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Do Cavapoos Have Health Problems?

Cavapoo Health 101: Genetics, Predispositions, Care Tips
Published Friday, April 19, 2024 by Elena R.

Owning a Cavapoo means paying special attention to their health needs. This guide will thoroughly explore common health issues Cavapoos face, offer preventive tips to keep them healthy, and share daily care strategies that ensure their well-being. 

Crossbreeds like the Cavapoo can inherit health issues common to both parent breeds. Regular vet check-ups and proactive care are crucial for helping them live long, happy lives. In the sections that follow, we'll provide detailed health insights and practical advice to help you care for your Cavapoo, covering everything from their genetic risks to everyday health maintenance tips. 

Overview of Cavapoo Health 

cavapoo holding a book

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a Cavapoo brushing up on the art of mixology

The Cavapoo, a hybrid of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle, inherits characteristics and health issues from both parent breeds. Understanding these can significantly enhance the care and preventive measures you provide for your Cavapoo. 

Genetic Health Background 


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

This breed is commonly affected by heart conditions, specifically mitral valve disease, which tends to appear as the dog ages. They are also prone to certain eye conditions and hip dysplasia. 


Poodles, particularly miniatures and toys like those often bred to create Cavapoos, can be prone to orthopedic problems such as luxating patellas and hip dysplasia, as well as eye disorders like progressive retinal atrophy.

Common Health Issues in Cavapoos 


Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) 

Mitral Valve Disease is a progressive heart condition that is particularly common in certain dog breeds, including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, one of the parent breeds of the Cavapoo. This disease primarily affects the mitral valve, one of the four valves in a dog’s heart, which is responsible for allowing blood to flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle without backflow. 

Pathophysiology of MVD

Valve Degeneration: As dogs age, the mitral valve can degenerate, causing the valve flaps to thicken and change shape. This degeneration can lead to the formation of nodules or thickening at the edge of the valve leaflets. 

Leakage and Heart Enlargement: The deformation of the valve prevents it from closing properly during heartbeats, leading to the backflow of blood (regurgitation) into the atrium. Over time, this inefficient pumping requires the heart to work harder, which can cause the heart to enlarge and become less effective at pumping blood. 

Symptoms of MVD
  • Mild to Severe Coughing: Initially might be mild and worsen over time.
  • Breathing Difficulties: Increased effort in breathing, especially during exercise or excitement.
  • Fatigue: Reduced ability to exercise without tiring.
  • Collapse or Fainting: In advanced cases, due to decreased blood flow to the body. 
Diagnosis and Treatment

Veterinary Examination: A vet can often detect MVD during a physical exam by identifying a heart murmur. 

Diagnostic Imaging: Echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) is typically used to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of the condition. 

Management: While there is no cure for MVD, its progression can be managed with medications that improve heart function and reduce fluid buildup in the lungs. Lifestyle changes such as diet modifications and controlled exercise are also important. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a group of genetic diseases seen in many breeds of dogs, including Cavapoos. PRA affects the photoreceptor cells in the eyes, leading to their gradual deterioration and eventual blindness. The condition is inherited and affects both eyes simultaneously. 

Pathophysiology of PRA

Photoreceptor Degeneration: PRA primarily affects the rod and cone cells, the photoreceptors in the retina that convert light into electrical signals sent to the brain. The disease causes these cells to degenerate over time. 

Night Blindness to Total Blindness: The initial sign of PRA is often night blindness, as rods, which function in low light, degenerate first. As the disease progresses, daytime vision also deteriorates, eventually leading to complete blindness. 

Symptoms of PRA
  • Early Signs: Difficulty seeing in dim lighting or at night. Dogs may be hesitant to go into dark rooms or go outside at night. 
  • Behavioral Changes: As their vision deteriorates, affected dogs might appear more cautious or anxious, especially in new environments. 
  • Visible Changes in the Eye: Over time, the eyes may develop a noticeable shine, and the pupils may remain dilated even in bright conditions. 
Diagnosis and Management

Ophthalmologic Examination: A veterinary ophthalmologist can diagnose PRA through a detailed eye exam, often observing the retina's thinning and other characteristic changes. 

Genetic Testing: Genetic tests can identify the mutations responsible for PRA, allowing breeders to screen their dogs before breeding and helping owners know if their pet is at risk. 

