Cocker Rage Syndrome

Is Aggressive Dog Behavior The Same As Cocker Rage?

Golden cocker spaniels have been known to suffer rage syndrome, but it's extremely rare

Cocker rage syndrome is not as common as you may think - in fact, it's quite rare!

Cocker Spaniels are not normally aggressive dogs, but when they do behave badly, their aggressive dog behaviour is often misdiagnosed as 'Cocker Rage'.

Although their temperament is very gentle and loving, there have been some recorded cases of Cocker rage within the breed.

It's important to understand, however, that Cocker rage is the exception rather than the norm.

Research shows that rage syndrome is more likely to be seen in the show breed than in the working Cocker Spaniel.

In addition, episodes are more likely to be reported in solid colors than in parti-colors; red, golden/blonde, or black.

An episode of Cocker rage shows itself as unexplained aggressive dog behavior; a sudden, vicious attack, for no apparent reason, towards the owner or whoever is near the Cocker at the time.

What Are The Symptoms Of Rage Syndrome?

There is a distinct, visible difference between an episode of Cocker rage and a display of dog aggression.

  • An attack of Cocker rage is likely to be very aggressive - savage, in fact - and it's likely that you would be unable to control your dog in this state.
  • The dog will often be sleeping just before an attack is triggered, without warning.
  • The dog's eyes would often appear glazed and staring, and the pupils may be dilated.

  • The Cocker may be unaware of anything around it and when the attack is over, it will become calm again.

    However, the dog may appear disorientated and confused - it may even behave submissively, completely unaware of what has just happened.

As serious aggression in dogs is often incorrectly diagnosed as rage syndrome, it sometimes results in the dog being put to sleep, when the problem could have been easily resolved with training.

Actual cases of Cocker rage are very rare and are more likely to be another form of aggression in dogs; examples include, dominance aggression, resource guarding, (such as guarding toys and dog food aggression) and territorial related behaviors.

If your Cocker Spaniel is showing signs of aggressive dog behavior, it's more likely that it's one of the other forms of dog aggression, rather than Cocker rage.

For example, if your dog becomes aggressive when someone approaches him while he's eating, he may be resource guarding (dog food aggression), or if he growls when he's asked to get down from the sofa he's probably attempting to challenge you for the role of alpha dog.

Although conclusive scientific evidence has yet to be offered, there are several theories regarding the cause of Cocker rage.

Some believe it's an inherited genetic disorder, whilst others suggest it's a type of epilepsy or a form of schizophrenia.

Cocker spaniel with a beautiful chocolate colored coat

Some have suggested that it's the result of casual breeding, particularly from breeders whose first (and sometimes only) priority is money!

However, there are many conscientious breeders whose aim is to breed puppies with good temperaments; they will not breed from aggressive dogs or dogs who have shown signs of Cocker rage.

As we mentioned earlier, this condition is very rare in Cocker Spaniels.

If, however, you suspect your dog may be prone to Cocker rage, I strongly recommend you speak to your vet as soon as possible and explain your concerns.

Try to note down all the symptoms and events that lead you to believe your dog has Cocker rage.

Your vet may be able to diagnose it himself, or he may refer your dog to someone who specialises in animal or canine neurology.

Alternatively, he may confirm the problem as being a simple training issue and recommend a dog behavioral therapist in your local area.

Where rage syndrome is confirmed, your vet may be able to treat your dog with medication - however, it should be noted that each dog will respond differently.

In very rare cases medication may prove ineffective, leaving the vet no other alternative but to advise euthanasia.

Important note:

Cases of rage syndrome in Cocker Spaniels are extremely rare. The Cocker Spaniel temperament is generally very gentle and loving in nature; they're very biddable dogs and make wonderful pets and companions.

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