The Mill Creek Difference
In order to tell you how our dogs and our farm is different, let me first tell you about some of the issues that come up in breeding cockapoos. One of the first issues that makes finding a quality cockapoo difficult is that they are a cross, meaning you are often getting a "mystery mutt" instead of a true Cockapoo. Secondly, because of several of their traits, a great amount of the Cockapoos you see listed online are from puppy mills. The third main issue has to do with the Cocker Spaniel as one of the parent breeds, and what some refer to as the Lady and the Tramp Nightmare.
First of all is the fact that the Cockapoo is a hybrid cross. Now, this is not a bad thing----it is what makes the Cockapoo a Cockapoo! As you can read on how we originally came to the breed, we love a first generation hybrid! However, what this does allow for is a lot of dogs do not have pure parents. Since the puppies do not have to be papered, and since it is common to blame variation in a hybrid on the fact that they are a cross (learn more about this misunderstanding in Why We Chose the F1 Cockapoo), lots of leeway is taken by sub-par breeders to allow for things that shouldn't show up. Too often, a Cockapoo ends up being one person's dog that they were told was a cocker spaniel, to a friend or neighbor's dog who looks like a poodle-----unless your Cockapoo comes from AKC registered parents, there is no way to know for sure that your puppy is not a "mystery mutt".
In addition to breeders who just don't start with quality, you have breeders of high dollar dogs advertised on some of the same reputable sites that we advertise on that say, if you read closely, that a 3rd breed may be added in at any time according to their discretion. Think twice about a breeder who emphasizes to you that this is a cross and cannot be registered....no, a Cockapoo cannot currently be registered with the AKC, but it can be registered with a couple of different clubs with the purpose of ensuring the pure nature of the Cockapoo going forward, in hopes that someday it will be a recognized breed. The breeders who are adamant about a Cockapoo not being able to be registered are often the same ones crossing other breeds in. These puppies are still advertised as, and sold as, Cockapoos. This is why---even though it may seem backwards---a hybrid is where we feel it is the MOST important to have a papered, proveable dog. Be wary of an ad or breeder that doesn't do some bragging on his or her parent dogs!! A puppy's lineage, and the parent dogs, are such a big indicator of the quality of the pup, that we do not even recommend looking further into an ad that doesn't talk about the parents!
This issue of parent lines and purity is an issue on its own, and ties in to one of the reasons poodle crosses (and specifically the Cockapoo) are so appealing to puppy mills. Puppy mills should be a huge concern on your list when looking for a Cockapoo! Outside of not being held to a breed standard with a requirement of provable parentage, in Cockapoos, both parent breeds are a VERY manageable and easily housed size. This is great for mills, whose only goal is to cram as many dogs having as many litters possible into whatever space they have. In addition, the hybrid-vigor of this cross makes for puppies who are more likely to stay healthy, even in less than ideal conditions. They are also able to take one or two male poodles, and use them on endless females of multiple breeds---it is commonly accepted thinking that a breeder raising more than two breeds should raise red flags of being a puppy mill. I would further caution you that finding a breeder who is using the same couple of poodles to breed multiple poodle cross breeds should raise a red flag to you! This means that they are not committed to a breed, but instead, trying to save money by being able to share their stud dogs (often one of the most expensive aspects of a breeding program) while making money off of anyone drawn in by "hybrid fever". Instead, look for a breeder who is committed to their breed! We would not personally purchase from anyone breeding more than one poodle cross breed. Besides that, this adorable cross produces the dog which has been referred to as the "infinite puppy", the cute puppy face of a Cockapoo, along with the fact that there is no birth date registration of the litter, allows these mills to adjust ages to make puppies seem younger than they are---and therefore, makes them more marketable.
