Tiny, sweet-tempered, and boasting a sophisticated heritage, the Cavachon is a popular breed of designer dog, and for good reason. A mix between a Bichon Frise and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (what a mouthful!), the result is a small little dog who can make for a heart-warming, comforting companion.
Even though at first glance you might have already fallen in love with their droopy ears and fluffy whiskers, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about this dog breed. With this in mind, we’ve compiled all you need to know about the Cavachon’s appearance, temperament, health and grooming care, and much more!
Whether you are considering taking home a little Cavachon for yourself, or simply want to learn all there is to know about this breed, you’ve come to the right place.
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Table of Contents
- Cavachon Basic Profile
- Meet the Parents
- The Cavachon Appearance
- A Cavachon’s Temperament
- Exercise and Diet
- Health and Medical Needs
- Grooming a Cavachon
- Breeding a Cavachon
- Is a Cavachon Right for You?
Cavachon Basic Profile
Friendliness: There are few mixed dog breeds as friendly as the Cavachon. Every moving object is another opportunity for the Cavachon to make a friend. This includes other humans, dogs, cats, small pets and more. On the flip side, they’ll likely make terrible guard or watch dogs.
Trainability: For the most part, Cavachon dogs are easy to train. Bred from two intelligent dog breeds, they’re quite smart and always eager to please. Both these characteristics make a highly trainable dog. I’d recommend Cavachons for even the most novice and inexperienced owners.
Grooming: The good news is that these dogs rarely shed. In fact, many would consider them to be low-shedding hypoallergenic dogs. Still, a Cavachon needs all the basic grooming essentials necessary with all dog breeds. This includes: occasional brushing, baths, nail-clipping and tooth brushing.
Adaptability: Big home or small home, the Cavachon is highly adaptable to all environments. There’s nothing they love more than to be in the lap of their owner. A big part of this mixed breed’s popularity is their adaptability. They’re ideal for all types of owners in almost all types of environments.
Activity: Cavachons spend most of their day playing indoors or cuddling with their owner. They certainly don’t need as much exercise as a working or herding dog, but still need physical activity. This can be as minimal as a casual walk around the neighborhood every day.
- Height: 12 – 13 inches
- Weight: 10 – 20 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 10 – 15 years
- Dog Breed Group: Mixed dog breed
Meet the Parents
The parents of these mutt dogs are the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Bichon Frise. However, it’s important to mention that although these two dog breeds makes up the Cavachon, not all Cavachons have parents that are either dogs. For example, your pup can be from two Cavachon dogs.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, or CKC Spaniel for short, is truly an affectionate and gentle dog. They’re graceful and elegant dogs in every way possible. There’s nothing more heart-warming than seeing a CKC Spaniel smiling back at your with their big round eyes and melting expression.
As popular as they are, these spaniels were once reserved for only the aristocrats of Europe. In fact, they were named after King Charles I and his son, Charles II. These two were so dedicated in breeding these black and tan toy spaniels that they were linked by association.
The Bichon Frise is known for its great temperament, often called the world’s greatest personality dogs. Throughout the years, they’ve increased in popularity and it’s not hard to see why. They’re playful and optimistic by nature, but have a lot of adventure in them. Though small, their curiosity never stops them from exploring.
Not only are they highly adaptable toy dogs, but they also make decent watch dogs. They’ll proudly alert you if strangers come by, but it doesn’t take them long to make friends.
The Cavachon Appearance
The Cavachon is a mix between a dog breed that sounds like it might be a French dessert (Bichon Frise) and a breed that sounds like a Victorian tongue twister (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). The Bichon Frise (which in fact translates from French to mean something like ‘curly lap dog’) and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are both generally considered part of the Toy Dog Group. So don’t expect them to be too eager to do any work! They’d much prefer to just sit on someone’s lap.
Being members of the Toy Dog Group, both the Bichon Frise and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are, as you might expect, rather on the small side. So, you can be sure that any Cavachon you come across is going to be a tiny ball of fluff!
However, as with any mixed breed, there will be some degree of variation in their appearance. In general though, you can expect a Cavachon to reach between 12-13” once it is fully grown. Depending on their diet and exercise (that is, how much you spoil them!), their weight can vary quite a bit, usually ending up somewhere in the range of 10-20 pounds.
Despite their petite appearance, Cavachons are actually rather solid, sturdy canines. Their limbs tend to be strong and well-boned, and as such they respond well to active exercise. Their muzzle tends to be a good length. However, if they take after their Cavalier side more, they might display a shorter nose.
Perhaps one of their more distinctive characteristics are their droopy ears. Of medium-sized, they tend to be a somewhat darker shade than the rest of their fur, creating an adorable little frame around their face!
Coat and Eyes
A Cavachon’s coat can differ a lot from one dog to another. Though you can bet it will be downright soft, the coat can be straight, wavy, or even super curly. Also, like many other small dogs, their coat can be grown out.
While you shouldn’t expect to have a mop with legs anytime soon, nonetheless their coat can grow to several inches if left unattended. This provides endless possibilities for styling their fur in a way that matches their unique personality.
