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The cavachon is a cross between the sweet, powder-puff bichon frise and the adorable Cavalier King Charles spaniel, two breeds who have been favorite lap dogs for centuries.
Mixed (or designer) breeds, can inherit traits from either parent, so it’s not possible to totally predict what your dog will be like, but we can tell you what’s generally expected – and with the cavachon, that’s a cute and happy little teddy bear!
Want to know if this bichon frise mixed breed is the right one for you? Keep on reading.
Cavachon (Bichon Frise x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Mix) History
Unlike many designer breeds, the origins of the cavachon are actually known. Designer breeders began intentionally mixing the bichon frise with the Cavalier King Charles in 1996 in the USA to make a sweet, small companion dog. Demand for the breed grew and continues to grow due to the cavachon making such a great family dog.
Let’s take a look at the history of its parent breeds to get a better understanding of this mixed breed’s origins.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is classed as a toy breed spaniel and originated in the United Kingdom. Today’s Cavalier descends from the small toy spaniels that are depicted in many of the paintings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. King Charles II, this breed’s namesake, was often flanked by at least two or three at a time, and it was said that he seemed to have more interest in breeding spaniels than actually ruling.
In the Victorian era, after King Charles II’s death, the Cavalier’s popularity began to dwindle and they were replaced by pug dogs. These shorter-nosed pugs were then mixed with the spaniels of the time to reduce the nose and create a more domed head, as was the new style back then. This created what is known today as the King Charles Spaniel, a separate breed to the Cavalier.
It wasn’t until 1926 that the Cavalier began to make a comeback, which was all down to an American by the name of Roswell Eldridge, who visited England and expressed disappointment that he was not able to see the dogs that were so often shown in artworks. He thus began a movement that led to attempts to recreate the original spaniel of King Charles II’s time, with its longer muzzle and flatter head.
In 1928, the Cavalier King Charles Club was founded, and eventually, after years of breeding attempts, the Cavalier breed standard was drawn up, and in 1945 the Kennel Club recognized it as a separate breed to the flatter-nosed King Charles spaniel. It was not until 1996 that it was recognized and welcomed into the American Kennel Club.
Today, Cavalier King Charles spaniels are a popular pet, down to their unique combination of the gentleness of a toy breed and the athleticism of a spaniel.
The bichon frise originated in the Mediterranean and descends from the barbet, a large water spaniel. The barbet was crossed with little white lap dogs, and from this mix came the group of “barbichon” dogs, consisting of the Maltese, Bolognese, Havanese, and bichon tenerife.
The bichon tenerife, as the name suggests, was developed in Tenerife in the Canary Islands after being taken there by Spanish sailors, and later became known as the bichon frise (meaning “curly-haired small dog”) after growing popular in France.
First used as sailing dogs, they later became popular companion dogs of the wealthy, upper-class Europeans and nobles. The Spanish painter Francisco de Goya included bichons in many of his paintings, and, like the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, they also appeared in portraits of the royals.
The bichon frise was brought to the US in 1955 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. Today, they are a popular pet, especially with families, due to their sweet, powder-puff appearance and affectionate natures.
Cavachon Appearance (Coat, Size, and Weight)
There can be variations in crossbreed dogs, as it depends on what parent is most dominant, but let’s look at what you can generally expect from a cavachon.
The cavachon is a small dog, usually standing at 12-13 inches (30 – 33cm) tall and weighing between 13-18 pounds (6 – 8kg). There are also toy cavachons, which measure less than 12 inches (30cm) and weigh under 10 pounds (4.5kg). The cavachon’s medium-length coat is very soft and silky, and slightly wavy – for this reason, many people compare the cavachon to a teddy bear.
As for coloring, the cavachon can be black and tan, ruby, tricolor or white, apricot and white, white with black or with black and tan. Their head is broad and round and they have a curly tail.
At one year old your cavachon is considered fully grown, but the adorable thing about this breed is that it maintains a cute, puppy-like appearance even into its adulthood.
Next, let’s see what it takes to keep a cavachon happy and healthy.
The cavachon may be low shedding (good news for allergy sufferers), but their coats being so silky (thanks to the Cavalier) means they are prone to matting. This means that they will need fairly regular brushing (about 3 times a week) to keep it in good condition and avoid any uncomfortable knots. It’s also a good idea to keep the hair around their eyes short and to regularly clean beneath the eyes.
It’s advised to regularly clean your cavachon’s ears, too; due to their floppy ears plus profuse hair growth inside them, they are more prone to infections. Simply use a good quality ear cleaning solution, some cotton balls, and have some treats on hand to reward your dog.
Activity and Living Requirements
Cavachons are quite lively despite their small size, so they will need a fairly active owner. As long as they get about 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day, they should be content. They are quite playful little pooches, so playing ball games with your cavachon out on a walk would help to burn off their energy as well as stimulate their playful side.
As long as they get the daily exercise they need, cavachons are adaptable to living in apartments given their small size and moderate energy levels. So if you’re looking for a dog that fits in with your urban lifestyle, it could be a good choice for you.
It’s also a good idea to provide your cavachon with toys in the home and incorporate play into its daily routine, particularly if you do live in a smaller space and don’t have a garden.
Cavachon Temperament and Intelligence
The cavachon is described by many owners as a “happy dog.” They have a playful, lively side out on a walk, and once home they make great cuddle buddies, with their teddy-bear like soft coats.
Like their parent breeds, cavachons fit in well with families as they are great with children, and their gentle, affectionate nature has won over many hearts. They also tend to mix well with other dogs and get on with cats, especially if they are socialized from an early age.
Some cavachon owners say their dog may bark at strangers at first to alert them, but they are quickly friendly to everyone and adore attention. Cavachons are pretty intelligent and most owners find them easy to train, as they are so loyal and eager to please you. This makes them a good option for novice dog owners or those who have less time to put into training.
