Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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The Cavapom is a relatively common hybrid that is composed of the soppy, sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the gutsy and yappy Pomeranian. Depending on whose genes come through strongest, most Cavapoms will be both friendly and spirited, with a cheeky side. While some will inherit the laidback demeanour of the Cavalier, others may be more watchful like their Pomeranian parent.

Cavapoms are exceedingly cute with that ‘teddy bear’ look that has been popular for decades. Many will have the long, furry ears of the Cavalier that frame their face sweetly and round, deep brown eyes that are both inquisitive and sincere. They have a dense, fluffy coat which is generally shades of brown, fawn, red and cream with or without white patches.

About & History

Cavapoms are thought to be originally from the States, although their parent breeds are European. Most will agree that they were developed some time during the late 20th century, when there was a soar in demand for designer dogs; particularly small and placid ones that would make good family pets.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are renowned for being one of the most gentle and loving breeds on the planet, with vets often stating that they are the only breed they have never had to put a muzzle on! While one would presume that this would make them ‘top dog’ when it comes to pedigree pets, their health issues have meant that their popularity has waned in recent years.

With issues, such as mitral valve disease (a progressive heart condition) and syringomyelia (a painful disorder of the spinal cord) being prevalent within the population, many have concerns about purchasing or adopting a Cavalier. The Cavalier was originally used as a hunting dog in the 16th century, although these canines would have been sportier and longer-limbed than whose we see today.

Through the years, their appearance was altered through inbreeding with popular breeds, such as the Pug, giving them a more brachycephalic skull and a smaller body. Cavaliers are recognised by the Kennel Club within their Toy Group despite their working history.

The Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a Spitz-type dog, so will display the characteristic pointed muzzle, triangular ears, thick coat and delightfully curled tail. They are close relatives (believe it or not!) to the Alaskan Malamute and Shiba Inu. They were first bred in the region known as ‘Pomerania’, now occupied by both Poland and Germany.

As with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, they were bred over time to be smaller; as was the fashion. They are a breed with a noble history and monarchs, such as Queen Victoria, took a real shine to Pomeranians and she is said to have owned a red one called Marco. Probably one of the most interesting facts in the history of the Pomeranian, is that there were two Poms who actually survived the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic ship.


Cavapoms are the quintessential designer dog – petite and furry with an adorable face. Their skull is inevitably well-rounded and relatively small compared to their body. While it is possible for them to have the small, erect ears of the Pom, most will have longer ears that hang to around the level of their nose. Their muzzle is less pointed than the Pom and ends in a nose that is either black, light brown, blue or chocolate. They have a lean, wiry body and short limbs that should be straight. Their tail is well-plumed and curls elegantly over their back.

Small dogs that will measure anything from 22cm to 33cm and weigh between 5kg to 8kg, the Cavapom defines the ‘handbag dog’. For many, the coat of the Cavapom is their crowning feature. Their fur is long and straight though may be crimped over their ears and tail. As both parent breeds can carry several different genes for coat colour, there is quite a variation within the possibility. Colours, such as reds, browns and creams, feature heavily and white or black markings are common.

Character & Temperament

Cavapoms tend to be sociable and happy though some may be somewhat more exuberant and demanding than desired. They can get an independent and overly-confident streak from their Pomeranian parent, which means that they require somewhat more training than purebred Cavaliers. Most have an inquisitive nature and delight in the world around them, happy to explore within their home and back yard, as well as in the great outdoors.

While some may make loud and territorial watch dogs, others take a more relaxed approach to guarding their property and may instead welcome an intruder with ‘happy woofs’ and licks! As long as they have been well socialised they should happily mingle with other dogs and are always eager to make new friends in the dog park.

The Cavapom is more than happy to live within a small home or apartment and does not crave excess space. While most will remain relaxed when within the home, feistier dogs may become destructive if left to their own devices for a prolonged amount of time.


As the Cavapom is naturally a people pleaser, they tend to do alright in training sessions. Lavishing them with praise and treats helps to achieve results quicker. However, their potential to be stubborn can stand in their way of achieving training excellence.


A number of health conditions can be seen within the Cavapom population.

Mitral Valve Disease

A chronic heart disease that tends to affect those that are middle-aged and older, mitral valve disease should be screened for in all breeding parents. Initially, dogs may be asymptomatic but a heart murmur will be detected on their clinical exam. Most can go on to enjoy a good quality of life when put on medication, such as diuretics and ACE inhibitors.

Patellar Luxation

A knee cap that can pop in and out of place can lead to a ‘skipping’ gait and chronic arthritis. A clicking noise may be heard when the patella pops out of its normal position. Some dogs do well with limited exercise and medications but others are severely affected and will require surgery in order to maintain a good quality of life.

Tracheal Collapse

A windpipe that has a narrower diameter than it should can result in a reduced ability to exercise and a honking cough that worsens with time. Though surgery was once recommended, most patients are now managed with medication, such as cough suppressants and steroids. Those that are overweight will find it harder to breathe so it is imperative that affected dogs are kept slim.


Fluid filled cavities form at the top of the spinal cord and can result in severe pain. Dogs may be seen scratching incessantly near their ear and they may vocalise for no apparent reason. Patients will be affected to varying degrees and some may be able to lead a normal life.

Diabetes Mellitus

Blood sugar levels that are too high can lead to excessive thirst and urination, as well as a constant hunger. As the disease progresses, dogs may lose condition and become quite unwell. High sugar is detected in both the urine and blood. For most, insulin injections once or twice a day can help control symptoms and manage blood sugar levels adequately.

Exercise and Activity Levels

These dogs have moderate exercise requirements and only need about a 30-minute walk each day. On top of this, they should be encouraged to play within the home and to keep their mind active with food puzzles and interactive toys, which can help stave off boredom.


Most Cavapoms will need to be groomed a couple of times a week to maintain the health of their coat and prevent matting. They will also require regular ear cleans and some will need their ears plucked, particularly if they are prone to chronic ear infections. Tooth brushing every day is strongly advised.

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