After lots of research and deliberation, you have decided that a Cavapoo is a dog that will best suit your family and your way of life. But have you looked into all the generations and their differences, if indeed there are any at all?
A Cavapoo is a hybrid of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle. The intention of mixing these two breeds is to produce a low to non-shedding, hypoallergenic pooch who will exhibit the best traits of both purebreds.
That said, you really don’t know what you are going to get with early cross-breeding. Puppies can and do favor genes from one parent over the other or they can have a happy mix of both. This can even differ across the same litter. As with everything, it’s all down to genetics and there is no way of determining which genes they will inherit from each parent.
A reputable breeder will carefully choose the dogs that they wish to breed from. This selection should be based on many factors including temperament and health.
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It is important to remember that all dogs need to be socialized from being very young. A consistent obedience training program should be started early using positive reinforcement. Following both these steps will be beneficial in embracing all the positive traits that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle are known for and eliminate bad behavior and timid or unfriendly nature.
Physical traits are largely genetic so it’s much easier to take an educated guess on how your Cavapoo will look based on their parents. However, temperament is not just down to the inherited factor. How you raise, train, and behave with your dog will also help to nurture their overall personality.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament
Gentle, loving, and intelligent the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is easy to train and eager to please. They are sociable with strangers and get along well with other pets. They are great family dogs as they love and need lots of human interaction and without it, they are likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
King Charles Cavalier Spaniels love to chase. Especially something that’s already running. They have a hunter’s instinct and as such may not be the most reliable breed off the leash. A bee, a butterfly, another dog. Everything and anything is good for the chase with this pooch.
Elegant and graceful, intelligent, and easy to train the Poodle has lots of great qualities to bring to the table. They are polite with strangers, are happy with other pets, and are generally good with children.
They are usually a sensitive breed, but this can sometimes spill over into being nervous or highly strung. This is something that a good breeder should be aware of in the Poodle’s lineage. Like the King Charles, they love companionship and don’t like to be alone for too long.
Purebred dogs reputably suffer from a variety of health problems which can be largely attributed to their pure lines and potential inbreeding, especially where a show winning sire is concerned. Not only are there greater occurrences of inherited diseases in purebreds but breeding to ‘improve’ their body shapes can lead to other issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia.
Different breeds will be prone to different issues. Let’s familiarise ourselves with the potential health issues in the Cavapoo history.
Common Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Health Issues
Unfortunately, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can have a host of inherited health issues with the number one killer of the breed being Mitral Valve Disease (MVD). Mitral Valve Disease is a progressive, polygenetic* condition that is thought to affect up to half of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by the time they reach 5 years old.
Should they reach 10 years old then nearly all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will be affected by MVD. MVD is thought to be up to 20 times more prevalent in this breed. Mitral Valve Disease and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent read for learning all about this condition.
*Polygenetic simply means that it can be caused by more than one gene
Syringomyelia is an inherited neurological condition that research shows has grown in its prevalence since the year 2000 and now affects up to half of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. It is not limited to country, lines, or breeders and it appears to be worsening with each generation of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Syringomyelia, meaning ‘cavity within the spinal cord’ in Latin is literally how the disease presents, with the cavities filling up with fluid. The most reliable means of diagnosis is an MRI scan. Colloquially known as ‘neck scratchers disease’ due to this being one of the symptoms, Syringomyelia causes abnormal sensations in dogs who are affected. There is no cure, but some Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are less affected than others and the condition can be managed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and in more severe instances the dog will have to be euthanized.
Other common conditions in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are luxating patellas (dislocated knees), hip dysplasia, epilepsy, cataracts, and allergies.
Common Poodle Health Issues
The Poodle is generally a much sturdier breed than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and is susceptible to considerably fewer health issues. It is suggested that the Miniature Poodle is the healthiest of the three types being that they have more genetic diversity (lower COI (see below)) than the Standard and a sturdier bone structure than the Toy. Cavapoo generations aside you may find this something to consider when researching your breeder.
Bloat is a serious condition that can escalate quickly into an emergency situation. Also known as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) it can be a life-threatening condition and occurs when the stomach twists (volvulus) causing gas to become trapped and the pressure to build up (gastric dilation).
