A Cavachon dog is a small, mixed-breed from Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise parents.
These two small dogs have some big differences, so how do they appear in their mixed puppies?
Let’s find out!
Welcome to your complete guide to the Cavachon.
So-called designer dogs are crossbred for a plethora of reasons.
These include the goal of creating an animal with both increased health as well as the most desirable traits of two separate breeds.
A designer dog like the Cavachon is bred with the intention of combining the “best of both worlds.”
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)?
Although the Cavachon dog is bred in order to duplicate the well-known characteristics of Cavies and Bichons, it’s not that simple.
Breeders cannot predict the temperamental, physical or health profile of any one Cavachon with a great degree of certainty.
That’s because the DNA sequence created between two pure breeds is an equation that can’t be calculated.
Nature has a way of preferring variation and this is abundantly clear in crossbreed offspring.
What we can say with reasonable certainty is that Cavachons inherit 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.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the Cavie and Bichon breeds in order to form a clearer picture of what owning a Cavachon dog will be like.
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.
They were also the fourth most popular breed in Australia in 2009, and the sixth most popular pooch in the UK in 2007.
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.
Some owners compare the Bichon’s instantaneous energy bursts to the way a cat suddenly takes to zipping full-speed around the house!
Cavachon dog characteristics
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!
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.
With early and positive training, the Cavachon dog should be an affectionate and gentle companion.
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.
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.
The size of a Cavachon will vary depending on which parent he favors, but a typical pooch will be a foot tall and weigh in anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds.
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.
As such, the Cavachon dog is usually 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.
Different animals will provoke different levels of allergic response, depending on the sensitivity of the owner.
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.
The Cavachon’s fur comes in mainly white and a variety of off-white hues, sometimes with black or apricot markings.
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.
But, being a couch potato also suits him just fine!
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 will 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.
Like the Cavie, Bichon ears also need regular checking and maintenance to prevent wax and debris build up that can lead to infection.
How can one realistically gage Cavachon life expectancy?
All crossbreeds share the traits of both parents, so it’s reasonable to assume that a healthy Cavachon will live for 10 to 15 years.
It is important to work with responsible breeders when you consider a mixed breed dog, but the need is magnified when considering a Cavachon.
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.
Experts have recommended that Cavies be subject to testing for both syringeomylia and mitral valve disease, but this is only a recommended option.
Be sure to review the health certificates of your pup’s parents prior to making an informed decision to bring a sweet, small Cavachon into your home.
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.
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?
It’s not unusual to find Cavachon pups advertised in the $700–900 price range, but it is also common to see prices of $1,500–1,800 and above.
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