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Is a Cockapoo a Good First Dog?

a pet cockapoo laying down with his head on a pillow

Becoming a dog owner for the first time is a life-changing experience, and choosing the right dog can make the difference between a dream and a nightmare. Cockapoos are a mixed breed that has lately become a more popular choice for some first-time pet owners.

Cockapoos can be a great first dog, as long as they receive dedicated training and the right care, such as making sure they get plenty of socialization and exercise. However, certain behavior traits can cause some challenges for the owners if they are not prepared to handle them.

Cockapoos are a hybridization. While they can be wonderful dogs, they can be difficult if not trained well. If you are considering adopting or buying a cockapoo, especially as a puppy, there are a few things that you should know about them before committing.

Brief History of the Cockapoo

Cockapoos are a mix of a cocker spaniel and poodle (thus their other nickname they are sometimes referred to as in some countries – “spoodles”). They were first recorded being bred in the United States in the 1950s and have since spread across the globe.

As a mutt, cockapoos are not recognized by the American Kennel Club or other reputable registrars. However, by breeding a cockapoo with another, instead of a cocker spaniel and poodle, some associations are working towards attempting to establish the cockapoo as its own recognized breed.

Physical Characteristics

They are typically small and compact, which can make excellent apartment dogs. Because cockapoos are a hybrid breed, their size and weight depend on their parents’ size and weight and can vary within the litter. Since there are three varieties of poodles, the height and weight of cockapoos can differ depending on their poodle genetics. As a generality, their sizes will be as follows, from each size poodle:

  • Toy: up to 10 inches/12 or fewer pounds
  • Miniature: 11-14 inches/13-18 pounds
  • Standard or Maxi: 15 plus inches/19 plus pounds

Coat & Color

The coat of a cockapoo is typically dense with waves or curls. While some people claim that they are hypoallergenic, there is actually no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog.  

When it comes to color and markings, there are many possibilities. The most common colors and color combinations for a cockapoo include:

  • Parti – two or more solid colors including white
  • Phantom – black body with brown accents
  • Sable – a mixture of gold, silver, red, brown, or tan
  • Tri-Color – parti color with tan markings
  • Merle – a mixture of light and dark
  • Roan – a base color with patches of white

Like their relatives, cockapoo coats usually do require a lot of grooming or maintenance.

Behavioral Traits

Cockapoos were initially bred to be companion dogs, but some of their parents’ working traits do come through. Both poodles and cocker spaniels were bred for fowl hunting; because of this, many cockapoos have an affinity for retrieving balls and frisbees.

Cockapoos are typically claimed to be happy and friendly dogs with high intelligence. Their intelligence makes them compact comedians but can also be a downfall for first-time dog parents.

Behavioral Issues and Prevention

Any dog can be destructive when bored, but boredom by a cockapoo can be a recipe for disaster. The smarts of the poodle combined with the cocker spaniel’s energy mean that cockapoos can get bored quickly. If you plan on leaving your dog home alone for long periods without exercise, be prepared for some chaos. However, one suggestion to combat this is to crate train your cockapoo from a young age and provide toys or chews to keep them occupied while you’re away.

Since cockapoos are typically so loving and attached to their human family, separation anxiety may become an issue as well. Signs of separation anxiety include:

To prevent separation anxiety from arising, it is essential to set your puppy up for success. In addition to regular training, it is vital to practice leaving your puppy alone its crate while you’re around or with other humans before you leave them on their own for a full eight-hour day. Additional information about separation anxiety prevention and treatment is available from the AKC.

Thanks to the genes from their poodle parent, cockapoos can be intelligent, which makes it easy to train them. However, if they aren’t adequately trained early on, new pup parents are in for a few obstacles.

Owning Your First Cockapoo

For roughly the past 15,000 years, dogs and humans have been partners. There is a reason Canis familiaris is known as man’s best friend. Adding a dog to your family is an exciting thing. When deciding which breed is right for you, you need to consider both your lifestyle and the needs of the dog.

Lifestyle

a cockapoo puppy feeling right at home chewing on a ladies shoe

Unless you plan on reorganizing your life to fit the dog you pick, it is essential to consider how the dog you choose will mesh with your lifestyle. A few things to consider are:

  • how active you are
  • how loud your home is
  • how much time you can dedicate to training your dog

If you want a dog that can go for multi-day backpacking trips or a hunting buddy, a cockapoo is probably not the right dog. If you are looking for a friend that will snuggle up with you at the end of a busy day, then a cockapoo might be a great fit.

You certainly will need to make some adjustments when you bring home your canine companion. Still, ideally, your four-legged friend should seamlessly blend right in.

Cockapoos are adaptable and can be happy living in an apartment or on a farm. They are relatively sensitive, so if you frequently throw wild parties or have a toddler that enjoys flying spaghetti, a cockapoo may get overwhelmed. A home with well-mannered children and a moderate amount of liveliness or an adult-only home would probably make a cockapoo much happier.

Exercise

The spunk of a cocker spaniel often shows in its offspring. Cockapoos, while not as energetic as a Border Collie or Australian Cattle Dog, certainly need their exercise.

To keep your cockapoo and home happy, you should be able to allot an hour or more of time to walk each day. Many cockapoos are also fans of playing fetch. If you have a yard, allowing your cockapoo to roam and sniff is great for their body and mind.

Resources for Finding the Right Cockapoo

If you decide that a cockapoo sounds like the right fit for your household, then congratulations – You will be happy with this affectionate dog!

You still have one major decision to make: a puppy or an adult dog. The benefits of a puppy are that they will be part of your life for a long time, and you get to help shape their behaviors. For some people, though, adopting an adult dog is a preferred option.

Cockapoo Breeders

If you decide to purchase a cockapoo puppy, you must find a trustworthy breeder. Some breeders love their dogs and provide them with the best care, while other people are in the business to make a pretty penny. You want to be sure that both parent dogs are in top-notch health. Any health or behavioral problems could be passed on to the puppies. Here are a couple resources to help you find the ideal breeder:

Once you find a trustworthy breeder, you are one step closer to being a first-time cockapoo parent.

Adopting a Cockapoo

Adopting a dog is an extraordinary act of kindness. Dogs that are up for adoption are often loving dogs that just need a new home. The benefit of adopting a dog is you usually know what you are getting. You can see what their personality is before bringing them home. Check out the following resources to help you find your new best friend:

Final Thoughts

Cockapoos can make excellent dogs for first-time owners as long as the owner is prepared. If you are willing to put the time into training, proper exercise, and cuddles, then you will be rewarded with a sweet companion with a zest for life.

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I think animals are amazing, I couldn't imagine life without them.

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