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Everything You Need to Know about Cocker Spaniels

If you’re looking for Cocker Spaniel information you can trust, this is the article for you! Today we’re going to give a rundown of the most important facts about this adorable breed, from health concerns to temperament.

Thinking of Adopting a Cocker Spaniel?

Bringing a puppy or dog into your family is a big move. It’s a commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as Cocker Spaniels are likely to live for up to 15 years.

Time and cost are two of the main things you’ll need to consider before coming to a final decision, but there are many other factors that are worth thinking about too.

Cocker Spaniels were once the most popular and beloved breed, until the Labrador and golden retriever set a new bar for family dogs who are “great with kids”. After World War II, the Cocker Spaniel’s popularity exploded thanks to their sweet and loving nature, and medium size. The breed has soft, dark eyes and at their best are affectionate, gentle and healthy dogs.

Trainable, energetic, affectionate and sweet, the Cocker Spaniel is the perfect family pet. They weigh less than 30 pounds (though they can have a tendency to get chubby if owners aren’t careful) and have a soft, wavy coat that comes in many patterns and shades, long ears and unbelievably expressive eyes.

Cocker Spaniels can be a real nightmare if you’re unlucky, however. Owing to their immense popularity, they’ve become a favourite for Internet retailers, dodgy pet stores and unethical puppy mills. Pups sourced in this way will be adorably floppy-eared and sad-eyed, but the circumstances in which they were raised can leave them with a tendency to bite and snap, and they all too often become noisy, anxious, unstable dogs who are very difficult to house train.

If you do go for a Cocker Spaniel, be sure to get off on the right foot with gentle and consistent training from day 1, and try to adopt them from a trusted charity (or at the very least buy them from an ethical breeder). If you do this, they’ll be happy to ride in the car, attend obedience classes and walk on a leash, and should be easy to train, eager to try new things and enthusiastic about spending time with you.

Breed History

Whether as loving family pets, hard-working hunters’ companions or faithful friends, Cocker Spaniels have been with us for many years. The breed originally came from Spain, which is why they’re called “Spaniels”. They were bred to catch woodcock, which is where the “Cocker” part of their name comes from, and worked well as sturdy little gun dogs. Cocker Spaniels were particularly good at flushing birds out from fields and hedgerows thanks to their amazing sense of smell.

Once the hunters had shot the birds that emerged, the Cocker Spaniel would then trot off merrily to retrieve the game. Like Labrador Retrievers, they were trained to use their soft mouths to retrieve the birds, so as not to damage the hunter’s spoils.


Many people find they don’t want to own any other breed of dog once they’ve spent time with a Cocker Spaniel, as they’re very loving and caring. Extremely loyal and companionable, these dogs are highly playful and full of love – though they can sometimes be a little reserved with strangers.

A Cocker Spaniel is more likely to lick an intruder into submission than attack them. As much as they love to bark when there’s someone at the door or in the garden, they don’t make the best guard dogs.

Apartment Living

Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise, so being a good breed for someone living in a flat or apartment comes down to more than just size. Cocker Spaniels have a number of qualities that make them an ideal apartment dog – they’re low-energy, sociable, fairly calm indoors and generally quiet.

In order to make sure your Cocker Spaniel doesn’t develop behavioural problems, it’s important to make sure that they get a lot of socialisation as early as possible. This breed can sometimes be a little timid, so it’s best if you continue to socialise them well past their first year to help them become confident, secure dogs. Cocker Spaniels are very easy to train, despite the stubbornness. They’re intelligent, eager to please and super inquisitive.

Cocker Spaniels make good family pets as they’re really good with children of all ages, but they’re also exceptional hounds and are just as happy working as gun-dogs as they are as affectionate companions.

Cocker Spaniel Dog Grooming Tips!

If you want to keep your Cocker Spaniel’s long coat in good order, grooming is crucial. It’s best if you’re able to brush and groom your dog daily. Tease out any knots and separate the hairs using a comb. You can then spread the dog’s natural conditioning oils through their coat, remove any shed hair and massage their skin using a pin brush.

Special attention should be given to the Cocker Spaniel’s heavy ears. They’re very prone to sweeping up debris and dirt as the dog sniffs at the ground and explores outside. Dirt can end up entering the ear canal if it’s allowed to stay tangled in the fur for too long. The breed is already prone to ear infections, and this is something that will only make the problem worse.

After each walk, remember to check your Cocker Spaniel’s ears for grass seeds. It can be really difficult to remove these once they’ve entered deep into the ear, but it’s easy to remove them from the fur and prevent this from happening!

For more information about Cocker Spaniels, check out Need2Know’s Essential Guide to Cocker Spaniels which walks the owner through ‘essential things to know’ including: microchips; vaccinations; insurance; weight etc.

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