Are Cavapoos (Cavoodle) Smart or Dumb Dogs?

Let’s be real – as accepting as you are, you probably want to adopt a smart dog, not a dumb one. An intelligent canine would be a treat to train, and their command retention would always impress you. That brings us to the Cavapoo. Are these crossbreeds brainy or less so?

Cavapoos are considered intelligent, as both parent breeds–the Poodle and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel–rate well on intelligence scales, especially the Poodle. You can always work with your Cavapoo to make them smarter if you’re not pleased with their intelligence levels.

Ahead, we’ll review the intelligence of both the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle, using this information to deduce the number of smarts your Cavapoo may possess. We’ll also suggest some methods for boosting the intelligence of your dog, so keep reading!

Cavapoo dog holding a tennis ball in a park on a sunny day
Cavapoo dog holding a tennis ball in a park on a sunny day.

How Smart Are The Cavapoo’s Parent Breeds?

The Cavapoo (aka Cavoodle) is a mixed breed, which we’re sure we don’t have to tell you. Thus, let’s take a look at how intelligent both parent breeds are to learn more about the Cavapoo’s prospective smarts.

To do so, we’re going to review the rankings used in The Intelligence of Dogs, a 1994 book by Stanley Coren, the University of British Columbia professor of canine psychology.

The book examined 131 unique dog breeds. Keeping that in mind, let’s see where the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle ranked.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Intelligence Rating

In Coren’s book, he examined how fast it took a dog to understand new commands and how many repetitions before the dog successfully performed it. The better the breeds did according to this criteria, the smarter they’re deemed.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel standing in the garden
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Rated 44th out of 131 dogs for intelligence.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ranks 44th out of a possible 131 dog breeds in The Intelligence of Dogs.

It’s right up there with breeds like the Bichon Frise, Siberian Husky, American Water Spaniel, Black and Tan Coonhound, and German Wirehaired Pointer.

On average, dogs in this rating or thereabouts needed between 25 and 40 repetitions before they grasped a new command.

That doesn’t make the Cavalier King Charles a dumb or stupid dog by any stretch of the imagination. The breed is still within the top 50, which is a good caliber to be in.

However, the breed’s intelligence is considered average or even a little below average.

Poodle Intelligence Rating

Okay, so what about the other parent of the Cavapoo, the Poodle?

White poodle standing in the garden
Poodle rated the 2nd most intelligent dog.

It’s like a night and day difference here.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel ranks only in the top 50 whereas the Poodle does even better than the top 10. Heck, the dog is even better than the top five.

The Poodle, according to Coren’s rankings, is ranked second of all 131 dog breeds.

When tested, it took the Poodle under five repetitions to learn a new command. The dog also obeyed the first command it was issued at least 95 percent of the time if not better.

The Poodle is smarter than 129 other dog breeds. Those include the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Shetland Sheepdog, Labrador Retriever, Papillion, Rottweiler, and Australian Cattle Dog, the other breeds in the top 10.

So which dog outsmarted even the very brainy Poodle? The Border Collie.  

So Where Does That Leave The Cavapoo? Smart or Dumb?

Of course, the Cavapoo is neither of its parents. It’s part Poodle and part Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but it doesn’t have the purebred DNA of one dog versus the other.

So keeping that in mind, how smart does that make the Cavapoo?

Well, the issue with mixed-breed dogs is that they’re not recognized as much as they should be. The American Kennel Club doesn’t recognize the Cavapoo, but that’s the case for every hybrid dog breed.

Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs book doesn’t delve into crossbreeds either, only purebreds. The Cavapoo would never be on that list, so we don’t have as much to go off of to get an idea of how smart this dog could be.

Since a Cavapoo is not a purebred Poodle, it’s not going to be as smart as a Poodle. After all, there is some Cavalier King Charles Spaniel DNA in there.

When you take the ultra-intelligence of a Poodle and mix it with the average intelligence of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, you get a dog that’s intelligent, sensitive, and friendly.

You get the Cavapoo. This dog is certainly not dumb; far from it. Cavapoos should dazzle with their intelligence.

