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Cocker Spaniel

The friendly, affectionate and loving Cocker SpanielThe friendly, affectionate and loving Cocker Spaniel

Gentle, affectionate, and loving, Cocker spaniels are the perfect family pet, and they also fit comfortably into any home.

These little guys, also known as “Cockers” are absolutely stunning to look at with a personality to match.

These fur babies are sweet, loyal, and playful--Perhaps the sweetest dogs you will ever meet.

They actually make terrible watchdogs because they’re so friendly to everyone that they meet.

While on the larger size of what we consider small dogs, we have included them here because they still fall within the broad definition of small.

Cocker spaniels are known for their silky coat, their long, adorable floppy ears, and their dark, almond shape, beautiful eyes. 

It is traditional for Cockers to have dark, brown eyes with an almost almond shape around the rim.

However, Merle Cocker spaniels can have beautiful blue eyes.

They also have a very compact body, the smallest of all the sporting dog breeds, and also the smallest of the spaniels.

These dogs are extremely special, and can be the absolute perfect dog if they are bought from a reputable breeder.  

The care of them determines the length of their life. Raising them in a stress free environment can also prolong their life.

These adorable little furry friends have had popularity on their side, and are very popular amongst puppy mills, breeders, Internet sites, etc.

One of the most important things when looking into a Cocker Spaniel is to get your puppy from a very good breeder.

After that, you need to start training young and keep it consistent until they are full growth.

If you are not serious about training your dog then the Cocker is not for you.

Without proper training, and good breeding, the Cocker spaniel can actually grow up to be aggressive, and can bite or snap at their owner.

However with the correct training, you can have the sweetest, friendliest dog that anyone could ask for.

Quick Facts

Other Names Used: Cocker, American Cocker Spaniel (American breed outside of America), English Cocker Spaniel (British breed outside of Britain)

Affiliation: AKC Sporting


Height: 14-15 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 20-30 lbs

Coat Type: Silky, smooth hair

Colors: Red, Tri-color, Brown, Tan, Silver, Black, and White & Buff

Country of Origin: England, said to have originated in Spain

Activity Level: Moderate to high

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Good with Children: It’s kind of a toss up depending on the breeder, but typically, yes

Good with Other Pets: Yes


American Cocker SpanielAmerican Cocker Spaniel

Spaniels have been around for a very long time and have been incorporated into literature by well know authors such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. 

They are thought to have entered into England during the Roman invasion around 55 BC.

Cocker spaniels are said to date back to the 14th century and originated in Spain. It is said that they may have been one of the very few dogs to come to America on the Mayflower.

These dogs were essentially bred to hunt game bird, especially one game bird called the “ Woodcock”. This is where the Cocker spaniel got its name.    

Cocker spaniels did not always just have one name for the whole litter. The smaller dogs were called “Cockers” and the larger pups in the litter were called “ Springers”.

The smaller dogs were good at hunting the Woodcock and the taller litter mates flushed the flying birds from their hiding spots.

In the early days of the breed, cockers were divided into two groups:  the land and water varieties. The water varieties hunted water fowl and naturally the land dogs hunted on good old terra firma.   

From the land dogs, there the breed created many new varieties that we see today including larger ones as well as the toys.   

By the time dog shows began springing up, spaniels were not well organized into specific breeds. 

For example, a puppy might be entered into a show as a cocker one year and then the same dog would be entered as a springer the next year. 

By the late 1880s, the first of the American cockers were beginning to emerge with OBO II being considered to be the father of the American cocker.  He was the offspring of a Sussex spaniel sire and a field spaniel dam.

