular in the U.K. discussed the reasons behind our nation’s love of this so-called  ‘designer dog’.  As always, however, when anything becomes the latest fad, commonsense can often be pushed aside in the rush for consumers to acquire and suppliers to cash in. As cute, fluffy and toy-like as they appear, Cockapoos are obviously living, breathing animals with their own quirks and challenges that require serious consideration and research before taking the leap to buy or adopt one.

     

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Finding and choosing any dog can be quite a task, whether it be adoption or buying, either way it is essential to make sure you know exactly what you’re searching for. There are numerous myths surrounding the ‘perfectness’ of Cockapoos – their perfect nature, their cuteness, their non-allergenic, non-shedding hair, and their overall low-maintenance.  The reality is that Cockapoos still remain a cross-breed with significant variations in characteristics evident even within the same litters. Hence, those in search of Cockapoos will come across a number of breeding variations, each with their own ‘F’ label, which can be confusing.

Our guide below firstly aims to cover exactly what these labels mean and help you find the right Cockapoo to call your own:

 

The F labels broken down into simple terms

F designators refer to the ancestry of any dog or its litter. Whilst these labels don’t provide information about the worth of a dog or its quality, they do provide useful genetic background information which leads to variations in the Cockapoo personality and physical appearance. Apologies for the rather dry presentation of the F labels below but we do feel that it does explain a lot behind the variations that exist within the Cockapoo breed, and the need for prospective owners to look beyond the myths of cute Cockapoo perfection to ensure they make the right decisions.

OK … here we go …   

F1 and what it means

The term F1 refers to first-generation crossing, this label is attached to pups that are the product of a Cocker Spaniel and a Toy or Miniature poodle. The F1 variation of a Cockapoo includes the F1 English Toy Cockapoo and the F1 Show Cockapoo to name just a couple.

F2 and what it means

If two first-generation Cockapoos are bred, the result is an F2 Cockapoo, otherwise known as a second-generation. Some puppies will take the appearance of one of their grandparents and will have more of a Cocker Spaniel or Poodle look. When this occurs it is known as a throwback. The physical appearance of a Cockapoo pup will form at around 6-8 weeks old and it is at this point the appearance of what will be the adult dog is seen.

F3 and beyond …

Now is where it really starts to get interesting … when two F2 Cockapoos are bred they create an F3 generation Cockapoo and likewise two F3 Cockapoos will give us an F4. But … ready for it … generations can only go up a generation for the lowest number in the pair so an F1 and an F2 will still only give us an F2, and likewise an F1 and an F3 will also still only give us an F2. So, it does take a while to progress generations. 

The ‘b’ label

Some Cockapoos are neither the product of a Poodle and Cocker Spaniel being bred or that of two Cockapoos, instead backcrossing can occur. This involves a Cockapoo being bred with either a Cocker Spaniel or a Poodle, hence the ‘b’ designator which is attached to the dog’s ‘F’ number. So, an F1 Cockapoo that has been bred with a Poodle or Cocker Spaniel will result in an F1b Cockapoo.

A Cockapoo with the ‘b’ designator cannot be bred back, rather it needs to be bred with another Cockapoo with a F1 label.

 

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So what does all this really mean? – finding the right Cockapoo for you

Well, since most Cockapoos are still early generation or even backcrossed, individual puppy characteristics will differ significantly even within the same litters. This means that everything you think you know about a Cockapoo and many of the reasons why people are attracted to them, may not always be the case.

You know the thing about them being hypoallergenic?  Well, this is not always the case … the variation in the breed means that within a single litter of Cockapoo puppies you could get some that are very poodle-like with the non-allergenic, non-shedding hair or you could get some that are more spaniel-like with hair that tends to shed more and be irritating for those with allergies.  Meanwhile, any puppies that appear to be the perfect Cockapoos can still almost be a lottery in regards to their characteristics.      