An important thing to know about this mixed breed is that they like to be around their owners, so they will need to live in a household where they get a lot of attention and don’t get left alone for long periods of time. They make an ideal pet for someone who works from home, or for an active older person. Otherwise, they might get separation anxiety like a bichon frise.
Cavachon Health and Lifespan
Both parent breeds generally have fairly long lifespans, particularly the bichon frise, so these little mixed breed cuties can live between 10 – 15 years.
As this designer breed is fast growing in popularity, some people will take advantage of the situation to make money and run what is known as puppy mills, or puppy farms. To ensure you get a healthy cavachon pup from an ethical place, it is important to be sure you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. In order to find one, you should take your time and do your research.
A trustworthy breeder will:
- Be glad to meet in person
- Be happy to answer your questions
- Show you the mother with the puppies and their living quarters.
- Be able to show proof of health screenings and explain any potential health problems that affect either breed
- Give you documentation on your puppy should you decide to go ahead and buy from them
Regardless of how well you choose your puppy, though, it is hard to predict with certainty how healthy a crossbreed will be. The bichon frise Cavalier King Charles spaniel mix might suffer from any medical conditions that are common in their parent breeds, but they could also be healthier because of their mixed-breed status.
Let’s take a look at some of the health issues the cavachon can develop. Major issues include:
- Mitral valve disease: This disease can be passed on from the Cavalier, who has significant inherited heart problems. It occurs when the mitral valve in the heart malfunctions and allows blood to flow backward into the left atrium. You will usually be able to hear a heart murmur in the affected dog, which is a change in a normal heartbeat and sounds like a “swooshing” between the normal “dub-dub” beat. Medication may be able to help prolong your dog’s life if it is caught early enough. It’s also very important to keep your dog’s teeth clean, as poor dental health affects heart health.
- Syringomyelia: This is most commonly seen in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, but can be found in bichons too. This is when pockets of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) build up in the spinal cord; these buildups can cause extreme pain in your dog’s neck, shoulders, head, and chest. You may notice your dog withdrawing, scratching themselves excessively, crying out when jumping or running or defecating due to the strain on their abdomen. The progression of the condition is difficult to predict, but your dog’s pain can be alleviated with pain relief medication, and it’s also advisable to raise your dog’s food and water dish to keep their neck in a neutral position.
- Patella luxation: This is when your dog’s kneecap moves out of the normal location. Your dog will probably display a skip in its step or run on three legs. Physiotherapy and mild exercise can help in milder cases, but more severe cases may require surgery.
Minor health concerns include:
- Cataracts: Older dogs can develop these as part of the aging process. However, some cavachon puppies are born with congenital cataracts. These look like crystal-like structures inside the dark lens of the eye. In some cases, they can be surgically removed.
- Atopic dermatitis: Some cavachons can develop this allergic skin disease. You will notice reddening of their skin and itching, especially around the ears, paws, and bottom. It is worth changing their dog food to determine if they could be allergic to a certain food in their diet.
- Ear infections: As mentioned before, this breed is prone to ear infections due to their inherited floppy ears, so keep those ears clean as part of their grooming routine.
5 Cavachon Fun Facts
Let’s look at some fun facts about this designer breed.
1. They’re Hypoallergenic
While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, cavachons are low-shedding and considered to be as hypoallergenic as a dog can get (like their bichon frise parent). This means they rarely trigger an allergic reaction in people who usually have allergies to dogs. Yay – no sneezing!
2. They Come in a Variety of Colors
While the bichon frise is known for its white coat and the Cavalier King Charles for its Blenheim colors (rich chestnut on a white background), the cavachon comes in multiple varieties, so there are many color options with this pooch.
Another interesting thing about their coats is that they can also have a “coat change” as they mature, which they inherit from the bichon frise parent, with colors fading and changing as they age.
3. They’re Pretty Low Maintenance
Apart from some attention, a bit of playtime, and the right amount of exercise, cavachons are pretty low maintenance. They’re easy to train, good with kids and other pets, usually friendly to strangers, and they’re low-shedding so you won’t need to clean up their hair every day.
What more could you ask for?!
4. They Have Royal Roots
Both of the cavachon’s parent breeds were popular with royalty and nobility in history, and they can both be seen depicted in paintings of the royals.
The bichon frise was particularly popular in France, which is where its name originates, while the Cavalier King Charles was named after King Charles II, who adored the toy spaniel breed and was rarely seen without one.
5. They’re Good with Children
Being such playful, gentle, and cuddly little teddy bears, the cavachon is a popular pet for families or people with children. They usually have a lot of patience with kids and don’t tend to be snappy.
Just be aware that if your children are toddlers or younger children, it’s a good idea to monitor them with your dog, as cavachons are small and could be easily injured.
Is Cavachon the Right Breed for You?
The cavachon, if well trained and socialized, is a sweetheart of a dog. They are great with families as they are gentle with children and love to play. They usually get on with other pets, too, particularly when introduced from a young age. Cavachons make great cuddle buddies at home and feel just like a soft teddy bear.
Due to their small size, these dogs suit apartment living, as long as they get enough exercise and play during the day. They will need an owner who is at home a lot, as they get attached to their family and need a lot of attention and affection.
Cavachons are a good choice for novice owners as they are easy to train, being so eager to please you. They’re also a good option for people with allergies, as their coat is low-shedding, so they are classed as a hypoallergenic breed.
Cavachons are in demand, so watch out for less ethical breeders and make sure you go with a reputable source to get the healthiest, happiest pup. A healthy cavachon can live a long life and will retain their puppy-like looks even into adulthood, warming your heart with their cuteness.