The color of their coat also varies, depending of course on the coats of their parents. While there are any number of patterns possible, the most common are white, brown, shades of apricot, and tricolor. Also, sometimes they can have some red coloring.
Though their coat and size might vary, you can rest assured that they’ll be looking up at you with a pair of large brown eyes. When framed with their hanging ears and with an inquisitive tilt of their head, their face is guaranteed to melt your heart!
A Cavachon’s Temperament
There’s one thing for sure: these dogs won’t make the most dangerous dogs list. Cavachons see everyone as a friend. It doesn’t even seem to enter their mind to think of anyone as anything but another opportunity for play and fun. While small dog breeds might see a need to prove themselves to be bigger than they are, the Cavachon has no such sense of inferiority. They are a happy breed and are always ready to express it through play and warm snuggles.
Training Your Cavachon
Despite the majority of Cavachons being overwhelmingly easy-going, you should keep your eyes open for a couple factors that are worth noting.
First, if they take after their Bichon parent, especially if the puppy is male, they might try to assert themselves over their owners. While generally nothing to worry about, if an owner is nervous or inexperienced, they might have more difficulty keeping the puppy’s behavior in check. With this in mind, the simple fix is to ensure you assert yourself gently, but firmly, as the pack leader.
In general, Cavachon owners report having an easy experience with training their dogs. The dogs are very eager to please their owners and have good attention spans. The only difficulty might be in initially house-training a puppy Cavachon.
All this means is that it is important to begin right away and have plenty of patience. Cavachons respond very well to positive feedback, so be sure to reward them when they do something right, and be understanding if they have an accident now and then. Remember, they want to please their owners, so its just a matter of taking the time to show them what to do.
Living With a Cavachon
Once trained, life with a Cavachon is full of rewarding moments. Overall, they are a quiet breed. You shouldn’t need to worry about them barking in the middle of the night, or chasing after postmen.
Instead, they are happy and friendly, calm and sensible. Cavachons won’t run around the house causing mayhem, but rather will look for any opportunity to sit on your lap for a good cuddle.
As such, they are great pets for families with children. There’s not a single aggressive bone in the Cavachon’s body, and it is sure to get along well with children.
This friendliness carries over to other animals as well. Cavachons live well with other dogs or cats. To them, another pet is just one more opportunity to make another friend!
Lastly, Cavachons are a good option for people who suffer from pet allergies. While no dog is actually 100% hypo-allergenic, a Cavachon comes pretty close. So, if pet allergies have been standing in the way between you and a fuzzy canine friend, it is worth looking into seeing how you respond to a Cavachon. Who knows, you might finally find your match!
If you want to read more on low-shedding hypoallergenic dogs, check out my guide here.
Exercise and Diet
You might have noticed that 10-20 pounds is a considerable range of weight for such a small dog. While closer to ten pounds will be more average, there is a tendency to spoil Cavachons. Understandably so, they are so adorable after all. How could you ever say ‘no’ to them?
But, adorable or not, in order to be a healthy a dog needs exercise and proper diet. I know it might be tempting to carry around a Cavachon in your arms all day, but remember they are sturdy little dogs, and love the opportunity to walk around on their own as well. Although, they’ll likely never say no to a chance to go around snuggled in their owner’s arms.
Daily Exercise for a Cavachon
Thanks to their teeny tiny size, it is relatively easy for a Cavachon to get plenty of exercise indoors. You won’t need to worry about them bowling over any furniture. They’ll be glad to chase toys around the house and play a friendly game of tug-o’-war.
However, it is better not to think of this as a substitution for outdoor exercise. Outside physical activity provides a Cavachon with the mental stimulation it needs, preventing boredom and keeping it fit all in one. Since they are small dogs, this need not be an extensive amount though, and it is recommended that a 30-minute period will suffice to keep it healthy and happy.
Being a small dog, a Cavachon will actually require more calories per pound than a big dog. To ensure that your Cavachon is well-fed, prepare a diet that gives it between 30-40 calories per pound of weight. With an adult Cavachon of average weight that will end up somewhere in the range of 400 calories per day.
Additionally, make sure that they are getting good amounts of fiber for healthy digestion. And, Omega-3 fatty acids can work toward a keeping its coat nice and healthy.
From time to time, it will be okay to give them some human foods as a treat. Just make sure dogs are allowed to eat those foods and keep it at a minimum. Certain human foods should always be fed in moderation.
Health and Medical Needs
Like many mixed breed dogs, Cavachons are born with what some call ‘hybrid vigor.’ That is, they are often free of genetic disorders that might be more prevalent among their purebred counterparts. Despite this, there are several health conditions that one should be aware of that the parent breeds are known to be vulnerable to.
Most Cavachons will not need worry about this. However, if they take after their Cavalier parent more, they run the risk of brachycephalic airway syndrome. This is usually only seen if the dog has an unusually short nose, and can lead to some difficulty breathing. Another dog breed that experiences this is the French Bulldog.
First, Cavachons can develop or be born with cataracts. However, they often can be spotted in a puppy as crystal-like structures in a normally dark lens of the eye. The good news is that in some cases they may be surgically removed.