Another issue that commonly comes up in the Cockapoo is because of the Cocker Spaniel parentage. Depending on who you ask and where you look, there is truly a stigma surrounding the pure-bred Cocker! This is what some call the "Lady and the Tramp Nightmare"---some almost consider there to be two breeds within the American Cocker, based greatly on temperament. Before the movie, the Cocker Spaniel was never thought of as a mean or snippy dog. However, their popularity soar following the release of the Disney movie caused Cockers that did not meet the breed standard and never should have been bred......to be bred like crazy (often by people who probably shouldn't have been breeding dogs) in order to meet the demand that the movie craze brought on. This is why you will find people who think of the Cocker as a snippy or grumpy breed, while dogtemperament.com says that, "Everything about the Cocker Spaniel temperament makes them a wonderful family pet." A well bred cocker is eager to please, and often described as "merry". They are intelligent and gentle, and make excellent family companions. We have not EVER had one of our Cocker girls nip, growl, or give the slightest hint of aggression.....even when they have a toddler pulling on their ears or a baby who grabs their wiggly tail stump :) Be sure you ask a breeder about their parent dogs. A provable AKC parentage, temperament, etc. The parent history and temperament has a profound effect on the Cockapoo baby you bring home.
So what do we do to avoid these issues and set ourselves apart?
This began with the selection of our parent dogs. We have scoured the country to find just the right parent dogs to bring into our program. This is not an overnight task!! We often search for a puppy we bring into our home in excess of a year before finding the right one. We have traveled across many states, and brought in by plane in order to bring the exact puppy that we needed for our program. We know that this investment is absolutely worth it in the health and temperament that we gain----and that you will gain----from the lines that we select. From the time we began looking, we knew these were things we wouldn't compromise on:
1. In every Cocker Spaniel and Poodle we own we maintain the option for their full AKC registration. Not only is it somewhat hard to find a Cockapoo breeder whose dogs are all AKC provable, but finding breeders with registered dogs can be a trick! Even among those who are registered, full registration is often skirted around. Without puppies being expected to be registered themselves, full registration isn't "necessary". However, this very often means that they have been dishonest with the breeder of their dog, as most breeders who sell puppies on limited registration also require a spay or neuter contract. Even those who will give permission to breed often will not give permission to cross-breed. This is true in both breeds, but especially true among poodles. The breeders we have purchased from know our intent to breed and exactly what we are doing. In respect of their breeding program, we want to make sure we are taking their dog with their blessing-----not withholding our plans for their dog. It has always been important to us to begin our journey with honesty, and this translates to you being able to know that we are honest with you about your puppy as well.
2. Not only is every Cocker Spaniel and Poodle parent here registered with the AKC, they are also all from HEAVILY championed and health tested bloodlines-----with several of our dogs being champion sired! This is something that is very difficult to impossible to find in the Cockapoo world. There are several breeders out there (even some puppy mills) who will invest in one high quality male, so that they can say all of their puppies are champion lined. And there are some who say "champion lined" while saying nothing else, and avoiding the question when you ask how far back champions are or how many champions are in their dogs background. Not the case here! EVERY SINGLE ONE of our parent dogs not only come from AKC champion lines, but come from a MINIMUM of 39 AKC champions in 6 generations, all the way up to 96 AKC champions. We are so proud of the quality heritage we have set up for your new family member, that we send a beautiful copy of your puppy's lineage home with you. You will see that our puppies, depending on parent combinations, will have a pedigree to accompany them that shows anywhere from 93 to 174 AKC Champions!
This translates to a Cockapoo of the VERY BEST quality for you to take home. Not to say there aren't great dogs out there who aren't champions.....but our process brings in a 3rd party (AKC judges) who attest to the sound nature and temperament of so many of the ancestors of your pup. And again, this doesn't just happen a couple of times in our dog's pedigrees, but over, and over, and over again. This ensures that we are breeding dogs that only meet the tip top of their breed standards, giving you a true Cockapoo----with the best chances for all of the lifetime health and excellent attributes that implies! This is why it is important to be sure that even in a champion line dog, that the champions are close and the count is high! This gives you the very best chance of the very highest quality in your dog.
