A Cavachon is a small, mixed-breed dog from Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise parents.
Let’s find out what happens when you mix these two popular little dogs together!
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel characteristics
- Bichon Frise characteristics
- Cavachon characteristics
- How big will a Cavachon get?
- Are Cavachons hypoallergenic?
- Do Cavachons need much grooming?
- Cavalier Bichon Mix temperament
- Cavalier Bichon Mix Health
- How long do Cavachons live?
- Finding a Cavachon breeder
- How much do Cavachon puppies cost
- Adopting a rescue Cavachon
Before we start, you may be wondering if mixing two purebreed dogs together can cause problems? Let’s take a look.
Are Designer Dogs A Good Thing?
So-called designer dogs are crossbred for a plethora of reasons. Often for fun or to make money. Sometimes for both!
Ideally, a designer dog like the Cavachon is bred with the intention of combining the “best of both worlds.” An animal with both increased health as well as the most desirable traits of two separate breeds.
Why settle for a Poodle when you can have a Labradoodle (Labrador retriever and Poodle mix)?
Why own a Pug when you can have a Puggle (Pug and Beagle mix)?
What you lose when you move away from pedigrees and pure-breeding is predictability.
Breeders cannot predict the temperamental, physical or health profile of any one Cavachon with a great degree of certainty.
It’s hard to know whether the puppies will be more like one parent or more like the other.
In broad terms, genetic diversity is a good thing and helps to give animals a better chance of good health. But it is important to be aware that it doesn’t eliminate the possibility that a puppy will inherit undesirable characteristics or a health problem, from one parent or the other
What we can say with reasonable certainty is that Cavachons inherit some qualities from each parent. But will these qualities be the cream of the crop, from the bottom of the barrel, or a combination of both?
No one knows beforehand!
The best we can do is learn about each parent breed in turn to discover more about Cavachon puppies’ temperament and well-being.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavie is a small pooch with a mid-level energy. It’s hard to not use the word “pretty” when describing this affable yet active little dog.
The breed hails from the United Kingdom. In an interesting turn of events, its lineage went through a change in the latter part of the 1600s when the dog began to be bred with flat-nosed canines.
A complex breeding history then ensued until, in 1945, the Kennel Club gave recognition to the breed known as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
It would take another decade before the breed was first recorded in America, and it was not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1995.
In recent years, the Cavie’s popularity has seen a steady increase around the globe.
Cavalier King Charles were the 18th most popular canine in the US in 2013, up from 25th place in 2008.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the impossibly adorable Bichon Frise resembles a super-sized cotton puff!
In French his name means “fluffy white dog”—an apt description if ever there was one.
With his dark round eyes and button nose, this fellow makes a delightful first impression.
The Bichon Frise is descended from the Water Spaniel, and has its roots in the Mediterranean. But its origin story is a bit hazy.
Both the Spaniards and the French took an instant liking to the mild-mannered little dog.
He was introduced in France during the Renaissance and was featured in Francisco Goya’s artwork.
The Bichon arrived on US shores in the mid-1950s, where it enjoyed immediate breeding success and popularity. Roughly 25 years later, the breed was introduced in Australia.
This cheerful and agile little fellow has a zest for life and is happy to release his energy in measured spurts.
Cavachon dog characteristics
The first Cavachons are believed to have been bred in the US in the late 1990s.
Created with the intent of creating a small, friendly, sweet-natured dog with a hypoallergenic coat.
There are some characteristics that many Cavachons will tend to have in common
Like his parents, the Cavachon is a playful and intelligent dog who, according to owners, does well with children and other dogs.
This pooch has a medium level of energy and does well with a daily walk alongside its human.
But it’s also nice to know that a typical Cavachon is equally at home being a lap dog!
How big is a Cavachon dog at full size?
One of the first questions a potential dog owner wants to know is, “how big will he get?”
We can narrow down a Cavachon’s full-size dimensions by taking a look at his parents.
The American Kennel Club places the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the Toy category due to its petite stature.
On average, a Cavie weighs between 13 and 18 pounds and reaches about a foot in height, which makes them excellent lap dogs!
