cocker spaniel puppy

Choosing a spaniel puppy

Spaniel puppies are wonderful, excitable bundles of fur that are great fun and playful. They grow into active, energetic adults who need lots of exercise and stimulation.

Choosing a spaniel puppy is not a difficult thing to do but there are some precautions and steps to take and other things to be aware of when making a choice of a spaniel puppy.

choosing a spaniel puppy

When you are choosing a spaniel puppy then, unless there is a genuine and specific reason not to, you should always get a puppy and avoid an older dog.

A puppy should be obtained directly from the breeder and never from a ‘middleman’ such as a petshop.

Pet shops and similar should be avoided like the plague.  Never, ever get a puppy from a pet shop, no matter how sorry you feel for the animals that are on display.

In some countries it is impossible to get a dog this way, but are many where you can still buy puppies via this awful method.

Puppies sold from pet shops have been stripped away from their mothers and often littermates, they are generally living in poor conditions, in cages, with very little human interaction which leads to psychological and social isolation and deprivation of the puppy.

It is always important when choosing a spaniel puppy, or any other puppy for that matter, that you get to see the puppy’s mother and the surroundings where the puppy has been raised in the early stages of his life.

Breeders of spaniel puppies

The prospective spaniel puppy owner should choose a breeder carefully. 

Remember that this little dog will spend the rest of his life with you and you will want to make sure that he is the right fit for you and a responsible breeder will also wish for this to be the case.

When choosing a breeder try to look for referrals or recommendations from people that you know who may already have a spaniel or who know someone that has.

Do some homework and don’t act in haste.

If you cannot do this then another route would be to look at some of the publications that feature spaniel competitions.

Find out who the successful competitors are, drop them a line or give them a call. Let them know that you are new to spaniels ( or old ) depending on how you are, and that you are looking for a puppy.

National Kennel Clubs and breed societies can also be useful sources of information to find and locate good spaniel breeders and you can check with them for advice.

Often they will be able to refer you to a breeder that they know and trust.

are cocker spaniels good family dogs

Ask around when you are looking for a dog

choosing a spaniel puppyMy latest Cocker spaniel puppy, Nimrod, who’ll you see on the Youtube videos and is pictured in this post, was found this way.

My niece breeds Labradors and she is actively involved in the working dog circuit in Northumberland. A phone call to her put us in touch with a well known and respected breeder of Cocker Spaniels located a few hours drive from home.

It is worth taking the time to find a good and responsible breeder.

When speaking to a spaniel breeder, you should be thinking of asking questions such as….

“How many litters do you have every year?” and “Where do you keep the puppies?” also questions such as ” What are you feeding them?”, “Have they been vaccinated?”, “Who are the puppy’s parents?”.  

You need to get a ‘feel’ for the breeder and a responsible breeder will not mind such questioning, indeed it’s likely that they will also have several questions for you as they’ll want their dogs to goto good homes.

If a breeder shows annoyance or gives you the impression that they are doing you a favor then I’d recommend that you move on. Thankfully there are fewer and fewer of these types, but they still exist.

making a choice of spaniel puppy

Deciding which puppy to get

Once you’ve done your research and have located a potentially suitable litter of spaniels (whether they be Cocker, Springer or other breeds the thinking is the same), you should make arrangements to visit them.

Normally you would seek to do this when the puppies are around eight weeks old but, in some cases, a good breeder will let you visit when the puppies are younger ( although you won’t be able to take a puppy until he is at least eight weeks).

There are several things that you should consider when visiting the breeder:

  • Do you like the look of the breeder? No, I don’t mean do you find them attractive..! I mean do they seem trustworthy? What’s your ‘gut’ instinct, are they ‘shady’, ‘wideboy’ or do you think they’re okay?
  • What are the puppy’s surroundings like?Are they clean? If the breeder couldn’t be bothered to clean up when they knew that you were coming then what sort of upbringing have the puppies had?
  • Do the puppies look healthy?
  • Are they lively? – If they’ve just been fed then chances are they’ll be asleep.

