What To Look For
…when searching for a puppy. With ‘Cockapoo’ being a generic name – there are potentially many pitfalls to be aware of in your specific search.
The F1 is considered the most stable mating with good hybrid vigour (health and longevity). This mix can show the greatest visual difference between the core parent cross with a slightly differing look with each of the 3 Cocker Spaniel crosses.
The F2 can result in the least consistent outcome due to the potential of the ‘Granddad Effect’, where there is a genetic bias back to one of the grand parents; so you could acquire a moulting / shedding dog virtually indistinguishable from a Cocker, or even a tight curly coat similar to a Poodle, from the same litter. With F2s it’s important to select a puppy from 6 weeks if you have a preference for a dog that is more cocker like, more Poodle like or a 50/50 mix. The breeder will have a clear idea by this age which originating breed each puppy favours.
The F3 and F4 variants should show more signs of constancy if appropriate parents are selected and as more generations are bred, then the Cockapoo will naturally begin to develop a more generalised form, where all ancestors, Toy / Miniature Poodle and all 3 of the Cockers can be in the genetic mix of a puppy; though careful consideration to gene-pools will be needed as the breed evolves to prevent in-breeding (parent to offspring or a mating between full siblings) or poor line breeding.
Breeding a Cockapoo back to one of the core breeds (Cocker or Poodle) results in a ‘b’ variant eg: F1b – this can be used to refine certain traits such as a more Poodley coat or certain desired characteristics from the Cocker range.
None of the above ‘F’ prefixes or subsequent ‘b’ variants should be considered better than any other – it is purely down to personal preference and individual requirements.
At present the majority of Cockapoos in this country are as a result of the first cross (F1). The CCGB recognises all variations and is designed to help promote ethical on-going breeding practices for the long-term benefit and development of Cockapoo beyond F1.
A key question is – are you specifically after the F1 (first cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle) or are you interested in F2 and/or F3 (or ‘b’ variants) litters?
All CCGB Approved Breeder Members will have been inspected by our Accredited Inspectors and have signed up to do the minimum health testing of a DNA test for prcd PRA with a clear result. There are a number of other conditions that we recommend be tested, see the chart above and………. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
Research has a vital role to play with the search for the ideal puppy for you and your lifestyle.
All puppies are cute and cuddly, but they don’t stay puppies for long and they are likely to be with you for the next 12 to 18 years, so putting in the legwork now can pay dividends in the long-run.
Personal recommendation can be a brilliant way to start your search, so we totally endorse attending any of the Organised Events or Group Walks listed on this site or those mentioned on the Cockapoo Club Chat pages. It is a great way to meet a selection of Cockapoos ‘in the fur’ and chat with their owners about Cockapoos’ in general. Word of mouth and other people’s experiences can be invaluable to you.
Checking the photos in the Gallery and meeting Cockapoos ‘in the fur’ can all help narrow your search to the specific mix that you like.
Categories of Breeders
Selecting to see a Home Breeder, a Hobby Breeder or a Licensed Breeder is purely down to your own preference. There are good, indifferent and bad in each category so approach any viewings with the same awareness.
A Home Breeder is someone who has dogs as family pets and they then choose to breed with them just the once (more than once would constitute being a Hobby Breeder). It is highly likely that the breeding bitch is a much loved family pet and will therefore be having her puppies in her normal home environment, so this will be a comfortable place for her and her puppies to be. Home Breeders should be more than happy to show you the Mum and where she lives along with where the puppies are whelped and reared. The puppies will be well socialised with the noises and hustle and bustle of a family home which is desirable, but may not be familiar with a quieter environment such as a kennel, which is a factor if the puppy will be expected to be left in an outside covered kennel for short periods during the day when it is an adult. The very fact that the Home Breeder will not have had many litters, ever, means that there is a chance that they may not be very experienced (clearly there are exceptions such as Veterinary Nurses, etc). So find out what has motivated a home breeder to have a litter – it might be to have a pup from their own dog, they might have a real interest in Cockapoos and breeding and aspire to raising a litter to high standard. If they have an experienced mentor to answer the husbandry questions that will crop up throughout the puppy raising process, this could compensate for any lack of experience and show that the intention is to do the very best for the pups. Ask all the same questions you would ask any other type of breeder and trust your own gut feelings as to whether they are breeding for the right reasons. The home environment and the family (including other pets) where the puppies will be raised should be of a standard you feel comfortable with.
