Cavapoos (sometimes known as Cavoodles) are a mixed breed between the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle.
Because they’re not a pure breed but rather a mix of two pure breeds, they’re often selected for the desirable traits found among their parent breeds. Cavapoos are considered an all-around good dog breed. But do they suit families?
Despite not being recognized by some authoritative groups like the American Kennel Club due to its status as a mixture of two recognized breeds, this “designer breed” surged in popularity after first being intentionally bred in the late 90s by Australian breeders.
What Makes a Good Family Dog?
We’re all familiar with the traits that make a good family dog; good family dogs strike a balance between playfulness and gentleness. They’re slow to react to uncertain situations with anxiety and ideally are good around children and other pets. Not least among the essential qualities in a family dog is an affectionate and sociable personality.
Outside of these general personality traits, different lifestyles between different families will foreground different characteristics in determining the ideal family dog breed; a rural family in need of a guard dog will have a very different set of priorities from a small family living in a city apartment!
Were Cavapoos Bred for Families?
Cavapoos, like all designer dog breeds, were most likely bred with the most desirable traits of both parent breeds in mind. In a breed profile on Rover, certified dog trainer and consultant Nicole Ellis names these traits – King Charles Spaniels were likely selected for their personalities.
In contrast, Poodles were selected in light of their superior intelligence and low-shedding coats.
These selected characteristics led to a breed with a uniquely high potential to thrive in a family environment. However, multiple sources emphasize the social needs of the breed.
They’re not necessarily more likely to develop behavioral issues like separation anxiety under the right circumstances. That being said, the breed inherits the King Charles Spaniel’s need for companionship and mental/social stimulation.
Something else to be aware of is the propensity of some Poodles, especially smaller Poodles, for general social anxiety and unstable temperament. However, personality is not directly heritable in a straightforward way, and upbringing and training will have a much greater impact on behavioral patterns than genetics.
The truth is, Cavapoos are reputedly social animals that thrive on positive attention, earnestness, and affection.
So, What Physical Characteristics Can I Expect in a Cavapoo?
Cavapoos tend to range from being small to medium-sized dogs, and this is said to depend on the size of the Poodle parent as the King Charles Spaniel will tend to be the more consistently smaller of the two.
Since there are no regulatory agencies to define the qualities of a quintessential Cavapoo, with Cavapoos being a mixed breed, their range between roughly nine to 25 pounds is a generalization. It won’t hold up for each individual.
The same is true for their given height range of about nine to 14 inches at the shoulder. [Cavapoo size guide]
Cavapoos are a rather diverse breed in terms of the qualities that define their coats. This is because either parent breed may impart the dominant characteristics of the Cavapoo offspring’s coat. Some Cavapoos have the curly hair proper to most Poodles, while other Cavapoos can be seen with longer, wavy fur like that seen in Cavaliers.
The original design of this “designer breed” isn’t universally attributed to one breeder or group of breeders. As mentioned before, the breed is generally understood to come out of the Australian region in the late ’90s.
Still, the emergence of the breed was likely a parallel trend for many breeders who identified the same characteristics in both parent breeds they appreciated.
Because of this, it’s unknown how intentionally Poodles were selected above other intelligent options due specifically to the low-shedding nature of their coats. This was likely a secondary motivation for choosing Poodles. Still, most sources have put personality and intelligence first and foremost as the characteristics cited by breeders as motivating the “design” of the Cavapoo.
All of this is to say that while a low-shedding coat proper to most Poodles is certainly a perk in some Cavapoos, it’s not a defining characteristic of the breed. Cavapoos will vary according to their genetic makeup, and that can mean vast differences in the resulting coat.
Potential Health Concerns
In terms of potential medical concerns, Cavapoos benefit greatly from their status as hybrids — this reduces the possibility of breed-specific hereditary health risks by giving it a more robust gene pool. However, ailments common to both parent breeds could be a concern.
It’s worth being conscientious that a designer breed like the Cavapoo is unregulated by agencies like the American Kennel Club.
In designer breeds, you can’t be sure that there is rigorous adherence to safe breeding practices, which you may expect for purebreds.
A few ailments have become typical of the breed because of risk factors present in its parent breeds. Coming from the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel side there’s syringomyelia (a serious spinal cord condition which often requires surgery), Mitral Valve Disease (a hereditary heart disorder and the most common cause of death for Cavaliers worldwide), and congenital cataracts.
From the Poodle side, there’s Addison’s disease, epilepsy, and skeletal issues like hip dysplasia and canine arthritis.
Once again, these risks pile up when shopping from unlicensed breeders or puppy mills. It’s worth checking adoption agencies for a prospective new Cavapoo companion — the breed has become popular enough to plausibly expect that some may be found available for adoption in your area.
Meet Your New Best Friend: the Cavapoo
Overall, the Cavapoo is an excellent candidate for a family dog. Being a designer breed, it holds a special place in the hearts of many who appreciate the unique combination of desirable characteristics found in both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Poodles.
It’s also more medically robust in general to adopt a hybrid dog than a purebred. Conscientiousness while selecting a breeder can preempt unpleasant surprises later in life when other dogs may start to develop genetic disorders.
So, if you get your new friend with a licensed, reliable breeder, chances are they won’t have many congenital ailments.
The Cavapoo is a reputedly sociable, affectionate, and eager companion, and its size makes it a fantastic dog for small children and households that already have other pets.