Adaptation and Safety: While there is no cure for PRA, affected dogs can adapt well to their limited vision as long as their environment remains consistent. Safety measures include keeping pathways clear of obstacles and using scent markers or textured rugs to help them navigate their home. 

Hip Dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia is a prevalent orthopedic condition in many dog breeds, including Cavapoos. It involves the abnormal development of the hip joint, leading to a laxity that results in degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis.  

Pathophysiology of Hip Dysplasia

Joint Malformation: In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket joint of the hip do not fit or develop properly. The poor fit results in increased wear and tear, causing the joint components to degrade over time. 

Joint Laxity and Arthritis: The looseness in the joint leads to significant instability. Over time, this instability causes the development of arthritis in the hip joint, which is often the source of pain and mobility issues in affected dogs. 

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
  • Decreased Activity: Dogs may show less enthusiasm for exercise, play, or activities they previously enjoyed. 
  • Difficulty Rising or Jumping: Affected dogs might struggle to rise from a resting position or resist jumping onto raised areas such as beds or cars. 
  • Lameness or Limping: A noticeable limp or lameness in the hind legs is common, which might be more pronounced after vigorous activity or in cold weather. 
  • Pain and Discomfort: As the condition progresses, the pain can become more apparent, especially when the hip area is touched or moved in certain ways. 
Diagnosis and Treatment

Veterinary Assessment: Diagnosis typically involves a combination of physical examinations and imaging tests like X-rays, which reveal the extent of joint malformation and arthritis. 

Management Strategies: Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition and the dog’s overall health. They can include: 

  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on the hips. 
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises and therapies designed to strengthen the muscles around the joint, improving support. 
  • Pain Management: NSAIDs and other pain-relief medications to manage discomfort. 
  • Surgical Options: In severe cases, surgical interventions such as a total hip replacement may be considered. 

Allergies and Skin Conditions 

These issues can stem from environmental triggers, food sensitivities, or genetic predispositions.  

Common Types of Allergies in Cavapoos

Environmental Allergies: Also known as atopic dermatitis, environmental allergies are triggered by allergens like pollen, mold, and dust mites. Symptoms often include itching, redness, and skin irritation, primarily affecting the paws, ears, and belly. 

Food Allergies: Though less common than environmental allergies, food allergies can cause skin issues as well as gastrointestinal symptoms. Common culprits include proteins like beef, chicken, or dairy. 

Flea Allergy Dermatitis: An allergic reaction to flea bites, even a single bite can cause severe itching and irritation for a hypersensitive dog. 

Symptoms of Allergic Reactions and Skin Conditions
  • Itching and Scratching: Persistent itching is the most common symptom, leading to excessive scratching. 
  • Redness and Inflammation: Affected areas may appear red and inflamed. 
  • Hair Loss: Chronic scratching and irritation can lead to patches of hair loss. 
  • Skin Infections: Repeated scratching can break the skin, leading to secondary infections by bacteria or fungi. 

Understanding Hybrid Vigor (Heterosis) 

cute cavapoo looking at the camera

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a dashing Cavapoo 

Hybrid vigor, or heterosis, refers to the phenomenon whereby the offspring of two different species or genetically distinct individuals exhibit superior physical or biological qualities compared to their parents. In the context of dog breeding, especially in crossbreeds such as the Cavapoo, hybrid vigor can manifest in several beneficial ways. 

Mechanism and Effects

Genetic Diversity: Hybrid vigor arises from increased genetic diversity. When two genetically different breeds are crossed, their offspring inherit a broader mix of genes. This diversity can decrease the likelihood of inheriting specific genetic diseases that are common in purebred populations where gene pools are often limited and closed. 

Health Benefits: One of the primary advantages observed in hybrid vigor is improved overall health. Crossbred dogs often experience fewer genetic disorders and may have longer lifespans compared to their purebred counterparts. They may also exhibit greater resistance to diseases and enhanced immune system function. 

Improved Fertility and Viability: Hybrid vigor often leads to higher fertility rates, better litter survival, and stronger, more vigorous puppies. These offspring frequently show enhanced growth rates and better overall physical performance. 