As the generations increase beyond F3, these variations will diminish as we should see more stability in the breed. There will be more of a standard Cockapoo, and less Cocker Spaniel or Poodle specific characteristics. Cockapoos will need to be bred beyond F7, however, before they will be recognised as purebred so expect to see variability in the Cockapoo breed for some time to come. It may be that they never become a pure breed as this would require significant ‘inbreeding’ which is not in the best interests of the health and welfare of the dogs.

So, whilst there is no right or wrong choice, by understanding the labels above you can select which Cockapoo may be the right fit for you. 

 

Size

The sizes of Cockapoos vary, depending on their breeding. Smaller Cockapoos are likely to be Toy Poodle crosses with a maximum adult weight of around 12 pounds, whereas larger Cockapoos are likely to be Miniature Poodle crosses. An adult Teacup Cockapoo can weigh less than 6 pounds versus Cockapoos that can weigh in excess of 30 pounds. Though this is generally the norm, individual dogs can vary and therefore it is always best to ask the breeder to provide an indication of the the puppy’s adult size based on its parents physical appearance. 

 

The coat colour and texture

Cockapoos come in many different colour variations, with characteristics being inherited from both a Cocker Spaniel and Poodle. The three coat types are tight curls, a loose and wavy coat or a straight coat. As mentioned above, this can impact the desirability of a Cockapoo puppy in regards to allergies and shedding. Again, speak to the breeder to inquire further about this and, especially in the case of allergies it may even be advisable to spend some time with your prospective new Cockapoo to ensure that they are indeed hypoallergenic.

 

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So, is a Cockapoo really for you?

As we mention above, there are currently many Cockapoo breeding variations which means you really do need to research the breed and the specific puppy you are looking to buy or adopt. We discuss choosing a breeder a little later in this artice, but firstly you need to strongly consider whether a Cockapoo is really for you?

It is appropriate at this point to consider some of the issues involving Cockapoo ownership and in the process confront some of the myths surrounding this wonderful breed.

Cockapoos are cute, really really cute

Yes they are, when they are puppies and when they are well groomed, trained and maintained. However, they are dogs not toys. So, they do the things that all dogs love doing, like running around in the mud, rolling in fox poo (usually five minutes after you’ve given them a bath), sniffing dogs behinds and generally getting into mischief. Cockapoos vary in size too with some of them weighing in excess of 30 pounds so they don’t all stay as tiny, cute balls of fluff which means you do have to be a proper dog owner when you are looking after Cockapoos, there are no short cuts. Furthermore, they’ll often live from 12 to 16 years, so you better be prepared for the long haul.

 

Cockapoos do not shed and are great for people with allergies

This is certainly not always the case, so if you only want a Cockapoo because you have allergies then it is imperative that you spend time with your prospective new Cockapoo puppy to check whether it will cause you to react, before you take it home. Cockapoos are considered to be ‘hypoallergenic’ primarily as a result of its Poodle heritage but there are many reasons why they can still cause allergic reactions in some people. .

Firstly, as mentioned earlier, there is great variation in the breed, with puppies in the same litter often having different types of coat. It could be likely that your puppy inherits a coat more like that of the Cocker Spaniel which does shed and is more likely to cause reactions than that of the Poodle.

Then there is the fact that it is more often the dander (the dead skin cells that flake off the dog) or dog saliva that causes allergy problems not the hair itself, so it certainly pays to do some research into this to avoid disappointment later.

 

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Cockapoos are low maintenance

Cockapoos require regular grooming to keep their coats free from matts and burrs, constant checking for ticks and rogue grass seeds. To top off their grooming nightmares, they also often have problems with their big, floppy ears that require constant attention. They are intelligent (mostly from their Poodle side) and energetic (from their Cocker Spaniel side) so require constant stimulation and exercise to stop them from becoming bored. In addition they are incredibly loving towards humans so will shadow you constantly when you are home with them and suffer heavily from separation anxiety when you are out. So, you need to train them well and get them used to spending short periods away from you. It is unlikely though that you will be able to leave them home alone for many hours at a time, meaning that you will need to arrange arrange care for them if you are going to be away from them for full days at work (or take them into your place of work, if you are allowed!).

