Are Cavoodles a healthy breed?
Cavoodles are a healthy and robust breed of dog but, like all living creatures, they do require care to keep them that way. The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is better that a pound of cure” is certainly the case for all dogs and the Cavoodle is no exception. Cavoodles have a fairly natural body shape and free movement that contributes greatly to their robustness. Dog breeds with exaggerated features, such as the flat faces of brachycephalic breeds like the Pug and Pekinese, are highly likely to suffer from breathing issues and damage to their eyeballs. Even Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with their short muzzles are considered by many to be a brachycephalic breed but the Poodle parent of Cavoodles contributes to a longer muzzle to protect the Cavoodle from developing the issues associated with having a flat face. All dogs however, do require good care to keep them in optimal health. A dog that is in good health, regardless of breed, is better able to fight off any disease causing agents as well as being able to recover faster from any accidents or illness.
Why the cross between the Cavalier and the Poodle?
The overall desire of Cavoodle breeders is to breed a small family companion that has the reliable and trustworthy nature of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels while reducing the huge number of significant health issues that plague them.
The choice of the Poodle as a parent breed was made for two reasons. The first was to improve the health of the Cavaliers as much as possible while still having a dog that has an eager to please nature. These two breeds share few of the same hereditary health concerns and have very different lineages to each other to increase the genetic diversity that the new breed would possess, i.e. hybrid vigour. This greatly helps to reverse the negative effects that many generations of inbreeding and line breeding have had on both breeds. In saying this, it is important to note that the benefits of the cross will only manifest themselves when healthy parents are bred from.
Breeding from unhealthy parents, regardless of breed will not produce offspring that benefit from hybrid vigour, so careful selection of the parents is always the first priority for reputable breeders.
Cavaliers and Poodles also have different head and body types. The much more natural head shape of the Poodle having a long muzzle and large enough head to accommodate its brain properly contributes to Cavoodles having a greatly reduced (to almost non-existent) incidence of syringomyelia.
Cavoodles and PRA
One condition that should be screened for is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). PRA is a condition where the dog will become blind as he or she gets older and while this condition is not known to be common in first generation Cavoodles, many breeders will screen one of the parents (usually the father) to ensure that he is clear before breeding from him to eliminate the risk altogether. PRA in Poodles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is an autosomal recessive genetic disease, meaning that a copy from both parents needs to be inherited for a dog to develop the disease later in life. If Dad is screened and is clear, then he does not carry a faulty copy of the gene and is therefore unable to pass on a faulty copy of the gene to his pups and therefore his puppies will never be affected. Mum can also be screened in the exact same way but it is most commonly the father who is tested.
Keep your dog lean
One of the major health issues that are on the increase in all breeds of dogs is being overweight. Just like people, being overweight can lead to a host of health problems from joint problems and heart ailments to respiratory troubles. The difference is that your Cavoodle is about 10 times smaller than you, so for every single kilogram that your dog is over their ideal weight is equivalent to you being about 10 kilograms over your ideal weight. The good news is you have more control over your dog’s weight than you may think. It is true that some dogs are prone to weight gain, as are some people, but you are in complete control of their diet and can keep them at their optimal weight. With the right diet, you can keep him in optimum condition despite his desire to eat. You can also control your Cavoodle’s weight via the amount and type of exercise your dog receives.
If you notice that your dog is starting to get a little pudgy or seems to be getting heavier to lift, change the games and exercise you do with him to include ones that burn up a larger amount of energy. Teaching them to retrieve will allow them to run until they wear themselves out with little energy required from you compared to extending the length of a walk which means more work for you. This sort of exercise and games is especially helpful for older or less mobile people who still want to give their adult Cavoodles a lot of exercise if they themselves cannot partake in extended periods of exercise.
One of the most important people you will come to depend on during the life of your dog, as well as a consistent source of help and information, is your veterinarian. You should think of your vet as a family GP for your pets. It is important to choose a veterinarian before you pick up your puppy, as you will want your veterinarian to give them a full check over after pickup to ensure your new puppy is healthy.
Walk past and drop in and, if possible, speak to the staff to get an overall feel of the place and their practice. When you visit the clinic for your first appointment, have a look around at the facilities and ensure you are happy with the cleanliness and maintenance of both the rooms and equipment. Make sure you ask plenty of questions about your dog’s future care regarding the level of care that they can provide, such as the number of vets on staff, overnight observation, home visits, specialist surgery, puppy school, specialist programs such as weight management etc. Many owners will have a local vet who is available during business hours but also the details of an after hours emergency animal hospital in case of accidents.
Ask about the price of routine practices such as vaccinations and desexing, to make sure they are within your price range, and whether the vet practice is accredited by your pet insurance company if you have a policy.
Vaccinations for your Cavoodle
Vaccination schedules will differ depending on the country that you live in and even the part of the country that you are in, but most places around the world have a recommended set of vaccinations for your dog. In Australia, for example, there is no requirement for a rabies vaccination as the country is rabies free. The set schedule for Australian dogs is a vaccination at 6 weeks of age against Parvovirus, Hepatitis and Distemper known as a C3. This is followed at 12 weeks of age with another C3 and vaccination against both Bordetella bronchiseptica and the Canine Parainfluenza virus that cause Kennel cough. This combination of C3 and kennel cough vaccination is referred to as a C5. The puppy is then given another C5 vaccination at 16 weeks of age and an annual booster every year for the life of the dog after that. If you live outside of Australia, the vaccinations required may be different, so contact your veterinarian to ensure that your dog receives the correct vaccinations.