This crossbreed has become very popular in the last few years. Many people love cockapoos because they are so cute and look like teddy bears. They have become one of the most popular designer crossbreeds.
If you’re wondering “Is a cockapoo right for me?” then read on… I have worked with many cockapoos and the information below is based on this experience, but will not apply to every single individual dog of this crossbreed.
Are cockapoo dogs intelligent?
The cockapoo is a mix of the cocker spaniel and poodle. What can these genetics tell us?
Cocker spaniel: The cocker spaniel is in the Gundog category and was developed as a hunting dog to assist humans in hunting birds called Woodcock – hence the name “cocker” spaniel. Many are still used as gundogs today.
Although there are physical variations between the distinct lines of working cockers and show cockers, they have very similar behaviour traits.
Working line dogs will have higher energy and “drive”, show lines will be less high-octane but still retain the same breed instincts and desires – just not quite as “amplified” as they are in the working line dogs. For this reason, it is quite important to know whether the “cocker” in your cockapoo is working line or show line, so make sure you ask your breeder and that you understand the difference.
A cocker spaniel’s job as a gundog is to bring back birds. The dog must travel over tricky, uneven ground and grab the bird. The bird may not be quite dead and might put up a bit of a struggle, so the dog needs to hold it firmly enough that it doesn’t get away, but without shredding it in the process. They then run back to their handler, over difficult terrain which may include swimming through water, to present the bird.
If a cocker spaniel didn’t have an innate instinct to have and to hold on to objects, they wouldn’t be any good at their job. For these dogs, holding something in their mouth is immensely, naturally rewarding for them. This may seem like superfluous information, but we will circle back to this later on and I promise all will become clear.
All cocker spaniels need lots of mental stimulation to engage their brain and meet their behavioral instincts and needs. Cocker spaniels are very busy dogs and sometimes it’s tricky to find the “off” switch. They are placed in the top 20 of Stanley Coren’s Intelligence of Breeds,
Poodle: What was the original purpose of a poodle? Poodles are a member of the Utility dog category, and their primary purpose was to help humans hunt birds. Many people don’t realise they originate from Germany where they were used as duck retrievers. The traditional coat shape of a poodle was to keep the organs and joints warm, whilst reducing drag in the water.
Poodles are another very clever breed, number two in Coren’s Intelligence of Breeds scale, with only the Border Collie ranking higher. They are versatile, multipurpose dogs and standard poodles are among the “fab four” most popular breeds selected for Service Dog work. They have also been involved in military and Police work over the years.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, the point I’m making is that a cockapoo results from a cross between two high-intelligence working dog breeds that are used for hunting. If you’re considering getting a cockapoo, prepare yourself for a lot of mental stimulation and training games to entertain your cockapoo and stop them getting into mischief, as they will be eager to work and keen to be “on the go” all day long.
If their need for mental stimulation is not met, there’s a real danger that they’ll develop behavior issues as a result.
Are cockapoos hypoallergenic?
Cockapoos are frequently mentioned as hypoallergenic dogs and the poodle is entirely responsible for this hypoallergenic component. Whether a cockapoo is hypoallergenic is debatable and the issue with cross breeds is that, unlike purebred dogs, they are not consistent in their appearance.
Genetics simply doesn’t allow us to cherry pick which elements of each parent are passed on to each puppy and some dogs are a lot more cocker-looking than poodle-looking.
It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not just the fur that can cause allergies, humans can also be allergic to dog saliva and dander (like doggy dandruff). If a dog being hypoallergenic is a non-negotiable point, then you will be safer selecting a purebred dog.
Where to buy a cockapoo puppy.
As cockapoos have increased in popularity lately, this inevitably brings unethical breeding practices as immoral people try to make a quick buck. Whenever any type of dog becomes popular, those wishing to exploit the high demand for puppies always follow.
Puppy farmers do not breed responsibly, which means they frequently neglect to meet the basic needs of the parents of the puppies they produce. They are also more likely to breed from dogs with behavioural or physical problems that can be inherited, which can cause a lifetime of pain for the resulting puppies and heartbreak for their new owners. Not to mention high vet bills.
Coming into the world with a terrible start, from stressed parents and suffering from a lack of positive early experiences can scar a dog for life. All of this impacts puppies as well as their parents – anxious parents create anxious puppies, which is why no puppy is a blank canvas.
In this article, I’ve referred to puppy farms, but there are a lot of reputable breeders that genuinely care for the health and welfare of their dogs and puppies.
Do cockapoos develop behavior problems?
Resource guarding in cockapoos is not uncommon because of the cocker tendency to find holding on to objects innately rewarding and reinforcing. This is where a dog becomes possessive of their food or toys and can become aggressive if they feel someone is trying to take them away. It’s important to nip this behavior in the bud as soon as possible by using positive reinforcement training methods to teach your cockapoo that good things happen when people are around their belongings.
Reactivity in cockapoos towards other dogs is also common. Again, this behavior should be addressed early on with positive reinforcement training methods. If left unchecked, it can lead to the dog becoming increasingly anxious and stressed in social situations, which can result in dangerous altercations with other dogs.
Separation anxiety in cockapoos is another behavior that is relatively common. This is where the dog becomes anxious and stressed when left alone and can often result in destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging.
If your cockapoo is displaying any of these behaviors, it’s important to seek professional help from a qualified animal behaviorist or dog trainer as soon as possible.
As with any breed of dog, there is always the potential for developing behavior problems if the dog is not properly socialized and trained. However, cockapoos are generally intelligent, loving dogs that make great family pets.
Are cockapoo puppies hard work?
All puppies are hard work.
Cockapoos are wonderful, clever dogs that are frequently a lot of fun. They will thrive in the right environment and grow up to be amusing and loyal companions.
Cockapoo puppies are quite prone to mouthiness, so check out my post on how to deal with puppy biting if you’re experiencing this.
Cockapoo activity levels.
Cockapoos are active dogs and need a lot of exercise. A daily walk is a minimum, but they will also enjoy playing fetch, going for swims, and taking part in dog sports such as agility and flyball once they are old enough.
Cockapoo grooming requirements.
Cockapoos have a high need for grooming, and it’s critical to make your dog feel at ease with regular home maintenance. This breed is prone to mats and tangles which can quickly become painful, so regular brushing, right down to the skin with a slicker brush, is essential.
Brushing every day around the armpits, groin, around the collar area and behind the ears, is necessary to keep their coat healthy and mat-free.
Grooming also provides an opportunity for you to check your dog over for any lumps, bumps, or other changes in their appearance that could indicate a health problem.
They will also need regular grooming with a professional dog groomer, so get them used to this early by taking them to the salon for fun visits as soon as they have completed their jabs. This will help them feel comfortable being handled and groomed in this environment when they are older.
Is a cockapoo a good choice?
If you’re willing to invest a lot of time and effort in providing your cockapoo with a rich life filled with stimulation, appropriate outlets for the working dog energy, and love their huge personalities, they may be a fantastic companion.
However, bear in mind all of this if you fall for the teddy bear-like appearance. Many are not content living the life of a sofa dog and need a lot of time, patience and effort to keep them out of mischief and prevent behavior issues from developing.
If you’re looking for a cockapoo puppy, see my article on how to find a good dog breeder.