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Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel

The merry and frolicsome Cocker Spaniel, with his big, dreamy eyes and impish personality, is one of the world’s best-loved breeds. They were developed as hunting dogs, but Cockers gained their wide popularity as all-around companions. Those big, dark eyes; that sweet expression; those long, lush ears that practically demand to be touched’no wonder the Cocker spent years as America’s most popular breed. The Cocker is the AKC’s smallest sporting spaniel, standing about 14 to 15 inches. The coat comes in enough colors and patterns to please any taste. The well-balanced body is sturdy and solid, and these quick, durable gundogs move with a smooth, easy gait. Cockers are eager playmates for kids and are easily trained as companions and athletes. They are big enough to be sporty, but compact enough to be portable. A Cocker in full coat rewards extra grooming time by being the prettiest dog on the block. These energetic sporting dogs love playtime and brisk walks.

The spaniel is a breed type of great antiquity, believed to have originated in Spain (the words ‘Spain’ and ‘spaniel’ being closely related). Spaniels have been bird hunters’ helpers since before the development of the rifle, when hunting dogs were used in tandem with nets.    For centuries, European and British spaniels were informally grouped as simply land spaniels and water spaniels. By the 19th century, however, when written breed standards, dog shows and field trials, and the very notion of purebred dogs began to gain traction in England, the various spaniels were classified as specific breeds. Among them was the Cocker, so called because they specialized on woodcock. These dogs, smaller than English Springer Spaniels but larger than English Toy Spaniels, were the ancestors of the modern Cocker Spaniel.

In America the Cocker Spaniel diverged into two varieties, American and English. The English was characterized as being taller and with a longer head than its American cousin, with a coat that was not as profuse. The English and Canadian kennel clubs registered the varieties as separate breeds beginning in 1940, and the AKC followed suit in 1946. The AKC breed names are the Cocker Spaniel (for the U.S. type) and the English Cocker Spaniel (for the British type).

This breed is a very loyal and focused breed that enjoys the attention if her family. They have social and curious personalities yet are not known to be overly active or hyper. They do well with other pets in the family when introduced at a young age. With warm demeanors, they are easy to approach and bond with. They also are known to train easily and enjoy learning new tricks.

Cocker Spaniels require regular, thorough grooming. Sessions missed are not easily made up and may result in tangles or mats in the Cocker’s coat. A metal, professional-quality dog comb with fine and medium spacing for the teeth is a necessity. You can follow combing with a gentle slicker brush, but the comb is key. Loose hair should be carefully removed with the comb, making sure you are clear and can see through to the skin everywhere. If you encounter snarls, do not pull through; rather, pick snarls apart, starting at the tips of the coat and then comb through. Be cautious when combing ears; the skin at the edges is thin and can be pierced by too-vigorous combing. The Cocker requires thorough bathing with quality dog shampoo. Thorough rinsing and re-rinsing are crucial, as soap residue can cause skin irritation. Dry carefully with a blow-dryer on not too hot a setting. Learn the procedure for cleaning and drying the ear canals. During bathing, check the Cocker’s skin for any inflamed spots and get treatment. It is key to learn grooming procedures yourself and/or enlist the services of a professional groomer who likes and is experienced in grooming the breed.

Selecting the best diet can be a matter of trial and for the individual dog. The key is to pay attention to food labels for quality ingredients. The owner can seek advice from their dog’s veterinarian regarding any particular sensitivities or needs the Cocker has. Choose a high-quality food and give it a fair tryout. A chicken and rice’based food has long been a good starting point for Cocker food trials, but consider individual sensitivities, likes, and needs. Maintain proper weight, but be careful not to overfeed. Groomers and veterinarians often see overweight Cockers.

The Cocker Spaniel is a sporting breed and should maintain good muscle tone, although the breed is not one that needs a lot of exercise for the purpose of discharging an abundance of energy. Cockers often enjoy getting their exercise by means of retrieving a ball or other toy, or accompanying their people on a walk. They very much enjoy spending time with their people, so walking is a good exercise option. If the Cocker has a canine companion, they can play to exercise each other. The Cocker Spaniel wants to please people and enjoys play, so these are tools you can use to encourage exercise.

Regarding training the Cocker Spaniel, the good news is that in general this is a people-pleasing breed. They want to be ‘good’ in order to please their people, and they are generally sensitive and responsive to correction and a disapproving tone in their owner’s voice. Harsh means of correction are not usually warranted, nor are they productive in the Cocker. The breed enjoys the challenge of performance activities, and it is a good idea to try out the available activities and events to see what interests your individual Cocker and follow through with training. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Cockers are rather easily motivated with food rewards and with play and praise.

Frequently Asked Questions

This breed has the capacity to live an average of about 10-14 human years.

Males 25-30 lbs, Females 20-25 lbs. 

Cocker spaniels will fit perfectly into any loving home. From single apartments to couple homes and family properties. They’re excellent family dogs.

Having that amount of luxurious fur doesn’t come without shedding. This breed sheds averagely and intensely when the season comes.

Yes, this dog breed loves pleasing its owners and they are obedient, making them easy to train.

Sporting dogs.

Cocker Spaniels require regular, thorough grooming. Sessions missed are not easily made up and may result in tangles or mats in the Cocker’s coat. A metal, professional-quality dog comb with fine and medium spacing for the teeth is a necessity. You can follow combing with a gentle slicker brush, but the comb is key. Loose hair should be carefully removed with the comb, making sure you are clear and can see through to the skin everywhere. If you encounter snarls, do not pull through; rather, pick snarls apart, starting at the tips of the coat and then comb through. Be cautious when combing ears; the skin at the edges is thin and can be pierced by too-vigorous combing. The Cocker requires thorough bathing with quality dog shampoo. Thorough rinsing and re-rinsing are crucial, as soap residue can cause skin irritation. Dry carefully with a blow-dryer on not too hot a setting. Learn the procedure for cleaning and drying the ear canals. During bathing, check the Cocker’s skin for any inflamed spots and get treatment. It is key to learn grooming procedures yourself and/or enlist the services of a professional groomer who likes and is experienced in grooming the breed.

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