When in good health, these little dogs can be expected to enjoy a lifespan of 10 to 14 years. Unfortunately the breed is currently afflicted by some serious health problems (see below)
The Bichon Frise ranges from 10 to 20 pounds of pure, fluffy white goodness, and stands around 10 to 12 inches tall on average.
Bichons enjoy an average lifespan of over 10 years, usually topping out at around 15 years.
Is the Cavachon hypoallergenic?
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not a hypoallergenic breed, but the Bichon Frise is prized for its low-shed, hypoallergenic fur.
For this reason, the Cavachon dog is often described as being hypoallergenic.
In fact, the concept of hypoallergenic-ness should be considered to be a trait that falls somewhere along a sliding scale.
Some dogs, like Poodles, are considered to be very hypoallergenic because they provoke a relatively low allergic response rate.
However, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. And you can find out more about hypoallergenic dogs and their suitability for people with allergies in this article.
Cavies are blessed with a silky smooth coat that requires weekly brushing, but not an abundance of grooming, to keep her looking elegant and proper.
Their lustrous coats come in four colorations.
Including black and white bodies with tan markings, black bodies with tan markings, and a mainly chestnut coat (sometimes with white marks).
The fourth distinction is called Blenheim. Characterized by a white coat with various and assorted chestnut-colored markings.
Bichon hair is low-shed (very nearly no-shed), but requires regular brushing to prevent mats. Owners are advised to trim the medium-to-long length curls as they grow in.
Monthly baths are recommended and ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection.
The soft undercoat and rougher outercoat layers combine to give the Bichon her inimitable “poofball” appearance. This is accentuated with proper grooming.
Like its parents, a Cavachon requires regular grooming to keep her clean and healthy, but not an inordinate amount.
Expensive Cavachon haircuts are always an option but not a necessity!
Chances are that your Cavachon will shed minimally. This makes her a good choice for individuals with respiratory and or allergic sensitivities.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are gentle and cheerful toy dogs, who generally get along well with children as well as their canine brethren.
Despite their loving ways, Cavies retain an instinctual desire to hunt and chase things.
But they can be successfully trained early on to “live and let live,” with smaller animals they may encounter in the yard.
Cavies tend to take to the people they meet.
When Cavie genes are combined with the genial Bichon Frise DNA, it is unlikely that the resulting Cavachon would serve as a reliable guard dog!
Cavies are a reasonably intelligent breed, imbued with a canine’s natural sense of curiosity, but would be quite content to be their human’s lap dog.
Their obedient and sweet nature makes them devoted special needs canines.
The Bichon is known for its intellect and they love the attention that comes with “performing.”
Early training is highly recommended to help the Bichon learn the difference between seeking negative vs positive attention!
But their desire to please their owners make them very amenable to training.
Like their parents, Cavachons have a reputation as a people pleaser. They are known for their ability to adjust to a variety of living situations (urban, rural, big family, etc.).
However, a Cavachon pup should be trained and socialized early to get them used to contact with different people, animals and environments.
Cavachons are adaptable to various physical and exercise regimens, and will dutifully go on walks with his owner.
Cavalier Bichon mix health
Unfortunately Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to a couple of serious health problems, which in turn may affect Cavachon pups.
Syringomyelia is a grave condition in which the skull cavity is simply too small to adequately contain the brain.
This leads to bulges (herniation) of the brain into the spinal cord, resulting in a blockage of spinal fluid, resulting in increased pressure on the spinal cord.
It is a sad fact that Cavies are subject to syringomyelia precisely because they have been bred to have relatively small heads.
Symptoms of syringomyelia can appear as early as six months of age.
These include scratching, biting and licking at paws, body shaking, and cries of distress due to major pain in the neck, head and shoulders.
Furthermore, the most common cause of death in Cavies is mitral valve disease.
This heart condition is typified by heart murmurs and can result in eventual heart failure.
Symptoms can appear early in life, and the majority of Cavies may develop the condition prior to age 5.
Inherited blood disorders, and hip and knee dysplasia, are other worrying and common medical conditions common to Cavies, and by extension Cavachons.
