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Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

29 August 2023

Let’s talk about… Cocker Spaniels: what are they?

  • Cocker Spaniels are a popular and charming breed known for their beautiful, long ears and expressive eyes.
  • They originated in the United Kingdom and were originally bred for hunting woodcock, which is where they get their name.
  • There are different types of cocker spaniel, from more show-type and more working-type English Cockers, to smaller, longer-eared American Cocker Spaniels.
  • Cocker Spaniels are known for their excellent sense of smell and were often used as sniffer dogs in various roles, including detecting drugs and explosives.
  • Cocker Spaniels have a medium-sized build, with males typically reaching a height of 39 to 41 cm and females averaging slightly smaller at 38 to 39 cm.
  • In terms of weight, males usually weigh between 13.5 to 15.5 kg, while females range from 12.5 to 14.5 kg.
  • Cocker Spaniels have an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, depending on various factors.
Cocker Spaniel  Exercise Needs 4/5 Grooming Ease 3/5 Trainability 4/5

What is the temperament of Cocker Spaniels like?

  • Cocker Spaniels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature.
  • They are typically outgoing and enjoy being part of the family.
  • They are great with children and can get along well with other pets if properly socialised.
  • Cocker Spaniels have a cheerful and gentle disposition, making them excellent companions for individuals and families alike.
  • They are intelligent dogs and enjoy learning and participating in various activities.
  • However, they may exhibit some stubbornness at times, so consistent and positive training methods are important.
  • They can become very attached to their family, which can in some cases lead to anxiety when left alone.
Bonnie, the Cocker Spaniel
Bonnie, the Cocker Spaniel

How much exercise do Cocker Spaniels need?

  • Cocker Spaniels have moderate to high exercise needs and typically require around 1 to 1.5 hours of exercise per day.
  • They enjoy daily walks, playtime in a secure area, and mental stimulation activities such as puzzle toys or obedience training.
  • Engaging them in activities that tap into their natural instincts, such as retrieving or swimming, can be highly enjoyable for them.
  • It's important to note that Cocker Spaniel puppies have different exercise requirements.
  • As puppies, they should engage in shorter play and exercise sessions to avoid putting excessive strain on their developing joints and muscles. Consult with your vet for specific exercise guidelines based on your Cocker Spaniel's age and development.
  • Cocker Spaniels generally reach full exercise capacity at around 12 to 18 months of age.
Evie, the Cocker Spaniel
Evie, the Cocker Spaniel

Do Cocker Spaniels need a lot of grooming?

  • Cocker Spaniels have a beautiful, medium-length double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition.
  • Their coat is prone to matting and tangles, so regular brushing is essential to prevent this. Ideally, they should be brushed at least two to three times a week.
  • Pay special attention to areas such as the ears, feathering on the legs, and the belly, as they may require extra care.
  • Cocker Spaniels are moderate shedders, and more intensive grooming may be necessary during shedding seasons to manage the increased hair loss.
  • Some of them benefit from regular grooming sessions with a professional dog groomer.
  • Like any dog, regular tooth brushing with a dog-specific toothpaste twice daily is ideal. If you can’t manage that often, just do it as often as you can.
Paddy, the Cocker Spaniel
Paddy, the Cocker Spaniel

Are Cocker Spaniels easy to train?

  • Cocker Spaniels are intelligent and eager to please, which can make them relatively easy to train.
  • They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and enjoy learning new commands and tricks.
  • However, they can sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak, so consistent and patient training techniques are necessary.
  • Starting training early, socialising them well as puppies, and providing mental stimulation through activities like obedience training and interactive toys can help in their training and development.
Sully, the Cocker Spaniel
Sully, the Cocker Spaniel

What do Cocker Spaniels eat?

  • Cocker Spaniels should be fed a high-quality dog food that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level.
  • It's important to follow the feeding guidelines provided by the dog food manufacturer and adjust the portion sizes as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Most of them do well being fed twice daily.
  • Puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs and should be fed a specially formulated puppy diet until they reach approximately 12 months of age.
  • When young, they should be fed 3-4 times a day, then this can be reduced to twice daily at 6 months old.
  • The transition to adult dog food should be gradual and based on the advice of your vet.
  • Cocker Spaniels can be prone to obesity, so it's important to monitor their weight and avoid overfeeding or excessive treats.
  • Consult with your vet for specific dietary recommendations for your Cocker Spaniel.

Are Cocker Spaniels healthy?

Cocker Spaniels, like any breed, can be susceptible to certain health conditions. While they are generally considered a healthy breed, there are a few health concerns that potential Cocker Spaniel owners should be aware of:

Bones and Joints

  • Hip dysplasia - a condition where the thigh bone and pelvis do not sit together properly at the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and arthritis
  • Incomplete ossification of the Canine Humeral Condyle - the normal bone fusion process doesn’t occur, leaving a weakness in the elbow


  • Ear infections - the ear canal, and sometimes the ears flaps have an overgrowth of bacteria, yeast etc. which can cause signs including irritation,  inflammation, smell and thickening of the ear canal tissue


  • Dry eye - an ongoing condition where the tear glands in the eyes don’t produce enough protective tear film, which can lead to discomfort, infections and damage of the eye


  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) - a congenital heart defect where there is irregular movement of blood between two of the heart’s major arteries


  • Hypothyroidism - a condition where your dog does not produce enough thyroid hormone


  • Pancreatitis - a potentially serious and painful condition caused by inflammation of the pancreas, often triggered by fatty foods or steroid treatment

This list is by no means comprehensive. If you have any concerns about the health of your Cocker Spaniel or want to discuss further if this breed is right for you, consult with your veterinarian.

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Information on this page should never replace advice given by your veterinarian. Potential health issues presented are given as a guide only and are not meant to be comprehensive. If you ever have any concerns about your dog’s health, contact your local vet.

Spaniel Breed Guides

American Cocker Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

Field Spaniel

Springer Spaniel

Welsh Springer Spaniel

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