What is a Cockapoo - Anzil Cockapoo
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What is a Cockapoo

Excuse me, what kind of dog is that?

Our new owners find this is an unavoidable question when they are out and about with their dogs. So if this a question you too have asked, here is a little more info.

A Cockapoo is a cross bred dog created by mating a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Cockapoos have been recognized as a very special hybrid since around the 1950s and originated in the US. Cockapoos are considered 1st generation (F1) if the parents are pure Cocker and pure Poodle.

Mating a Cockapoo to Cockapoo would result in 2nd generation puppies or ‘F2’. Mating an F2 to another F2 would result in F3 puppies and so on. It is important to remember the Cockapoo is a mixed breed therefore puppies can differ. They could lean a little to the poodle or a little more to the Cocker. Some may be a little curlier others may have a more shaggier coat. Some may have a heavier build while others are petite like a poodle, however they always show both parents in a unique way which is what gives the Cockapoo its special repuation. Second generation ( F2 puppies ) have the highest incidence of pups that will lean more to the looks of either parent’s breed. This does not make second generation puppies bad, just something to be aware of when researching the options available.

By moving away from one specific gene pool and bloodline, this reduces the chances of hereditary health problems associated with any one breed. It is desired that the Cockapoo will draw on the best qualities of both its parents, the unrivaled intelligence and ability of the Poodle combined with the affectionate and biddable nature of the Cocker Spaniel. In any instance it is paramount that both the sire and dam are perfect in health, temperament and character.
Poodles are also noted for their longevity, giving the Cockapoo a double dose of hybrid vigor. Average life expectancy recorded by poll is approx 12- 15 years +

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Crossbreeds

Wether for or against cross bred dogs it is common knowledge that inbreeding within the pedigree dog world has contributed greatly to the state and standard of pedigree dog’s health as we know it today. It is absurd to think that in todays society we still overlook the inbreeding and incestuous matings that are ‘accepted’ within the worldwide Kennel Clubs. When a breeders main drive and focus is the appearance of the dogs they are mating, health and temperament are naturally compromised. Allowing a mother dog to mate with her son, or a brother with a sister, simply in order to retain cosmetic and anatomical consistency is NOT right.

‘variety is the spice of life’

These efforts are made to ‘perfect’ a breed, but for who’s benefit? If the end result is a dog that for instance in case of the ‘British Bulldog’ has trouble breathing, cannot naturally conceive and struggles to give birth – this is clearly moving in the wrong direction.

Our own UK Kennel Club now runs a scheme allowing you to check the amount any pedigree dog is inbred. This is known as the ‘Inbreeding Coefficient’. The idea is that breeders now have the tool to be able to check the compatibility of the dogs they wish to mate with the lower the average, the healthier the dog. Cocker spaniels UK coefficient average is 9.2%. A Miniature Poodle average is 5.6%.

An F1 Cockapoo has a coefficient of 0%.

We understand the controversy attached to crossbreeds and appreciate the views of breed clubs, breeders and rescue organizations concerned about the ‘designer dog’ boom. Any breed that is as popular as the Cockapoo is then open to exploitation, however this is not an issue limited to crossbred dogs and the same affect KC registered pedigree breeds.

Our dogs are not show dogs and our puppies are bred with health and temperament coming before looks. As breeders we are responsible, ethical and our intentions far from cosmetic.

Appearance

Although Cockapoos do have a very distinct look, it is important to remember that as they are not an actual breed, their over all appearance can vary greatly depending on the back ground and breeding of either parent.
Generally, the Cockapoo in the UK is recognised as a medium sized curly coated dog. It is important to note that this depends heavily on the size of the poodle influence ( i.e toy, miniature or standard ) The same also applies when considering the influence of Cocker spaniel ( i.e English show type, English working, or American Cocker )
This means Cockapoos can range in height and weight from approx 12 – 22 ” / 10lb – 20lb

Although Cockapoos are synonymous with that long shaggy coat, as with size, there are also a few different types of coat ranging from straight and wavy, to fleece and wool coat.
Sharing the benefits of a larger and more varied gene pool, the Cockapoo can come in a range of different colour variations including black, chocolate, golden, cream, apricot, red, sable and silver to name but a few. The coat can also appear with more than two colours for example black and tan, blue roan, or parti coloured.

