The Ultimate Guide to the Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed

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The Ultimate Guide to the Cocker Spaniel Dog BreedThe Cocker Spaniel started out as a working breed but has now won the hearts of many pet owners. According to the American Kennel Club, the Cocker Spaniel has ranked amongst the US’ top ten most popular dog breeds for decades.

Whilst the numbers of purebred Cocker Spaniel puppies has fallen latterly, this is due to the rise and rise of cocker-hybrid dogs.

So why do cockers reign supreme in the hearts of so many dog owners?

They’re Cute, They’re Kind, They’re Cocker Spaniels!

What do you look for in an ideal dog?

A happy, playful personality is a good start. Along with being reliable and gentle with kids. Being eager to please their owners is a plus. Furthermore, intelligence makes for better training!

Yep, big ticks in all those boxes for both the American Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniels. These dogs have a reputation for being a great family pet because of their loving and sunny nature.

The Cocker is also robust enough to withstand boisterous children but small enough to be manageable without making special provisions.

Did we mention cute? Those long ears, big eyes, and the silky soft coat give the Cocker Spaniel dog an appearance similar to a living plush toy.

The Appearance of this Happy-Go-Lucky Breed 

Talking of which, what do these dogs look like?

Cockers have an unmistakable spaniel like appearance, courtesy of their long ears, good-sized muzzles, compact body, and silky coat. Cockers were used to flush out small birds and therefore have a sturdy but athletic build which equips them to cover rough ground with ease.

One of their features is a semi-long coat that is soft to touch in a variety of colors. For the English Cocker Spaniel, the most popular solid color is red, followed by golden, black, liver, and chocolate coats.

For the American Cocker Spaniel, black is more common, along with any other solid color from light tan through to red.

american cocker spaniel puppy smiling

American Cocker Spaniel vs. English Cocker Spaniel: What’s the Difference? 

Any dog with the name ‘spaniel’ is descended from common ancestors that originated from Spain. Around the 1300s these early dogs divided into two working groups: land and water varieties.

The ancestor of the English Cocker came from the Land spaniels and flushed out Woodstock (a small bird) for hunters. Further refinements of the spaniel group led to the development of not only the American Cocker spaniel, but the Springer spaniel, Water spaniel, and Field spaniel, amongst others.

Compare an American and English Cocker and they have a distinctive, but similar appearance.

The American Cocker’s ears are placed higher on the head and the skull shape is more domed, with a short snout. In contrast, the English Cocker’s ears are more low-slung with a flatter, blockier skull shape and marginally longer muzzle.

Another noticeable difference between American Cocker Spaniels and English Cockers is the coat length. Whilst the hair of an English Cocker Spaniel grows several inches in length, it doesn’t attain the magnificent length of American Cocker Spaniel.

The latter dogs can grow a shoulder to floor coat which makes the dog look as if they’re gliding over the floor.

Spaniel Coats and Colors!

You name it and the chances are the American Spaniel Club have the color listed.

There’s a huge variety of coat colors including roan, blue roan, black and white, black white and tan, chocolate, chocolate roan, golden, lemon, lemon roan, liver, liver roan, liver ticked, orange, orange roan and of course the table toppers: black and golden.

Black Cocker Spaniel

A solid black coat color is one of the most popular options for the American Cocker Spaniel. The perfect coat is long and luxurious, giving the dog a triangular silhouette as their full coat falls to the floor.

 Golden Cocker Spaniel

The chances are, when you imagine an English Cocker Spaniel, the image of a golden Spaniel springs to mind. These rich-honey colored dogs are extremely popular for their teddy bear good looks and pleasing personalities.

Cocker Spaniel Dog Grooming Tips! 

Grooming is crucial to keep that long coat in good order. Comb and brush the dog every day.

Use a comb to separate the hair and tease out any knots. Then use a pin brush to help remove shed hair, massage the skin, and spread the dog’s natural conditioning oils through the coat.

Those heavy ears merit special attention. As a Cocker sniffs the ground, those ears are apt to sweep up twigs and debris.

A common problem is grass awns becoming tangled in the fur and tracking down the ear canal. This sets up ear infections, which is something the breed is prone to anyway.

Always check a spaniel’s ears for grass seeds after each walk. It’s simple to remove a twig when it’s tangled in the fur, less so when it migrated deep into the ear itself.

Do Cocker Spaniels Shed? 

Yes!

