Cockapoos are considered a “designer dog breed”, which is an unfortunate term that gives many people the wrong impression. “Designer” breeds aren’t like designer purses, in the sense of being high-end, expensive, and prized for their luxury appearance.
Instead, the term “designer” came about with regard to dog breeds simply because these breeds were “designed” relatively recently, by crossbreeding two established breeds.
While many “pure” dog breeds that exist today were bred for hundreds or even thousands of years to arrive at the traits the breed has today, designer breeds are created by crossing two breeds in the hopes of creating a new breed that has a certain combination of traits.
Designer dogs, therefore, are not “mutts”, but most of them are also not recognized as real breeds, because they are so new.
The cockapoo is a cross between the cocker spaniel and the poodle, and they have been bred for the last sixty years or so, starting in the United States. The goal of the first cockapoo breeders was to create a healthy breed with certain other traits.
Hybrids or crossbreeds are often healthier than either of their parent breeds, thanks to the increased genetic variation that the two breeds provide. This means that the health problems most likely to afflict cocker spaniels and poodles are, hopefully, less likely to occur in cockapoos.
Thanks to the different traits of cocker spaniels and poodles, cockapoos are also smart, friendly, hypoallergenic dogs that are the perfect size for a companion; not too big, but not too small.
However, considering the fact that they were bred primarily for companionship, we may wonder how they do in the outdoors. Can you take your cockapoo hiking?
Are Cockapoos A Good Breed for Hiking?
There are two modern variants of the cocker spaniel (the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel) and three variants of the poodle (the standard, the miniature, and the toy).
This means that there is a wide range of possible cockapoos that could exist, depending on which cocker spaniel and poodle variants were bred together, and also depending on what “generation” the cockapoo is (i.e. whether its parents were one cocker spaniel and one poodle, two cockapoos, one cockapoo and one of the other two breeds, etc).
This variation makes it a bit tricky to say anything universal about all cockapoos. The good news, though, is that all cockapoos are good for taking on hikes!
Both cocker spaniels and poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs, and cockapoos retain these athletic hunting breed traits, despite being primarily a companion dog. However, with the variation that exists in different types of cockapoos, it’s important to think about what intention your particular cockapoo was bred for.
For example, a breeder who intends to sell future show dogs may look for, and consequently have puppies which possess, traits that are less conducive to an outdoor lifestyle.
On the other hand, someone breeding the “hunting” type of cocker spaniel and poodle to create a robust, healthy companion dog may have puppies that are better suited to hiking.
If you are considering getting a cockapoo, then this is something to take into consideration; if you have a cockapoo now, it may simply be something that informs how you handle your hikes with them.
Another important thing to know is that cockapoo puppies, like many other breeds of puppy, shouldn’t be hiked. Despite their relatively good health record compared to purebreds, cockapoos are still at risk for health problems, and joint issues in the knees and hips are common.
By avoiding intense physical activity, like long hikes, until they are one year old, you can lower their risk of joint problems later in life.
What Weather Is Good for Hiking with A Cockapoo?
In general, cockapoos tend to do best in moderate weather, but the range that they can tolerate depends on exactly what type of cockapoo they are.
Larger cockapoos, bred from larger cocker spaniels and poodles, will be able to deal with cold weather, rain, or even snow, much better than smaller versions will. They tend to have hair that is similar to poodles’, which is what makes them a “hypoallergenic” breed, and this can keep them warm as long as it is maintained properly.
However, even the biggest cockapoos are generally smaller than standard poodles, so their tolerance for cold weather is a bit lower than what a truly large breed or a cold-weather breed would have.
Smaller cockapoos, especially those bred from miniature or toy poodles and smaller cocker spaniels, can still hike in cold weather, but they will also get colder more easily than larger dogs. They have the coat to keep them warm, but because they are smaller, with shorter legs, their stomachs are closer to the ground.
When it is cold out, the ground is wet, or there is snow on the ground, this can cause small dogs to lose body heat rapidly unless they are protected with appropriate clothing. So, your small cockapoo can probably still hike with you in the winter, but it’s important to have the appropriate gear to keep them warm.
If you intend to hike in wet, muddy, or snowy weather with your cockapoo, be sure to keep the hair around their paws trimmed short to prevent them from getting dirty or wet, and consider using rain or snow boots to protect them.
How Far Can A Cockapoo Hike?
They may not be born hikers like huskies, shepherds, or pointers, but cockapoos can still hike for a decent distance with you. The length that your cockapoo can hike for will depend on their size, athleticism, and age, but no matter what, you should be able to take your cockapoo on some sort of hike if you really want to.
The only cockapoos who probably cannot hike very far are those with health problems, especially joint problems, and older cockapoos who may need to go at a slower pace. Puppies, as mentioned earlier, also should not hike until they are at least one year old.
That said, a healthy adult cockapoo should be able to hike for at least five miles with you. In some cases, very small adults may need shorter distances, but the average cockapoo can probably hike even farther than five miles if you are careful.
Begin taking your cockapoo on hikes after their first birthday, and see how they do on a five mile round-trip hike; if they have lots of energy leftover for zoomies when you get home, you can gradually increase the length of the hike until it seems like they’ve gotten a good workout, or until you don’t want to/can’t hike any farther yourself.
They shouldn’t be passed out from exhaustion the rest of the day, but most dogs who have worked hard on a good hike will let you know by having plenty of water and a snack (if available) afterwards, then taking a nice nap.
Keep in mind that your dog’s tolerance for long-distance hikes may vary depending on the weather, with extreme heat making them likely to tire out faster and extreme cold making them likely to want less outside time.
Other Things to Consider When Hiking with Your Cockapoo
Since cockapoos have long hair that is curly almost like a poodle’s, their grooming is an important thing to think about when hiking with them. In the summer, or if you live in a warm place, you probably keep their hair short, and it should be relatively easy to deal with.
However, if it’s winter or the place you live is typically colder, you may choose to let their hair grow out.
In this case, be sure to brush it regularly so that it can do its job in keeping them warm, and trim the appropriate areas even while letting the majority of their hair grow out; mud, snow, leaves, and even bugs will get stuck in the hair around your pup’s paws, and shaggy hair around the eyes can make it hard for them to see where you’re going on those hikes.
Be prepared to remove some plant material or dirt from them after the hike, too, especially when their hair is long.
Cockapoos are a friendly breed and love people and most other dogs.
This can be kind of a double-edged sword when hiking, because although it makes them less likely to chase other animals or bark excessively if you encounter other people walking with dogs, it also means that they will want to greet everyone they see.
Remember to check with other dog owners before allowing your cockapoo to try to make friends, and in the case of other people hiking without dogs, keep the pup away from them unless they show interest.
That way, everyone can enjoy the hike in the way they want to.