The Cocker Spaniel was originally bred to be a hunting dog, excelling at catching birds due to their small size and agility. While Cocker Spaniels are still used in this profession today, they are much more likely to be seen as a companion dog and are known for their friendly nature.
Still active, these pups do love to be outside exercising but they’re just as content curling up on the couch next to you. Truth be told, the Cocker Spaniel is happiest when you are happy and they will truly believe it is their job to please you!
If you’re interested in learning more about this fantastic dog and want to know whether they might be the right addition to your home, keep reading below to find out more.
History Of The Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel closely resembles the English Cocker Spaniel and, once upon a time, the two breeds were recognized as one. However, Spaniel enthusiasts noticed a difference between the two Cockers and discouraged English and American varieties of this dog from interbreeding. They were recognised as separate breeds by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1946.
The Cocker Spaniel is actually the smallest member of the AKC’s Sporting Group and was their most popular breed from the late 1930s to the 1950s. Later, the breed was over taken by the Labrador and Golden Retriever, but they still remain in the top 15 breeds registered by the AKC.
It is thought that Spaniel type dogs probably originated in Spain which is where they got their name from. In the 19th and 20th century, these Spaniel type dogs were distinguished by their hunting abilities rather than breeds. Smaller dogs that could hunt woodcock were called Cocker Spaniels and larger dogs that could flush out game were called English Springer Spaniels.
In 1892, the Cocker Spaniel was recognized as a breed in England. Just before then, in the late 1870s, Cocker Spaniels began to be imported into the United States. In 1881, Clinton Wilmerding and James Watson formed the American Spaniel Club. It is the oldest breed club in America and used to include breeder of many different types of Spaniels, before they split off into separate organizations as differences among the Spaniel breeds were refined.
Cocker Spaniels began to grow in popularity, but soon people began to favor a smaller Cocker Spaniel that was different to the English Cocker Spaniel. It was in 1936 that the difference between the American Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel was really documented and a motion was passed that they shouldn’t be bred together.
American breeders were encouraged to breed Cocker Spaniels for the field rather than the show ring. This widened the difference between the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel and made them two distinct breeds.
Characteristics Of The Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel is a very popular dog and it is not difficult to see why. They have wonderful traits and characteristics.
These dogs are normally born in litter sizes of between three to twelve! A Cocker Spaniel puppy can cost anywhere between $800 and $1200, but you must always make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder. Because these puppies are so popular, often breeders are found to have not done any health checks on the parent dogs.
Compared to other dogs in the sporting category, the Cocker Spaniel is small. However, they are actually a medium sized dog that stand between 14 and 15 inches tall and weigh between 24 and 28 lbs. Normally, males are slightly larger than females.
The Cocker Spaniel has a round head and a broad, square muzzle. Their ears are long and feathered, and their back slopes toward the tail, giving the dog a regal appearance.
The Cocker Spaniel has a very impressive coat. It is a thick, sometimes wavy coat that is short on the head and back and long on the ears, chest, belly and legs. Unfortunately, this coat takes a lot to keep it in good condition and grooming must be done regularly. Some owners even clip the coat so it is easier to manage. We will go into more detail about grooming the Cocker Spaniel later on.
The Cocker Spaniel can either be a solid color, such as black, light cream, red or brown, or the coat can be parti-color. This means it is two or more colors, one of which is white.
The Cocker Spaniel has a fantastic temperament that makes them a wonderful companion. These dogs are loving and affectionate and want to be around their family at all times! They rarely like to be left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety which can result in destructive behaviors. Eager to please, the Cocker Spaniel will be happiest if they can join in on what is going on around them.
Cocker Spaniels are known for being a sensitive dog and does not respond well to harsh treatment. You will need to give this pup lots of love and attention to show them that you care about them. They can be a nervous breed too, and may exhibit submissive urination — for example, peeing when they are excited. This sensitive side and these behaviors can also be helped with proper socialization and training as they grow up.
The Cocker Spaniel has a long life expectancy. These dogs can live for between 12 and 15 years on average.
Known Health Issues
Unfortunately, the Cocker Spaniel is prone to quite a few health problems, despite their long lifespan. We have laid out the main concerns below.
– Hypothyroidism — this can be caused by a deficiency of the thyroid hormone and may produce signs that include infertility, obesity, mental dullness and lack of energy. It can be treated with medication.
– Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
– Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) — this is an eye problem that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
– Cataracts — you might suspect your dog has cataracts if they are constantly bumping into furniture. Cataracts can be cured with surgery.
– Glaucoma — this is when pressure in the eye is abnormally high and the eye is constantly producing and draining fluid.
– Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) — this is a condition in which a dog’s immune system attacks its own blood cells. Symptoms include pale gums, fatigue and jaundice. Treatment is available and is usually effective.
– Patellar Luxation — this is a common condition in smaller dogs and is caused when the patella is not properly aligned. This can cause lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, sort of like a skip or a hop.
– Epilepsy — this seizure disorder can be treated with medication.
– Allergies — this is common in dogs and can be caused by food allergies, contact allergies and inhalant allergies. Treatment depends on the severity of the allergy and the cause.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Cocker Spaniel, it is time to take a look at what life with one of these dogs is like on a day to day basis. We will cover their food and diet, their grooming needs, their trainability and their exercise needs.
