Information About Cocker Spaniels

If you're looking for reliable information about Cocker Spaniels, you've come to the right place! Discover all you need to know about this adorable breed, including information about their history, their loving temperament, characteristics and health concerns!

English Cocker Spaniel Facts

All About the Cocker Spaniel History

As the name suggests, Cocker Spaniels originally came from Spain. They have been with us for many years, either as willing gun dogs, faithful companions, or loving family pets.

Beautiful orange rowan cocker spaniel with his tongue out.Find out all about Cocker Spaniels here!

These sturdy little gun dogs were given the name 'Cocker' because of the woodcock they were bred to catch.

They have a good nose, and this good sense of smell allows Cockers to flush birds from hedgerows and fields so that the hunters (following behind the dogs) could shoot the birds as they emerged.

The Spaniels, who were trained to retrieve the birds using a soft mouth, would then trot off merrily to retrieve the game.

If you'd like to learn more about the history of Cockers you can follow the link.

Cocker Spaniel Information: Temperament

Cocker Spaniels are very gentle and loving dogs, and once you've owned one, I guarantee you won't want to own any other breed of dog, ever!

They're very affectionate and playful, and although they can be reserved with strangers, once they get to know you, they are very friendly and extremely loyal.

They love to bark to let you know that someone is coming up the garden path, or there's someone at the door, but if you’re looking for a burglar alarm, forget it, a Cocker is more likely to lick an intruder into submission!

Just like our human personalities, dog temperament can show itself as either assertive, passive, or submissive.

Cocker Spaniels can sometimes be timid, (submissive) which is why it’s especially important to make sure your puppy gets lots of socialisation, as early as possible. This is true of all breeds, not just Cocker Spaniels. 

Socialisation should continue well past his first year to help him become a happy, confident dog without behavioural problems!

Cockers can be a little stubborn too, but they are inquisitive, intelligent, and so willing to please - all of which make them very easy to train.

They're exceptional hounds, equally happy as working gun dogs, as affectionate companions, and as they're especially good with children of all ages, they make good family pets.

I may be biased, but the Cocker Spaniel temperament is definitely a winner for me!

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Characteristics

As you can see from this photo, Cockers are very handsome dogs, with their luxuriously glossy, silky coat and typically long, floppy ears. Aren't they just adorable?

Black and white cocker spaniel with golden cocker peeking over other dog's shoulder.Find lots of information about Cocker Spaniels here

Their tails, docked or otherwise, are always wagging!

In fact, Cockers often wag their tails so enthusiastically that their bottoms wiggle from side to side too! You’ve heard the saying, ‘the tail wagging the dog’? Well, I’m just saying!

And when they look up at you with those beautiful soulful eyes, who could possibly resist them?

Cocker Spaniel characteristics are so very appealing, but one word of caution, they can sometimes be a little greedy and will eat almost anything on offer. Mine certainly does.

Only last week, he (accidentally?) munched his way through an entire box of doggie bones!

Cockers are also prone to putting on weight as they grow older so their diet needs to be managed carefully.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Health Matters 

Most dog breeds have health problems that are specific to their breed and the Cocker is no exception.

Whilst most of the hereditary health problems are gradually being bred out by responsible breeders, there are still some problems that do exist - as with all types of dog – for example:

Please do not think that your pet will succumb to all of the above. It's just not true. These are simply some of the health problems that the Cocker Spaniel could develop at some point in his lifetime.

If you own or are planning to own this wonderful breed, I think it will be helpful to understand what problems may arise, and you can learn more about Cocker health concerns here.

English Cocker Spaniel Information: Coat Colours

Cocker Spaniels have medium to long coats, which may be straight or wavy, and feel very silky to the touch. They have feathers on their legs, chest, and underbelly.

Six black and tan cocker spaniel puppies in a leather briefcase.Lots of information about cocker spaniels here!

I'm sure you're aware that the Cocker Spaniel's coat comes in a variety of colours with lots of different markings. I thought it a good place to give them a mention here.

Their coats can be seen in beautiful solid colours such as golden, red, chocolate (liver), or black, black and tan, liver and tan, and parti-colours for example, orange and white, liver and white, lemon and white, and black and white.

Then there are the tri-colours, black, white and tan; and liver, white and tan.

Roan markings are probably one of my favourites, especially the blue roan. Other colours include orange roan, liver roan, lemon roan, blue roan and tan, liver roan and tan.

