I can’t claim to be a pioneer when it comes to the “Cavoodle”. The cross between Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle has been popular since the 1990s, but has become particularly well-known since Julia Gillard acquired Reuben. (Proving herself to be braver than Obama, who bowed to pressure from the purebred lobby and bought a Portuguese Water dog rather than a Groodle.)
The popularity of Cavoodles continues to grow, particularly in high-density areas such as inner-city Sydney.
The reasons for this popularity are obvious. The Cavalier is a dear little dog, which – unlike most pure breeds around today – was specifically bred as a pet. Having originally served as cute, cuddly lap dogs for the British aristocracy, they’ve undergone several hundred years of selective breeding for a gentle, sweet-natured, non-aggressive temperament.
But they’re not the smartest dog around, and would have left a lot of hair on the chaise longue for the servants to clean up. Hence the combination with Poodle (which, sitting at number two on Stanley Coren’s ranking of dog intelligence, far outstrips the Cavalier at 44).
This cross also improves the Cavalier’s health significantly. Structurally they are quite sound, except for their heads – they have a shortened face (brachycephalia), which causes dental problems from teeth overcrowding and soft palate problems which lead to heat intolerance especially if they are overweight. Their domed heads can cause a dreadful crippling brain disease called syringomyelia (as reported in Pedigree Dogs Exposed), and their protruding eyes, can be easily damaged.
Poodles, with their narrow heads and small eye sockets, complement the Cavalier perfectly and greatly improves the outcomes for the Cavalier’s descendants.
Cavoodles are small to medium-sized, reasonably intelligent, shaggy, low to non-shedding dogs. They have normal sized eye sockets, and so their eyes don’t protrude, a gently rounded head, a shortish muzzle, but plenty long enough to fit all their teeth and soft tissue. As such their faces are pretty, without being extreme.
In keeping with my preference for medium sized dogs, I use my larger Moyen Poodle females to breed our Cavoodles, crossing them with our Cavalier boys Blaze and Ralph. As such they leggier than most Cavoodles, and are very athletic, small to medium sized dogs (usually 8-12 kg). They make excellent indoor pets, and would suit a family or single person with a smaller yard.