Limitations and Considerations

Not a Guarantee: It's essential to note that hybrid vigor does not guarantee that a crossbred dog will be free from all health issues. Each individual dog, regardless of breeding, can inherit genetic disorders from either parent or develop diseases unrelated to genetics. 

Variable Expression: The degree of hybrid vigor can vary significantly. It depends largely on the genetic distance between the parent breeds and how much their gene pools overlap. More distant genetic material typically leads to stronger manifestations of hybrid vigor. 

Breeding Practices: The benefits of hybrid vigor can be maximized through responsible breeding practices. This includes selecting parent breeds that are healthy and genetically screened for common disorders. Continuous breeding within a limited gene pool, even in crossbreeds, can reduce the effects of hybrid vigor over generations. 

RELATED: An introduction to Doodles 

Preventive Health Measures 

cavapoo on a table at the vet

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a well-behaved Cavapoo at the vet

Proactive and preventive healthcare is vital in managing the health of Cavapoos, given their predisposition to certain inherited conditions. Here are key strategies to help prevent illness and maintain overall health: 

Regular Veterinary Check-ups 

Annual Exams: Schedule regular veterinary visits to catch and address potential health issues early. These exams typically include heart, joint, and eye screenings, especially important for breeds like Cavapoos. 

Early Detection Programs: Enroll your Cavapoo in early detection programs for conditions such as mitral valve disease and hip dysplasia, common in their parent breeds. 

Vaccinations and Parasite Control 

Vaccination Schedule: Keep up-to-date with vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian. This protects your Cavapoo from common infectious diseases. 

Parasite Prevention: Regular treatments for parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms are crucial. Discuss the best preventative products with your vet. 

Diet and Nutrition 

Balanced Diet: Feed your Cavapoo a high-quality diet that meets their specific life stage and health needs. Consider diets that support joint health and reduce the risk of obesity, which can exacerbate joint issues. 

Consultation with Vet: Regularly discuss your Cavapoo’s dietary needs with your vet, especially as they age or if health issues arise, to tailor their nutrition effectively. 

RELATED: Puppy feeding guide 


Regular, Moderate Exercise: Ensure your Cavapoo gets regular but moderate exercise to maintain healthy body weight and joint health. Avoid excessive exercise that might strain their joints, particularly if your Cavapoo is prone to or diagnosed with hip dysplasia. 

RELATED: Is the Cavapoo energetic?

Daily Health Care Tips 

wet cavapoo dog in a bathtub

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a beautiful Cavapoo getting a bath

Consistent daily care is essential for keeping your Cavapoo healthy and preventing the development of chronic conditions. Here are some practical tips to incorporate into your daily routine: 

Exercise Requirements 

Balanced Activity: Provide your Cavapoo with a mix of physical activity and mental stimulation. Daily walks, interactive play sessions, and puzzle toys can help keep their mind and body active and engaged. 

Avoid Overexertion: Given their potential for joint issues, it’s important to monitor their exercise to prevent overexertion. Activities should be age-appropriate and adjusted if any signs of discomfort or fatigue appear. 

Grooming Needs 

Coat Care: Regular brushing is necessary to prevent matting and reduce shedding, as Cavapoos inherit the Poodle’s coat to some extent. Depending on the coat type, professional grooming every 4-6 weeks might be necessary. 

Dental Health: Daily teeth brushing with dog-specific toothpaste can prevent dental diseases, which are common in small breeds. 

Ear Care: Check and clean their ears regularly to prevent infections. Floppy ears, can trap moisture and debris. 

RELATED: Cavapoo Grooming Guide 

Signs of Health Issues to Watch For 

Behavioral Changes: Sudden changes in behavior, such as increased lethargy, aggression, or anxiety, can indicate underlying health issues. 

Physical Symptoms: Keep an eye out for symptoms like coughing, limping, difficulty breathing, or changes in appetite and bathroom habits. Early detection and treatment of issues often lead to better outcomes. 