Cockapoos are healthy

All dogs have health issues both general and breed specific. An early generation cross-breed like the Cockapoo suffers from a number of breed-specific health risks obviously coming from both the Poodle and Cocker Spaniel sides, although both these breeds are relatively resilient. Poodles, however, can be prone to conditions like Addison’s disease, sebaceous adenitis, epilepsy and thyroid issues whilst Cocker Spaniels are prone to cancer, otitis externa, hip dyspasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and glaucoma. Both breeds can suffer from hip dysplasia and luxating patellas or dislocating knee joints. Not saying your Cockapoo is going to get all of these ailments and they are reasonably robust but there is a good chance that you will end up on first name terms with your local vet, and we’d always recommend taking out pet insurance. 

Cockapoos are inexpensive

In keeping with their ‘designer dog’ tag Cockapoos have become quite expensive, more so than some pure breeds these days and could cost you between £700 and £4,000 although it’s most likely going to cost you around £1,000 for a Cockapoo puppy. Then there’s the ongoing vet bills, regular grooming, feeding and pet care fees, and Cockapoos are certainly not inexpensive, Again, you need to be prepared for the financial commitment as well as the time and emotional commitment if you think a Cockapoo is for you.  

OK, so we haven’t scared you away from these adorable dogs yet and you do indeed still believe that a Cockapoo is for you? Then, how do you find the perfect Cockapoo?

 

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Choosing a breeder

Like any fad-like products, commonsense can take a back seat as consumers rush to own the latest thing whilst suppliers take short cuts to cash in on the demand and there have been numerous stories of puppy farms and the like trading in Cockapoos, bypassing what have become the accepted standards for animal welfare in this country.

There are, however, many reputable Cockapoo breeders across the country so it is essential to do your research to know that you are buying or adopting from a breeder who cares about the welfare of both the parents and puppies.

Whilst some breeders only produce a single type of Cockapoo, others will produce a variety. Breeders are generally broken down into three categories:

  • A one-time breeder – a planned or accidental litter, likely not to have carried out health tests, but the puppies are likely to be the product of family dogs rather than breeding dogs.
  • A small hobby breeder – these breeders raise puppies in their home and are able to have up to 4 litters per year. Some health checks may have been carried out, but it’s always best to check with the breeder directly than assume.
  • A large and licensed breeder – larger breeders are required to own a license from the local authority. In a large breeding environment there are a number of breeding dogs with resident studs. These breeders are likely to have health tested all breeding dogs, though this should always be checked.

It is advised to always visit more than one breeder to ensure you are making the right decision when it comes to buying or adopting. By creating a shortlist of breeders you are likely to find healthy Cockapoos that have been bred in good practice. You need to make sure that the puppy’s mother is present when you visit your prospective new puppy and also that the breeder has the relevant medical documentation.

Furthermore, the popularity of the breed, and the sometimes dubious or unrealistic motivations for buying Cockapoos (such as their cuteness or trendiness) means that they are regularly dumped when reality sets in, so there are increasing opportunities to adopt Cockapoos from various shelters around the country. We would always recommend adopting not shopping where possible but if you do decide do buy a Cockapoo from a breeder, please make sure you do your research to ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder, and not helping to continue the horrific practice of puppy farming.      

 

When to bring your new Cockapoo puppy to its new home

Almost everybody has experienced the desire to get a new pet home as soon as possible, but this is not something that should be rushed. Puppies require a lot of time and effort and more often than not this is overlooked by many new dog owners. Puppies should be introduced to your home only after they’ve reached 8 weeks of age, why not read our blog post on introducing a new puppy to a home? 

 

Do you already own a Cockapoo?

Cockapoos are a personal favourite breed for several members of the Tailster team who love nothing more than scrolling through photos of those little bundles of furry cuteness in the name of “research”. We will collate some of the best Cockapoo resources in a future article as Cockapoo owners are a loving bunch so proud and passionate about their doggies and certainly not shy to share a pic or two.

 

If you already own a Cockapoo, we’d love to hear from you regarding your experience with your pooch and especially if you have further advice for those contemplating buying a Cockapoo.   

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