Health

Cockapoos are generally very healthy and robust dogs, which tend to be quite long-lived, and it's not unusual for Cockapoos to live for 15–20 years.

Because Cockapoos are a mixed breed, they may be less susceptible to genetic ailments than purebred dogs. Purebreds are more likely to share similar alleles, whereas mixed breeds such as the Cockapoo have greater diversity in their genes and are less likely to inherit two copies of an undesirable recessive gene. Several studies suggest that mixed breed dogs are less prone to genetic illnesses.

PRD - (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is an inherited eye disease found in both the Cocker Spaniel & Miniature Poodle with varying ages of onset. There are various types of PRA but the one most commonly seen is GPRA (General Progressive Retinal Atrophy) also known as prcd-PRA. This results in night blindness gradually leading to total blindness. PRA has a variable age of onset, from as early as 18 months to as late as 7 years. It is inherited as a simple Autosomal Recessive gene, meaning that a copy of the PRA gene must be inherited from both parents for the disease to occur. With recessive conditions like PRA, there are 3 genetic categories, affected, normal and carriers. Affected animals have two copies of the faulty PRA gene, one inherited from each parent. Carrier animals have one faulty copy of the PRA gene but appear perfectly healthy and cannot be distinguished from normal dogs by eye screening. Normal animals are entirely free of the faulty gene. The difficulty was that until recent years breeders had no way of identifying which category their breeding stock fell into as the only screening test available in the UK (eye testing by a BVA Panellist) could only determine if a dog was clinically clear of the disease at the time of testing. It could not determine whether the dog was a carrier or whether the dog would go on to develop the disease at some time in the future. For some time, a marker gene test for prcd-PRA had been available from the American company, Optigen which gave a good indication of the status of dogs tested. Information on the test & instructions for sending blood samples to Optigen can be found at www.optigen.com.

Dogs which have been prcd_PRA DNA tested as either Carriers or Affecteds should only be mated to dogs which have been DNA tested as Clear/Normal to avoid producing affected progeny. More information on breeding strategies for the prcd_PRA test can be found HERE

What is FN (Familial Nephropathy)?

FN disease is a juvenile-onset fatal kidney (renal) disease recognized in cocker spaniels worldwide. It has been associated with the breed for more than 50 years. 'FN' invariably is progressive & ultimately fatal; however, the rate of disease progression observed in affected dogs is more rapid in some individuals than in others.

Cocker Spaniels with 'FN' typically develop chronic renal failure between 6 months & 2 years of age, with eventual and sometimes rapid destruction of both kidneys.

Familial Nephropathy (FN) has been referred to in several ways: kidney failure, fatal renal disease, juvenile nephropathy, renal cortical hypoplasia, hereditary nephritis (HN) & Autosomal Hereditary Recessive Nephropathy (AHRN) in canines. The disease is also found in humans and is referred to as Alport Syndrome.

How FN is inherited

FN is inherited in a recessive pattern in the cocker spaniel. This means the gene mutation responsible for FN is located on an Autosome (that is a chromosome that is not a sex chromosome) and FN disease results when the gene mutation is passed to the offspring by both the mother & the father.

As FN is inherited as a recessive trait, this means a mutant gene must be inherited from each parent in order to cause disease in an offspring.

DNA Testing For FN

The OptiGen/Antagene FN test is a DNA based test that accurately diagnoses a fatal kidney disease that occurs in Cocker Spaniels. The test also detects CARRIERS of this disease and clears dogs that are genetically NORMAL. 

Although 'carrier' dogs are not at risk of developing FN themselves, if mated to another 'carrier' they WILL produce 'affected' offspring. Therefore it is a recommendation that 'carrier' dogs do not form part of a breeding programme.