Cavachon dogs are small, with long hair, droopy ears and a medium length muzzle. They have a smooth, silky or wavy white coat, with various markings. A Cavalier Spaniel Bichon Frise mix breed, this little dog weighs 15-20 pounds and standards around 12 inches tall. Cavachons are affectionate, loyal and intelligent. A strong yet friendly personality and cute appearance makes Cavachon puppies great lapdogs and popular companions. Today we’ll look at how to adopt and raise a healthy pet Cavachon. We’ll share their characteristics, behaviors and traits. Helping you to decide whether this is the perfect pet for your lifestyle.
- What is a Cavachon?
- Cavachon coat types, grooming and shedding
- Are Cavalier King Charles Bichon Frise mixes hypoallergenic?
- Cavachon size
- Are Cavachon dogs friendly?
- Cavachon health and care
- Adopting an adult Cavachon
- Cavachon puppies and breeders
Although loving little pets, the Cavachon does have some drawbacks. They have a potential for a high prey drive and chasing instincts. But you can work with them through obedience training to keep them happily by your side outdoors. They can also inherit some health issues, and we’ll look at how to avoid those when choosing your baby Cavachon.
What is a Cavachon?
The Cavachon is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Bichon Frise mix. They either have one purebred Cavalier parent and one purebred Bichon parent, or are a second or even third generation Cavachon cross. These dogs are small, confident and very affectionate.
- Popularity: Rising
- Purpose: Companion animal
- Weight: Up to 20 pounds
- Temperament: Friendly and loving
The first Cavachons are believed to have been bred in the US in the late 1990s. They’re a popular teddy bear dog. This mix was created with the intent of forming a small, friendly, sweet-natured dog with a low shedding coat. A Cavachon is a small and popular mixed-breed dog. It’s a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Bichon Frise. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a small pooch with a mid-level energy.
The breed hails from the United Kingdom, and has a long and storied history. The Kennel Club gave recognition to the breed known as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in 1945, but 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 are now the 18th most popular canine in the US, up from 25th 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 roots in the Mediterranean. This cheerful and agile little dog has a zest for life and is happy to release his energy in measured spurts. Some owners compare the Bichon’s energy bursts to the way a cat suddenly takes to zipping full-speed around the house!
Cavachons are still on the rise in terms of popularity. But the parent breeds have been well known for quite some time.
Celebrity owners like Martha Stewart and Susan Sarandon have beloved Bichon Frise pups. And historical celebrity owners who have had Cavalier King Charles Spaniels include such luminaries as Frank Sinatra and Ronald Reagan!
The Cavachon will be a small dog, with a medium to long coat. They will have several potential colors and patterns, but often contain a lot of white in their fur. Breeders cannot be sure what the exact appearance of any particular Cavachon will be like. At least, they can’t predict this with any great degree of certainty. Because this is a mixed breed, it’s hard to know whether the puppies will be more like one parent or more like the other.
Cavachon Coat Colors
Cavachons are blessed with a silky smooth coat that requires weekly brushing, but not an abundance of grooming, to keep her looking elegant and proper. Bichon hair is low-shed (very nearly no-shed), but requires regular brushing to prevent mats.
Your Cavachon is likely to have a more tousled coat than their Cavalier parent. But texture may vary from one puppy to another. The same goes for the coat color. The Cavalier’s lustrous coat come in four colors:
- Black and white with tan markings
- Black with tan markings
- Blenheim, a white coat with chestnut markings.
The Bichon Frise is a white breed. So, overall, the Cavachon’s fur comes in mainly white. But it may have a variety of markings.
Your Cavachon will require at least weekly brushing to keep his coat in good shape. Owners are advised to trim the medium-to-long length curls as they grow in. You may even need to have your Cavachon clipped by a dog groomer from time to time.
Chances are that your pup will shed, albeit minimally. Some dogs may be suitable for those with mild allergies, but there is no way to be sure.
Are Cavachon Dogs 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” 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.
The size of a Cavachon will vary depending on which parent he favors, but a typical pooch will be a foot tall and weigh anywhere from 15 to 20 pounds.
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. These little dogs only reach about a foot in height, which makes them excellent lap dogs!
The Bichon Frise, meanwhile, ranges from 10 to 20 pounds of pure, fluffy white goodness. This little dog stands around 10 to 12 inches tall on average.
