What is a Cockapoo Anyway?

Blue Merle Cockapoo

An American Cockapoo is a hybrid (cross) between an American cocker spaniel and a poodle. This cross can be achieved by crossing two purebred dogs or by crossing two Cockapoos. The most consistent, reliable Cockapoos have Cockapoo parents and a Cockapoo-only pedigree for several generations. To learn what the Cockapoo should look like, weigh-in at and so forth read the Cockapoo Standards.

The American Cockapoo has actually been around since the 1950’s. It has been a popular dog for over 60 years and it continues to grow in popularity as more people discover their wonderful temperament and surprising lower-maintenance requirements. (No living thing is ever really low-maintenance!)

Why Cross Purebred Dogs?

The crossing of two purebred dogs results in a hybrid that is especially awesome because it provides what is known as “hybrid vigor“, which helps make your pet healthy. This is all about the introduction of new DNA from what is known as a “total outcross”. Purebred dog breeders inbreed (or “line breed” as it is called to sound politically correct). This is actually part of intelligent breeding practices, but after a while out-crossing is necessary to maintain “heterozygosity” for breed health.

Essentially new, “fresh blood” must be introduced to the line to keep the dogs healthy.

Breeders used to know this quite well and it was not uncommon to introduce a different breed to a line of purebred dogs to help with health and remove undesirable (and fixed) traits. Now the AKC so frowns on this (in fact prohibits and severely punishes for this) and is so focused on pureblood instead of purebred they have sentenced our purebred dogs to disease and doom.

So Why This Hybrid?

That goes more to form, function and features. The Cockapoo is the original “doodle” and for good reason; we can start with the non-shedding, low-allergy provoking coat with a relative ease of maintenance:

my little Buttons


Blue Merle

A Hairy Situation

The Poodle brings the non-shedding aspect into the picture. Poodles don’t shed seasonally. Their hair has to be cut regularly. Poodles have such tightly curly hair that it tends to look “fuzzy”. Purebred poodles require special (and daily) grooming.

What if we could harness the length, curl and low-allergy properties of the poodle coat and combine it with the flowing, long, gorgeous (but ever-shedding) coat of the cocker spaniel?

When these textures combine the resulting coat on the offspring can vary, but generally will result in the average fleecy, softly poofing appearance of the Cockapoo. The Cockapoo’s coat should be low-shedding, and somewhere in between a slight wave to more curls and fuzziness.

This results in a coat that is easier to maintain than both the poodle’s and the cocker’s. Read a lot more about the Cockapoo’s coat HERE.

What about temperament?

The American cocker spaniel is a sweet and friendly, good-natured dog when bred properly. They are hard workers and extremely people-oriented. The cocker is specifically prized for their fondness of children. They have long been known to make excellent family pets. After all, even Disney chose to make a film about a sweet and loving All-American family pet “Lady”.  The cocker was the most registered (and popular) purebred dog for many years in the USA (according to registry records by the AKC, which are pretty darn reliable).

Ideally the poodle brings high intelligence, energy, and trainability to the Cockapoo. The Cocker Spaniel in the mix calms down the sometimes yappy and overly nervous or high-strung poodle and brings the sweet-natured, hard working and forgiving goodness of the Cocker. These two breeds together really balance each other out. The trainable and intelligent Poodle with the loyal and loving Cocker! The poodle has a graceful, agile form and the Cocker gives the Cockapoo a nice dense, sturdier bones structure. This makes the Cockapoo great for rough small children but still in possession of a more refined and sleek look.

A sweet little girl out of my Fern

Sweet little girl out of my Fern

So you get the best of both worlds, right? Well… not always. It is very possible to get the worst of both worlds.

That is why it is so careful to choose your breeder with caution. The temperament and health of the parent dogs is absolutely essential. Moreso it is important to ensure that the temperament and health of the grandparents and great-grandparents are also fantastic. The further your breeder is in their line/generations the more reliable the puppies will be.

A puppy mill where the adults are not interacted with or checked for temperament (or even trained) is not the place to get your new family companion!

Inexperienced and/or “private” (for-profit) breeders of Cockapoos should be avoided. Look for a small-time hobby breeder with a reasonably-sized kennel or only a handful of dogs. Look for a breeder who has developed  (or is developing) a “line” and is working on bettering the breed. A breeder that is only producing first generation crosses is one to avoid.

I feel that the cockapoo is an excellent choice for a family companion due to their temperament and many other excellent features. You can read why I feel that way HERE.

With careful breeding from responsible (and intelligent) breeders you end up getting a very healthy, hardy dog that also has the best traits of both parent breeds. If you’re looking for an extremely affectionate, eager to please and gentle family pet, the Cockapoo is very likely the dog for you!




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