Shedding

No doubt one of the many benefits of owning a Cockapoo are their reputation for being a low moulting breed. Many families with allergies to dogs find that they can tolerate the soft low shedding coat of the Cockapoo. Typically it is not actually the fur of a dog that causes and allergic reaction, but the dander that sticks to the dogs skin and hair follicle. When a dog sheds his coat, the dander is therefore released into the atmosphere free to cause a reaction.
As a Cockapoos coat does not shed in the same way as most breeds, they produce less dander and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. This being said there is never any guarantee that a puppy or dog can be hypoallergenic and care must be taken to choose a coat that will be most suitable for all of your family. Most responsible breeders will know by the time the puppies are 6 weeks old what type of coat they are likely to have and can guide you in your choice.

Health

It is widely accepted that hybrid or F1 crossbred dogs are generally healthier and less likely to suffer from hereditary disease associated with any one particular pedigree breed. Many known genetically inherited diseases are breed specific. FN for instance ( Familial Nephropathy ) is a fatal kidney disease found in English Cocker spaniels. In order for a puppy to inherit or be affected by FN both parents need to carry a copy of the mutated gene. With this in mind, if a Cocker Spaniel is bred with a dog of a completely different breed, the puppies resulting from this mating are significantly less likely to suffer from FN.
While ‘Hybrid Vigour’ is still one of the more debated benefits of owning a crossbreed, it cannot and should not be accepted as guarantee enough to ensure the welfare and health of your new puppy.
The biggest risk to our Cockapoos is PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
This is a recessive gene, so like ‘FN’ both parents need to carry a mutated copy of the gene, however, PRA is found across many different breeds, including Cocker Spaniels AND Poodles.
To ensure the Cockapoo puppy you buy does not ever suffer from PRA, it is imperative that at least one parent has been DNA tested CLEAR for PRA. This involves a blood or cheek swab being taken from the dog in question. The DNA is then analysed with three possible results, CLEAR, CARRIER, or AFFECTED. A clear dog will never develop PRA and will never be able to pass on the PRA gene to its pups. Carriers of the gene will not develop or suffer from PRA but have the potential to pass on the gene to their pups. Affected dogs will not only eventually go blind from PRA, but if bred from can produce affected puppies.

Health screening within cross breeders has gained momentum in the last few years with more and more breeders now testing for other known issues within each parents breed. These include but not limited to –
· Hip Dysplasia
· Luxating patellas
· Familial Nephropathy / FN ( English Cocker )
· Phosphofructokinase / PFK (American Cocker)
· Glaucoma
· Von Willenbrands Disease ( Poodle )
The health screening we do is based on the potential risk to our puppies. Our stud dogs are DNA tested PRA clear.
They are BVA hipscored and annually patella tested.

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Buying a puppy

We urge anyone considering buying a puppy to do their research. It is important the qualities and attributes of dog you are interested in best suits your family and lifestyle, it is essential to also consider the qualities of Cocker spaniels and Poodles.

There are attributes of the cockapoo that are present in many other existing KC registered breeds so take care to ensure that you’re end decision is an informed one. Ensure you are choosing a established breeder with both the experience and reputation for rearing healthy, quality puppies. A good breeder will be in high demand and may not be able to provide you a puppy straight away.

Beware of breeders without references or with more than two or three other breeds. Insist on seeing pups with their mother and litter mates and always avoid ‘free adds’ sites selling puppies at discount prices. As a breeders we have to be 100% happy with potential owners therefore cannot understand what type of breeders are supplying pet shops or puppy supermarkets who buy in puppies to re-sell.

What you may save in money on the day you may pay for long-term. As the Cockapoo’s popularity grows, so do the number of ‘Backyard Breeders’ and unscrupulous people selling crossbreed puppies.
It is important your new puppies family tree is recorded and traceable thus avoiding disappointment when the cute curly puppies your bring home mature into something quite different. Puppy farming and mass producing puppies is nothing new and there is no quick fix to make this awful trade go away.

The internet is a great tool for researching Cockapoos and breeders alike. We encourage people to take a look at online forums like ‘I Love My Cockapoo’ and clubs like the Cockapoo Club of GB. This can be a great way to find out more about Cockapoos in general and chat to people about all things Cockapoo related – from what to look for in a breeder, to advice on training and socialization in the early days.

