Cockapoo Dog Breed Guide

Cockapoo Dog Breed Guide

Usually boasting the intelligence of poodles, the bouncy character typical of cocker spaniels and the cutest of looks, Cockapoos have become enormously popular. These happy, friendly and gregarious dogs are ideal for families and don’t shed. They do require regular grooming and need company all day but will reward their families with loyalty and plenty of entertainment. Perhaps that is why they are rarely given up by their owners. There are regular surveys to discover the nation’s most popular breeds and cockapoos tend to appear in the top five.

Which breed group is the cockapoo in?

Breed group: None – not recognised by the Kennel Club

Cockapoo breed history

You could say that Cockapoos are the original designer dogs and they have certainly sparked the popularity of poodle crosses. It is likely that the first cockapoos were the result of accidental mating but since the 1950s these hugely popular dogs have been widely bred in America and now in the UK. Crosses between cocker spaniels and poodles, Cockapoos boast a highly desirable combination of traits and breeders are now keen to establish a breed standard so that the dogs can be recognised by the Kennel Club.

Cockapoo breed characteristics

As they are crossbreeds, Cockapoos vary in appearance with some inheriting many cocker spaniel traits and others leaning more towards their poodle parentage. Most have curly coats but Cockapoos may also have straight hair and their coats can be almost any colour or combination of colours. They vary in size too, according to whether they are the offspring of English cockers, working cockers or American cockers and miniature or toy poodles.

Cockapoos tend to be very affectionate dogs which are loyal to their owners. They inherit impressive intelligence from both parents and are generally fun-loving pooches which thrive on human company. As such, they need constant mental stimulation and may become destructive if left alone for too long. They need plenty of exercise and can excel at canine sports.

These dogs are valued for their hypoallergenic qualities as they do not tend to shed due to their poodle parentage. They get on well with other dogs but may chase cats.

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Height: up to 38cm
  • Weight: up to 11kg
  • Curly or straight coats of any colour
  • Vary in size
  • Affectionate
  • Intelligent
  • Playful
  • Easily bored
  • Can become destructive
  • Excel at canine sports
  • Don’t end to bark
  • Most do not shed

Cockapoo Health Problems

Cockapoos are crossbreeds and is it known that there are genetic disorders in their gene pool. These will not be apparent in puppies but can cause serious illness in the adult dogs. If you are intending to welcome a cockerpoo into your family, it is important to choose a puppy which has been tested for these conditions. The Cockapoo Club of Great Britain has made tests for some of these conditions mandatory for registered litters whilst tests for all of the conditions are advised.


This is a genetic disorder which causes the cells in the retina to degenerate and then die. Dogs with this condition will suffer issues with night vision at first and then will eventually become completely blind. The disease tends to manifest itself in adolescence and can be difficult to diagnose. There is no treatment available for this condition.

Prcd-PRA is inherited as a recessive trait which means that the gene must be inherited from both parents in order for the disease to manifest itself. A carrier as opposed to a sufferer will have one diseased gene and one normal gene. The disease could be avoided in the future if all dogs were tested before breeding.


Glaucoma is caused by pressure in the eye resulting from a build-up of fluid which is unable to drain away. The condition destroys the eye's structures and can lead to the eye enlarging. Primary glaucoma is an inherited condition which affects several breeds of dog and often leads to complete blindness. Secondary glaucoma is brought on by other diseases of the eye. Treatment and prognosis varies between the two types of glaucoma and so it is important to ascertain which of the two a dog is suffering from.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a common and inherited orthopaedic condition. It basically amounts to abnormal development of the hip joint and leads to deformity and excessive wear. One or both hips may be affected and the condition is painful. The symptoms of HD are changes in gait, obvious lameness, stiffness after rest and exercise intolerance. HD occurs due to both hereditary and environmental factors including the over exercising of puppies. Breeding dogs should be radiographed to assess the condition of their hips and a database is being assembled which records the hip conditions of breeding dogs' offspring.

As any viewers of Channel 4's Supervet series will know, hip dysplasia can be addressed surgically but the procedure is costly and extremely invasive.

FN - Familial Nephropathy

Familial Nephropathy (FN) is a recessively inherited renal disease suffered by the English Cocker. The onset of renal failure due to FN typically occurs between six and 24 months of age in dogs. Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea. FN is suffered by dogs with a genetic defect that affects the collagen which holds the renal structure together. The condition causes a gradual and progressive degeneration of the renal function and so an affected dog may not appear ill until the latter stages of the disease.

Phosphofructokinase (PFK)

This is an enzyme which is crucial for production of energy from sugar sources in all cells of the body. The lack of this enzyme causes a range of issues including weakness and muscle cramps, discoloured urine, anemia and jaundice. In American Cocker Spaniels, this disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive condition.

Retinal Dysplasia

The majority of canine cases of retinal dysplasia are hereditary. The condition can affect one or both retinas and can be focal, multifocal, geographic, or accompanied by retinal detachment. Cataracts or glaucoma are secondary conditions associated with Retinal Dysplasia and the condition is suffered by American cocker spaniels. In its mild form, it causes no symptoms. Dogs with a more severe case of the condition may avoid dark areas and can bump into things due to their impaired vision.

Von Willebrand disease Type 1 (vWD 1)

This is a common bleeding disorder caused by a lack of von Willebrand factor which is a protein that affects the blood clotting process. The disease can range in severity and results in issues from trivial bleeds to life-threatening haemorages. Symptoms include spontaneous bleeding from the nose, gum and other mucous membranes together with excessive bleeding after an injury. Bleeding may also occur internally. It is a condition which is suffered by poodles.

As you can now see, health testing is an important aspect of cockapoo breeding and it is crucial that you choose a puppy from a registered breeder who tests their dogs.

  • Luxating patella
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Ear problems
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Familial Nephropathy (FN)
  • Phosphofructokinase (PFK)

What is the cockapoo bred for?

The Cockapoo has been bred to produce affectionate and playful pets which cute looks which do not shed.

What sort of owners does the Cockapoo suit?

Being intelligent, easy to train and affectionate, Cockapoos are wonderful family pets which are excellent with children of all ages. They are good choices for first time owners and can live happily almost anywhere. They don’t need a large home and they don’t tend to bark but they do require company all day and plenty of exercise. They are best suited to households where at least one p

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