You may see some patterns and markings, and sometimes you may see a small white on the chest and throat, or tan markings, for example, on the eyebrows, throat or feet.

What follows is a brief explanation of Cocker Spaniel coat colours and of some of the terms used to describe them.

Official Cocker Coat Colours

According to Wikipedia, coat colours of the Cocker Spaniel are as follows:

  • black, 
  •  liver with brown pigmentation,
  • red with black or brown pigmentation,
  • golden with black or brown pigmentation,
  • sable,
  • silver,
  • ash,
  • black and tan,
  • liver and tan,
  • blue roan,
  • liver roan,
  • orange roan with black or brown pigmentation,
  • lemon roan with black or brown pigmentation,
  • black and white ticked,
  • liver and white ticked,
  • orange and white ticked with black or brown pigmentation,
  • lemon and white ticked with black or brown pigmentation,
  • black and white,
  • liver and white with brown pigmentation,
  • orange and white with black or brown pigmentation,
  • lemon and white with black or brown pigmentation.


I'm certainly not an expert on coat colours, but generally speaking, the solid colours (also known as 'self') are chocolate, black, golden, and the very rarely seen colour, sable.

Although I've never owned a black Cocker, it's said that the black, glossy coats are much heavier and because of this they may need more grooming than any of the other colours.

Golden Cocker Spaniels can range from a light golden colour to a very dark rusty shade.

Where the golden coats are darker, they're sometimes referred to as red Cocker Spaniels, and where the coat is very light, it is sometimes referred to as buff or lemon.

Chocolate Cocker Spaniels are a beautiful reddish-chocolate brown and they're often referred to as 'liver' coloured.

If you're planning to show your pet, breed standards recommend that the coat shouldn't contain any white, however a little patch of white on the chest is allowed.

Roan Cocker Spaniels

Roan is 'blended' mixture of white and coloured fur and in my opinion, they are the best, especially the blue roan. They're just beautiful, (sorry Max!)

The coloured hairs are usually found in solid patches or clumps, whereas the white areas are often flecked or 'ticked' with the solid colour.

The roan colours are:

  • blue roan (light blue and dark blue),
  • chocolate (or liver) roan,
  • orange roan,
  • red roan,
  • lemon roan.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Parti-Colours

Parti-colours usually consist of two colours, one of which is always white, which must cover at least 10% of the dog's coat.

The other main colour can be any of the solid colours. For example:

  • black and white,
  • orange and white,
  • lemon and white,
  • chocolate (or liver) and white.

Where parti-coloured coats contain a small amount of tan, they are known as tri-colour coats.


Ticking is a term used when there are small flecks of colour showing in the white of the dog's coat.

Open Marked

The term "open marked" is used where there is no ticking or roan markings in the dog's coat, instead the coat will have clear white between the coloured patches.

You'll also find dogs with tan markings on their face, (above the eyebrows and on the muzzle) under their tails, on their feet, and on their chest.

Where the dog's coat is predominantly black, his colouring would be termed black and tan.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Tan Points

Tan points (or markings) are often found above the eye, the side of the dog's muzzle, underneath the ears and sometimes on the chest feet and legs.

I love to see tan marking above each eye. I think it gives the Cocker an inquisitive expression!


ASCOB is short for  Any Solid Colour Other Than Black.

The ASCOB range runs from pale cream/silver/buff to deeper shades of brown, red, golden and sable.

A small amount of white is sometimes found on the chest and lighter shades of the colour may be seen 'peppered' through the topcoat and feathers.

Solid Colours & Rage Syndrome

Some breeders say that the golden Cocker Spaniel (and some say all solid colours) is prone to 'Rage Syndrome' but today breeders are very careful and check the history of the sire and dam for any sign of the condition prior to breeding.

Thankfully, rage syndrome in Cocker Spaniels is very rare and instances of aggression often tend to be behavioural problems rather than rage.

Where a (responsible) breeder has evidence to suggest that any of their dogs has shown signs of rage syndrome, they're unlikely to be used for breeding purposes.

Do Cocker Spaniels Shed?

Although Cockers are not renowned for shedding, some do.

Thankfully, mine doesn't shed too much, it's manageable, but Max does need to be brushed at least once a week to keep shedding to a minimum.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

Grooming and On-going Maintenance

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Brushing His Coat

Your Cocker's coat will need to be brushed every day if he's regularly walked in fields and enjoys rummaging in the undergrowth, but if he's walked in the local park or around town, you’ll probably get away with brushing him once a week.

