Cavapoos in a Nutshell
FACT: That adorable teddy-bear look of the Cavapoo is really, really hard to resist! Chances are strong that if you go visit Cavapoo puppies or even frequent on-line pictures of them, you are very likely to fall madly in love. You are officially warned.
As you probably already know, the Cavapoo is a crossbreed between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Miniature or Toy Poodle. This crossbreed has been around in America since the 1950s. In fact it’s one of the oldest designer crossbreeds. And today it’s becoming more and more popular all around the world. The main reason is that they are just so darn cute… along with many people's desire for a dog that is low-shedding, low-allergenic and strong on hybrid vigor. Unfortunately, each of these traits (other than the cuteness one) is hotly debated. Some Cavapoos shed quite a bit, some are just as bad as other breeds for folks with allergies, and hybrid vigor continues to be a very controversial topic among the experts.
So that’s the bad news. Still interested in a Cavapoo? The answer is usually “Yes!”… for good reason. They exude charm. A LOT of charm. They are highly social and they love to spend time with you; whether you are sitting on the couch or on the toilet doesn’t seem to matter to them. They don’t care if you don’t live in a mansion – Cavapoos generally weigh 12 to 25 pounds, fitting well into homes of any size. And they don’t demand that you be a marathon runner in order to exercise them. A decent walk and some play time (a game of fetch or tug of war) does just fine.
Speaking of charm, it would be difficult for a Cavapoo not to be charming. Both of his parent breeds are loving, loyal and outgoing. With their sweet disposition, Cavapoos typically get along well with everyone, from young folks to older folks. As such, it’s no great surprise that they have served successfully as support or therapy dogs. They may not thrive, however, in a home where everyone works away from home for long hours. Also, most Cavapoos are able to learn a wide variety of tricks, due to their intelligence but also due to the fact that they yearn to please you.
Cavapoo Color & Coat
Cavapoos come in several beautiful colors, including red, apricot, tricolor, and black. Any of these can have large or small amounts of white. Most folks (including us) are smitten with red with white markings. However, we recently have fallen in love with the tri-color Cavapoos and have thus added a tri-color female (Sugar Bear) to our little menagerie. The Cavapoo coat can vary greatly from that of the silky coat of the Cavalier (which tends to shed a little more) to the curly coat of the Poodle (which can mat more easily and requires a little more grooming). No matter the color or texture of the coat, however, it’s the Cavapoo’s perpetual puppy-dog look that has people falling in love. Seriously, who can resist?
Many assume that a hybrid mix of two different breeds will result in the best of the two breeds, but genetics doesn’t always play that way. It’s often been compared to opening that beautifully wrapped present on Christmas morning – you just never know what’s going to pop up when you open that box. That’s because genetic traits tend to disperse randomly in each puppy. Selecting certain characteristics over several generations certainly doesn’t provide a guarantee, but does increase our chances of getting what we want in that beloved package.
So, when considering a Cavapoo, you need to become familiar with a lot of letters and numbers: primarily F1, F1B, and F2. What do they mean? Here’s the short version of the genetics course. The "F" stands for "filial" which means son/daughter/offspring. The number indicates the generation. The “B” stands for a backward cross.
F1 = 1st generation. This is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel crossed with a Poodle (50% Cavalier -- 50% Poodle). Breeders will often claim that this tends to be the best cross when it comes to hybrid vigor (theoretically resulting in the best of each breed and lowering the risk for the negative traits of each). However, this is one of the most hotly debated topics in canine breeding; many if not most experts put little stock in hybrid vigor when it comes to crossbreeding dogs.
F1B = 1st generation backcross (25% Cavalier -- 75% Poodle). This is an F1 Cavapoo crossed back (thus the "B") to either a purebred Cavalier or a purebred Poodle, but most often the Poodle. This is usually done in order to achieve a lower-shedding index, but often results in a look that is much closer to that of a Poodle.
F2 = 2nd generation. This is a F1 Cavapoo crossed with another F1 Cavapoo (50% Cavalier -- 50% Poodle). The percentage of Cavalier and Poodle remains the same because each F1 Cavapoo parent is a 50/50 mix between the two breeds, so the ratio does not change. There is some speculation that F2 breeding can at times result in a wider range of looks between the parent breeds, meaning that a few of the pups might carry more of the Cavalier or Poodle look.
At Morning Side Farm, we have chosen to focus on F2 breeding because of the overall greater predictability of the offspring’s look, color and type of coat. Our goal is to raise Cavapoo puppies with that adorable teddy bear look… that’s what we originally fell in love with and what we’ve been hooked on ever since!
Cavapoos may be susceptible to the health problems of both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle. The greatest risk is that of heart problems found in the Cavalier. Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) is a serious heart condition that shows up first as a heart murmur. MVD can cause early death, although it often is successfully managed with medication. The best solution is to breed dogs who are free of heart murmurs and who come from parents who are also free of murmurs. Both our male and female Cavapoos fit this bill!