Cockapoo Coat Texture Part I

There are two coat varieties within the Cockapoo breed. Just when you think this amazing breed couldn’t get any better you learn that there is literally a coat type for every taste. Sometimes you might hear a person refer to a Cockapoo as having a “proper” or an “improper” coat. These terms are very often used incorrectly for the Cockapoo breed. An improper coat is a Cockapoo with a dense undercoat and seasonal shedding. A proper coated poo will not shed seasonally and will have a thin or sparse undercoat. All dogs lose hair (as it falls out when at the end of its growth cycle) but the proper-coated Cockapoo will not lose hair en masse due to climate and sunlight changes. I have never personally bred an improper Cockapoo, but they do happen. It is another reason to choose your breeder wisely. The improper, shedding coat is much more common in the first generation cross (or an F1) Cockapoo.

Before we get into defining the two varieties we will discuss what collection of traits make up different looks within the breed. As with all breeds Cockapoos have their own set of words and meanings. I’ll help familiarize you with these terms as we go.

Coat Traits

There are three different traits that are the most prominent in the Cockapoo breed: Furnishings, coat length and amount of curl.

Furnishings: “furnishings” or “facial furnishings” are the longer hairs on the dog’s face and muzzle that grow into a moustache and fluffy eyebrows and a beard. When a dog does not have furnishings they are said to have an “open” face. All dogs have either a “furnished face” or an “open face”. A Labrador, for example, has an open face while a schnauzer has a furnished face.

Coat Length: Cockapoos all have long coats, however those that also possess furnishings will have very long coats while those that have open faces will have long feathering on the legs, ears, body and tail but will have a shorter coat in comparison to the furnished poos.

Amount of Curl: Cockapoo curl falls into three different categories. The “woolly” coat is a tightly curled coat; the “fleecy” coat is a softer curl that is less coarse (this is the most common curl type); and the “satin” coat which is a dog that is smooth, silky and has very little wave, if any. What are the differences? There are many reasons people prefer one curl variety over another besides aesthetics.

Coat Texture

Curly hair in dogs can have a smooth and silky texture or a wiry texture. The Cockapoo can have a hair texture within the entire spectrum of wire to silk. Mostly the texture of hair in ‘doodle breeds can be broken down into three categories:

Woolly

Eden's Flowering Cassia

A woolly baby out of Eden’s Painted Fern

  • The woolly coat is the tightest curled coat. Often the whiskers are even curly. The coat is not ‘hard’ as a true wire-haired dog, but the coat has a wiry texture.
  • The tightly curled puppy will tend to have less dander than the fleecy or satin dogs (which can be slick, wavy or have loose spirals).
  • You cannot tell who will have curls and who won’t for months with this one exception: the “woolly” puppy. A puppy with a woolly coat can be recognized from the first week of life. This allows you to choose your puppy right away without a DNA test when curl is important to you.
  • Tightly curled dogs require daily grooming and regular professional haircuts (or an owner dedicated to learning to groom).
  • Curly puppies are best for homes with allergy or asthma sufferers. These pups are best when found to have both a woolly coat and a bearded face; I’ve never personally seen a woolly dog with an open face.

 

Fleecy

  • The vast majority of Cockapoos are fleecy. If you like the average Cockapoo look, this is the pup for you! They are the ones with the adorable teddy-bear face.
  • Fleecy coats are soft and not wiry. This makes the coat nicer to pet.
Eden's Rose in Bloom

Rosie is a fleecy poo

  • The coat is long and requires some home grooming between professional maintenance grooming which needs to be about every 6-12 weeks. At home grooming includes combing the dog’s coat about 3 times a week, especially on the legs, haunches and behind the ears, and using shears (hair scissors) to clip the hair that can obscure the dog’s vision.
  • The curl and texture should give the dog a great “teddy bear” appearance while not being extremely coarse or frizzy.

Satin:

  • They are not as common and that unique aspect is appealing for many owners.
  • They hardly require any grooming at all and never require professional grooming (or extensive grooming equipment and technique learning). Weekly combing keeps the hair tangle-free.

    Eden's Autumn Harvest

    Autumn is our resident satin-coated smoothie

  • The coat displays certain colors and patterns better (such as merle, roan, sable and ticking).
  • The coat is still low-shedding, although the satin dog will appear to lose more hair than their curly coated counterparts. This can be due to the straighter, finer, smoother hair falling out to the floor at the end of the growth cycle (and therefore being noticed by people) instead of being caught up in the curly coat and only removed upon grooming (which happens much more often than not with the fleecy and woolly dogs and contributes to their lower allergy risk).

The Varieties

The Smoothies (smooth Cockapoo): The term “smooth” in regards to a Cockapoo is not referring to the amount of curl a particular dog has. It is referring to the smoothness of the hair on the dog’s face and muzzle. A smoothie has short, silky hair on the face, whereas a bearded poo will have a beard and mustache and long “eyebrows”.

