Before proceeding with your search for a good Cockapoo, we advise reading Larry Shook’s short book “The Puppy Report”. You may order it through the CCA from Amazon.com or check your local library. This will help you to be an informed consumer.
There are breeders or puppy brokers selling any little mixed breed as a Cockapoo because they know that they are so popular and hard to find. So be sure that you get what you are paying for. The more the breeder does, the better the warrantee and health and temperaments checks may be. For example, you can get a “bargain” pup from an ad in the paper for say “$200” and spend a $1000 dollars at the vet to get it healthy. But if you pay a higher price, say $750-1250 or more, you spend $0 at the vet and only have the ordinary maintenance expenses. So in reality, your $200 “bargain” may end up costing you $1200 and you may or may not wind up with a live, healthy and temperamentally sound pup. Whereas, you pay $750 or more to a good breeder who stands behind her/his pups and have no extra charges, are sure it is really a Cockapoo and will be healthy and temperamentally sound.
Before you travel your first impression is by phone or email and you can check a breeder out with the local Humane Society. Many times, interviewing over the telephone will either establish a relationship or raise your suspicions. Ask the breeder how long they have been breeding, about the temperament and health of the parents and if the parents are AKC registered or the pups traceable to AKC Cocker and Poodle lines. The breeder should be interested in learning about the type of home you can provide, about your history with pets, your familiarity with Cockapoos, ages of children etc. If all is going well at this point, you might ask the breeder to send a blank copy of their sales contract and warrantee along with any brochure they may have.
Ideally, the next step should be a visit to the breeders with your family. Sometimes this is not geographically feasible, in which case you need to rely on your feelings, obtaining and checking references from people who own the breeder’s pups and the reputation of the breeder. The visit gives you an opportunity to see the environmental and social conditions under which the puppy is raised, and is a chance for the breeder to get to know you and your children (if any) Pups and parents should be friendly but not overbearing or hyper, shy or depressed. They should be relatively clean and free of sores, look and act healthy, responsive and vital. Be sure to physically meet the parents and not just look at them in a yard or cage and ask the breeder if they have ever bitten anyone. If you do not like the parents, you are highly unlikely to get a satisfactory pup out of them. Sadly, some Cockers have been so inbred that they have a reputation for nasty and aggressive dispositions. Poodles have a reputation for neurotic and hyper behavior.
You can expect most breeders to have wormed pups and provided at least one shot before sale, release pups to new homes at 6 or more weeks of age or older and not ship in air cargo before 10 weeks of age. Please take the time to report visits to places with filthy conditions, unhealthy pups/stock or other signs of poor care to the Humane Society and to us. Any recommendations that the Club makes about breeders are based on positive client reports and in some cases, site visits by Club staff.
Females can sometimes be more easily disturbed by traumas in the family and it is best to choose a pup based on anticipated size and temperament, not on color or gender. It is inadvisable to get 2 pups from the same litter at once as they may bond to each other instead of to you. Get your second pup 3 or more months later and it is best to cross gender. The literature recommends first choice for a second pup to cross gender, second choice 2 males and does not recommend getting 2 females. The first two will get along and settle things, like who is top dog, the females may or may not get along and if they don’t may fight to the point of injury or worse. Opinions as to which gender makes the best pet reveal that most breeders and owners who have males say that they find them even more devoted and loyal than the female. With a male, you do not need to have the expense of surgery. Because we are a developing breed, we encourage all responsible owners with healthy and well-tempered males to keep them whole for possible stud service (an opportunity for you to either obtain the progeny of your beloved pet or collect stud fees or both). Some males may have a more pronounced “adolescence” because of high testosterone levels that soon level off. The male has had poor press about inappropriate mounting behavior but this is easily solved with good training and/or getting him a “humping pillow” that he can use in privacy. A small percentage of males being used for stud will display “marking behavior” around the house, especially when left alone. The few drops that they do emit are easily cleaned with a urine cleaner solution such as “Nature’s Miracle”, but the best solution is to crate the male when you leave. If he has a defect, by all means have him neutered.
It is highly desirable for the breeder to have regular ophthalmologic examinations of their breeding stock to certify that the dogs are free of a host of inherited eye diseases prominent in both the Cocker and the Poodle. This gives you a better chance of getting a pup that will not develop painful and expensive eye disease later on. Other tests such as those for potential hip and elbow problems as well as luxating patellas (a problem with the knees) are encouraged.
The breeder should be willing to give you a written guarantee and sales contract as well as written instructions to guide you in caring for your new puppy. An ideal contract will give you at least 4 to 7 days to get the pup to your vet to be checked over, and will cover the replacement cost of pup and vet bills if the pup develops an illness that can be shown to trace back to the breeder. This contract should also guarantee the pup to be free of genetic defects for the first year, minimum. Most breeders will offer a replacement puppy but remember – if a defect is detected after you have had the pup for a time, say 6 months, it is unlikely you will want to return it. It will already be a member of your family and you will be deeply bonded to each other. For most people it would be like trading in one of their children. So, read the contract carefully (obtain the contract and pup instructions ahead of time so you will be able to examine and suggest changes that you want). Also inquire about keeping in touch with the breeder after you have the pup at home. All good breeders will want to know about the pups they have bred, and be willing to help you along with minor questions.