A Hobby Breeder will usually have several dogs and is allowed to have up to 4 litters in any one year. Many will not own their own stud dog so may not be able to show him. They should, however, be able to show suitable photos of him along with confirmation of his Pedigree (where applicable) and relevant heath certificates.
Hobby Breeders can either house their dogs in the home or outside in kennels and some will alternate between the two. Neither is “better” than the other; the welfare and condition of their dogs should be paramount, so ensure you ask to see all their dogs and make sure that they are fit and healthy. If a Hobby Breeder has a history of breeding then ask which parents have been used. Bitches should not be bred before their second season and normally, therefore, after the age of 14 months. Bitches should not be bred from after the age of 6 years – with a maximum of 6 litters each in total.
Hobby Breeders have to juggle a working and family life with this hobby. They need to be dedicated and love the whole puppy rearing process to do it repetitively. Breeding 4 litters a year is time consuming so a Hobby Breeder has to have a flexible lifestyle that allows them to devote enough time to care for the litters. If all the adults in the family have full time jobs it would not be feasible to breed dogs as a hobby. Most Hobby Breeders refer to their dogs as their pets, so you must form your own opinion on whether, in that environment they have the appropriate facilities for the number of dogs present.
The Licensed Breeder is obliged to have a Council Certified Breeding License and should be happy to display it. They will have been inspected by their Local Authority and a Vet and are liable to annual inspections. They are allowed to breed more than 4 litters a year. They are bound by licensing law to breed each bitch only once a year and have facilities set to a specific level, so check what number of dogs their license is for. It is unlikely that a Licensed Breeder will house all their dogs internally in their house as house pets – so insist on viewing where the dogs live on a daily basis. It can cause additional distress to a pregnant bitch if she is relocated from kennels to a home environment to whelp, so check this out too. A breeding licence forbids bitches to whelp in a domestic kitchen. It is just as important that puppies from a Licensed Breeder have time being socialised in a home environment as it is for puppies from a Home Breeder to have some time being familiarised in a quiet outside environment. A Licensed Breeder is likely to have their own website – this should be honest, open and informative without being overly self-promoting. A professional website does not guarantee a professional business so still be prepared to visit them to see for yourself. Most Licensed Breeders would happily let you visit for a fact-finding-tour even if they don’t have any puppies ready, available or planned at the time of your visit.
Any breeder considered to be operating a “business”, regardless of the number of litters produced, would normally be regarded as needing a license. Bitches owned by two or more people who are part of the same company or family and who may keep bitches at different locations are all considered to be within the one business. Thus, a number of people working together cannot evade the license requirements by claiming to own different dogs at different locations – this is to specifically stop puppy farming. Anyone thought to contravene these rules need to be reported to their Local Authority. Anyone housing dogs in any way that causes you any concern should be reported to the RSPCA.
All premises should be clean, accessible and well kept. If you go anywhere where you can smell and hear dogs excessively when you arrive then it is advisable to leave straight away because it indicates a low level of animal husbandry.
An important factor is the suitability and hygiene of the whelping area regardless whether it is housed in the home or in a kennel. It can be just as distressing for a house kept dog to be kennelled for whelping as it can be for a kennelled dog to be bought into the home for whelping. It is best to see any bitch with her puppies in the environment in which they are familiar and comfortable with. You again should be able to judge how freely the breeder and their dogs interact and are at ease with each other.
A reputable breeder may have a waiting list so be prepared to wait for the right dog; waiting a week, a month, or 3 months is nothing when you take into account you should have your dog for the next 12 – 18 years or so.
A Breeder should:
- Be more than happy for you to book a time to visit them. Some breeders would welcome you to visit even if they don’t have any litters to view or choose from.
- Be knowledgable about the breed and happily answer any question you have.
- Be happy to show you the mum – she should be fit, healthy and confident. Generally, if the mum is nervous, her pups may well be too when grown. If she is snappy, her pups may be too. If you are shown just the litter, insist on meeting mum. If they cannot or will not let you see her, then walk away.
- Be able to show you all the relevant certificates – such as License (where relevant); Pedigrees (where relevant) and Heath tests.
- Be able to show evidence of worming the puppies every two weeks from birth, flea treatments, first vaccination and microchip details.
- Be able to show you testimonials from other customers (normally shown on their website).
