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Cocker Spaniel (English) Breed Profile

Cocker Spaniel (English) fact file

KC Group: Gundog
Size: Medium
Height: Dogs: 39 - 41cm; bitches: 38 - 39cm
Weight: Around 13 - 14.5kg
Average lifespan: 12 years
Temperament: A happy little dog; good-natured, merry, and intelligent
Good with children?: Yes
Exercise requirement: Moderate
Good guard dogs?: Would bark
Moulting level: Medium
Grooming: Lots
Colours: Solid black, red, orange, and brown, as well as combinations of black with white, brown with white, red and white, blue roan, orange roan, black roan, particoloured, and tricoloured
Jogging partner: Yes

Health

Cocker Spaniels are prone to the following conditions:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
  • Glaucoma.
  • Familial Nephropathy (FN).

PRA is an inherited untreatable eye condition that results in blindness; glaucoma is increased pressure within the eye — it’s extremely painful and if not treated promptly will result in blindness; FN is a kidney disease that results in renal failure.

Health tests

Adult dogs and dogs who are to be bred from should have annual eye tests so any signs of disease can be spotted early. Dogs with signs of eye disease shouldn’t be bred from. All dogs must be tested for glaucoma; this is a one-off test and can be done from eight months of age upwards. 

DNA testing is available for prcd-PRA (the most common form) and FN. Blood samples are sent to America for testing. These DNA tests are not yet compulsory but it is recommended that you choose a puppy from breeders whose dogs have had these tests.

Temperament 

  • Kind natured.
  • Friendly.
  • Intelligent.
  • A family dog who will want to be involved in all his family does.
  • Good with children and other pets if socialised early.

Lifestyle

  • An energetic, bouncy dog best suited to an active lifestyle.
  • Not a lap dog.
  • A garden is a must.
  • Needs about 60 minutes of physical exercise a day, including off-lead walks and play.

Trainability

  • The Cocker Spaniel wants to please his owner and excels at training.
  • Extremely intelligent but strong-willed and has his own mind, so will need a firm, fair hand.

General care

  • The Cocker Spaniel has a beautiful coat which needs looking after to keep it at its best.
  • A thorough brush through daily is a must to prevent the coat matting.
  • The coat needs to be stripped about three times a year.
  • The Cocker Spaniel’s long ears need to be checked regularly as they can become infected easily if not kept clean.
  • Fairly easy to feed, but must be a good-quality diet. Cockers can be quite greedy so watch portion sizes too.

Working or show Cocker?

Working Cocker Spaniels are bred as working gundogs. While they can make good pets it’s important to appreciate their strong working instinct. They have incredible stamina and will be on the go all day long, so if you want a working Cocker be prepared for this.

In terms of looks, working Cockers have much finer coats and shorter ears than show Cockers and their body shape is less compact.

It’s important to remember that unless you are extremely active or intend to work your dog, a working Cocker Spaniel is probably not for you.

Pros

  • Good temperament.
  • Nice size.
  • Easy to train.

Cons

  • Some hereditary problems.
  • Needs a good deal of exercise.
  • Higher than average grooming needs.