What to look for and what to ask

choosing a spaniel puppyIf possible and the puppies are old enough, then try to see the puppies outside and watch their reactions to the surroundings. How are they with you? 

Watch out for the puppy that bustles around, plays with the others, he could be wrestling with the other pups, instigating play or generally be involved in whatever game or adventure that the puppies are involved with.

Take note of the puppy that comes up to you of his own accord, sniffs your hand or leg or tries to climb up your trousers.

You should try to find the puppy that shows little nerves and is not afraid of playing and exploring.

Take your time, choose with care. Ask the breeder which one he or she would keep if they got the chance.

You also need to like the look of the puppy. Does he have a kind, soft eye. Does he look inteliigent? I know this is a bit of a daft question but, your instinct can play a big part too.

You need to like the look of a puppy as well, otherwise you might not get on as well as you’d like to.

how many puppies do cocker spaniels have

Buying a spaniel puppy.

Once you have decided on which puppy you would like the next best thing to do is…nothing.

Spend a little time with the breeder, let them know that you are interested in the dog and then take some time to breath deeply and sleep on the decision.

This is called being responsible. There is no space for rash decisions when choosing a spaniel puppy.

A good breeder will understand and will accommodate you as long as you don’t keep them waiting too long for confirmation.

This is one advantage of seeing the puppies when they are younger, a few weeks before they are ready. 

Stay in contact with the breeder and get to know them better. 

You should ask further questions about feeding, general care such as innoculations, housing, walking, training etc.

Once you are fully decided about the puppy ( and you should not wait too long for a good litter will sell quickly) then you should confirm with the breeder.

Most breeders nowadays will ask for a deposit, this will normally be in the region of several hundred dollars/pounds, the current price for a good working Cocker spaniel puppy being in the region of $1200 or £900 to £1000, on average.

Speak to the breeder about making the puppy’s transition to it’s new home as easy as possible.

An experienced breeder will have several techniques to help the puppy settle into his new home.

It can be a trauma for a young puppy leaving his mother and kennel mates and if you can maintain his routine as much as possible then this will help him to settle in.

basic spaniel training

Collecting a spaniel puppy

The day has come when it is time for you to collect your spaniel puppy from the breeder.

Although you’ll be excited and, if children are involved then levels could be off the richter scale, it is important to try and temper this and stay in control.

The breeder will probably give you something from the puppy’s kennel, this could be a teddy bear, soft toy or piece of bedding.

This is really important as it carries the smell of the puppy’s surroundings and you should treat it as a very special item for the puppy.

It will help to reassure him and will be his ‘comfort blanket/item’ for a while.

Let him have it in his bed, let him carry it around. It will be very special to him.

Make sure that you have somewhere safe and comfortable for him in the car, where he will not be thrown around.

It’s likely that he won’t have travelled before so we need to keep him nice and safe and calm.

Your puppy's new home

You should also have all of his sleeping arrangements ready at his new home.

He should have his own place, bed where he can retire and feel safe and secure.

The breeder will provide you with all of the paperwork and any registration documents for your area and any documents for vaccinations that the puppy may have had to date.

The puppy should have been wormed once or twice and this is something that you will need to continue, in line with your vet’s recommendations.

Puppies and older dogs can contract serious illnesses if not vaccinated regularly.

This is something that you must do to prevent your spaniel puppy from becoming ill – some illnesses can be fatal to dogs and it’s really important to vaccinate.

Speak to your vet who will advise on this as, depending on where you live requirements will differ but usual illnesses that require vaccinations are distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvo virus – all very nasty and not something that you want your puppy to have to deal with.

It’s a good idea to make an appointment to take your puppy to your vet a short time after he arrives at your home – for a check up, registration and vaccinations.


When you are looking for a dog don’t be hasty. You really need to be sure that you can provide a caring home for a spaniel before you commit.

Puppies are great fun but they are baby dogs and not toys. 

You’ll need to provide, food, shelter, healthcare, exercise, love, training and a lot more for many years.

Our articles can help you with all of these things and you might want to read more before you choose a puppy.

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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