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Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Information, Personality, Health, Grooming, And Nutrition

Written by: Peter Laskay
Reviewed by: Amber LaRock
Last updated on:
cocker spaniel

Have you seen the movie Lady and the Tramp? You must have been familiar with this beautiful brown-eyed dog then. Cocker Spaniels have been the most popular dogs for decades, but they are still in the top 15. I wrote about their history, grooming, nutrition, health care, and so on. Need some information about this breed to decide if it is right for you? Then you will like this article.

Let’s start!

cocker spaniel

Basic stats:

  • Height: 14.5-15.5 inches (male) and 13.5-14.5 inches (female)
  • Breed Group: Sporting Dogs
  • Weight: 25-30 pounds (male), and 20-25 pounds (female)
  • Life span: 10-14 years

About Cocker Spaniels In Brief

This special and beautiful sporting dog is a favorite of many in America. You’ve also seen this breed as the female protagonist in the movie Lady and the Tramp. Cocker Spaniels were the most popular AKC registered dogs between the 1930s and 1950s. 

After that, their popularity declined for a while and then increased again. Labrador Retrievers replaced them in 1992. But Cocker is still in the top 15 to this day.

If you know these dogs, you can understand why this is. They impress their owners not only with their beautiful coat but also with their cheerful temperament. They love their family and have no other desire than to be with their loved ones.

Cocker Spaniels are classified as Sporting Dogs. However, compared to the other members of the category, they are quite small. Adults weigh an average of 20 to 30 pounds. In addition to their temperament, therefore, their size also makes them the perfect home dog. They can fit in smaller apartments even. Perfect companions and family dogs. But they do very well in obedience and agility competitions too. Many people also use this breed as therapy dogs.

In addition to the Cocker Spaniel, there is also the English Cocker Spaniel. Previously, the two dogs were considered one breed. Later, efforts were made to separate the different varieties and prevent interbreeding. In 1946, the American Kennel Club recognized the American and English Cocker Spaniels as two separate breeds.

The original Cockers have many positive qualities. They are intelligent, loving, loyal, gentle, and get along well with kids as well. Unfortunately, over the years, many unreliable breeders have bred them in the wrong way. Because of this, some Cocker Spaniels have health and behavioral problems. 

You have to be careful and only go to a reliable breeder if you want to buy a Cocker. Avoid backyard breeders, puppy mills, or pet stores. Reputable breeders perform a variety of health tests to screen for susceptibility to various genetic and other diseases.

History of Cocker Spaniels

Spaniel means “Spanish dog”. These dogs are believed to be from Spain. The history of the Spaniel family (which also includes today’s Cocker Spaniels) can be traced back to antiquity. 

In the 1800s, they had two groups. Toy-sized dogs were mostly kept as companions, while larger ones were for hunting. This latter, Spaniels, had two other groups: land and water. The Cocker Spaniels performed very well in the field hunting woodcock. Hence their name.

It was not until 1892 that the Cocker Spaniel was recognized as an independent breed in England. Before that, the name Spaniel was more of a functional category.

In the 1870s, plenty of Spaniels were imported into the United States. A Cocker Spaniel named Captain was first registered with the National American Kennel Club. His color was liver-white. Another register Cocker named Brush II. was in 1885. He was imported from New Hampshire by the Commings Cocker Spaniel Kennel.

In 1881, two men formed the American Spaniel Club. Their names are Clinton Wilmerding and James Watson. This club initially had several types of Spaniel breeders as members. However, the differences between the Spaniel breeds became more and more visible. So the club split into separate organizations.

Cocker Spaniels became popular very quickly. Some American breeders have begun to prefer smaller dogs. These Cockers had a different conformation than their English counterparts. The breeders favored them because they looked better in the show ring.

In 1936, the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was founded. The goal was for the AKC to recognize the English version of the Cocker Spaniels. Thanks to the club, a motion was passed two years later that English Cockers should not be bred to the American type. From then on, the American Cockers were not allowed to show off in English Cocker classes.

In 1939, a black Cocker Spaniel, CH My Own Brucie, won an award at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show. He repeated this a year later and even testified to his intelligence and obedience. When Brucie died, even the New York Times wrote about him.

