Difference Between A Working And A Non-Working Cocker Spaniel?

by Janie
(United Kingdom)

Max Is A Show Cocker Spaniel

Max Is A Show Cocker Spaniel

We are thinking about buying a cocker spaniel puppy and have been browsing the web for sellers.

We noticed that some advertise the puppies as 'working cockers'.

Do you know what the difference is between a working and a non-working cocker spaniel?

Difference Between Working And Non-Working Cockers by: Anonymous

Over the years, Cocker Spaniels have been bred into two different types of cockers - the 'working' cocker (sometimes called the field spaniel) and the 'show' cocker.

Their temperaments are very similar, they're both very biddable dogs, and make great family pets.

The 'working' cocker spaniel is a natural, eager and fast hunter, and is almost tireless - because of this, he may need much more exercise than the 'show' cocker.

Both types of dog will need good, consistent training, and additional relevant training if you intent to 'show' or put your 'working' cocker to work. Whilst both types are intelligent dogs, the working cocker may need additional mental stimulation to keep him 'occupied' - they are not sedentary dogs.

There are distinct visible differences between the two breeds. The 'working' cocker has a wider and flatter head, and much less coat.

The 'show' cocker is more commonly kept as a family pet, however, they still have the ability to work as that's what Cocker Spaniels were originally bred for. 'Show' cockers can also be trained to be used as PAT dogs, Hearing Dogs for the deaf, drug dogs, etc.

My advice would be to ask yourselves how much time you have available to exercise your dog. We walk ours for an hour each day, sometimes longer, and don’t forget the time needed to put on wellies, coats, collars, leads, etc. and hosing down on return – that usually adds an extra 30 minutes. If you have plenty of time on your hands, and are fairly active, then you may be okay with a working cocker. We prefer the ‘show’ cocker, but then we’re biased!

Whichever you decide to choose - have fun!


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Hybrid cockers
by: Anonymous

Don't be put off by the 'reputable breeder' comment regarding working x show cockers. I have a beauty. Healthy and smart as lace pants.

They can be lovely fun dogs AND they have a co-efficient of inbreeding which can be very low.

The KC recommend a CoI of less than 6%. These 'reputable breeders' are still knocking out litters of CoI 15 to 20%, especially working types! They don't seem to care about the long term health of the puppy or the breed, or the misery of owners seeing dogs die too early. That's why people who know and care call worker x show 'dual purpose' now.

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A Working Cocker Spaniel
by: 54 year old lady

I was given a beautiful black working cocker spaniel puppy for my Christmas present, from my husband. It was not my choice of breed at all!

How totally wrong was I!

He is now 4 years old and I cannot believe where those years have gone. I must admit my life is around him but that suits me and my husband. He was the perfect puppy, no chewing or destroying anything. No problems with him sleeping through the night, even to this day. He is not a greedy dog at all. Will only do his business in the woods, so no mess to clear up at all in the garden.
I think I have the perfect dog because I work from home, therefore he is not left on his own. I walk him in the morning for about 1 hour and again in the evening for about 30 mins. This is plenty for him.

In the house he is very relaxed. Rarely barks. He is no trouble at all. The only problem I have is I love him too much, and this has put him up on top of the pecking order. By that I mean before my husband, who by the way totally understands because he loves him as much as I do.

If you are prepared to walk this breed of dog twice a day and give it loads of love and not leave it all day on its own, go for it.

Otherwise leave well alone.

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Please Be Careful
by: Anonymous

Please be careful when buying cocker puppies, in particular 'working' cockers, as in recent years cocker spaniel rescues have witnessed a large increase in needy cockers.

Furthermore, when buying a puppy most reputable breeders will not cross the two lines, due to the differences in why the two lines exist: most working cockers are companionable working dogs and show cockers are the more relaxed family pet.

That said I have a working cocker as a pet - I adore him and would highly recommend them to anyone who has a LOT of time to spend with their pet - they dislike being alone but most importantly they need stimulation.

It is not fair to have a working variety of dog and leave it alone 9-5, 5 days a week. I absolutely concur that they will choose to be out and about over lying on the couch every time.

I take my boy hiking for days at a time and he can be seemingly out for the count only to bounce up at the slightest hint of activity. They need only a little time to fully recharge those batteries!

So, once again, I repeat, please be careful! :)

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What Will Puppies Look Like?
by: Breeder

It's hard to tell really - they could turn out as individual separate breeds, for example, out of six puppies, three may look exactly like working cockers and the other three could look like show cockers.

Alternatively, they could have traits and characteristics of both breeds.

You won't really see much difference when they're first born. You'll have to wait until they've developed a little (say 8 weeks) because that's about the time when you'll see what they're going to look like when they're adult dogs.

In a nutshell, you'll just have to wait and see.

Hope this helps.

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Working/Show Cocker
by: Anonymous

I have just been to see a litter of puppies where the mother is a working cocker and father a show cocker. What will puppies be like?

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