Sociable, sweet and adaptable to apartment living, these long-beloved gun dogs will easily steal your heart. They have been a favourite family dog in the UK for decades, and their popularity is well deserved. As intelligent as they are good-natured, Cocker Spaniels love to please, which makes them easy to train and lovely to have around! Some highlights:
Cocker Spaniels are highly adaptable dogs, so would be happy in a small apartment or a larger house.
They are incredibly sociable, so are comfortable around other dogs and humans.
Their even temper and sweet nature makes them good with children.
They have a lively, spirited disposition, so would brighten up any home.
While Cocker Spaniels on the whole are a lovely, loyal and trustworthy breed, as with most dogs there are a few things prospective buyers should consider before buying. Some downsides to the Cocker Spaniel:
If left on their own for long periods of time, Cocker Spaniels are at risk of developing separation anxiety.
They are occasionally prone to nervousness, even if properly socialised.
Their beautiful, long coats are unfortunately quite high maintenance to groom.
Their excitable nature can become an issue if they are not properly trained.
As their name indicates, Cocker Spaniels are descended from Spaniels, one of the world’s oldest dog breeds. Records date back as far as the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries, but it is believed by some that Spaniels reached Britain as far back as the Roman invasion in 54 and 55 BC. The word ‘Spaniel’ is thought by some to mean ‘Spanish Dog’, and this breed may well have had its origins in Spain. In England they were originally used mainly as hunting dogs, and were considered a functional breed. Distinctions were made between ‘land’ and ‘water’ spaniels in the 1600s, but the separation between Cocker and Springer Spaniels did not happen until later when the Kennel Club was established in 1874. Cocker Spaniels are now a widely-recognised breed, as they often perform very well at Crufts.
Compact and glossy-coated, Cocker Spaniels have warm, round eyes and sweet floppy ears. Their muscular physique and square jaw makes them a very sturdy breed, perfect for their original purpose of hunting.
A typical Cocker Spaniel will measure between 38 and 41cm at the withers.
A male or female Cocker Spaniel can weigh between 13kg and 14.5kg.
One of the most distinctive features of this breed is its wild variety of colour possibilities. Check the Kennel Club website for a list of their accepted colour combinations, which includes various combinations of black, tan, white, chocolate and blue roan, among others.
On the whole, Cocker Spaniels are not the obvious choice for prospective buyers wanting a guard dog, as their sociable nature means they are likely to trust and warm to strangers at the door rather than warn them off.
This breed is known for its tendency to enjoy the sound of its own voice, so prospective owners should be warned that a Cocker Spaniel may develop barking issues if not properly trained.
Cocker Spaniels are intelligent dogs who are eager to please, so they are not too difficult to train. In face, these dogs are happiest when they are properly disciplined, so owners should make sure to be consistent with their training and use lots of positive reinforcement.
Cocker Spaniels are incredibly playful dogs, and will be just as happy running around in a garden playing fetch as they would be on their owner’s lap. With their kind, happy nature and high energy, they would make an exciting addition to your household.
Cocker Spaniels are on the whole very good with children, but should be watched around younger children, as they are very energetic and may accidentally knock a small child over if not properly monitored. Cocker Spaniels are also sensitive dogs, so interactions between them and children should be carefully monitored.
With proper training and socialisation, Cocker Spaniels can be expected to get along with any other pets in a household.
Cocker Spaniels are sensitive, needy dogs who love to be close to their owners, so they may develop separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. This characteristic means they develop strong bonds with their owners and families, but they would be better suited to homes which are consistently occupied.
Cocker Spaniels, when properly cared for, can be expected to live for up to 11 and 12 years, or even longer.
These energetic dogs need regular exercise to remain fit and healthy. Their intelligence and desire to please means they love interactive games, and they will very happily play with children. Around 40 minutes to an hour of exercise a day would be ideal for this lively breed.
Although on the whole Cocker Spaniels are a healthy breed, prospective buyers should be aware that they can be prone to certain conditions. Cancer is one of the biggest causes of death in Cocker Spaniels, affecting around 30% of the breed. They may also be prone to skin allergies, benign tumours, deafness, eye issues and genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and heart murmurs. Prospective owners should make sure to check with breeders that their Cocker puppies have had the required health checks.
Cocker Spaniels are a compact, adaptable breed, and whilst they would love to have a large garden to run around in, they would also do well in a small apartment given proper stimulation and exercise.
Cocker Spaniels can be prone to weight issues, so their food and treats should be carefully regulated. As a guideline, they should be fed between 1.5 and 2.5 cups of high-quality dried food per day.
This breed is quite high maintenance to groom, as their long, glossy coats need daily grooming to avoid matting. They should also have regular professional grooming to ensure that their coat stays in good condition.
The Cocker Spaniel’s coat is relatively long, which means they shed quite often.
As a rough guide in pricing: Cost to buy: between £430 and £1500 for a well-bred Cocker Spaniel puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £30-50 per month for food, £20-40 per month for veterinary insurance.
You can read our general buying guide here (/advice-on-buying-a-puppy/), with the most important thing being going to view your Cocker Spaniel Puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder. More specifically, here is some Cocker Spaniel puppy buying advice:
Prospective buyers should be extremely wary of purchasing a Cocker Spaniel puppy with a docked tail, as there are very heavy fines for docking a dog’s tail without proper permission.
Due to the popularity of this breed, the calibre of the breeder should be properly checked to ensure that they have bred their puppies properly and are not cutting corners in order to turn a quick profit.
A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: https://www.thecockerspanielclub.co.uk/ https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/display.aspx?id=2052 https://www.cockerspaniel-info.org.uk/