• Hawkins Animal Hospital
  • 550 Ontario St South Unit 5A,
  • Milton,
  • Ontario,
  • L9T 5E4
  • Phone: (905) 875-6888

Cocker Spaniel

"The Merry Spaniel"

Photo of Cocker Spaniel


Although the Cocker was originally developed in the United Kingdom, today's American version is so different from the English, they are now separated as Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel (or in the UK, American Cocker Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel!). Bred to flush upland game birds, particularly the woodcock from which the breed gained its name, the Cocker's compact size allowed it to go easily into the brush. Due to its heavy coat and competition from other intense canine hunters, few are used in a hunting capacity today, but hunt tests allow owners to see if their dogs do retain the instinct.


Originally a merry and vivacious breed, the Cocker's reputation has been sullied by poor breeding practices and for a period of time they were considered shy with a tendency to bite; a poor label for what was once a wonderful companion breed. Now dedicated breeders are intent upon keeping the “merry” in Cockers. This is a breed where it really pays to do your homework ahead of time and investigate the best breeders. A Cocker from the right lines will enhance your life and keep you smiling with his constantly wagging tail. Well-bred Cockers are friendly, happy and loving. They enjoy the company of other dogs. Their noses can sometimes lead them into trouble: the saying “curiosity killed the cat” has nothing on Cockers! If bored, they can find outlets for their energy such as entertaining the neighbors with a barking, whining solo, digging for gold or other treasures in the yard or de-feathering a pillow (welcome home!).


The Cocker's long, glamorous coat can be black, red, buff, chocolate, black and tan or parti-colored black, red or chocolate with white and/or tan markings. The little docked tail wags constantly. In Europe and other places, docking is illegal so the tail is long with feathering.


“Hey, we'll do whatever you want to do,” is the claim of Cockers, be it flyball, agility, tricks, obedience, therapy, freestyle or simply catch with a ball or a Frisbee – whatever strikes your fancy. The important thing is spending time together. With Cockers a busy mind – and body – makes a content dog. Be cheerful and your pup will be too. Take a break and just enjoy each other.

Grooming & Care

Ears need to be cleaned frequently. Check with a veterinarian or your dog's breeder to learn the proper way. Daily brushing keeps the coat healthy and shiny and finds mats at an early stage. A matted Cocker is not pretty, feels uncomfortable and likely has health problems.

Health Concerns

Eye anomalies can be a problem, along with occurrences of hip dysplasia and epilepsy.

Famous Cocker Spaniel

Flush, Elizabeth Barrett's Cocker who disdained her husband Robert Browning; Lady of "Lady and the Tramp."

Ideal Owner
Activity Level Active
Schedule Full-time but comes home for lunch
Personal Style Easygoing and casual, Inclusive, Playful,
Training Style Positive, Creative and fun
Home Fenced yard or access to one
Children Any age is fine
Experience Not necessary
Quick Facts
Size Small
Grooming Consider a professional groomer
Exercise High - needs to walk every day, plus some running and play
Training Eager to please, Learns well but bores easily
Temperment Goofy and playful, Active
Challenges Barking, digging or other self-entertainment can become a problem if the dog is left alone for too long.
Height 13 to 17 inches
Weight 22 to 28 pounds
Life 10 to 14 years
Home Alone Bores easily and can get into mischief
With Kids Fine if raised with them
With Strangers Friendly
Availability Highly available - check breeders and consider breed-rescues

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.