Cocker Spaniel in Grass

Getting to Know Your Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are a beautiful and extremely lovable breed. They have many wonderful qualities that make them great pets but there are some things (like grooming) that require a little more care than other breeds.

So before you commit to owning a Cocker Spaniel, read through this quick guide to get the basic info you will need to know exactly what you’re getting into and whether or not this breed really is the right one for your home.

Physical Characteristics

Cocker Spaniels are a medium sized dog breed. They were bred originally to be bird dogs, meaning they were supposed to scare birds out of hiding so that hunters could shoot them down. This meant they couldn’t be too big because they had to fit into some tight spaces to find the birds.

Cocker Spaniel Body

They grow to a maximum height of about 15 to 17 inches and will weight from 26 to 34 pounds when full grown. Their most striking feature, however, is their long, wavy coat that can and will grow all the way to the floor if left to do so.

It generally stays shorter on the top and cascades down from the ears, chest, stomach, and legs. In terms of color, it’s almost always a solid black or golden/tan but there are some cases of multi-color patterning, in which case one of the colors is always white.

Personality and Temperament

These guys have a great personality. They are extremely loving, friendly, and gentle. They have enough energy to get you up and playing or walking outside but they are also happy to sit on the couch and cuddle up with you.

So your Cocker Spaniel can be happy in a smaller home or apartment but they will need at least one or two walks in the day to get their exercise.

Cute Black Cocker Spaniel Running

For kids, the Cocker Spaniel can be a great playmate but there are some aspects of care (particularly grooming) that will at least need adult supervision so it’s not the right breed if you are expecting your children to learn responsibility and take care of all of its needs.

Common Health Issues

This is a fairly healthy breed but all breeds have their unique issues. For the Cocker Spaniel, it’s the following:

  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: this is a genetic condition that cannot be cured but can be effectively treated so that the symptoms don’t interfere with your dog having a long and enjoyable life. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms: swollen abdomen, pale gums, and fatigue.
  • Hypothyroidism: if your dog has hypothyroidism, they will need to be put on a special diet (and possibly take medication) to help manage the symptoms. So watch out for the symptoms and try to catch it as early as possible. The symptoms include obesity, lethargy, epilepsy, and hair loss.
  • Eye problems: You will want to get your Cocker Spaniel checked annually to catch signs of damage and degradation early. This breed is prone to most eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy.

Cute Cocker Spaniel Puppy Eyes

Most of these are, unfortunately, unpreventable. It either will happen or it won’t happen. But they are also very treatable and catching them early on will make it even easier to manage the symptoms so that your dog can still live a very happy life.

Basic Care Instructions

Here are the basic needs and care requirements of a Cocker Spaniel:

  1. 5 to 2.5 cups of quality food per day. The exact amount depends on activity level with more active dogs requiring more food and those more relaxed couch potatoes requiring less. However much you plan to feed them, divide it into at least 2 separate meals (once in the morning and once in the evening).
  2. At least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This can either be in the form of a walk or active playing (wrestling, fetch, etc.) or a combination of both.
  3. If you keep their fur long, you will need to brush daily to stop it from getting tangled or matted. You will also need to bathe them every 6 to 8 weeks.
  4. If you choose to keep their fur clipped short, you will need to trim it (or take your Cocker Spaniel to a groomer) every 6 to 8 weeks.

Their affectionate personality also makes them a little more sensitive. So they may not take kindle to a professional groomer approaching them. If you are going to use a groomer, we recommend starting from when they are puppy and sticking with the same groomer so they can get used to the person.

Cocker Spaniel Fetching

That sensitivity also means that while you are training (even just basic obedience training and potty training), you should opt for positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement as they will respond much better to reward and the use of punishment might make them fear and distrust you.

If you feel you and your family can handle all of this, than you will make a great owner for a Cocker Spaniel. And, even more so, the Cocker Spaniel will make a wonderful new member of your family!

Final Word

The Cocker Spaniel is a good, gentle breed that can be a great addition to a family with children. However, the long, luxurious curls of their coat require a lot more regular maintenance (even if you opt to clip it short) than the shorter haired breeds. So make sure you and your family are prepared to care for them properly.

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