The Cockapoo blazed the trail among planned hybrids; he's the offspring of the Poodle and the Cocker Spaniel. Also known as the Cockapoodle, Cockerpoo, or Cock-a-Poo, he's an utterly adorable little dog with a face that could melt a heart of stone.
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He's affectionate and accepts everyone — old folks, kids, and other pets. He's also of an easy size, being small enough to cuddle and big enough to romp with bigger dogs. Cockapoos have an infectious zest for life that spreads to everyone around them, that essential joie de vivre that makes every day a celebration. These guys are just plain happy to be alive.
Still, what's the draw in getting a Cockapoo instead of a Cocker Spaniel or a Poodle? It's that, in some ways, the Cockapoo represents two ideals: first, what the Cocker Spaniel used to be across the board — a sweet and stable temperament, before the breed's popularity skyrocketed in the wake of Lady and the Tramp; and second, the Poodle's orientation to people smooths out the Cockers' orientation to their noses when they're out in the field.
Furthermore, Cockapoos don't require the level of grooming that Poodles do, and people don't automatically react as negatively as they do to a Poodle's extravagant grooming style for showing in conformation. (While it's not fair to dislike the intelligent and jovial Poodle because of a show cut, the Poodle's mostly undeserved reputation of high maintenance is pervasive.)
Of course, there's a world of difference between an intentional breeding of carefully selected Cocker Spaniels and Poodles versus a Poodle mix who's just called a Cockapoo because no one has any clue what his background really is.
The true Cockapoo been bred with the goal of a healthy, hypoallergenic dog with a good temperament. Cockapoo breeders feel that the dog's health and temperament are far more important than appearance, and that's what they continue to strive for (but nevertheless, the Cockapoo tends to be an adorable-looking fellow). You won't find many, if any, discussions among these breeders about head shape and height.
When the cross works as intended, you get the intelligence and spirit of the Poodle with the sturdiness and field spirit of the Cocker. Of course, when the cross doesn't work, you can get a submissive, urinating fear-biter — but that can happen in any mixed dog breed, and in any purebred with unhappy genes.
Generally, the Cocker Spaniel used to create the Cockapoo is an American Cocker Spaniel, but some are the offspring of Poodles and English Cocker Spaniels; the latter is often called a Spoodle. Efforts have been made over the last decade to clearly separate Cockapoos and Spoodles into two different hybrids, and some success has been achieved. If the type of Cocker involved is important to you, be sure to ask.
But all that is neither here nor there for the Cockapoo enthusiast, who just wants to hang out with a sweet, cute, attached dog who isn't quite the barnacle a Toy Poodle can be, and who began as a sparkle in the eye of a Cocker Spaniel with a lovely, even temperament.