Cockapoo dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Cockapoo is what is referred to as a designer breed.  This means it is a deliberate mix between two breeds in hopes to retain the best quality of both.  Cockapoos are a mix between the cocker spaniel and the poodle, and should be an outgoing, social, and intelligent dog. Cockapoos have been around since the 1950s, so many of the lines have produced wonderful dogs that come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Breed Characteristics

Health and GroomingHighest
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group:Designer breed.  Mix of Non Sporting (Poodle) & Sporting (Cocker Spaniel)
Height:From 10 inches to over 17 inches
Weight:From 10 lbs to over 30 lbs
Lifespan:10-15 Years

Cockapoos are an old breed in comparison to many of the designer dogs. They are known to be a friendly and active dog that gets along well with others. Because they are a poodle cross, they are typically hypoallergenic.  They come in sizes ranging from the very small toy to the standard which can be over 30 lbs. While they are active, Cockapoos will adjust to life with someone who isn’t able to provide a lot of exercise.  Their main concern is their humans.  They don’t generally enjoy being alone, and can become depressed if they do not get adequate attention.

Main Highlights
  • Most are low shedding and good for people with allergies.
  • Cockapoos are generally friendly and adaptable, and a great choice for just about anyone who fancies the breed.
  • Cockapoos require moderate grooming. If the breeder has achieved the desired poodle like coat, then the hair will grow instead of shed, and will need to be cut.
  • Cockapoos are generally intelligent dogs and are easy to train. They will do better if given some sort of mental stimulation along with regular walks.
Breed History

While the exact origin of the cockapoo can only be speculated, it has been around for several decades.  The breed dates back to sometime in the 1950s.  The cockapoo is a cross between either an American Cocker Spaniel or an English cocker spaniel, and a poodle of any size. Most good cockapoo breeders do not sell first generation cockapoos, but rather breed two cockapoos together.  Sometimes a cockapoo may be bred with a poodle to take advantage of the non-shedding poodle coat.

Because the breed has been around for many decades, reputable breeders have managed to create a standard for the cockapoo.  Breeders hope someday to have the breed accepted by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club, but it is currently considered a mixed breed by both clubs.


Because the cockapoo can be bred from any of the poodle sizes from teacup to standard, there are a variety of sizes to choose from.  Cockapoos range in size from the tiny four pound teacup variety to more than fifty pounds.

Personality and Character

The ideal cockapoo should have a cheerful disposition, be affectionate and loyal, and should be easy to train.  Because this is a mixed breed, there are no guarantees that your cockapoo will have these qualities. Cockapoos are generally fairly versatile, and can be good dogs for families or for the elderly.  While both cockers and poodles are typically good family dogs, cocker spaniels are working dogs.  Working dogs are not typically the best choice for the inexperienced dog owner. Some cocker spaniels have been found to have problems with temperament disorders, which can make these cocker spaniels a poor choice for anyone who is unable to handle and work with an ill-tempered pooch.

Health and Potential Problems

As with any breed, you want to carefully select a reputable breeder if you decide to add one of these dogs to your family.  Unscrupulous and inexperienced breeders may produce puppies that have medical issues common in both lines. Rather than improving the health and temperament of the dog, you could end up with a dog that has a plethora of problems and is not the hypoallergenic dog that many seek when purchasing a poodle cross.

  • On the cocker spaniel side, common ailments include hip dysplasia, cataracts, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, Progressive retinal atrophy, and von Willebrands disease. Von Willebrands disease is a bleeding disorder where clotting does not take place, and can cause damage to the internal organs.
  • Standard poodles share many of these potential problems with cockers. They are prone to Addison’s disease, bloat, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, progressive retinal atrophy, renal disease, thyroid problems, and skin disorders including sebaceous adenitis.
  • Toy and teacup poodles are also prone to Addison’s disease, bloat, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, luxating patellas, von Willebrands disease, and progressive retinal atrophy. In addition, they are also prone to Cushing’s disease and Legg-Perthes disease, which affects the bones in the hips.

As you can see, there is a lot of crossover in the diseases carried by both poodles and cocker spaniels.  In order to insure that you are getting a healthy dog, it is crucial that you request copies of the genetic tests done for these diseases before you bring your puppy home. These disorders are serious and can be very expensive to treat.