After Brucie’s success, American breeders preferred breeding for the show ring. Because of this, the differences between the American and English Cocker Spaniels became even more striking. In 1946, the American Kennel Club recognized the two types as two separate breeds.

Some Interesting Facts About Cocker Spaniels

  • They are the smallest sporting breed

  • The first cancer-detecting dog was a Cocker Spaniel

  • President Nixon also had a Cocker Spaniel

  • Cocker Spaniels are closely related to Springers

  • Cocker Spaniels perform poorly as guard dogs


Properly bred Cocker Spaniels have no more appropriate word than sweet. These dogs love their owners. They love all kinds of contact with their loved ones and are involved in all social activities. They are smart, alert, playful, and enjoy any exercise. Running, jogging, hiking, hunting, it doesn’t matter to them.

Also, Cockers are sensitive dogs. They can respond to rough treatment quite negatively, sometimes aggressively. Early socialization and training help them learn the right behavior. This breed requires careful, kind, and patient treatment. In return, you will have a dog with an amazing personality.

cocker spaniel

Health Care

Although Cocker Spaniels can be said to be healthy, they may be prone to some health conditions. You can find a list of these below. It is important to know that not all of these conditions will occur in your dog. I only collected possible diseases.

  • Eye problems: There are several types of eye problems that can occur in Cockers. Examples include cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, and eye abnormalities. If your dog’s eyes are red or he rubs his eyes too much, take him to the vet immediately.

  • Allergies: In general, Cocker Spaniels are prone to various allergies. There are three types of allergies. Food allergies, contact allergies, and inhalation allergies. Food allergy is the easiest to treat. The questionable ingredient should be removed from the dog’s diet. For the other two, environmental change or medication may be effective.

  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia: In this disease, the immune system attacks the blood cells. Symptoms can be varied, such as pale gums, jaundice, and fatigue. Enlargement of the liver may also occur. There is an effective treatment.

  • Hypothyroidism: It is a disorder of the thyroid gland that can cause epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, and various skin conditions. This condition can be treated with medication and a proper diet.

  • Primary seborrhea: Skin cells, including sebaceous cells, are overproduced. This causes oily, smelly, and scaly skin. This condition can be treated with medication and medicated baths, and shampoos.

  • Hip dysplasia: This is the deformity of the hip. The thighbone and the socket in the pelvis do not grow at the same rate. This can cause pain and lameness. Sometimes, however, it is completely asymptomatic. As this is an inherited disease, dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.

  • Idiopathic epilepsy: It is an inherited condition that causes seizures of varying severity. However, it is worth noting that other diseases can also cause seizures. Therefore, if you experience this in your dog, take him to the vet immediately.

  • Patellar luxation: In this condition, the knee joint moves out of place. This is accompanied by severe pain in most cases.

Feeding and nutrition

Food quality should be a top priority for Cocker Spaniels. Chicken and rice are good ingredients in the diet of these dogs. However, keep in mind that individual sensitivities and allergies can influence the choice of ingredients. 

Cockers are very active dogs, but if we don’t give them enough exercise, they can easily become obese. Not to mention their big beautiful brown eyes with which they can easily beg for treats and bring in a lot of extra calories into their body.

The recommended daily intake is between 1.5 and 2.5 cups. This will depend on your dog’s age, sex, and, most importantly, his level of activity. Of course, an active dog needs more calories than a lazy one. Better quality foods are denser in calories, so your Cocker needs less.

cocker spaniel

Coat and grooming

I’m certainly not saying anything new with the fact that the Cocker Spaniels are beautiful. Their coat is thick, sometimes wavy, and short except on their ears, chest, belly, and legs. Their color can be one of a kind (e.g., black, cream, brown, red) or parti-color (one color is usually white).

Grooming is essential for Cockers. Regular bathing, brushing, and trimming are essential. Since this breed has special needs, I suggest you visit a professional groomer every 6-8 weeks. Besides, daily brushing is also recommended. If you can’t afford all these costs and time, then this dog is not for you. It doesn’t matter if you clip your dog’s coat very short. Grooming every 6-8 weeks is inevitable.

Cocker Spaniels can be sensitive to various grooming processes. They may not like handling, brushing, the noise of electric clippers, scissoring, ear cleaning, and so on. 

