english cocker spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel Breed Profile

A joyful, family dog with a beautiful coat that comes in a wide variation of colours.

Cocker Spaniel Profile

Cocker Spaniel history and background

The beloved English Cocker Spaniel (not to be confused with the smaller American Cocker Spaniel) has a history dating all the way back to the 14th century in Spain where they were first bred to hunt game birds.


Initially there was no difference between the Cocker Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel, both were used as working dogs for hunting, however, around the 1800’s Cockers began to show their distinct features, separating them from Springers. The smaller, closer to the ground Cockers were used to capture a specific type of game bird called a Woodcock, where they get their name, and the taller Springer being used for flushing out game birds.


There are two distinct classifications of Cocker Spaniel, the worker variety with a larger build, and the show variety which has a longer, finer coats which have helped them become a household favourite in the UK.


This adorable dog breed comes in a variety of colours, with golden being the most popular in the UK, although it’s not uncommon to see the black, black and tan, grey, liver and chocolate variations of the English Cocker. 


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What's the Cocker Spaniel's Behaviour & Personality like?

  • The Cocker Spaniel is one of the friendliest dog breeds around, and it’s rare to find one that is not wagging its tail
  • Because of their love of people, these dogs do not make good guard dogs
  • Their outgoing nature makes them ideal for families, specifically those with young children

How to groom a Cocker Spaniel

  • The signature long coat of the Cocker Spaniel is high maintenance in the care department, of which frequent, daily grooming is recommended to keep it your dog’s coat looking luxurious
  • Their thick coat needs washing and a deep shampooing, with the frequency depending on time of year
  • Cockers need regular trips to the grooming parlour to manage their coat, which can add significant cost to their maintenance

How much exercise does a Cocker Spaniel need?

  •  Although small in size, these dogs were originally bred for working, meaning that a minimum of 1 hour exercise daily is recommended
  • Cocker Spaniels need training from an early age, with a lot of mental stimulation due to the intelligence of the breed. Failure to get these dogs into good habits early can lead to mild aggression and territorial behaviour
  • If this breed does not get the right amount of physical and mental stimulation they become bored and are prone to barking, which is loud for such a small breed

What's the average lifespan of a Cocker Spaniel?

  • The average lifespan of a Cocker Spaniel is 12-15 years.

What are common health problems for Cocker Spaniels?

  •  While generally able to live long lives, Cocker Spaniels should have regular vet trips as they are prone to some hereditary health issues, particularly to the eye, such as cataracts and retinal atrophy and dystrophy
  •  Although happiest when active, Cockers can suffer from kneecap problems and hip dysplasia
  • Grooming around those long, hairy ears is important and its advised to shave down the hair on the inside of the ear flap to encourage ventilation
  • As with all breeds, getting your dog a DNA test is recommended to identify any congenial or hereditary health conditions

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