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Everything you need to know about Cocker spaniels

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The Cocker spaniel is the most popular dog breed in the UK and enjoys a global following that makes it a popular pet and working dog around the world.

Cockers are a medium sized spaniel, smaller than some of the other spaniel breeds, and have a regal appearance and a kind, gentle nature.

If you are thinking of getting a Cocker spaniel you should do some homework and find out more about the breed. Cockers are lively and intelligent dogs that are not for everyone and you’ll need to be able to satisfy this breed’s need for exercise, training and mental stimulation. If you are exploring the Cocker spaniel and you’re looking for some insight on the breed, then this article will help.

Cockers have a lot going for them as a breed, they are adaptable dogs and can be suitable for a variety of homes and owners but you’ll need to think carefully before you commit to this lively dog.

Read on to find out ten things that you’ll need to know about the Cocker Spaniel before you rush out to get one.

everything you need to know about cocker spaniels

Cocker Spaniels are intelligent dogs

The Cocker spaniel is one of the most intelligent of dog breeds, ranking 18th in Stanley Coren’s Intelligence of Dogs.

Their cleverness makes the breed versatile and adaptable for a wide range of purposes and circumstances which includes pets and working dogs.

With even the most basic spaniel training, a Cocker will prove to be a more capable dog than many other breeds, and, as a friendly and biddable breed, the Cocker is an easy dog to train well.

To get the best from a Cocker you will need as much as possible about spaniel training and there are many useful spaniel training books that you can get to help with this.

If your training is boring or not suitable for your dog, then a clever dog will do his own things and learn bad habits – you’ll need to develop your dog training skills if you don’t want a Cocker that runs riot.

Cockers are outdoor dogs

Cocker spaniels are recognised a gundogs and, even those that do not come from a working background or pedigree, have a great desire to hunt, run, swim and spend and enjoy the outdoors.

This means that a Cocker spaniel will get wet, dirty, muddy and will make a mess of your car and home if you don’t take care of him. 

Cockers love to carry things around and your shoes, slippers, hats, gloves and many other things will not be where you left them when you share your home with a Cocker. So, if your Jimmy Choos are precious then keep them out of reach or, don’t get a spaniel.

Cocker spaniels are high energy dogs

This is true of all of the spaniel breeds, with perhaps the Clumber spaniel being the least energetic of the bunch.

They love to play games and enjoy time with lively children who are always fun. 

You’ll need to adopt a parenting approach with a Cocker spaniel as they can get over excited which can result in ‘zoomies’, howling, barking and getting carried away.

everything you need to know about cocker spaniels

Cockers are sociable dogs

This is a spaniel breed that loves being around people and other pets. You cannot leave a Cocker alone for long as he will become anxious and unhappy if he is left alone.

This is true of most dogs and many can develop behavioural problems if they are left alone for long periods, so Cockers are not the only breed that is affected.

If you are out at work all day or are unable to provide companionship to a Cocker then this breed is probably not a good choice for you.

Cocker spaniels are great with children

Cockers are really friendly and playful dogs and, as children are generally the same, the two species get along like the proverbial ‘house on fire’.

If you are looking for a breed that gets along well with children then a Cocker would be difficult to beat. Of course, you should never leave any dog alone with young children, regardless of breed.

Grooming is necessary

To keep a Cocker’s coat in good condition and to reduce levels of shedding, you will need to groom him regularly.

Using a dog brush is sufficient to remove dead hair and any tangles. 

Cockers love to get dirty but frequent bathing is not good for any dog, so a wipe down with a towel and allowing him to dry off, before brushing, is normally enough.

Cockers are good at many activities

The most common activity for a Cocker spaniel is that of a gundog – hunting and flushing game for the gun and then retrieving after the shot.

Cockers also feature highly in other canine sports such as agility competitions and events where retrieving and high energy levels are required.

If you are looking for a dog that will be capable in a competition environment then a Cocker spaniel could be a good choice.

everything you need to know about cocker spaniels

Cocker spaniels are tough nuts

 Cockers are a hardy and robust gundog breed and, like most spaniels, enjoy good levels of health if looked after properly.

One of the biggest obstacles to good health in the spaniel breeds is weight. Cockers can put weight on quickly if they are fed the wrong food or too much, without enough exercise. An overweight Cocker can develop health problems.

You may wish to get qualified, professional advice from your vet about the breed before you commit to buy.

Finding a Cocker spaniel puppy

People have differing views on where to get Cockers from but my advice, from years of owning spaniels, is to go by word of mouth.

You will need to do some homework to find a good breeder, but you should make the effort and avoid online adverts and any litters that you see promoted on social media and simliar places.

Sadly, there are many ‘breeders’ who see Cocker spaniels as a way to make money and frequently litters are advertised and produced soley as a means to line the pockets of these people, who have no concerns for the dogs.

Take your time to find a moral and responsible breeder. Ask around, speak to your vet, other Cocker spaniel owners and, when you do find a litter, pause and think about things carefully before you go ahead.

Read more about choosing a puppy and what to look for in our article here.


Getting a dog is a big responsibility and this is true of spaniels. That funny little bundle of fun will quickly grow into an active, lively, high energy adult that will need stimulation, exercise and good levels of care.

Cocker spaniels make great pets but only if you can dedicate time and effort to looking after them properly.

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