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Cocker Spaniel: Breed Profile, Characteristics, & Care Guide

By:
Buzzpetz
| Updated: August 18, 2023
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If you are looking for a friendly, loyal, and energetic dog, you might want to consider a Cocker Spaniel. For good reasons, this breed is one of the most popular in the United States. Cocker Spaniels are affectionate, playful, and adaptable dogs that can fit into any family. They are also beautiful dogs with long, silky coats and expressive eyes.

But before you decide to get a Cocker Spaniel, you should know some facts about this breed. There are actually two types of Cocker Spaniels: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. They have some similarities but also some differences that you should be aware of. This article will tell you everything you need to know about Cocker Spaniels, including their history, personality, health, grooming, and training.

History of the Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are part of the sporting spaniel group, which means they were originally bred for hunting and retrieving game birds. The name “Cocker” comes from the woodcock, a type of bird that these dogs specialized in flushing and retrieving.

The origin of Cocker Spaniels can be traced back to England in the 1800s. They were developed from larger spaniels, such as Springer Spaniels, by selecting the smallest and most agile ones for breeding. These dogs were called “cocking spaniels” or “cockers” for short.

In the late 1800s, some of these cockers were brought to North America by British immigrants. They were further refined and developed into a separate breed from their English cousins. The American Spaniel Club was founded in 1881 to promote and standardize the breed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the American Cocker Spaniel as a distinct breed in 1946.

The English Cocker Spaniel remained more faithful to its hunting roots and retained its larger size and longer muzzle. The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was formed in 1936 to preserve and promote this breed. The AKC also recognized the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed from the American Cocker Spaniel in 1946.

Today, both types of Cocker Spaniels are popular as pets and show dogs. According to the AKC breed popularity ranking, the American Cocker Spaniel ranks 29th out of 199 breeds, while the English Cocker Spaniel ranks 40th.

Breed Overview

Dog Breed Cocker Spaniel (also known as American Cocker Spaniel)
Nicknames Cocker, Merry Cocker
Coat Long, silky, and feathered
Coat Colors Tan, black, blue roan, orange roan, black & tan, black and white, brown and white, red and white, etc.
Coat Patterns Solid, parti-colored, ticked, and roan
Weight 20–30 lbs
Height 13.5–15.5 inches
Lifespan 12–15 years
Origin United States
Breed Ranking 29th out of 199 breeds by the AKC

Physical Appearance of a Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are small to medium-sized dogs that have a sturdy and compact body. They have a deep chest, a short back, and chunky, cat-like paws. They have a domed skull with a gentle flattening on the top and a softly shaped muzzle that is the same length as the skull. They have large, round eyes that are dark or hazel in color and express intelligence and sweetness. They have long, floppy ears covered with silky hair that hang close to their cheeks.

Cocker Spaniels have long, silky coats that feather on the ears, legs, chest, and underside. Their coats come in various colors and patterns, including solid, parti-colored, ticked, and roan. Some of the common solid colors are black, red, buff, chocolate, silver, and tan. Parti-colored means that the coat has two or more colors, one of which is white.

The two types of Cocker Spaniels have some differences in their physical appearance. The American Cocker Spaniel is smaller and lighter than the English Cocker Spaniel. The American Cocker Spaniel has a shorter muzzle and a more rounded head. As well as a more abundant coat and longer ears.

According to the AKC breed standard, the ideal height for an American Cocker Spaniel is 14.5 to 15.5 inches for males and 13.5 to 14.5 inches for females. The ideal weight is 25 to 30 pounds for males and 20 to 25 pounds for females.

cocker spaniel groomed for a dog show
Pixabay

Cocker Spaniel Personality

Cocker Spaniels are known for their sweet and cheerful temperament. They are very sociable dogs that love to be around people and other animals. They are especially good with children and make excellent family companions.

Cocker Spaniels are also very intelligent and eager to please their owners. They are easy to train and can learn a variety of tricks and commands. They enjoy participating in activities such as agility, obedience, rally, tracking, and flyball.

However, this is a breed that is far from lazy. They are active dogs that need regular exercise and mental stimulation. They love to run, play, fetch, and explore. They also have a strong hunting instinct and may chase after birds or small animals if not supervised.

Cocker Spaniels can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long. They may bark excessively or become destructive if they feel bored or lonely. They need a lot of attention and affection from their owners and do not like to be ignored.

Cocker Spaniels are also very sensitive dogs that do not respond well to harsh or negative training methods. They need gentle but firm guidance and positive reinforcement. They also benefit from early socialization to prevent them from becoming shy or timid around strangers or new situations.