All dogs can suffer from bloat but deep-chested dogs such as the Poodle are particularly vulnerable. Whilst surgical intervention is often necessary research from ‘vetsnow’ in 2019 suggests that the survival rate is as high as 80% which is welcome news.
The main symptom of bloat is dry retching, but other signs can include a hard stomach and excessive drooling. Your pooch will likely be in obvious distress and discomfort. Pacing and restlessness are not uncommon. It is imperative that you act quickly should you suspect bloat in this life or death scenario.
There are a few steps that you can take to minimize the risk of bloat which include feeding little and often, limiting physical exercise after eating and ensuring that their food bowls are at floor level.
Addison’s Disease is another condition which the Poodle is prone to developing. Addison’s Disease is a hormonal disorder that affects the production of cortisol in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a major factor in dealing with stress so should your pooch find themselves in a stressful situation you may see a flare-up of Addison’s symptoms.
Onset largely occurs in young to middle-aged dogs and symptoms can either progress over time or present suddenly. It’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible as even though Addison’s is incurable, it is treatable with medication. There should be no impact on life expectancy if Addison’s is treated adequately.
Signs and symptoms of Addison’s include depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Should you suspect Addison’s or anything untoward with your dog you should always seek advice from your vet.
Other conditions that are prevalent in Poodles are hip dysplasia and epilepsy. They are also prone to thyroid issues. Thyroxine is the hormone produced by the thyroid which regulates the metabolism. Conditions that cause an over or underproduction of thyroxine can present in the Poodle, especially in later years.
Heterosis, that’s the scientific name for Hybrid Vigor. An internet search will document lots of scientific articles that can leave the mind of the general public a little blown, so let’s simplify it. Hybrid Vigor is the action of crossing two inherently different subpopulations.
Hybrid Vigor can apply to plants and animals and the intent is to outbreed the negative qualities whilst improving on the best ones. The offspring of two purebreds is considered to be heterotic if the desired traits are more improved than those of their parents. For example, a Cavapoo being less predisposed to health issues the Poodle and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are prone to.
There is some controversy as to whether Hybrid Vigor is effective. Whilst heterosis is not always apparent in crossbred dogs, a study in 2013 found that on average they did live longer by 1.2 years.
Coefficient of Inbreeding – COI
Coefficient of Inbreeding is a means of looking at the pedigrees of both parents and cross-referencing their common ancestors. This can then determine the probability of how genetically alike they are.
A percentage score will be given and the higher the score, the more inbred they are and more open to genetic problems. It’s all rather complicated but fascinating, nonetheless. A beginner’s guide to COI explains, in layman’s terms, how it all works.
A first-generation Cavapoo (F1), or first generation of any crossbreed for that matter should have a COI of 0% and this is why they benefit most from hybrid vigor. The more generations that are bred then the higher the COI, and the less benefit of hybrid vigor. A 5th generation dog is often considered a purebred even if they are still unable to be registered with a Kennel Club.
The American Kennel Club have a DNA resource center which hosts the world’s largest database of canine DNA. However, the UK Kennel Club has an inbreeding coefficient calculator which shows results of a hypothetical breeding of two registered dogs. This would be particularly helpful for breeders of purebreds. It would also confirm a 0% reading for anyone considering creating a crossbreed from two registered dogs.
What to Expect from your Breeder
Breeders should ensure that they have both the dam and sire DNA and health tested for common genetic conditions that relate to the breeds being used to produce their litters. Testing for MVD is especially important in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
When researching breeders please do ask to see this documentation. Not only can this show that common issues will not be prevalent in the litter that you will choose your Cavapoo puppy from but that the breeder is reputable and cares for the welfare of both the parents and their subsequent offspring.
Now it’s time to take a look at the generations, how they are produced, the differences, and the similarities.
What does ‘F’ mean?
All the generations (until we move into the realms of calling them multigenerational) are preceded with the letter F. The F tells us that the dog is a crossbreed as opposed to a purebred. It refers to all hybrid dogs and means filial. Derived from the Latin ‘filius’ meaning son and ‘filia’ meaning daughter, if you are using the word filial to define something you are saying that it is offspring linked.
What Does the Number Represent in Cavapoo Generations?
The number simply represents the generation. An F1 Cavapoo in a first-generation cross and an F2 Cavapoo is the second generation. An F3 is a third-generation Cavapoo and so on and so forth.