At a Glance Dog Breed Profile

Breed TraitsRating
Affection Level
Friendliness Towards Strangers
Good with Children
Good with Other Dogs
Exercise Needed
Ease of Training
Watch Dog Ability
Grooming Requirements
Cold Tolerant
Heat Tolerant

Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?
Here's a little help in understanding them

  • Playfulness:   Most Playful = 5    Least Playful = 1
  • Affection:  Most Affectionate = 5   Least Affectionate = 1
  • Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5  Least = 1
  • Good With Children:  Great= 5    Not Good with Children = 1
  • Good With Dogs:  Great = 5   Not Good Around Dogs = 1
  • Exercise Required:  Extensive Daily Exercise = 1  Minimal = 1
  • Ease of Training:  Very Easy = 5     Difficult = 1
  • Watch Dog:  Excellent Watch Dog = 5  Minimal = 1
  • Grooming:  Time Consuming = 5   Minimal = 1
  • Shedding:  Heavy Shedder = 5     Minimal = 1
  • Cold Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5   Poor Tolerance = 1
  • Heat Tolerance:  Well Tolerated = 5  Poor Tolerance = 1


Cockers are sweet, friendly, compassionate, and gentle. They are pretty much the perfect dog, that is, if you get them from a good breeder. This cannot be stressed enough with this breed.

After the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp, the popularity of this breed skyrocketed.

Everyone wanted one so they were just bred carelessly which led to aggressive Cockers with bad temperaments.

With this being said, there were the Cocker breeders that did not like the bad reputation that the careless breeders were giving the playful pups.

Therefore, they worked extra hard to correct the situation. It is still important to this day to find a responsible breeder that maintains the breeds’ standard friendliness instead of the breeders that almost ruined the breed.

Cocker spaniels have the reputation for being very sociable and friendly, which is absolutely true if they are very well socialized as young puppies.

Without this important socialization, they may become shy as adults. These pups are pretty easy to train, but may be hard to housebreak as they have the tendency to be a little stubborn.

Training is very important though or your perfect pup may become aggressive and territorial.

Cocker Spaniel Puppies

These little cuties can live pretty much anywhere and do well with apartment dwellers. They do however need quite of bit of exercise such as daily walks or playtime.

The Cocker is very versatile and adaptive and will love to do whatever you do, as long as they are getting to spend time with their favorite person.

This behavior is achieved by letting your dog know that you are the alpha-dog and that you are in charge.

However, any dog, no matter how friendly, can develop bad behaviors when they are left alone for long periods of time.

A bored dog can start digging, ripping things up, biting furniture, etc. With the proper care and training, you can have your perfect dream dog.


The Cocker spaniel is known for their soft, smooth, silky hair. Many people would pay money to have the hair like a Cocker. Cocker spaniels are not the easiest dogs when it comes to grooming, which is why many owners like to keep their dog in the puppy cut.

Even with the puppy cut, your Cocker needs to be groomed, bathed, and checked about every two weeks.

However if you want your pet to have the long and luxurious coat that is seen in the show ring, then you will need to maintain and groom every single week. Most people take their fur baby to the groomers, but you can do it yourself as long as you are patient and persistent.

Cocker spaniels are also known for their beautiful long flowing ears, and those need their own special care too.

Their ears are prone to infection, so you need check them routinely for any unusual odor or color.

Also the ears need to be removed of all excess hair to lessen the chance of infection. A cotton ball placed in the ear before bath time helps prevent water from entering the ear.  Wet ear canals are fertile grounds for infection to begin. 

Other than that, all is needed is the occasional nail clipping, and teeth brushing.

Health Concerns

This breed can be prone to serious health related problems and we cannot stress enough that you should only purchase from a reputable breeder and never a pet store to assure you are getting a healthy puppy. 

Some Breed-related health concerns: deafness, skin problems, hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, eye and ear problems, patellar luxation, urinary tract problems.


  • Friendly, loving, affectionate
  • Calm, gentle, loves everyone
  • Very sociable, likes to be around people
  • Good with other pets and children


  • Can be stubborn
  • Housebreaking can be difficult
  • Hair can be hard to maintain
  • Many health problems

More Resources

Breed Club:

The American Spaniel Club, Inc.


The Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed ProfileThe Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Profile

Books Worth Checking Out

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