A mix of both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the poodle, the cavapoo (sometimes called Cavadoodle or Cavoodle) is a small dog breed with soft, curly or wavy fur that was first bred in Australia. With parents from the AKC's toy and non-sporting groups, this lovable and compact dog is known for its companionable nature.
Cavapoos have become increasingly popular in the U.S. over the past few decades, and they adapt well to most settings. The playful, easygoing personalities of these dogs make them a great fit for most families with children.
Group: Not recognized by the AKC
Height: 11 to 14 inches (males); 9 to 11 inches (females)
Weight: 10 to 20 pounds (males); 9 to 15 pounds (females)
Coat: Medium length, wavy or curly coat
Coat Color: Cream, fawn, chocolate, gold, chestnut, tri-color; Can be solid or have white markings
Life Span: 12 to 15 years
Temperament: Friendly, affectionate, gentle, playful, loyal, even-tempered
Characteristics of the Cavapoo
Cavapoos are a great fit for a variety of lifestyles. They prefer being in the company of their owners rather than in a kennel, so prepare for them to be filled with excitement when you come home from being out. It's best to adopt this breed if you're planning to spend plenty of time with them. Cavapoos are especially affectionate with their families and tend to have a quiet, calm temperament when they're not exercising. They can also be quite energetic thanks to their playful personalities.
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History of the Cavapoo
Poodle mixes, including the cavapoo, have become increasingly popular in the United States in recent decades. These mixes blend the personality traits of one breed—in this case, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's good-naturedness—with the low shedding and hypoallergenic traits of poodles. Although the sudden popularity of cavapoos may make them seem to be a newer breed, it is believed that they were first bred in the 1950s in Australia.
Like other designer dogs, cavapoos require a bit more grooming than some popular short-haired breeds because of their curly coats. However, the cavapoo is also highly trainable, eager to please, and it only requires a medium amount of exercise to stay happy and healthy.
Despite the cavapoo's high energy, this breed actually has moderate exercise requirements, only needing daily walks. This, combined with their small stature, makes them suitable for apartments and urban life. They certainly have the energy to keep up with children, but as with all pets, make sure that your children have adult supervision when playing with your cavapoo. Keep in mind that these dogs are on the smaller side, so there is a higher risk of injury with a playful child that gets a little carried away with their roughhousing.
Cavapoos have soft, medium-length fur that can range from wavy to curly and requires regular grooming. They are known for shedding very little, making them an ideal breed for those with allergies to pet dander. Their lack of shedding doesn't mean they don't need routine brushing, however. If your cavapoo isn't brushed at least once to twice a week, its wavy curls may start to mat. Aside from being uncomfortable and sometimes even painful, mats can make the skin underneath prone to infections. Some owners may opt to have their dog's fur cut short into a 'puppy cut' to help prevent matting.
In addition to brushing, your cavapoo should get his or her nails trimmed routinely to prevent them from snagging or breaking. They also need their ears cleaned to prevent infection, and it's important to clean or trim the fur inside the ears.
As a smaller breed, cavapoos are prone to dental disease. Brushing your cavapoo's teeth daily, or as often as you can manage, with dog-friendly toothpaste can help keep its teeth clean and healthy. Dental disease is not merely a cosmetic issue. Gingival tissue is vascular, and it is the number one area where bacteria can enter the bloodstream. This can lead to painful tooth abscesses, but it can also cause a heart condition known as endocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Proper dental hygiene is especially important for breeds that are susceptible to dental problems.
Cavapoos are intelligent, highly trainable, and eager to please their owners. This breed can easily be trained (starting as early as 12 weeks of age) in basic obedience with positive reinforcement-based training. Marking the desired behavior with a treat or praise can help reinforce good behavior.
Because they are so closely bonded to their owners, cavapoos are also prone to suffering from separation anxiety. If you have to leave the house often, it's best to seek a trainer with behavioral experience—avoid those that use 'aversives' or 'corrections,' as these methods might further stress an anxious pet. Work with a certified trainer who has positive feedback from other dog owners.
Common Health Problems
Cavapoos are prone to diseases seen commonly in both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as well as poodles. Reputable breeders will screen their spaniels, poodles, and cavapoo puppies for these illnesses and avoid breeding dogs with genetic diseases. Health problems commonly seen in cavapoos can include:
- Congenital Heart Defects: The most common is mitral valve disease, in which a valve inside the heart is malformed and doesn't fully occlude when closed.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This ocular disorder affects the dog's retinas and can lead to blindness.
- Luxating Patellas: This condition is an orthopedic issue affecting the kneecaps. The grooves that the kneecaps rest in are shallow, allowing the knees to pop in and out of place.
- Atopy: Also known as skin allergies in dogs, this condition can cause itchiness and discomfort.
- Syringomyelia/Chiari-Like Malformation: This is a condition in which pockets of fluid build up in your dog's spinal cord.
- Dental Disease: Dental infections and abscesses can be painful, and they also affect the bloodstream (which can cause heart disease). Brush your dog's teeth regularly and maintain a consistent dental cleaning schedule with your veterinarian.
Diet and Nutrition
Cavapoos tend to thrive on nutritious diets made for small to medium-sized, high-energy dogs. Although the weight range for the breed doesn't seem very large, it can actually vary widely. A 9-pound cavapoo is much smaller than a 20-pound cavapoo and will require much less dog food per day.
Depending on their size and activity, your cavapoo may require anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of food per day. Although this breed has a high energy level, it's still prone to canine obesity. Your veterinarian can provide a diet plan for your specific dog to maintain a healthy weight.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Cavapoo
Cavapoos are relatively popular dogs. Despite being considered "designer," they are also surrendered at shelters like most other breeds. If you are interested in adding a cavapoo to your family, it's best to adopt one from a local shelter.
If you haven't found any cavapoos at shelters, it's important to ensure that any breeder you use is reputable. These puppies typically cost between $1,00 and $2,000, but prices may vary depending on location and pedigree. The breed's popularity also makes them a common choice for puppy mills. To adopt a healthy dog raised in a safe environment, general rules of thumb include avoiding commercial pet shops and breeders that don't let you see the parents (or where they're kept). To start your search, consider these resources for responsible cavapoo breeders:
Low shedding and hypoallergenic
Size and adaptability make them good for apartment living
Weekly to twice weekly brushing required
Prone to separation anxiety
Prone to dental disease, heart conditions, and eye problems
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
The cavapoo isn't the only poodle mix out there. If you're interested in adopting one, you can also consider their suitability to your home versus similar breeds:
- Cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle)
- Maltipoo (Maltese and poodle)
- Yorkipoo (Yorkshire terrier and poodle)
- Schnoodle (miniature schnauzer and poodle)
There are a variety of dog breeds that can join your family, and plenty of poodle mixes can be great options. With just a little research, you can find the right breed for your home!
Is a Cavapoo a Good Family Dog?
Yes. Thanks to their even-tempered and affectionate nature, cavapoos have great family personalities and respond well to positive reinforcement-based training.
Do Cavapoo Dogs Shed a Lot?
Thanks to its genes from the poodle, the cavapoo is a low-shedding dog breed that is also hypoallergenic, making it a great choice for owners with mild to medium dog allergies.
Can Cavapoos Be Left Alone?
Cavapoos become extremely bonded to their owners, so this is not the best choice of breed for those that work full-time away from the home. If you do need to leave your cavapoo alone for shorter periods of time, it's helpful to work with a trainer who has experience with separation anxiety in dogs.