Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

Cocker Spaniel characteristics are appealing to everyone because they're so loving and affectionate. They can sometimes be sensitive however, and benefit from good socialization and training and gentle handling to keep their manners in check. Find everything you need to understand all about this gorgeous breed!

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics: Appearance

Cocker Spaniels are so endearing; with their adoring eyes, long floppy ears, and wagging tail - once you've owned one, you'll never consider any other dog breed!

Golden cocker spaniel adult dog sitting on the floor, and has a well-groomed coat. The photo is taken against a white background.My mummy says I'm beautiful!

In my opinion, Cocker Spaniel characteristics are unmatched.

They have such an attractive, appealing face, with beautiful, expressive dark-brown oval eyes (sometimes hazel coloured).

Cocker's ears are one of their best and most appealing features.

They're long and pendulous, set low and lie close to the head, and they're clad in beautifully soft, flowing fur.

And I love the way their ears swing rhythmically from side to side as they trot about their business.

They're so adorable! Unfortunately, one of the down sides to these beautifully pendulous ears is that they often end up in their dinner bowl!

Cocker Spaniels are sturdy, compact, and medium-sized, with a deep chest, a short back, and chunky, cat-like paws.

Their skull is domed and ever so gently flattened; the muzzle is softly shaped and the same length as the skull.

Their American cousins look slightly different, mainly in their face and head. The difference is quite obvious when you see them together. If you'd like to see some photos and learn more about the American Cocker, just follow the link.

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics: Their Silky Coat

Their beautiful coat has two layers; a short thick undercoat and a light, silky top coat which is flat and straight (but sometimes wavy) and very soft and silky to the touch.

Golden cocker spaniel enjoying a frosty morning in the garden!I love my garden!

The photo to the right is of my little boy (Max) showing typical Cocker Spaniel Characteristics; a long silky topcoat, with feathers on his legs, ears, chest and underbelly.

Looking at the length of his coat, it won't be long before it's time for a trip to the groomers!

To say that Spaniels need frequent brushing is probably a bit of an understatement as their coats can be fairly high maintenance if not looked after properly.

Ideally, Cockers need to be brushed every other day, especially if walked in the countryside, otherwise you may get away with brushing only a couple of times a week.

I brush Max every other day but I tend to concentrate more on his ears, legs, and his paws, especially if I don't have much time to spare.

I may only do his ears one day, but the next day I'll brush and then comb through his legs. The following day his underbelly (including under his 'arm pits') gets the quick once-over.

Luckily, Max doesn't shed too much, however, I know of many Cockers that shed quite a lot, especially black Cockers, whose coats are often thicker.

Generally, roans aren't too bad when it comes to shedding.

No matter what colour Cocker you have, or how much he sheds, grooming your Spaniel regularly will keep his wonderful coat looking in tip-top condition!

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics: Docked Tails!

In the past, it was customary for Cockers to have their tails docked when they were very young puppies, usually between two and five days old (ouch!).

Today however, opinion seems divided; some seem to think that docking is cruel and done simply for cosmetic reasons.

Others feel that it's necessary to dock their tails because enthusiastic tail wagging, bolting through hedges after quarry, (or just for the heck of it!) often resulted in damaged or broken tails.

However, since 6th April 2007 the automatic tail docking became illegal in Europe.

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics: Height and Weight

English Cocker Spaniel dogs will grow to somewhere between 39 and 41 cm (15-16") in height.

The bitch is usually smaller and as an adult will reach between 38 and 39 cm (15-15.5").

The ideal weight for both sexes is somewhere between 12 and 14.5 kg.

If well-cared for, you can expect your dog to live a long and happy life, somewhere between 10 and 12 years, however, this can often vary considerably. I've known Cockers to be living healthy happy lives (although sedentary) at 15 years old!

As with us humans, I think longevity very much depends on their 'lifestyle', for example, if your dog is fed a very healthy diet, is exercised, well-groomed, and has regular trips to see his vet, the chances are he'll live a long and healthy life.

I'll drink to that!

Cocker Spaniel Temperament

Cockers have a wonderful temperament; however sometimes they can be a little fearful and if not handled properly, that's when problems can begin!

I've known many unfortunate dogs that have ended up in a rescue centre because the family has been unable to 'handle' it, when it could have been so easily avoided in the first place.

Blue roan cocker spaniel puppy stretching out on the floor. White background.My mummy says my temperament is very loving!

Firstly, I strongly recommend socializing your puppy as soon as you get him home and continue introducing him to new sights, sounds and situations every day until he's at least 12 months old.

The most effective time (and many say the only time) to socialize a puppy is when he's between 6 and 12 weeks old, and although you can continue after this, it won't be nearly as effective as it is between these two ages. That's why it's important to socialize your puppy early.

Secondly, I recommend training your puppy too. Some simple basic obedience commands will go a long way to giving your Cocker good 'manners'.

A word of warning though, if your training methods are harsh, he won't respond very well, it will simply make him fearful. When dogs are frightened they either become aggressive or they run away, and if they can't run away, they will growl and bite!

I also recommend you follow 'best practice' given in this article about the alpha dog, but above all, be gentle with your 'sensitive' little boy.

More Relevant Titles:

I'm sure you'll agree that Cocker Spaniel characteristics are wonderful, making this breed of dog very lovable indeed. If you'd like to learn more about Cocker Spaniels, simply click on any of the links below:

Learn more about their well-being and which health problems, illnesses and diseases, your Cocker Spaniel may be susceptible to.

Sick, orange roan cocker spaniel wearing Elizabethian collar.

The Cocker's coat comes in some beautiful colours, including my favourite golden cockers, okay, so I'm biased!  Simply follow the link if you'd like to see more or if you'd like to learn more about the Cocker Spaniel breed in general.

Photo Credits for Cocker Spaniel Characteristics:
1. Isselee at
2. Copyright of About Cocker
3. Thearle at