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From VetChef vets and nutritionists


The Cockapoo is a cross between a Poodle and a Cocker Spaniel. In some countries, they are known as Spoodles. They come in various shapes and sizes, standing 25 - 38 cm and weighing between 9.1 and 10.9 kg. There are four varieties to choose from, the Standard or Maxi, the Miniature, the Toy, and the Teacup Toy.

These dogs have become increasingly popular due to their size and teddy bear-like appearance. They can be loyal, protective, intelligent and high drive. Due to their mix of two working breeds, they are not for the faint-hearted. They can be prone to anxiety and resource guarding if not appropriately trained, handled and stimulated. They can be playful, affectionate and emotionally sensitive.

Regular grooming is essential. Due to being a poodle mix they often don’t shed and most professional groomers recommend an appointment every six weeks to maintain a healthy coat, to keep them free from matting. The coat can have a number of different colours and combinations of colours, it can be straight, wavy or curled.

Cockapoos need an appropriate amount of exercise and stimulation, walking, off lead running and play should form part of their daily activity. As intelligent and high-energy dogs, they respond well to training. Dog sports such as agility, obedience or scent training would be ideal to keep your Cockapoo stimulated.

Like all breeds, they have certain health issues to be aware of, including:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is a condition affecting the rod and cone type receptor cells in the retina which are responsible for vision in dim and bright light respectively. The rod type cells are usually affected first and so you may notice your dog starts to bump into things in low light, or he may be nervous about going into a dark room.

Over time their vision in bright light will begin to deteriorate as well. It’s not a painful condition and is often not recognised in the early stages but, unfortunately, it can lead to total blindness. Dogs cope remarkably well with the loss of vision but there are ways to help your Cockapoo with this condition. Ensure lights are on in dark areas both inside and outside the house and keep furniture consistent so he can remember how to get about without bumping into anything.

Signs of PRA

  • Walking into things

  • Struggling with changes in floor surfaces e.g walking from carpet to a hard floor

  • Change in behaviour with increased nervousness or avoidance

Ear Problems

With their floppy ears, Cockapoos are susceptible to ear problems. These might include bacterial or yeast infections; ear mites that can cause intense irritation or foreign objects such as grass seeds. If your dog is shaking his head, check the ear for any redness, discharge or odour. To avoid more serious problems it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian to decide on the most appropriate treatment.

Diet can be helpful in managing recurrent ear infections, particularly yeast infections. Reducing the amount of carbohydrates and common allergens in the diet can be therapeutic. A VetChef formulated meal plan can provide the correct balance of ingredients for a dog with ear issues.


Overweight dogs are more and more common these days. There are certain breeds where the percentage of overweight dogs is higher than normal, including the Cocker Spaniel. As this is one of the two breeds the Cockapoo stems from, keeping a close watch on your dog’s weight will be vital for maintaining health.

There is no one ideal weight for a Cockapoo as they range greatly in size, but there are ways to tell if he is overweight. If you slide your fingers around his ribcage and apply gentle pressure you should be able to feel the outline of the ribs. Looking at him from the side you should be able to see where his belly tucks up behind the ribcage and if you look down on him while he’s standing you should be able to see a narrowing at the waist. If you struggle with any of these, your Cockapoo could well be carrying too much weight. An appropriate exercise regime and a healthy diet will help to improve matters. VetChef can advise on a healthy fresh food diet and their recipe calculator can help to determine the right amount for your dog.

Signs of obesity

Lack of a waist or abdominal tuck. The waist should be smaller than the ribcage when viewed from above. When viewed from the side the abdomen should tuck up behind the rib cage

  • Fat rolls around the neck and shoulders. There should not be rolls around your dog’s upper body. There may be slightly looser skin to allow for a full range of motion, but these would be better described as wrinkles than rolls.

  • Poor or reduced mobility (in the absence of joint issues). Your dog should be able to rise from lying to standing in one fluid motion, without having to haul itself up.

Just like any other dog, a cockapoo needs daily exercise, walking, running and playing are great ways to keep your dog fit. If your dog really enjoys exercise you can even go one step further by playing a canine sport such as agility or adding regular hydrotherapy sessions to further enhance your dog’s fitness. A lack of appropriate exercise leads to weak muscles, joints and bones, shorter life expectancy and weight gain. A nutritious diet is vital to help manage your dog’s weight.

Luxating patella

This is a condition where the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal placement and the dog can no longer extend the knee joint properly. A cockapoo is genetically prone to this, but it can also be triggered by some actions like running or jumping on and off furniture, such as the sofa or your bed. One problem with this condition is that the dog may only feel pain when the patella initially slips out of place and he will continue walking normally for a while. Only when the area begins to swell will the dog show signs that something is wrong. Those signs can include:

  • Limping

  • Reluctance to run

  • Favouring one side of the body

  • Yelping when being picked up

  • Discomfort when jumping from furniture

  • Hopping for a few strides when running

One treatment option might be surgery but your veterinarian can advise you.

Sensitive digestion

Finding food that a cockapoo can tolerate can be difficult. As with poodles they are prone to digestive problems such as pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances and colitis. There are many reasons these issues occur, from genetic predisposition to living with chronic anxiety and stress. Your Vet can help manage these symptoms medically and choosing VetChef meals designed specifically for sensitive digestion can help keep your cockapoo happy and healthy.

Signs of sensitive digestion

  • Frequent loose stools

  • Vomiting after a meal

  • Itchy ears, paws and groins can be a sign of food intolerance

  • Discomfort after eating such as stretching and restlessness

  • Reflux

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