Also, they might develop eye ulcerations due to hair rubbing their cornea. Thankfully, this is easily avoided. Pay careful attention to the hair around a Cavachon’s eyes. You’ll want to train it so that it grows away from the eyes! More on that in the grooming section.
Sometimes a Cavachon’s ears are just too fluffy for its own good, and as a result they can have a proclivity for ear infections. To counter this, be prepared to clean their ears about once a week, and be on the lookout for signs of infection. Stopping an infection at an early stage will save both you and your little Cavachon from unneeded stress.
The number one killer in humans can be seen in Cavachon dogs too. It is unfortunate, but needs to be said. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is known for its susceptibility to inherited heart disease, which can lead to heart failure in middle to late life. However, good diet and exercise can work well toward keeping a dog’s heart strong and healthy. This is a good reason you should always go to a reputable breeder with information on the parents’ health.
Other Genetic Disorders
Here are few other disorders that the parent breeds are known to have:
- Atopic Dematitis
- Cushing’s Disease
- Mitral Endocardiosis
- Patellar Luxation
- Patent Ductus Arteriosis
- Portosystemic Shunt
As mentioned before, the likelihood of a Cavachon developing any of these is much less than that of a purebred. Nonetheless, keeping an eye out for them is advised. For genetic disorders, the best way to ensure a healthy dog is to look at the health of the parents. These disorders are largely congenital, and a parent that displays health issues can likely pass them on to offspring.
Always try to meet both the sire (father) and the dame (mother), and learn about their medical history!
Lifespan of a Cavachon
If properly cared for and kept in good health, a Cavachon can live up to 15 years! However, a more realistic average will put their lifespan at about 10-13 years.
Grooming a Cavachon
Cavachons are light shedders. You won’t need to worry about waking up in the morning to a layer of fluff all over your bed, or having to lint-roll yourself after each hug. However, just because these little dogs keep their shedding to a minimum does not mean they do not have grooming needs.
In fact, depending on their coat, they should be given a good brushing two to three times a week. This depends both on the nature and length of their coat. If kept trimmed and short, brushing might be more infrequent. But if they are sporting a longer coat, it would be a good idea to brush it out more often to avoid knotting and clumping.
In terms of bathing, about once a month should keep them clean and happy. Especially if they are brushed often, their fur does not tend to keep in dirt and grit. Still, the Cavachon is a very playful dog that tends to get themselves dirty.
Something else to keep in mind is trimming their coat. If left unattended, a Cavachon’s coat can grow out to several inches. While this might make your dog cozy during winter, your dog might appreciate it if you trim is during summer months. This is especially the case if it spends extended amounts of time outdoors playing or on walks.
Lastly, but very important…you’ll need to train their hair. Yes, you read that right. Specifically, you’ll need to train the hair around their eyes to grow away from the eye’s surface. Cavachons can grow thick brows that’ll be very irritating when fully grown out.
How do you do this? This is done by using a soft wet piece of cotton wool and gently pushing the hair around the eyes outward. Do this about once a day until the hair grows in the desired direction.
If the hair around the eyes is left to do what it wants it can lead to eye ulcerations by scratching the cornea, which your Cavachon will not at all enjoy!
Also, keep an eye on that hair. If it starts growing the wrong way again, be ready to start training it until it is back in line.
Breeding a Cavachon
Remember, a hybrid dog does not always mean a 50-50 split between two purebreds, and multi-generation crosses can be common. This means that the parents might not be a Bichon Frise and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but might both be Cavachons themselves.
While having two parents who are hybrids themselves might lead to more variation in the offspring, it can also further help protect the puppies from genetic health risks, so long as the two hybrid parents are both healthy themselves as well.
However, whether a first-generation or further down the line, it is always important to look into the dog’s pedigree when possible. If there are any risks, it is always better to know of them ahead of time.
Is a Cavachon Right for You?
Overall, Cavachons match individuals with a calm, but friendly temperament. Though they are playful, if too much is going on, they might be a little put out.
They are great for people who long for a canine companion, but suffer from allergies. While a perfectly hypo-allergenic dog is still a thing of the future, any sniffles and sneezing will be at a minimum, which is a small price to pay for all the joy such a friendly dog can bring you!
Though they shed very little, they still require plenty of grooming care. So be ready for brushing at least twice a week and paying careful attention to the hair around their eyes.
Their coat can be grown out, which creates the possibility for a unique styling of their hair!
As a hybrid they are less vulnerable to genetic illness, but don’t let that be an excuse for ignoring their background. Always know as much as you can!
With attentive training in their early years, you can expect a well-behaved, eager-to-please dog throughout its adult life.
Playful but friendly, they are great around children and other pets alike. They perfectly assimilate into the household atmosphere, providing love and attention…but Cavachon’s also need a lot of TLC themselves! Prepare yourself for long evenings of cuddling by the fireplace!
Fun (Maybe) Fact
Gleneden Kennels in Virginia, USA claim to have been the first to breed a Cavachon back in 1996. Whether true or simply a marketing ploy, it is obvious that the Cavachon has had a massive appeal since, with it now being found all over the world!
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