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Breed focus: The capable and cuddly Cockapoo

If you are looking for a family dog that’s small, clever, affectionate and loyal then a cockapoo could be right for you!  Read on and find out more about these smashing little dogs and whether they’re right for you and your lifestyle. 

Black and white cockapoo laying down on a white background

Cockapoos are a cross breed that were first bred in America. They are a hybrid of the bright and cuddly cocker spaniel and the clever and capable poodle.  

Because the cockapoo is a hybrid dog, you’ll see a variety of different traits and personality types. But they’re all intelligent and loyal.  

Cockapoos typically have high energy levels, which means they’re fantastic fun around children of all ages and make a great family pet. They need a lot of mental stimulation so it’s important that you can commit the time to doing activities with them so you don’t struggle with more challenging behaviours. 

In a family environment, cockapoos tend to connect best with one family member. This devotion to the one person who needs them the most can create a spectacular bond and is something we look for in our assistance dog partnerships.   

It takes time to build a bond with a cockapoo and they’ll make you work hard for their love! You’ll have to invest a good deal of time, giving them plenty of physical and mental exercise – something that you can enjoy, too! Only then does this wonderful breed morph into a cuddly lap dog who will be loyal to the core. 

Cockapoos can be highly responsive and have a huge amount of energy they need to burn off. Yet the dog won’t explore the world without a stable base (your bond with your dog) for a sense of security. 

Cockapoos are small, portable so can be homed in any type of accommodation.  It’s one of the (many) things we love about them in our work as they give us more partnership options than we might have with a larger breed of dog. 

Dogs for Good trainer, Jen, says cockapoos are “very bright and love life!” They are “fun, animated, and bring lots of laughter”, she says. 

Things to consider before getting a Cockapoo

  • It’s easy to overlook just how much mental stimulation a dog needs to stay well. Cockapoos in particular need at least a couple of hours every day alongside physical activity. 
  • They can be vocal, so barking is something to watch out for and seek help with if necessary.
  • Cockapoos need regular grooming to keep them looking tip top and keep their coat in good condition – here’s some tips for grooming from our Health and Welfare manager, Elly.
  • If left without company for too long they can suffer with separation anxiety and won’t settle easily.

Training Cockapoos 

Trainer Jen with cockapoo laying beside her

It’s easy to train a cockapoo because they’re quite logical. A step-by-step approach works best with these clever dogs, although the timing is crucial. “They keep you on your toes”, says trainer Jen. “If you click to reward a behaviour they’ll do it again and again, over and over, so it’s important that you click the right thing!” 

Puppy classes are a must for any cockapoo. Like most puppies, they respond well to short and sweet training sessions.

As a working breed, cockapoos have a high level of drive, so if there is something that engages their attention, you may have to work that bit harder to get their attention.  But equally, if they like doing something, they’ll stay motivated for a good period of time. They can be easily distracted when they’re out and about, but love the direct human contact they get from a training session. 

We look for medium sensitivity in our assistance dogs, which means they’re in the moment with us while training and responsive to our handling. If the sensitivity is too high, a dog can be too quick to react to a stimulus. Too slow and they become disengaged. 

Known health issues in cockapoos 

  • Luxating patella – the kneecap shifts out of its groove. Mainly caused by genetics but can be caused by injury  
  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy, hereditary cataracts or glaucoma 
  • Ear infections due to ear shape which should be checked for regularly 
  • Coat matting – spaniels will be more prone to matting due to their coat type so regular grooming is essential 

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