Some Cocker Spaniels shed constantly whilst others have peak sheds in spring and fall. The wise dog owner brushes their dog every day so that those shed hairs are trapped on the grooming tool rather than shared around the home.

Average Breed Size and Weight! 

The American Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized dog, weighing in between 20 – 30-lbs, with the males erring to the heavier side. Whilst the English Cocker Spaniel is a similar size, it is slightly heavier, tipping the scales at around 32lbs.

As for height, this is traditionally measured to the dogs’ shoulders. An Amercian Cocker stands a whole 14 – 15 inches tall, while their English counterparts measure a couple of inches taller.

Temperament and Personality of this Loving Breed!

As a former working dog breed, Cockers are intelligent dogs that love to be active. Their eager to please nature makes them fun to train, especially when reward-based training methods are used.

Known for their affectionate nature, it’s worth being aware that this can mean a Cocker Spaniel will get lonely if left alone for long periods of time.

They’re rather prone to separation anxiety which can lead to bad behaviors such as unwanted barking, digging, or chewing.

As loving as they are, they still need to be properly socialized from a young age. Be sure to check with the breeder what plan they have in place to expose their puppies to a wide range of sights, sounds, and experiences from just 3 – 4 weeks of age.

A reputable breeder takes pride in doing this and will be pleased to discuss this with you.

english cocker spaniel with tongue out

Cocker Spaniel Mixes: Potentially the Most Perfect of Pooches!

When a breed is near perfect already, how do you improve it? Actually, this is a trick question, because you can’t!

What you can do is spread the love around by creating hybrid dogs that share the Cocker’s awesomeness. The current rise of designer dogs with Cocker Spaniel blood is a testament to this.

Cocker Spaniel-Poodle Mix 

The Cockapoo is something of a star in the hybrid dog world. Just be aware that both parent breeds are prone to luxating patellas (wobbly kneecaps). Check with the breeder if this is an issue for either of the parent dogs so as to try and reduce the risk of this inheritable problem from happening to your puppy.

Golden Retriever Cocker Spaniel Mix

The Golden Cocker is a bundle of furry golden sunshine right there! These puppies grow up to be slightly smaller than a Retriever but larger than a Cocker. Health problems to be on the lookout for include hip dysplasia, which again can occur in both parent breeds.

Cocker Spaniel Lab Mix

The Spanador is one of the lesser known Cocker mixes, but their popularity is rising. One advantage of the Spanador is that if the genes combine with the stars in your favor, there’s a reduced risk of chronic pancreatitis in the resulting litter.

Sadly, Cocker Spaniel dogs are over-represented when it comes to acute pancreatitis, so this could be important.

Cocker Spaniel Puppy to Doggo Full Grown: What is Their Lifespan? 

Cocker spaniel puppies can expect to be around for love and cuddles for a good 12 – 15 years.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About These Puppers!

  1. Originally Cocker Spaniels were so closely related to Land spaniels, that a litter of puppies could yield examples of both types of dog.
  2. The first Cocker Spaniel registered by the American Kennel Club was called Captain. He was white and liver colored and was registered in 1878
  3. Spaniels first came to America aboard the Mayflower, in 1620.
  4. These dogs love to bark but make poor guard dogs. They’re too friendly!
  5. George Clooney has a Cocker called Einstein that he rescued from a shelter

Cocker Spaniels for Sale! 

Always do your homework and seek out a reputable breeder. Be sure to see the parent dogs with the puppies. Don’t be put off if the breeder asks you lots of questions.

This is a good sign that they care about their puppies and want to find them great homes.

Stay a million miles away from puppy mills!

English Cocker Spaniels for Sale Near Me!

A good way to find an English Cocker breeder is to visit your dog park. Chat with dog owners and ask if they recommend their breeder.

American Cocker Spaniels for Sale Near Me!

Speak to your local vet clinic to find registered breeders near you.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Cocker Spaniel Rescues! 

Please help more than one dog, by homing a rescue dog. The Cocker Spaniel Rescue should be able to give you contact details for pup foster parents in your area, or simply visit a nearby rescue shelter.

By homing a rescue you free up a kennel for another needy dog, thereby helping not one but two dogs in dire straits.

Common Questions

Are Cocker Spaniels snappy or aggressive?

Is this a low shedding breed?

Do Cocker spaniels make good family pets?

I work long hours. Is a Cocker spaniel a good match for me?

How much care does a spaniel coat take?

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