In addition to the health risks of the Cavie, the Cavachon may also inherit the medical profile of the Bichon Frise.
The Bichon is prone to cataracts and patellar luxation, as well as dental issues that require vigilance on the part of the owner.
How can one realistically gage Cavachon life expectancy?
With a mixed breed we can hope for a reduced risk of some of the worst health problems of the parents, but it isn’t always possible to avoid them altogether. Small (but not very small) dogs do tend to have a longer lifespan than much larger breeds but these are generalisations
It is important to work with responsible breeders when you purchase a puppy, but the need is magnified when considering a Cavachon. And the truth is that it can be hard to find responsible breeders of designer dogs just because mixed breeding is frowned upon in many parts of the dog community.
So it’s important that you so your homework and research carefully. You’ll find lots of tips and advice in our Puppy Search series
Attention must be paid to the risk of syringeomylia in Cavachons.
The vast majority of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have the skull abnormality that causes syringeomylia.
MRIs can detect the condition in Cavies, and responsible breeders use genetic testing to inform their breeding decisions.
If your Cavachon pup does develop syringomyelia, medication and surgery are treatment options. However, medication will only address the symptoms of the illness, and cannot stop the condition from advancing.
Surgery is an expensive and rare option as not all vets are practiced in the operation. Even with an improvement in symptoms post-surgery, there is no guarantee that your Cavachon will remain symptom-free over the long run.
Experts have recommended that Cavies be subject to testing for both syringeomylia and mitral valve disease, but this is only a recommended option.
Avoid buying a cavachon puppy from a puppy mill or pet store. And be sure to review the health certificates of both of your pup’s parents prior to making an informed decision to bring a sweet, small Cavachon into your home.
One interesting fact about crossbred puppies is that they sometimes demand a much higher price than either of their purebred parents.
Part of the reason is down to supply and demand.
While some mixed breeds are relatively common, such as the Labradoodle, others are rarer and their price tag reflects this.
What is a typical Cavachon dog price?
Pet adoption is a positive experience for both animals and owners.
Who doesn’t want to be a part of a feel-good story in which a needy pet is matched with a loving home?
One caveat with adopting or rescuing a Cavachon dog has to do with the serious medical conditions attached to these lovely and intelligent animals.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has an undeniably serious medical history.
Cavachon pups are prone to the same medical conditions, such as syringomyelia and heart problems.
A responsible breeder will have health certificates for her pups, but this isn’t always the case for rescue animals.
Do Cavalier Bichon mixes make good pets?
The best way to determine a mixed breed’s potential to be a good companion animal is by studying his parents’ profiles.
Including temperamental disposition and health risks.
In the case of the Cavachon dog, she can be expected to inherit any combination of traits found in either parent.
Of course, it would be ideal to be able to pick and choose the characteristics of our future Cavachon BFFs: intelligence, sociability, health, etc.
But in the real world where nothing is guaranteed, it’s simply a roll of the DNA dice.
It is relatively easy to predict that these adorable pups will feature the sweet and open expression we’ve come to expect from the Cavachon mix breed.
However, beyond this even puppies from the same litter can have drastically different health conditions and personalities.
Overall, most Cavachon parents report that their little bundles of joy are lively and affectionate, playful and good with children.
But it’s also wise to keep in mind the potential health risks that accompany the Cavachon.
Work with a responsible breeder who can help educate you about the crossbreed, as well as make an informed decision about ownership.
Do you have a Cavachon at home? We’d love to hear about your experiences with this most exceptional dog, in the comment section below!
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Grieshaber, TL, Congenital alopecia in a Bichon Frise, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1986
Rusbridge, C, et al., Syringohydromyelia in Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, 2000
Rusbridge, C, Chiari-Like Malformation with Syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Long-Term Outcome After Surgical Management, Veterinary Surgery, 2007
Swenson, L, et al., Relationship between parental cardiac status in Cavalier King Charles spaniels and prevalence and severity of chronic valvular disease in offspring, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1996
Wallace, MR, et al., Inheritance of cataract in the Bichon Frise, Veterinary Ophthalmology, 2005