Care Features

Cockapoos are generally easy to house train, and should be indoor dogs.  They are very focused on their human companions, and do not do well when left in a yard by themselves.  Your cockapoo will not enjoy solitude, so expect him to be a constant companion.  Crate training is an excellent way to help your cockapoo know when he needs to hold his bladder, but don’t rely on it too much as your cockapoo may develop behavioral problems if he does not receive the attention that he needs and deserves.

Obedience training is a must for the cockapoo.  Not only can they have the work ethic of a cocker spaniel, but they have the drive and energy of a poodle.  But don’t worry; it should be an easy task to train your cockapoo to do a variety of tricks.  Be sure to use only positive, force free training as harsh corrections can not only harm your dog physically, but can cause emotional damage to this sensitive and loving breed.

Cockapoos may be very attached to their humans, so they require regular socialization early in life.  The peak socialization period for dogs is usually over at between 12-14 weeks, and anything they have not had a positive experience with by the time this period is over, may become terrifying to your dog.  Be sure to introduce your dog to as many people, places, objects, noises, surfaces, and other dogs as you can do without putting your puppy at risk for communicable diseases.  Talk to your vet about vaccination schedules and how to protect your puppy while you are socializing him.

Feeding Schedule

Because your cockapoo comes from two breeds that both suffer from hip issues, you will need to keep your cockapoo fit and trim. An overweight dog will have an increased chance of having issues with pain, so you will want to be sure that your dog always has a clearly defined waist.  Puppies should be fed more often than adult dogs, three or even four times daily is ideal.  Adults can be fed one to two meals.  The amount will depend on the size of your dog. Puppies should be fed according to the size they are expected to be as adults.

Do not leave food down for your cockapoo.  It will encourage her to eat more than she needs, and will make it difficult to get her on a schedule for housebreaking.  It will also make training harder, as food rewards are a useful tool.  If you gave me the choice between giving me a salary for doing nothing or giving me a salary for working hard, I have to admit I would probably sit around and eat bon-bons, play with my dogs, and read a lot of books.  You’d be hard pressed to get me to work if I had the choice to do nothing and the pay was the same.  So ask your dog to work for her food.  She will be happier and healthier for it!

Choose a high quality dog food, or consider feeding raw. You want your dog to be healthy, and diet can drastically change that. A poor diet can, on the short term, cause problems with the coat and skin.  In the long term it can cause life threatening issues.  Do your research and choose a quality diet that fits your needs.

Coat, Color and Grooming

A good cockapoo breeder will selectively breed for dogs with a wavy, low shedding coat resembling that of the poodle.  Because the coat does not shed, it will continue to grow and will need to be kept neatly trimmed and mat free. There is no guarantee your dog will be 100% hypoallergenic. Not all cockapoos will have the low / no shedding coat of a poodle, and some people are allergic to saliva and pet dander which have nothing to do with the coat.

Your cockapoo can come in any of the colors that are available in both poodles and cocker spaniels.  These include buff, chocolate, black, white, silver, apricot, cream, red and white.

Cockapoos require regular grooming.  Their coats should be kept clean and free of matting.  Your cockapoo will require a trip to a professional groomer about every six weeks.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Cockapoos are generally very good with children, and can get along well with other pets. It is never a good idea to leave young children alone with any dog, even the friendliest.  This means a wide awake adult human should be present whenever a dog and a young child have access to each other.  It only takes a split second for a tragedy to happen, and even the sweetest dog will bite if she feels threatened or is in pain.

The cockapoo is a wonderful choice for most potential dog owners, except those who have never owned a dog before.  Because of the variability in size and color, there is a cockapoo that will fit just about every lifestyle.  When purchasing a cockapoo from a breeder it is absolutely critical that you meet both sire and dam, see where the puppies are being kept, and obtain copies of the genetic test results for the various serious diseases that these dogs are prone to.  If your breeder refuses any of this, walk away, or be prepared for an expensive and time consuming undertaking. Never purchase a puppy sight unseen.  Never have a puppy shipped from a breeder you do not already know. And most importantly, never buy a puppy from a pet store.  There are many unscrupulous breeders around, and these designer breeds have some of the worst of the worst.  The breeders that sell to pet stores run puppy factories, and they produce the poorest quality puppies around.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.