Of course, we must note that every dog is different. Your Cavapoo might not be that quick up on the uptake, but with time and training, that could change.

On the other hand, your Cavapoo could be so whip-smart that you swear they get all their intelligence directly from their much smarter Poodle parent.

My own dog, Coco, a 10-month-old black Cavapoo, hasn’t had any trouble learning new concepts. She usually gets them pretty quickly when we’re training. She sits, drops, shakes paws, goes to her bed, stays on command, and even crawls.

With new concepts, it usually takes here a few short 2-3 minute training sessions to get the basics. It takes longer to master it though.

Tips For Training Your Cavapoo To Be Smarter

Listen, if your Cavapoo isn’t the smartest dog on the block, this is no time to despair. Instead, you want to knuckle down and change your approach so that you can train the Cavapoo into being brainier.

Here’s how.

Begin Training Immediately

If you’re adopting or purchasing a Cavapoo puppy, then as soon as you have them home, you should begin training them. We know this can seem a little early, but it’s anything but that. It’s the ideal time.

I started training on the second day we got our pup. At about 8 weeks old. Saying that I think the breeder had already put in some training work before getting her.

Training your Cavapoo from a young age will increase the dog’s overall trainability so that continued training throughout their life will be far easier for you and them.

More so, you’re allowing your Cavapoo to flex its little brain while that brain is still developing.

Training a Cavapoo puppy.
Training a Cavapoo puppy.

No Heavy Handedness

The Cavapoo is a sensitive canine. If you come on too strong or are too heavy-handed with your training approach, then you’re not going to get very far.

To you, it can appear like your Cavapoo is dumb because the dog seems to shy away whenever you try to train it.

What’s really happening is that you’re agitating your sensitive Cavapoo, who needs a gentler training approach. Even when you’re frustrated with your dog, do your best to control your outbursts. Take a break and come back in a few minutes after cooling off if that’s what it takes.

Our dog does the best she can and she tries very hard to do what we’ve asked her to. Sometimes it can take a little longer for her to get it but she does if you’re patient.

Get On The Socialization As Soon As Possible

Socialization is about more than adjusting your Cavapoo to people, places, and situations. It’s about teaching your dog about the world.

For each new environment, they’re introduced to, they’re learning. This too flexes their brain from a very young age.

Another benefit of early socialization is that your Cavapoo will usually get along with other canines better as well as other fuzzy members of the household such as cats. And additionally, it helps them to become confident in all situations.

Always Provide Positive Reinforcement When You’re Satisfied

It’s not enough for you to assume that your Cavapoo knows you’re proud of them. Then you’re getting into complex human emotions such as pride that a dog might not fully understand.

Instead, whether it’s your Cavapoo’s first time doing a command or its thousandth, you want to react with excitement and praise all the same.

Pet your dog, give them a scratch behind the ears and toss them a few treats as well. These are all forms of positive reinforcement, which teach your dog to keep doing that behavior to earn a nice reward.

We’ve found this approach with our own dog works extremely well.

rewarding puppy after training
Rewarding puppy after training.

Continue To Teach Your Cavapoo New Things

Dog tricks go so far beyond the confines of sit, stay, roll over, and play dead.

Innovate your Cavapoo’s training by teaching them every trick and command in the book, even the ones that are pretty much useless like play dead.

Each time you teach your dog something new, you’re expanding their intelligence. The best time to teach your dog a new command is when you’re already going over their favorite commands during training.


Cavapoos are intelligent canines, as both the Poodle and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are pretty smart themselves (especially the Poodle).

While there’s no existing measure to test Cavapoo intelligence like The Intelligence of Dogs, this hybrid breed is renowned for its smarts, nevertheless.

Begin training and socializing your Cavapoo as soon as you can to bring out its braininess!

Related Reading:
Cavapoo vs. Cavoodle – What’s the Difference?
What Is A Cavapoo Dog? (And is this breed right for you)
Are Cavapoos Easy to Train? (Plus Training Tips)