Food And Diet
You should feed your Cocker Spaniel 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dog food every day. The exact amount you feed them should be based on their age, their weight and their activity level. You should also check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding them based on these factors.
The Cocker Spaniel has a great appetite and will often use their big eyes and cute expression to try to get more food out of you! You should refrain from giving your Cocker Spaniel too much food or too many treats as this can cause obesity, which can be detrimental to their health.
Try to find a food that meets all their nutritional requirements. Take a look at the dog food we recommend below.
Best Dog Food For The Cocker SpanielBUY ON AMAZON
We recommend the Pedigree Adult dry dog food for the Cocker Spaniel. Formulated to meet the nutritional needs of adults dogs, this food provides complete and balanced nutrition to keep your pup healthy. There are optimal levels of omega-6 fatty acid to nourish skin and to help keep your dog’s coat shiny, too, as well as whole grains and a special fiber blend to support healthy digestion.
This recipe includes whole grains, protein and vegetables to give a well rounded diet alongside antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even better, the crunchy kibble pieces help to clean your Cocker’s teeth as they chew, helping to prevent dental decay. There are also no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in this food.
An active breed, the Cocker Spaniel needs daily exercise. You should be exercising this gundog for at least 30 minutes a day, although they will love to accompany you while you’re out hiking or running, too!
The Cocker Spaniel can sometimes retain a prey drive from their hunting past, and so it is important to keep them on a leash when out in public or not in a fenced area. Otherwise, they may try to run after birds or other small animals!
The Cocker Spaniel’s intelligence means they are a great candidate for dog sports such as agility, flyball and tracking. Not only will these sports keep your pup entertained and exercised, but they’ll love to get to spend time with you and be the center of attention!
Gentle and affectionate, the Cocker Spaniel makes a fantastic family dog. These dogs were born to please their owners and will do everything they can to make you happy. They are friendly and cuddly, loving curl up next to you on the couch.
You must be prepared to exercise if you decide to bring a Cocker Spaniel into your home! These dogs are very active, thanks to their hunting history, and will love to be outside — especially with you! They can make an excellent exercise buddy and will also love to play games with you.
Despite their high grooming needs and high exercise needs, the Cocker Spaniel is a relatively small dog that can adapt to live anywhere. As long as they get lots of love and attention, they will be happy in any home and do not necessarily need a yard (although they would love one!).
The Cocker loves children and this is one of the reasons they make such a good family pet. They can be sensitive dogs, so make sure you supervise very young children with these pups. The Spaniel can also get on very well with other family pets, including dogs, cats and small animals.
The Cocker Spaniel is a very intelligent dog that just wants to please their family. Therefore, training this pup is very easy. However, because they are a sensitive breed, they will not respond well to harsh training methods.
Like all dogs, the Cocker Spaniel responds best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats.
You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
The Cocker Spaniel can sometimes growl or snap when they are afraid and so proper socialization is very important. Usually, these dogs get on very well with humans and animals and will like to make new friends be the center of attention!
Introduce your Cocker Spaniel to new sights, sounds, places, smells, people and animals in a calm and controlled way from puppyhood so they learn how to act around others. This will teach them to grow up to be well-rounded and well-adjusted member of society.
As we have mentioned above, grooming the Cocker Spaniel is time consuming! These pups have gorgeous coats but they take a lot of work to maintain and keep in good condition. Most owners opt to have their Cocker professionally groomed, which normally happens every six to eight weeks. This will include bathing, brushing and trimming the coat.
As a Cocker Spaniel owner you will also have to be brushing their coat every day to prevent matting and tangling of the longer hair. You can always keep your Cocker Spaniel’s fur clipped short as it is easier to manage, although you will need to still bathe and clip them every six weeks.
Introducing your Cocker Spaniel to grooming early is important. This is so they learn how to behave when the groomer is handling them. If you are looking for a dog that does not require too much grooming, the Cocker is certainly not for you!
Like all dogs, you must still clip your Cocker Spaniel’s nails. You should brush their teeth a few times a week too, to help prevent dental decay and disease.
Cocker Spaniel FAQ’s
How much does a Cocker Spaniel cost?
A Cocker Spaniel can cost between $800 and $1200. These dogs are popular and there are many breeders out there, so you may be able to find one for a cheaper price. However, be wary if the price is too cheap or too good to be true! The breeder should always be able to show you health clearances for both parent breeds.
Where can I adopt a Cocker Spaniel?
Cocker Spaniels are often bought by owners who don’t do research about what it takes to look after one of these dogs. Therefore, many of these pups end up in shelters and need new homes!
If you are looking to adopt, you can always check your local shelter. A quick google online will also help you find some rescue organizations that have been specifically created to help rescue and rehome Cocker Spaniels.
A Cocker Spaniel is a loving and affectionate breed of dog that makes a wonderful family companion. Gentle and friendly yet still active and energetic, this pup will keep you on your toes while still laying on the couch next to you at night. The Cocker has a cute expression and a wonderful coat, but this doesn’t come without frequent (and often expensive!) trips to the groomers.
Regular vet checkups are important for this dog breed as they can be prone to some health issues, too. That being said, as long as you give this dog lots of attention and exercise, they can be happy anywhere. Do you think a Cocker Spaniel is for you?