Grooming

Although conveniently low shedding, the Cockapoos coat comes at a price. Compared to other breeds, the Cockapoo can quite fairly be described as high maintenance. Sharing many of the benefits of the poodle type coat, this also extends to the maintenance and management of a coat that does not shed its dead hair. Hair that does not leave the coat through moulting will stay in the base of the coat and eventually build up and mat. Brushing and combing is advised at least once a week to maintain a knot ant mat free coat. If left unattended the coat will continually grow so it is advised to decide on a length and style that suits your dog and suits your lifestyle. To achieve this we recommend the services of a professional dog groomer every 4 – 8 weeks from the age of 6 months. The longer your dogs coat, the more regular it should be maintained. As there is no breed standard for the Cockapoo, there are lots of accepted styles in which to have your dogs coat clipped. Take time when explaining to your groomer about what you want and be clear about what you don’t want. As with most curly and long coated breeds the coat should be preferably scissored and shaped into a preferred style as apposed to clippered. The majority of ‘Poo owners like to accentuate the features that make the Cockapoo so special, their eyes and expression, fluffy heads, long ears and shaggy beards while still maintaining a practical length i.e easy to dry and less likely to pick up grass and twigs.

A coat that is left ungroomed can potentially mat and where mats go un-noitced the only option can be to shave your dogs coat right down.

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Exercise

The Cockapoo is not an incredibly demanding dog but like all dogs does require moderate exercise.
The Cocker Spaniel is a gundog breed and was used for finding and retrieving woodcock, it is an active dog able to hunt in most environments including water. The poodle is classed as a utility breed. Although famous for its intelligence and trainability it was originally used to retrieve game from water. Needless to say Cockapoos do enjoy swimming and this can be a great way to exercise your dog.

With the Cockapoo having two active and able parent breeds in its makeup its essential that apart from regular exercise dogs must but kept stimulated. A Cockapoo left alone for long periods of time will become bored and will quite often develop into behavior issues which can be hard to correct.

Many of our owners participate in obedience, agility, flyball, water activitiy and search dog clubs to keep their dogs fit and active.

Training

Cockapoos are intelligent and able little dogs.
They require firm and continuous basic training and like all dogs, need boundaries and limitations to fit into a family dynamic.

We recommend puppy training classes from the age of around 12 weeks.

This is a great chance for your puppy to socialize and learn basic obedience in an environment where there are other dogs and many distractions.

Training will be a working progress, the more time you invest, the better the result. In my own experience Cockapoo’s ‘adolescent stage’ can last well into their second year of life. Be patient and enjoy your ‘Poo while they’re young.
We treat our dogs and the puppies we breed as just that, dogs! We do not allow them on the furniture, up the stairs or near the dinner table while we are eating.

A dog is happiest when he or she knows where they are in the pack.
It is important with any dog to have clear boundaries and to be able to correct undesirable behavior in a way the dog can understand.

Temperament

Not just a pretty face! The Cockapoo is famous for its temperament. They are affectionate, intelligent and loyal dogs. Cockapoos thrive on human interaction hence their reputation as the ‘perfect family dog’
Cockapoos are tolerant, placid, cheeky, loveable, fun, devoted dogs. Cockapoos are known to be extremely patient with children, one of the most important things for families looking for their first dog.

Due to years of careless breeding both Cocker Spaniels and Poodles temperaments have suffered as a result.
Some poodles have a reputation of being highly-strung or snappy. Many Cockers at the height of their popularity in the 70’s and 80’s inherited terrible temperaments making them unpredictable and in some cases aggressive. This was known as ‘Rage Syndrome’ and although not only associated with Cockers and thankfully, is almost unheard of in Cockers of today, it is a prime example of careless breeding leading to something that can damage a breed and its reputation for a life time.

The Poodles and Cockers of today are once again appreciated for their intelligence and soft natures.

We are very selective about the dogs we breed from as the parents temperaments and dispositions are passed on to their puppies.

In any case we strongly advise, where possible, meeting both parents of the litter you are interested in. Spend time assessing their nature and behaviour. Make sure mother is confident and comfortable with your presence and watch the puppies interaction.