The Cavachon is a playful and intelligent dog who does well with children and other dogs. They will enjoy going on walks with you now and then, but will also be quite happy as a lapdog. Cavachons have a reputation as people pleasers. They are known for their ability to adjust to a variety of living situations (urban, rural, big family, etc.).
Loving and lovable, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are gentle and cheerful dogs. They generally get along well with children as well as other dogs. Despite their loving ways, some Cavies retain the desire to hunt and chase. But they can be trained early on to “live and let live,” with the smaller animals they may meet.
When Cavie genes are combined with the genial Bichon Frise DNA, a friendly pet is likely. The Cavachon is not going to make 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. 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.
Training Your Cavachon
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!
This pooch has a medium level of energy and does well with a daily walk alongside its human. With early and positive training, the Cavachon dog should be an affectionate and gentle companion.
Cavachon Health And Care
Each breed of dog tends to be prone to certain health issues. And while mixed breed dogs may avoid some of the more definite problems that plague their purebred relatives, no dog is completely immune to the possibility of heritable health matters. This means that there are certain things that you will want to watch for and health test for, even when it comes to your Cavalier Bichon mix.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 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. In turn, this results in increased pressure on the spinal cord.
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.
Bichon Frise Health
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.
Like the Cavie, Bichon ears also need regular checking and maintenance to prevent wax and debris build up that can lead to infection. For some of the larger health problems that face this mix due to heritable issues, health testing is available.
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. Smaller dogs do tend to have a longer lifespan than much larger breeds, but these are generalizations.
Bichons enjoy an average lifespan of over 10 years, usually topping out at around 15 years. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may reach about 14 years.
It’s impossible to predict lifespan with any accuracy. But a healthy Cavachon should live for somewhere between 10-15 years.
Do Cavachons Make Good Family Pets?
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.
It’s also important to remember that these dogs really do love their humans, which means that they should not be left completely alone for long periods of time. So they are well suited to homes with family members who can and will take the time to play with them and spend time with them.
Pros And Cons Of Getting A Cavachon
- May be quite expensive
- Might be difficult to find Cavachon breeders
- Prone to some serious health issues
- A gentle, loving temperament
- Loves to play
- Also loves to be a lap dog!
- Gets along well with children and other animals if socialized properly
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.
However, if you are able to care for a dog regardless of what health issues may come up, then this mix is definitely worth looking for! You can start with this list of rescues here.
Finding A Cavachon Puppy
Ideally, a designer dog like the Cavachon is bred with the intention of combining the “best of both worlds.” This means animal with both increased health as well as the most sought after traits of two separate breeds.
So-called designer dogs are crossbred for a plethora of reasons. Often for fun or to make money. Sometimes for both! But some breeders are only focused on the money aspect.
Avoid buying a 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.
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, simply because mixed breeding is frowned upon in many parts of the dog community.
Your Puppy’s Cavalier Parent
Attention must especially 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 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.
Cavachon Puppy Price
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.
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.
If you find Cavachon dogs advertised for considerably lower than the average price, these may very well be from disreputable breeders. That means that the lower price might reflect a lack of care for the health and well-being of the dogs.
Raising A Cavachon Puppy
Bringing any puppy home means the start of a great adventure that lasts for years, but it’s also the start of a serious commitment! Caring for a Cavachon puppy is a big responsibility. There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training. You can find them here.
Cavachon Products And Accessories
Are you getting ready to bring home this dog? Then you’ll need to stock up on some supplies! Here are some recommendations for products that will work well for your new pup.
Comparing The Cavachon With Other Breeds
It’s hard to think of the Cavachon without also thinking of the Cavapoo, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Poodle mix. When mixed with a Toy or Miniature Poodle, this mix can be strikingly similar to the Cavachon.
However, by replacing the friendly Bichon with the slightly more aloof Poodle, the temperament of this mix can actually be drastically altered.
Mixes are ever increasing and ever changing. So if you’re not completely sold on this breed, or if you’re unable to find one to bring home, here are some other similar mixes that might interest you.
Find Out More About Cavachons
At this point, there don’t appear to be any dedicated Cavachon rescues. But if you come across any, please leave us a comment so we can add it to this list!
Here are some rescue organizations around the world that feature the parent breeds of the mix.
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Owned Dogs In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Adams VJ, et al. 2010. Results of a Survey of UK Purebred Dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice.
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behavior Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Gelatt, KN, Cataracts in the Bichon Frise, Veterinary Ophthalmology, 2003
- 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
- American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club
- The Bichon Frise Club of America
- The Cavalier Campaign