Health

Cocker Spaniels are healthy dogs that can live up to 15 years or more. However, like any breed, they are prone to some health issues that you should be aware of.

Some of the more common health problems that might affect Cocker Spaniels are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Ear infections
  • Skin allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Patellar luxation

Grooming

Cocker Spaniels need to be brushed daily to prevent mats and tangles. They should also be trimmed every six to eight weeks to keep their coats neat and tidy. You can either take your Cocker Spaniel to a professional groomer or learn how to do it yourself.

Some of the grooming tasks that you need to do for your Cocker Spaniel are:

Brushing

Use a slicker brush or a pin brush to gently remove any loose hair and dirt from your Cocker Spaniel’s coat.

Trimming

Use scissors or clippers to trim your Cocker Spaniel’s coat according to your preference. You can either keep it long and flowing or short and neat. Some of the areas that need trimming are the ears, feet, tail, face, and body. You can also use thinning shears to blend any uneven edges or transitions. You can follow the AKC breed standard for show dogs or create your own style for pet dogs.

Bathing

Bathe your Cocker Spaniel once every four to six weeks or as needed. Use a mild shampoo that is suitable for dogs and rinse thoroughly. You can also use a conditioner to moisturize and detangle your Cocker Spaniel’s coat. Dry your Cocker Spaniel with a towel or a blow dryer on low heat. Avoid getting water in their ears, as this can cause infections.

cocker spaniel running toward the camera with it's tongue flopping out
Pixabay

Nail clipping

Clip your Cocker Spaniel’s nails once every two to four weeks or as needed. Use a nail clipper or a grinder that is designed for dogs, and be careful not to cut too short or hit the quick (the blood vessel inside the nail). If you are unsure how to do it, you can ask a groomer or a vet for help.

The Training of Cocker Spaniels

Cocker Spaniels are smart and obedient dogs that are easy to train. They respond well to positive reinforcement methods such as praise, treats, toys, and play. They do not like harsh or negative training methods such as yelling, hitting, or scolding.

Some of the basic commands that you should teach your Cocker Spaniel are:

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Come
  • Leave it

In addition to these basic commands, you can also teach your Cocker Spaniel some fun tricks such as shake, roll over, spin, speak, and play dead. You can also enroll them in some advanced training classes such as agility, obedience, rally, tracking, or flyball.

Where to Buy Cocker Spaniel Puppies

The average price of a Cocker Spaniel puppy can vary depending on the type, color, pedigree, and location of the breeder. According to some online sources, the average price range for an American Cocker Spaniel puppy is between $600 and $800.

Cocker Spaniels are not very rare breeds, but they are not very common either. You may have to wait for a while or travel a long distance to find a breeder with the type and color of Cocker Spaniel puppy you want.

The best way to find a reputable breeder is to get referrals from trusted sources such as friends, family, veterinarians, or dog trainers who have experience with Cocker Spaniels. You can also contact the national or local breed clubs such as the American Spaniel Club, the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, or the Cocker Spaniel Club of your state or region. They can provide you with information and recommendations on reputable breeders who follow ethical breeding practices and standards.

Overview

Pros

  • Friendly and affectionate with people and other animals
  • Intelligent and easy to train
  • Adaptable and versatile
  • Beautiful and elegant
  • Playful and energetic

Cons

  • Prone to some health issues such as ear infections, skin allergies, hip dysplasia, etc.
  • Require a lot of grooming and care
  • Need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation
  • Can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for too long
  • Can be sensitive and timid if not socialized properly

More Dog Breeds

If you’re interested in learning about similar dog breeds, check out:

Or take a look through our dog breed articles!

FAQ

Do Cocker Spaniels shed?

Yes, Cocker Spaniels shed moderately throughout the year and more heavily during seasonal changes. They need daily brushing to remove loose hair and prevent mats and tangles.

Are Cocker Spaniels hypoallergenic?

No, Cocker Spaniels are not hypoallergenic. They produce dander and saliva that can trigger allergic reactions in some people. They also have sensitive skin that can react to environmental or food allergens and cause itching and hair loss.

Are Cocker Spaniels good dogs?

Yes, Cocker Spaniels are good dogs for anyone who is looking for a loyal, friendly, and lively companion. They are affectionate, playful, and adaptable dogs that can fit into any family. They are also intelligent and obedient dogs that can excel in various activities such as hunting, agility, obedience, and therapy.

How much does a Cocker Spaniel cost?

The average price range for an American Cocker Spaniel puppy is between $600 and $800, while the average price range for an English Cocker Spaniel puppy is between $800 and $1200.

Are Cocker Spaniels smart?

Yes, Cocker Spaniels are smart dogs that are easy to train and can learn a variety of tricks and commands.

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