The English Cocker Spaniel breed is delightful! Here, you'll learn everything you need to know about this wonderful dog; their cute characteristics and gentle temperament, health care issues, training and more.
Traditionally, the working Cocker Spaniel is used for hunting and field sporting events and the show Cocker is...erm... shown. It often wins prizes for its beauty and agility.
But, it's not just working cockers that are used for sport, show Spaniels are often used as hunting dogs too.
Cocker Spaniels are strong and stocky; their bodies are solid and compact and they have a well-developed, deep chest.
Their hindquarters are sturdy, round and plump, and they have strong, muscular back legs which helps them to be very fast runners.
If you've ever seen a Cocker run after a rabbit you'll know what I mean.
They're classed as a medium-sized dog breed; somewhere between 39 and 41 cm in height (15-16") for the males and the bitch is slightly smaller at around 38 to 39 cm (15-15.5").
Their ideal weight is around 12 to 14.5 kg depending on age, sex and build, but they're prone to putting on weight as they get older.
My Cocker is getting on in years and is towards the top end of this weight guide. I'm constantly watching his food intake and keep treats to a minimum and give him lots of praise and cuddles instead.
The English Cocker Spaniel breed has a well developed skull. Their heads have a gentle 'rounded' look, slightly flat on top and their muzzle is more square than sharply pointed.
Cockers have long, pendulous ears set quite low on each side of the head, about level with their eyes. These gorgeous ears are covered in luxuriously long, soft, silky hair making them look almost 'cartoon like'.
Cockers have very appealing eyes, usually brown in color, but can sometimes be hazel depending upon the dog's coat color. They're beautifully expressive; liquid pools of endearment that can simply melt your heart!
The Cocker Spaniel breed has quite a muscular neck and can be surprisingly strong if he pulls on the lead, which they're prone to do unless you train them very early to walk to heel.
And even then, there's no guarantee that your dog won't pull on the lead!
Cocker paws are quite well padded and cat-like and when in dire need of trimming, all that fur can make their paws look enormous!
I love Max's paws when they're like that, but I do always keep the fur between the underside of his paws trimmed level with the pads.
Cocker tails used to be docked, usually within the first week of birth, but in many countries this is now banned (with certain exceptions).
If you own a Cocker Spaniel you'll know that this tail (or stump) hardly ever stops wagging!
Cockers can be seen in many coat colours; golden, red, black, brown, black and white, liver and white, red and white, black roan, orange roan, blue roan, tricolours and parti-colours.
They have a short undercoat and a fine topcoat. The topcoat is straight, but can sometimes be slightly wavy and is luxuriously silky in texture. They are often heavily feathered on the legs, body, chest and ears.
In show circles, it's considered a 'fault' if the coat texture is woolly or thick, like cotton wool, or is too wavy, but if you're not showing your dog and he's the family pet, who cares?
It's true to say that Cockers need a regular grooming routine to keep their coat healthy-looking and in good condition.
For the best results, and if you can afford it, I recommend you have your Cocker's coat
hand-stripped by a professional groomer to help keep that
luxurious silkiness. (Just make sure the groomer has plenty of experience with Cockers).
The feathers can be given the occasional light trim where necessary.
It's best to stay on top of your pet's grooming and do a little each day, otherwise it may be too much for you (and your dog).
Without a strict grooming regime your dog's coat may end up full of mats which can be difficult to remove and may need to be cut away. If matting is allowed to get out of hand, he may need to be completely shaved!
In some severe cases, for example where a rescue dog has been badly neglected, the matting may have become so extensive and too close to the body that the dog may need to be taken to the vet to have his coat removed under anaesthetic!
If your Cocker has been castrated (or spayed), his coat may eventually become thick, like cotton wool, as he slowly loses his silky coat. So although neutering your dog has many benefits, there are one or two down sides too!
Unfortunately, once the silky top coat has been removed with an electric trimmer, it never grows back in the same way so if you want to keep it, hand stripping (or a very light trimming) is your only option.
Many owners find such a grooming routine too onerous and take their pets to a professional groomer for a 'Cocker cut' every 3 months or so to keep them looking like they should.
But if you're brave enough, you may want to learn how to do it yourself. Grooming your Spaniel shouldn't take much more than around 30 minutes each day and it can be very relaxing for you both and can help you to bond with your dog.
To ensure the breed remains true, professional Cocker Spaniel breeders follow this standard and will only breed from carefully selected, DNA tested and near perfect dogs and bitches.
The Cocker Spaniel breed has a lifespan of between 10 and 12 years (although many Spaniels do live longer).
During this lifetime they may be susceptible to certain eye problems so it's best to understand what can go wrong and what you can do to ensure your Cocker has healthy eyes.
Their ears, by design, don't get enough air circulation, the lack of
which creates warm, moist, dark conditions inside the ear (an ideal
breeding ground for bacteria) so checking and cleaning their ears regularly is extremely important if you're to keep infections at bay.
As caring owners, our Cocker Spaniel's health is important to us.
Most health problems can be avoided simply by taking good care of pets; regular trips to the vet, good healthy food and lots of exercise.
Oh, and lots of TLC too!
It's universally known and accepted that the Cocker Spaniel temperament is wonderful!
They're a very gentle and loving breed and are excellent as companions and because they're great with children, they also make good family dogs!
They're intelligent which makes them very easy to train, but they can be quite 'stubborn' or 'strong-willed' and may need firm, confident, handling.
Conversely, Cockers can also be timid, in which case they will need gentle handling and training, with lots of early socialisation to help give them confidence.
This is a very general statement, but it's my belief that timid Cockers who haven't been properly socialised can grow into fear biters. Socialisation is a very important part of a young puppy's training!
Cocker Spaniel characteristics are very endearing; it's a most handsome, willing, and delightful little dog.
They're very gentle and happy in nature. Their little tails never stop wagging, and they love to frolic and play, no matter what!
In fact, their happy nature has earned them the nickname of 'The Merry Cocker'.
You can often see the Spaniel with his bottom in the air, tail wagging furiously, head sniffing the ground following the scent of a rabbit, completely oblivious to everything else around him!
I'm certainly biased, but I believe the Cocker Spaniel breed is the best! If you're ready to give a puppy (or a dog) a loving home you'd do well to consider one of these.
Why not visit your local Cocker Spaniel rescue centre or dog adoption centre and see what they have to offer? I'm certain you won't regret it!
If you'd rather use a breeder, why not take a look at our directory of Spaniel breeders to find a breeder in your area?
Whatever you decide, enjoy your Cocker Spaniel for many years to come!
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