- Be able to show their love for their dogs and have their dogs show love back too (smiley faces, happy eyes, waggy tails and enthusiasm to interact with the breeder is a must – if the dogs cower, don’t make eye contact, tuck their tails under themselves or back away from the breeder then this is clearly not appropriate behaviour.
Cockapoos do come in several variables – some breeders will breed only one type – others may breed a couple of options and some may breed a selection of types. Whilst there is no law against breeding multiple types / breeds you must be happy that all the dogs present get the correct and relevant level of care; attention; love and husbandry – again pay close attention to how the dogs and the breeder interact.
It would be unprofessional of any breeder to undermine the nature of any type if they do not breed that specific variable (e.g. for a Working Cockapoo breeder to label all Show types as “unintelligent coach potatoes” and a Show Cockapoo breeder to claim Worker Cocker parented puppies as “manic”).
Healthy socialised puppies should freely run around with their litter brothers and sisters and should be more than happy to be picked up and cuddled. You can get more gregarious pups in the thick of it and more chilled ones that will be content to sit back and watch – but all should be happy and healthy.
Useful questions to ask yourself:
- Does the breeder’s website give the relevant info or did they come across as open and informative on the phone ?
- When visiting the breeder be aware of the surroundings – are there more dogs present than you expected ?
- Are you able to see where the dogs are exercised / walked – and can the breeder explain their dogs’ daily routine ?
- Are the facilities what you expect – is the place reasonably clean and well maintained ?
- Do the dogs have access to clean drinking water ?
A few thought provoking questions:
- Would you prefer to choose your puppy yourself, or the breeder to choose one for you ?
- Do you want to select a puppy just based on a photograph ?
- Do you want to choose a puppy early before their character and temperament is apparent ?
- Would you be prepared to travel to collect your puppy, or have your puppy delivered by a courier if your chosen breeder is a considerable distance from you ?
- Would you want to visit the breeder and see their entire set-up ?
- Would you accept it if the breeder did not want to show you their entire set-up ?
- Parvovirus is an ever present threat; are you comfortable to adhere to a breeder’s disease prevention hygiene policy when you enter their premises ?
- Would you expect the breeder to answer any issue you had after you had taken ownership of your puppy ?
- Would you expect lifetime support from your chosen breeder ?
- Would you expect your breeder to take back your puppy if you experienced any issue ?
- Would you expect your breeder to offer to re-home your puppy should you not be able to continue looking after it yourself for any reason ?
Ideally look to visit a short-list of 2 or 3 different breeders – it’s a good idea to “Google” each of your short-list – that way you get to find out more about them than they have editorial control over – you’ll instinctively know which one feels right for you.
Ideally never take your cheque book – any reputable breeder should happily give you the time and space to make your own mind up – so never feel rushed or pressured into making a snap decision. Be prepared to leave the premises to chat openly with your family away from the breeder – better still sleep on it.
If the breeder looks great on the face of it – but still has puppies available at or after 8 weeks of age then feel free to ask why, as these puppies are likely to have been viewed several times over!
Any breeder member approved by The Cockapoo Club of GB would have had to be proposed for membership by at least 2 other active club members and would have had to have signed-up to the CCGB’s Mandatory Health Tests, the Club’s Code of Ethics and have been visited by a representative inspector.
Any breeder considered to contravene The CCGB’s Code of Ethics should be reported without fail.
One puppy or two
If you are looking to buy 2 puppies – regardless of whether they are from the same litter, different litters or different breeders – it is generally advisable not to. A breeder may question you if you intended to buy 2 puppies at the same time. It is not wrong nor punishable – but it does require extra consideration – as 2 puppies require seriously more commitment with training and socialisation. If 2 dogs are desired then the recommendation would be to leave at least one year between the two – with the benefit that the second puppy should be potentially so much easier to integrate than the first.
The Puppy Pack
A Puppy Pack is a valuable addition to any puppy purchase. This can vary from basic to comprehensive but the elements could include any of the following:
- Vaccination Certificate showing the first vaccination details (brand and date).
- Receipt for payment (including full contact details of the breeder).
- Microchip registration details (if applicable).
- Acknowledgement of CCGB litter notification (if applicable).
- A sample of the food that the pups have been weened onto.
- A comprehensive Puppy Care and Information Sheet.
- A record of standard husbandry details (Worming; Flea treatment and Mite control).
- A soft toy that will have been with the litter as a comforter scent toy.
- A hard teething toy.
- 4 weeks free pet insurance.
- Grooming advice (possibly including a sample of Shampoo and Conditioner).