Cocker Spaniel (English) Breed Profile

Cocker Spaniel (English) Breed Profile

KC Group Gundog

Size Medium

Weight 13 - 14.5kg

Height Dogs: 39 - 41cm; bitches: 38 - 39cm

Average lifespan 12 years

Good with children? Yes

Good guard dogs? Would bark

Moulting level Medium

Grooming Heavy

Exercise requirement Moderate

Jogging partner Yes

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

Temperament A happy little dog; good-natured, merry, and intelligent

Cocker Spaniel (English) Breed Profile

The Cocker Spaniel wants to please his owner and excels at training. An energetic, bouncy dog best suited to an active lifestyle.

It’s no great surprise that Cocker Spaniels and Cockapoos are some of the most popular dog breeds in the UK today. With their friendly, inquisitive personalities and ever-wagging tails, these dogs make loyal and devoted companions.

Cocker Spaniel health

Although they are generally a healthy breed, there are a few health conditions which affect Cockers that prospective owners should be aware of:

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) — an eye condition causing blindness.

Familial nephropathy (FN) — a serious kidney disease causing death in young dogs.

Adult onset neuropathy (AON) — a neurological disease affecting limbs.

Acral mutilation syndrome (AMS) — a disease involving self-mutilation of the limbs.

Hip dysplasia — abnormal formation of the hip socket, which causes lameness and pain in the joints.

DNA testing and screening/scoring systems are available for all these conditions, and, as a minimum, reputable breeders will be screening their stock for PRA and FN. The other diseases occur less commonly.

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. 

Cocker Spaniel 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.
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Cocker Spaniel 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.

Are Cocker Spaniels easy to train?

Cocker Spaniels are very intelligent and easy to train. However, because they are quick to learn they can pick up bad habits at a young age, so training from puppyhood is essential.

They are happy, friendly, affectionate, and sociable dogs. Cockers are eager to be involved in all family activities and like to be close to their owners. They are very eager to please.

Cocker Spaniel activity levels

Working Cockers will take as much exercise as you can give them — so these dogs need owners who can provide them with plenty of physical and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Although show-type Cockers are not as active as the working strain, they can also be energetic, but are easier to tire out.

Most adult Cocker Spaniels will be very happy having a 30-minute walk morning and night, but if you want to go on a long trek in the country, they will be more than happy to walk with you. Many Cockers enjoying fetching and retrieving a ball, and both types can excel at canine activities, which means that they benefit from having a knowledgeable owner who can put in plenty of patient training.

Cocker Spaniel general care

A Cocker Spaniel’s coat will grow continuously and moulting is minimal, which means that they need grooming at least once a week to keep their coats in good condition.

A comb is the most effective tool to get through their feathers, while a brush is good for polishing the coat on their backs. They will need regular trimming by a professional groomer or yourself every six to 12 weeks. Some owners choose to cut their Cocker’s coat short to suit their lifestyle, especially if they often get muddy. If they’re not walked regularly on a hard surface, their nails may need clipping. You should also ensure that their dewclaws don’t get too long. The Cocker Spaniel's long ears need to be checked regularly as they can become infected easily if not kept clean.

Cocker Spaniels are fairly easy to feed, but must be a good-quality diet. Cockers can be quite greedy so watch portion sizes too.

What is the difference between working or show Cocker Spaniels?

Cocker Spaniel breed profile

There are two strains of Cocker Spaniel — the show type and the working type (often referred to as working Cockers) — which are each bred for different purposes with different attributes.

Show-type Cockers are more commonly seen as family pets, and their compact size and appealing looks make them a popular choice.

Working cockers are bred as working gundogs, and therefore have a lot of energy, as they need to have stamina in order to work all day in the shooting field. In the right hands, they make great pets for active homes, and are becoming an increasingly popular choice for those who participate in sports such as agility and flyball.

Working Cockers can also look quite different to the show type. As show breeders are trying to breed dogs that closely resemble the Kennel Club breed standard, working Cocker breeders consider working ability to be their top priority and are less interested in what their dogs look like. In general, working Cockers have finer coats and their body shape tends to be less compact than show Cockers.

What is the difference between the Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel?

American Cocker Spaniels are smaller and have a dome-shaped skull with a much shorter muzzle, which is flatter to the face.

Though the ears are the same length, the American Cocker Spaniels have much more coat so their ears appear to be longer.

The American Cocker Spaniel is quite different in appearance.

What is a blue roan Cocker Spaniel?

The blue roan has a white body with flecks of black throughout and patches of solid black. The ears, muzzle, and head can be black. As the black flecks mix with the white hair, it gives a blue appearance.

How much exercise do Cocker Spaniels require?

A brisk 30-minute walk twice a day is recommended, although Working Cockers may need more exercise. Cocker Spaniels need plenty of mental stimulation too.

Which jobs are Cockers most suited to?

Thanks to their inherited traits as a gundog, Cocker Spaniels are suited to many different jobs including being used as sniffer dogs to seek out illegal substances, such as drugs or explosives, as well as in search and rescue.

Cockers are also used as assistance dogs or as companion dogs, thanks to their love of being close to people.


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


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