English Cocker Spaniel

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black, red, golden, liver (chocolate), black & tan, liver & tan; black & white, orange & white, liver & white, lemon & white; black-white & tan, liver-white & tan; blue roan, orange roan, lemon roan, liver roan, blue roan & tan, liver roan & tan
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Pros Cons

  • great apartment dog

  • cheerful and out-going

  • friendly with kids, dogs and even familiar cats

  • wonderful hunter

  • needs significant amount of physical exercise

  • rather extensive maintenance requirements


The English Cocker Spaniel is a merry, loyal and affectionate medium-sized breed native to England. Being a proficient hunter of feathered game it also has all necessary prerequisites for becoming a perfect pet for active families and individuals. Although it has already won international recognition it still enjoys the greatest popularity in its homeland.


Spaniels of various types have existed from time immemorial. For instance, Chaucer and Shakespeare repeatedly mentioned these excellent sporting dogs in their works. Initially there were two groups of spaniels: land spaniels and water spaniels. The English Cocker is one of the oldest land varieties, which traces back its ancestry to the authentic spaniels of Spain. On the whole, it differed from its counterparts only by more moderate size, which made this dog more appropriate for hunting such smaller quarry as birds. Actually the English Cocker Spaniel owes its name to its exceptional abilities in hunting woodcock.

Up until the end of the XIX century it was a common phenomenon that a singular litter of spaniels had puppies of various sizes. It was upon breeders to choose the best usage for the pups in their litters, depending on their physique, temperament and robustness. But at some point they started classifying the spaniels into separate breeds: the English Springer, the Welsh Springer, the Cocker, the Field, the Sussex, the Clumber, and the Irish Water Spaniel.

All spaniels whose weight was less than 11 kilograms became known as Cocker Spaniels. But because of some disagreement over the weight appointment eventually canine experts arrived to a decision to group these dogs in concordance with their overall exterior rather than only with their size. Subsequently the England Spaniel Club developed specific standards for each of the different spaniel varieties.

The specimens of the English Cocker Spaniel that were brought to America in the early XX century became the foundation stock for creation of the American Cocker Spaniel. But it was only in 1946 when the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognised these two types as unique breeds. In this country the English Cocker Spaniel yields to its American version in popularity although it’s still widely utilised by American hunters in its original role. Nonetheless in its native land this gentle, frisky and out-going dog has a large army of loyal fanciers who valued it as both hunting and companion dog.


The most prominent trait of the English Cocker Spaniel is its invariable cheerfulness. This dog thrives on human companionship and it’s usually eager to make friends with any well-disposed person. It feels itself deeply unhappy if it has to spend long hours on its own. It may cause such behavioural problems as unreasonable barking and destructiveness so this breed won’t make an ideal pet for full-time workers. It’s well-known for its fondness of children with whom it’s always ready to frisk and run. As with any dog proper socialisation is of the utmost importance for the English Cocker Spaniel especially if you want it to get along with your kids.

The English Cocker Spaniel is usually highly trustful of all people and will never snap without some serious reason. It’s prone to greet newcomers too vigorously and requires obedience training to learn to control its impulsive nature. Because of such all-around friendliness this breed suits poorly for the guarding tasks. Nevertheless it’s sensitive and alert enough to become a fairly decent watchdog.

The vast majority of the English Cocker Spaniels like spending time with their counterparts and very seldom have aggressive issues with them. Although it can coexist successfully with dogs of any size and temperament this dog gets on much better with canines similarly lively and sociable disposition. Be mindful though that this breed preserves much of its hunting drive and won’t make an optimal choice for households with pre-existing cats and other non-canine pets.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· cancer;

· eye problems;

· yeast infection of the ears;

· canine hip dysplasia;

· patella luxation;

· auto immune hemolytic anemia (AIHA);

· allergies;

· skin problems;

· canine epilepsy;

· rage syndrome;

· hypothyroidism;

· liver disease;

· congestive heart failure (CHF);

· cardio myopathy.


The English Cocker Spaniel has rather sizeable grooming requirements. The dog needs regular thorough brushing as well as bathing. Lots of owners choose to have their dogs periodically trimmed by professional groomers in order to reduce the amount of daily maintenance. This breed sheds averagely. The fur around the dog’s rear end, armpits, ears and chest tangles really easily so it’s still essential to brush the English Cocker Spaniel at least every 2 to 3 days.

The breed possesses large floppy ears that are completely hidden from view by thick feathering. So it’s no wonder that they trap dirt, debris and water, which create favourable conditions for various infections and irritations. Clean the ears of your pet once a week and clip excessive hair in this area on the regular basis. The eyes of this dog are prone to tear and should be also cleaned when necessary.


The combination of great intelligence and obedient nature makes the English Cocker Spaniel a quick learner. This dog absolutely craves for attention it gets during training sessions and always does its best to please the owner. Reward-based techniques produce the fastest effect in the work with this breed especially if they involve lots of food incentives.

Be mindful though that it stands out for its heightened sensitiveness and takes hard the slightest demonstration of roughhousing during training. Avoid punishing your dog for its occasional mistakes otherwise you can lose its respect and obedience.


The English Cocker Spaniel is a lively dog that needs a great deal of exercise to stay in a good shape physically and mentally. A short daily walk isn’t enough to satisfy its desire to move and explore. Make sure to give your pet a chance to roam off-leash in a securely fenced territory as often as possible.

This dog is always willing to participate in such classic canine games as fetch or flyball. It’s also a good idea to enrol it in some kind of obedience course in order to engage its busy mind. The English Cocker Spaniel who has to lead a sedate lifestyle will most likely develop propensities to immoderate barking, nervousness and hyper activity indoors.