These beauties also have a shorter coat than the bearded Cockapoos; however their coat does grow out to be a medium-long length when compared to other dog breeds. A smoothie can have any degree of curl to the coat. I have seen them with coarse hair, curly whiskers and coats that look like static has got the best of them; shiny satin hair; and fluffy, soft fleecy coats.

These pups usually appear to have pointier, narrower noses and shinier coats. The shine is due to the satiny texture of the short hairs and the pointy-looking nose is simply because the hair grows short on the face, showing the bone structure of the dog. Because the hair does not grow as long as the bearded Cockapoos each hair goes through a shorter “growth phase” and therefore hairs do fall out more frequently. This is not the same thing as seasonal shedding of loads of hairs at once, however. You will see more hair upon bathing a smooth coated Cockapoo in comparison to a bearded Cockapoo.

Hazel

Hazel is a smoothie

The Teddy-Bearded Poos (bearded Cockapoo): The bearded Cockapoos are the most common variety of Cockapoo around, and the variety that comes to most people minds when they think of the word “Cockapoo”. They are nick-named the “teddy-bearded” for a reason! They have such adorable little teddy bear faces when their hair is groomed into the “round” face. They can also be cut to have schnauzer like faces as well. The bearded Cockapoo is very versatile in terms of haircuts. The bearded Cockapoo also has longer hair all over their body. They need regular grooming unless you prefer to grow them long and shaggy, which can be very adorable. The bearded poos tend to look significantly bigger than they really are due to the amount of fluff they have! If they are clipped down short they tend to look like a completely different dog. These tend to be the very best for allergy sufferers.

The vast majority of puppies will have the average Cockapoo coat. What is the “average Cockapoo coat”? A pup with a fleecy coat (a great curl/wave that is soft & not wiry) and a bearded face is the most common coat in the breed.

Often (generally perpetuated by poor quality breeders) the Smoothies are said to favor the cocker-spaniel, but this is not really the case the vast majority of the time and it isn’t the case at all with my puppies. If you look closely at a sweet little Smoothie pay attention to certain important features such as head and face shape. Cocker Spaniels have blocky heads and thicker muzzles. The bone structure of a smooth coated Cockapoo still should look true to the Cockapoo breed and that dog’s line type and will have a narrower muzzle and rounder head than a Cocker. This is resultant from the blending of the fine boned poodle with the dense boned Cocker. The nice thing about this cross is that the cocker spaniel gives the Cockapoo “great bone”. These sturdier bone structures make the dog heartier and better suited to life with children. The poodle lends the Cockapoo a sleeker, more setter-like face and head. This more delicate face is (in my opinion) lovely while not being toy-like in appearance.

The smoother, shorter wavy coat with leg and ear feathering in the Smoothie is certainly inherited from the cocker side of the family, however where this “Cocker Look” term comes from, I don’t know, but I don’t find it to be a very accurate description. This is especially true because many smoothies have a fair degree of curl to their coat and the Cocker Spaniel does not have a curly coat. They should not have more than a subtle wave to their hair.

{Picture Caption: my Rusty is a bearded Cockapoo}

Which Coat is Right for You?

my little Buttons

Buttons is a bearded poo

Which coat is right for you? A softer wave vs. a coarse curl does have different grooming requirements. A softer wave is better if you prefer to leave their hair long and shaggy and not cut it more than three to four times per year. It won’t mat if you brush it about once per week or so on the longer parts, like the ears. This is the most convenient coat type within the fleecy-coated dogs, which works out since it is also the most common coat type of all Cockapoos.

A shorter clip is better for a curlier coat, as it can get matted if it is left really long and not brushed every single day. I don’t brush my dogs’ coats very often at all, but I do bathe them (at home) once a month and I cut their hair (also at home) about once every three months. I find that the fleecy coat is much easier to cut at home than the woolly coat and it is much more forgiving of many “professional” groomers (who tend to do a below average job of grooming unless you go to a really great place). Each dog has their own unique wave and cutting their hair is not as difficult as you might think, it just takes knowledge of the dog’s head, your preference, practice and patience! If you use a groomer then stick with the first one you find that you like, because the more often they cut your dog the better they will get. Each dog has his own curl pattern and such and a good groomer will get to know your animal’s coat the same way a good hairdresser gets to know your hair.

I know a lovely lady who took home two of my puppies, a brother and sister pair. The boy has a curlier coat than his sister, but both are fleecy bearded Cockapoos. She sent updated pictures to me after the pups had their first haircut and I remarked about what a gorgeous clip and grooming job they both had. I have to admit, I thought she spent a fortune taking them to a high quality groomer because they looked great. I was surprised when she thanked me and told me she had done it herself! She had not done it before, ever! So don’t be afraid to groom your own dog. You might even turn out a professional result the very first time. If you’re like me it’ll take a few cautious clips before you’ve found your groove, but even still it isn’t something to be intimidated by. Don’t allow grooming to put you off your favorite coat type without careful consideration to grooming yourself at home.

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