However, this can become a little complicated once the backcross is introduced into the mix as an F1b is technically a 2nd generation dog and an F1bb a third generation.
What Does the ‘b’ Mean?
The b stands for backcross and this means that the first or second generation Cavapoo has been bred back to a purebred dog. This will generally be the Poodle and usually for hypoallergenic reasons but sometimes the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is used. This is sometimes known as a reverse ‘b’.
The F1 Cavapoo is the first generation. They are the result of crossing the purebred Poodle and the purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This makes their genetic make-up 50% of each purebred. A real half and half pooch.
An F1 Cavapoo will vary in size depending on whether the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred with a Toy or a Miniature Poodle. Their average overall size ranges from 9lbs to 25lb in weight and 9” to 12” in height but obviously dogs can and do fall outside of these figures. Having a Toy Poodle for a parent is likely to produce offspring of under 11” whereas Miniature can grow to up to 18”.
As with all F1 crossbreeds, it’s extremely hard to determine which ‘side of the family’ they are going to take after. Your F1 Cavapoo may take on the coat characteristics of the Poodle which means they will be low shedding, considered hypoallergenic, and need much more regular brushing and grooming. Should they inherit the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel coat then the average allergy sufferer will be at greater risk of being triggered, and you may find your Cavapoo sheds more than you hoped for.
Of course, their coat may also be a happy mix of their two parents. The average F1 Cavapoo will have a wavy to shaggy coat but it is very important to be mindful of the above information regarding the unknown. Puppies also shed their initial coats and develop a lasting adult alternative.
You will not know 100% what kind of coat your F1 Cavapoo will have until this adult coat develops. If you are an allergy sufferer, then the F1 is likely to be the highest risk to you. The milder your allergy, the less likely the lower generations are to spark them.
The F1 Cavapoo is considered to benefit the most from Hybrid Vigor, as the ratio at which it should be advantageous will reduce with each subsequent generation.
The F1b Cavapoo, also known as a backcross, is the F1 Cavapoo (first generation Cavapoo with Poodle and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel parents) bred with the Poodle. Generally, the Toy or Miniature is used to create any Cavapoo.
The F1b Cavapoo is 25% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and 75% Poodle. Size-wise they fall into the same brackets as the F1’s and the determining factors will be based on the height and weight of their parents.
Bringing more Poodle back into gene pool means that your F1b Cavapoo is more likely to have a coat with tighter curls and more chance of being low to non-shedding. If you have moderate to severe allergies, then the F1b Cavapoo poses a much smaller risk. However, nothing can be guaranteed and the best advice before you commit is to spend some time with the dog.
As their coat is likely to be curlier it will need trimming more regularly than the F1 Cavapoo. 3-4 months as opposed to 4-6 months is a general rule of thumb if you prefer their coat to be shorter. However, this may not be your preference but it’s worth noting that a longer coat will collect more dirt and detritus, and also require more regular brushing.
The F1b Cavapoo, being 75% Poodle is more likely to display more Poodle traits than Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Physically this means their legs are likely to be longer and they are more likely to have higher energy levels like the Poodle. This is turn means that you need to ensure you meet their exercise needs. Behavior problems can be an issue in dogs who are not getting the required exercise.
Whilst the F1b Cavapoo is expected to benefit from hybrid vigor it will not be quite to the same level as the F1.
F1b Reverse Cavapoo
The F1b Reverse Cavapoo is again a backcross. However, in this instance, it is an F1 Cavapoo and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cross. The ratios switch making the F1b Reverse Cavapoo 25% Poodle and 75% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
They are typically much more like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel both in terms of looks and temperament. Their coat will generally resemble the straighter Cavalier King Charles Spaniel look although the Poodle genes can introduce waves and/or curls.
The biggest advantage of an F1 Reverse Cavapoo is that the discerning Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover can have the looks they find desirable in the breed with the likely benefit of a healthier dog and longer life expectancy due to hybrid vigor.
NB: The term F1b Reverse is not always used. This means that some breeders or owners will refer to all F1 backcrosses by just using the term F1b. It is important that you familiarize yourself with whether the second parent is a Poodle or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel before making any commitment to buy. This is especially important if your reason for choosing an F1b is allergy-related.