RELATED: Cavapoo Lifespan: Secrets to Longevity 

Managing a Cavapoo's Mental Health 

cavapoo sitting outside under an umbrella

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a sweet Cavapoo relaxing under an umbrella

Mental health is just as important as physical health for Cavapoos. Ensuring their mental well-being can prevent behavioral issues and contribute to a more harmonious living environment. Here are some strategies to support your Cavapoo's mental health: 

Importance of Mental Stimulation and Social Interaction 

Mental Stimulation: Cavapoos inherit their intelligence from both parent breeds, which makes them quick learners who thrive on mental challenges. Provide a variety of puzzle toys, training sessions, and games like hide-and-seek to keep their minds active. 

Social Interaction: Regular interaction with other dogs and people is crucial for social development and maintaining their mental health. Social outings can help reinforce positive behaviors and alleviate tendencies towards anxiety or depression. 

RELATED: Learn About the Cavapoo’s Temperament 

Tips for Preventing Anxiety and Depression 

  • Routine and Predictability: Maintain a consistent daily routine that includes regular times for meals, walks, and quiet time. This predictability can help reduce anxiety in Cavapoos. 
  • Avoidance of Stressful Situations: Be mindful of your dog’s comfort level in various environments. If certain situations cause them stress or fear, gradually expose them to these environments while ensuring it's a positive experience. 
  • Quality Time: Spend quality one-on-one time with your Cavapoo. Affection and attention from their favorite person can greatly enhance their mood and overall mental well-being. 

RELATED: Can Cavapoos be Left Alone? 

When to Seek Veterinary Help 

cavapoo wearing an E-collar

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a cute-looking Cavapoo wearing an E-collar

Recognizing when to consult a veterinarian can ensure your Cavapoo receives the necessary medical attention promptly, potentially averting more serious health issues. Here are key signs and situations when professional veterinary assistance is essential: 

Symptoms That Require Immediate Attention 

  • Respiratory Issues: If your Cavapoo is coughing persistently, wheezing, or showing signs of labored breathing, these could indicate heart disease or respiratory problems. 
  • Gastrointestinal Distress: Symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or refusal to eat for more than a day necessitate a vet visit, as they can quickly lead to dehydration or worse. 
  • Changes in Mobility: Limping, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, or noticeable pain during movement can be signs of joint problems or hip dysplasia, conditions to which Cavapoos can be predisposed. 


cavapoo covering its eyes with its paws

Premier Pups Customer Photo of a Cavapoo being adorable

Choosing a Cavapoo as a companion comes with the responsibility of understanding and addressing their specific health needs. This guide has explored crucial aspects of Cavapoo health, from recognizing and managing inherited conditions to implementing daily care routines that enhance their well-being.  

Remember, the key to a healthy Cavapoo lies not only in good genetics and initial care but also in the ongoing commitment to their health and happiness. Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and affection will help your Cavapoo thrive 

Scroll down to see FAQs about the Cavapoo's health.

Elena R.

About The Author

Elena is a leading expert in the field of dog behavior, care, and training, with over a decade of experience in writing about dogs. As a published writer and lifelong dog enthusiast, Elena currently shares her home with three beloved canine companions. She is dedicated to staying up to date on the latest advancements in dog care and training, ensuring that her articles provide readers with accurate and valuable insights. With her extensive knowledge and passion for all things canine, Elena's contributions to the Premier Pups community offer both expertise and authority on a wide range of dog-related topics.
Elena R. - Author Photo

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Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I take my Cavapoo to the vet? For a healthy Cavapoo, annual check-ups are recommended. However, if your Cavapoo has health issues or as they age, more frequent visits every 6 months may be necessary to monitor their condition closely.

What are the best preventive care practices for Cavapoos? Regular veterinary check-ups, staying current with vaccinations and parasite control, maintaining a healthy diet, ensuring daily exercise, and keeping up with dental care are all crucial for preventing health issues.

Are Cavapoos prone to any genetic disorders? Yes, Cavapoos can inherit some genetic disorders from both parent breeds, including mitral valve disease, hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. Genetic testing of parent breeds and regular health screenings can help manage these risks.

How can I tell if my Cavapoo is in pain? Signs your Cavapoo may be in pain include excessive grooming, reduced activity, limping, changes in posture, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, whimpering, and changes in appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian.

Can diet affect my Cavapoo's health? Absolutely. A balanced diet tailored to your Cavapoo’s age, weight, and health needs can prevent obesity, support joint health, and boost overall vitality. Consult with your vet to determine the best diet plan.