All About Cocker Spaniels: Ears

His ears, however, will probably need to be brushed twice or more each week to keep them silky and tat-free.

Extra care should be taken to brush under the ears and around the openings as that's where they tend to mat the most.

I keep the hair around the entrance to the ear canal trimmed very short to allow air to circulate, and because bacteria thrives in warm damp places, this helps keep bacteria in check.

His ears will need to be cleaned once a week to ensure bacteria is kept to a minimum and infection is avoided.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Bath-Time

You can bathe your Cocker monthly, or every three months, depending on what he gets up to, and so long as he doesn't roll in anything nasty.

I usually give Max the sniff test – if he smells horrible, I bathe him. If he just smells of warm ‘doggie’, I’m happy to leave him for a while longer.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Eyes

Their eyes need to be cleaned regularly too.

I check Max’s eyes most days. If there’s any gunk in the corners, I remove it with a damp soft tissue to prevent irritation or infection.

Always remember to use a separate tissue for each eye to prevent cross-infection.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Routine Grooming Sessions

There are other routine checks that I recommend you add into your Spaniel's grooming sessions, such as; cleaning his ears, clipping his nails and checking his teeth.

If you'd like a more detailed explanation of how to groom your Cocker Spaniel, just follow the link.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Exercise

Cockers are energetic dogs and love nothing more than a long brisk walk or a run in the park. Keep your pet well-exercised, and you will have a calm, contented dog.

An hour each day should be enough, but if you’re prepared to do more, go for it!

All About Cocker Spaniels: Spaniel Breeds

Other Spaniel breeds to learn about, including the American Cocker, the Clumber Spaniel, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Field Cocker.

Photo of a lovely Clumber Spaniel lying on the ground.Beautiful Clumber Spaniel

Some are more pleasing on the eye than others, and some more suited to a particular type of terrain, and a few make better hunting dogs than household pets.

The photo above shows a Clumber Spaniel.

The Clumber is quite a chunky dog and often has a very sorrowful look. It is the heaviest of the breeds, but I have to say, I think they look gorgeous!

We had a Clumber living near us when we lived in the UK (his name was Rocks!), and he was such a lovely looking, good-natured dog. He was such a character too!

Although some of these breeds look very different from what we have come to love as the more typical Spaniel, they all have a special place in my heart.

Follow the link for a brief description and photograph of more information about Cocker Spaniel breeds.

Information About Cocker Spaniels: Summary

I hope the information about Cocker Spaniels outlined on this page has given you a better understanding of this fabulous breed and that you're feeling a little more confident now.

They really are a delightful breed, and so long as they're trained and socialised well, they will fit into any family home, especially a home with children.

If you've not found your puppy yet, I hope you find the articles below very useful:

Buying And Choosing Your Puppy

There is a lot to understand about buying a puppy, and this article is packed full of helpful tips about what to look out for before you part with your cash.

Black cocker spaniel mother with her chocolate cocker puppy.Photographer: Rob Waterhouse

For example, did you know that there are puppy tests that you can do to help understand how the pup is going to turn out? (Information such as this is vital to the uninitiated!)

And did you know that if you've never owned a dog before, you should choose a less dominant puppy?

Plump for a slightly subservient pup and you'll have a much easier time all around.

Who knew that picking a puppy could be so involved?

Finding A Reliable Breeder

Once you know what to look for in a puppy, your next step will be to look for a good breeder.

That's not always as easy as it sounds though. How will you know that you've found a reliable breeder and not one who's just in it for the money?

Don't know where to begin?

This article will help you to find responsible Cocker Spaniel breeders will give you tips and ideas on what to look for in a breeder and this article will give you an idea of what questions to ask your breeder.

Well, it’s over to you now - I wish you lots of luck and success in finding your perfect puppy!

More Information About Cocker Spaniels

I thought you might like to see a gorgeous orange roan Cocker Spaniel in action, so I've added this video that one of our loyal visitors (Mark from Latvia) very kindly sent us.

Here it is...more information about Cocker Spaniels. I hope you enjoy it!

Photo Credits for Information About Cocker Spaniels:
Aurelia Werneck at
2. Isselee at
3. Juliane Meyer at
4. Audrey Sel at -
5. Photographer: Rob Waterhouse at