The F1bb Cavapoo is, in effect, a double backcross. The F1bb is produced by breeding the F1b Cavapoo with the purebred Poodle, hence the double b annotation. Occasionally the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will be crossed with the F1b Cavapoo but this is unusual. It is also unlikely that a reverse F1b will be used in this scenario which would leave our F1bb make up at 87.5% Poodle and 12.5% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
With lots of Poodle genes, this generation is a low risk to allergy sufferers and are more likely to be low shedding.
The F1bb is technically a 3rd generation Cavapoo so may well be referred to as a multigenerational Cavapoo by the breeder. To know for certain what the lineage of a multigen is you will need to see paperwork from your breeder.
As a third generation Cavapoo they will benefit much less from hybrid vigor than the F1 and F1b.
An F2 Cavapoo is a second-generation crossbreed. They are produced by mating two F1 Cavapoos. This means like their F1 parents, they are still 50% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and 50% Poodle.
The F2 Cavapoo will give the most varied coat type. Some will be wavy, some straight, some curly, and all the different variations will have different maintenance requirements.
Temperament will be similar of that of the F1 and F1b. They will inherit traits from both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle. You won’t know exactly how their personality is going to develop until they grow but remember your input will also play its part.
The F2 Cavapoo is not as popular as the F1 Cavapoo due to the uncertainty in the characteristics that it will develop. The F2 will also not benefit from as much hybrid vigor than the F1. It can be questioned as to whether we will see all Cavapoos eventually become multigenerational when the demand for an F1 is greater.
The F2b is similar to the F1b in that they are a backcross. There are two ways that this can be achieved:
- F1 Cavapoo and an F1b Cavapoo. The F1b Cavapoo will almost always have been a backcross with the Poodle. Statistically, this will make the F2b Cavapoo 62.5% Poodle and 37.5% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- F2 Cavapoo and a purebred Poodle. Still an F2b they will statistically be slightly more Poodle at 75% and slightly less Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at 25%
Both F2b options are predominantly Poodle so the coat is likely to have a tighter curl, shed less, and be more allergy-friendly. As we have previously mentioned though this is never guaranteed. Their hybrid vigor is likely to be lower than that of the F1 and F2 as they are technically a third-generation Cavapoo.
The F2bb is another double backcross. This second-generation backcross is achieved by mixing the F2b Cavapoo and the purebred Poodle.
Assuming that the F2b used is the one in our first example above, then the F2bb will be 81.25% Poodle and 18.75% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Statistically, the F2bb will be the most hypoallergenic of the Cavapoo generations due to the volume of Poodle genes that they carry.
They are most likely to have the tight curly coat of the Poodle and shed little. Whilst certainly not as common as the F1 or F1b Cavapoo they would make a low-risk choice for those with allergies.
Technically the F2bb is a fourth-generation cross. After the third generation they are, more often than not, referred to as Multigenerational Cavapoos. This makes it especially important to speak to your breeder about their pedigree* to ascertain exactly how your Cavapoo has been developed down the line.
Hybrid Vigor in the F2bb is likely to be non-existent now that we are several generations into cross breeding.
*By pedigree we mean ‘Family Tree”. Parents, Grandparents, Great Grandparents, etc
F3 or Multigenerational Cavapoo
There are many ways to produce an F3 or multigenerational Cavapoo. The most obvious is two F2 parents but one of the most common ways is two F1b’s. Usually, F3’s and beyond will genetically be more Poodle. This doesn’t guarantee a Poodle typical coat though and they can present with anything from wavy to very curly. Whilst this volume of Poodle genes increases the likelihood of them being allergy-friendly it does lower their hybrid vigor based on the ratio of Poodle to Cavalier King Charles Spaniel genes.
However, some breeders do take things to the next level. By using Cavapoos who have reverse F1b’s in their lineage they can produce multigenerational offspring with a much more balanced ratio. This means that whilst the range of fur types is greater, they can support a level of hybrid vigor that is closer to that of an F1 Cavapoo.
Which is the Best Cavapoo Generation For Me?
What your preferences are will fundamentally depend on which generation you choose, whether that be coat type, allergy reasons or a preference for one parent breed over the other.
Temperament will largely be consistent across the generations. Some Cavapoos may favor traits of one parent breed over the other but this cannot be determined by their generation. Also, remember that temperament is also reliant on nurture as well as nature.
Only you can judge which will be the best generation for you and your family. We hope that the information provided here will help you to come to that conclusion.