Cockers aren’t very cooperative when they find out the grooming session is starting. Of course, there is a solution. Introduce the different grooming tools to your dog as a puppy. He must learn how to behave at the grooming table and in the veterinary office.

Nails should be trimmed once a month. Your Cocker may wear them off naturally. Dogs should be cautious with their nails as they have blood vessels in them. Consider the so-called dog nail grinders. These are special grooming tools that make life easier for owners (and groomers).

Check your dog’s ears regularly. Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections, so you should consult a veterinarian for any suspicious signs. Such signs can be redness and bad odor. Wipe the ears with a cotton ball dipped in an ear cleaner for dogs. Make sure nothing gets accidentally into your dog’s ear canal.

The use of deep and narrow bowls prevents the Cocker Spaniels’ ears from getting wet or contaminated with food. This further reduces the chance of ear infections.

Anyway, examine your dog’s entire body each time. Look for infections, wounds, rashes, allergic reactions, etc. With these simple steps, potential health problems can be identified promptly.


The Cocker Spaniel was originally a sporting breed and had significant muscle mass relative to their body weight. Nevertheless, their level of activity is moderate. Otherwise, they enjoy all kinds of exercise, especially if they can do it with their owners. 

Walking, running, retrieving the ball are just a few excellent examples. It’s a good idea to not only have a Cocker, as they also love to play with each other. With 1/2-1 hours of play a day, you can satisfy their exercise needs.


Cocker Spaniels are not only extremely intelligent, but they love to impress their owners. Because of this, training them is not difficult. They are sensitive to all kinds of corrections and can easily infer emotions or rejection from speech tone. 

They really like performance activities. I suggest you try a lot of activities. Each Cocker can have unique and special abilities. Of course, treats, positive reinforcements, and praise are excellent tools during training. 

With early socialization and puppy training classes, you can teach your dog the right behavior early on.

Behavior With Children And Other Pets

As I mentioned, the Cocker Spaniels are excellent family dogs. They get along very well with the kids. Of course, you need to teach your kids and your dog how to behave with each other. Cockers are sensitive animals, so it is not worth leaving children unattended with them.

With proper socialization, these dogs will get along great with other pets as well.


I think it’s no exaggeration to say that Cocker Spaniels are amazing dogs. Although they are sporting dogs, they are a favorite of many because of their personality. I hope, thanks to my article, you were able to decide if this dog is right for you. Remember, without proper care, and it isn’t good to buy any dog ​​for your home. The Spaniels’ coat needs to be cared for often, but because of the result, it is definitely worth it.

cocker spaniel

Frequently Asked Questions About Cocker Spaniels

Are cocker spaniels good family pets?

This is so true. Cockers are not only smart, but kind, playful, and love their owners and kids.

Do cocker spaniels bark a lot?

Yes, the Cocker Spaniels bark a lot. But don’t worry, that’s a natural sign for them. Otherwise, you can teach them to bark only when justified.

Can cocker spaniels be left alone?

I do not recommend this. The Cocker Spaniels are extremely social creatures and require company. If left alone, they can easily panic or start worrying.

Are cocker spaniels smart?

The Cocker Spaniels are very smart. They are easy to train and can easily learn any command. They love to impress their owners, so they have no problem learning new skills and behaviors.

Are cocker spaniels high maintenance?

Yes, because of their coat, Cocker Spaniels require a lot of maintenance. If you can’t provide this for them, don’t buy a dog like that.

Photo of author
Hey, my name is Peter, and I am the owner of this site. I have loved animals since I was a kid. I am constantly training myself; I recently obtained an accredited certificate in pet nutrition. But I am constantly learning about training, grooming for dogs and cats. I am currently a happy owner of two dogs, six cats, and two red-eared sliders. My goal is to provide my visitors with the most authentic information possible on any pet-related topic.
Amber LaRock
Reviewed By An Expert:

My name is Amber, and I am a licensed vet tech with 10 years of experience in the field. I spent the majority of my career working in emergency medicine but recently transitioned to creating accurate pet care information online. There is nothing more important to me than helping pet owners understand their furry friend’s health, and giving you the tools you need to offer your pet the best future possible!