3. We are very proud of the bloodlines behind our dogs, and feel like this goes a long way in translating to actual health…….but just to be sure we are giving you a great pup, we also genetically health test parents to make sure that there is no chance of your pup inheriting any of the genetic issues we are able to genotypically test for. Not only do we test for the genetic diseases common in Poodles and Cocker Spaniels (see below), but we go ahead and do a full panel of 171 genetic diseases…..just to be sure :)
You will not find a Cockapoo breeder with higher standards in their parent dogs than Mill Creek Family Farms!
Here are a list of the health issues common to each parent breed that we make sure your puppy cannot inherit:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy - prcd
Progressive rod-cone degeneration
Autosomal Recessive Hereditary Nephropathy, Familial Nephropathy
Glycogen storage disease Type VII, Phosphofructokinase deficiency
Von Willebrand Disease
Progressive Retinal Atrophy - prcd
Progressive rod-cone degeneration
Osteochondrodysplasia Skeletal Dwarfism
Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures
We also test for the other breed’s issues as well, to make sure there isn’t any hidden issue, and test for a total of 171 skeletal, skin, connective tissue, neuromuscular, gastrointestinal, metabolic, muscular, cardiac, brain, spinal, kidney, bladder, eye, immune, hormone, blood, clinical, and multisystem diseases and disorders which are inherited genetically. We test using a company that is recognized by the Orthopedic Foundation of America, and is a research partner with Cornell University to ensure the best quality and reliability in the tests that we run.
4. With VERY few, very careful exceptions, every parent dog we will bring in will be added to our home as a puppy. This is also quite rare, as it means for a breeder much longer before that dog provides a return. However, temperament and knowing the history of our dogs is SO important to us, that we almost always bring in our dogs at 10 weeks of age or less. This way, we watch for temperament and what is "normal" for them and their health. This practice should also show you that our dogs are more to us than puppy income....they are pets that we want to know and grow with our family. This is of far more importance to us than buying breeding age culls from another program for a quick turn-around.
5. We are members of, and register all of our puppies through, the American Cockapoo Club. This is a yet another third party witness to our commitment to follow certain guidelines in raising our dogs. You can look here to see the code of ethics that all breeding members have to adhere to. You will see many breeders advertising Cockapoos in various locations online who insist that puppies cannot be registered.....although they cannot be registered with the AKC, they can be registered through organizations like the ACC. Unfortunately, many breeders who emphasize the inability to register their puppies, are often blending in other breeds or do not have traceable lines. Our membership in, and registration with the American Cockapoo Club ensures to you that our pups are pure, and our lines are traceable.
As you narrow down your search as to which breeder your new baby will come from, one suggestion we make is to be sure you make a phone call. We highly recommend a phone call to each breeder you are considering as voice to voice actual conversation can do a lot to set you at ease with a breeder, or raise suspicions about their practices. Anyone can set up a website with stock photos or a careful angle set up once every few years that doesn't at all represent the true life that the parent dogs are living. We work hard on our website, so I don't want to discount websites all together, they can tell you a lot! However, they can be quite misleading. You can't beat actually TALKING to a person to learn about them---and learning about the person who has selected and raised your pups parents, and chosen a breeding for your pup, and spends the first 8 weeks of life with your pup will tell you a TON about what to expect from your pup!! Ask about the parent dogs and their temperaments. Ask about AKC lines, and if they claim "champions", ask how many and how far back in the dog's lines those champions are. Ask about other breeds they raise. Ask about the facilities in which their dogs live. If they don't allow visitors or a visit isn't possible for you, don't be afraid to ask for photos of where your pup is coming from! A phone conversation can do a lot to set your decision in stone, or let you know that you have not yet found where you want the new addition---that could be spending the next 14-18 years in your home---to get their all important first 8 week start.
Now that you've learned about the F1 Cockapoo, and why our f1 Cockapoo's are the best of the breed, come meet our parent dogs before making your deposit!