Cocker Spaniel.

Other Names:

Cocker

Size:

Medium

Dog Group:

Sporting group

Coat Length:

Long

Energy:

Medium

Kid Friendly:

High

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years

Available in these colours:

Black

Blue Roan

Chocolate

Golden

Liver Roan & Tan

Characteristics & Tendencies:

TENDENCY TO DIG10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

SNORING10%

10%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

DROOLING52%

52%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

EXERCISE NEEDS30%

30%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

GROOMING NEEDS93%

93%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

BARKING93%

93%

|
LOW

|
MEDIUM

|
HIGH

APARTMENT FRIENDLY

HYPOALLERGENIC

About the Cocker Spaniel

Gentle and affectionate, the Cocker Spaniel makes an easy-going, family-friendly companion. The medium-sized breed has a regal appearance, with long, feathered ears and a back that slopes towards its tail. It has a long, silky coat that comes in a variety of colours (which does require a fair bit of grooming!) But don’t let that deter you from its loving, merry nature, being a particularly great pet for owners who like to lavish affection on their pets. 

Cockers are eager playmates for kids and are easily trained as companions and athletes. They are highly intelligent, and love to please. These active dogs also love to swim, so take care when water is in the vicinity to ensure their safety. As they were originally bred as hunting dogs, they love staying active. Cocker Spaniels are large enough to be sporty, but compact enough to be portable.

FEEDING

How much do Cocker Spaniels eat?

1.5 – 2.5 cups of food a day

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TEMPERAMENT

Are they kid-friendly?

Good with children, all interactions should be supervised by a responsible adult

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EXERCISE

How much exercise?

20-40 mins daily exercise

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LIVING

Do they need a lot of space?

As long as they get regular exercise, they do not need large spaces to roam

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Top health issues

What are the most common health issues for Cocker Spaniels?

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)
  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Patellar Luxation

IN DETAIL

Common Cocker Spaniel diseases & conditions, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment in detail:

Hip Dysplasia
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)
Epilepsy
Allergies
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Patellar Luxation
Hip Dysplasia

Due to their active lifestyles, hip dysplasia is not a rare occurrence in Cocker Spaniels. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that causes the hip joints to form improperly and is the primary cause of painful hip osteoarthritis in dogs. It generally occurs in large or giant breed dogs, however can also occur in smaller breeds as well. It is usually affected by factors such as excessive growth rate, types of exercise, improper weight and nutrition. Symptoms of hip dysplasia may show in dogs when they are as young as four months of age, whilst for others the disease may develop in conjunction with osteoarthritis as they age. These symptoms may include decreased activity, difficulting or reluctance rising, jumping or running, lameness in the hind end, loss of thigh muscle mass, pain and stiffness.

Hip dysplasia is diagnosed radiographically by the presence of degenerative changes and/or subluxation of the hip joint(s). There are multiple treatment options ranging from lifestyle modifications to surgery. These may include physical therapy, joint supplements or anti-inflammatory medications, or common surgeries such as double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), femoral head ostectomy (FHO) or total hip replacement (THR).

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is an immune system disease in which the body attacks and destroys its own red blood cells. In canines with AIHA, red blood cells are still being manufactured in the bone marrow, but once released into the circulation, they have a shorter-than-normal life span. AIHA may be primary (idiopathic) or it may be secondary. Primary AIHA is associated with certain breeds and is presumed to have a genetic component. Breeds particularly prone to the disease include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers and Shih-Tzus. Secondary AIHA may be caused by infections, blood parasites, toxins and bee stings. Symptoms of AIHA generally include pale gums, weakness, lethargy, difficulty breathing, poor appetite and vomiting. If you suspect your dog is suffering from anemia, it is advised that you make an appointment with your veterinarian so he can be assessed. If your dog is diagnosed with AIHA, treatment methods may include blood transfusion, immunosuppressive therapy and other specific treatments depending on the underlying disease your dog may be suffering from.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic condition causing repeated seizures, and is the most common chronic neurological disorder in canines. The prevalence of epilepsy is significantly greater in purebred dogs versus mixed breed dogs, where males are affected more than females. The condition can be inherited (genetic or idiopathic epilepsy), caused by structural problems in the brain (structural epilepsy) or stem from an unknown cause (epilepsy of unknown cause). Your vet may suspect that your dog has epilepsy if they have at least two unprovoked epileptic seizures more than 24 hours apart. Seizures may also be caused by eating poison, liver disease, low or high blood sugar, kidney disease, strokes or brain cancer.

Allergies

There are a number of allergies in dogs. The main types of allergies include skin allergies, food allergies and environmental allergies, which all pose challenges for dogs and their owners. It is important to note that symptoms for different allergies can overlap as well.

Skin allergies are the most common type of allergic reactions, and are primarily caused by flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies or environmental allergens. Food allergies may range in symptoms from skin conditions (hives, facial swelling, itchiness), gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) or a combination of both. Perhaps the most alarming of all types of canine allergies is an acute allergic reaction. Dogs, like people, may go into anaphylactic shock if they have a severe reaction to an allergen.

The best way to treat an allergy is avoidance of the cause and allergen. In addition to any necessary lifestyle modifications, your veterinarian may prescribe medication for your dog to help control the signs associated with the allergic reaction.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a late onset, inherited eye disease affecting many breeds of dogs. It affects the retina, which is the picture screen at the back of the eye, and causes the blood vessels of the retina to atrophy and die. The first symptom noticed is usually dilated pupils – a ‘glow’ or increased ‘eye shine’, and the dog may appear to have difficulty seeing in the dark or dusk (“night blind”). Breeds commonly affected include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Labrador and Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers. There is no cure for PRA, however an eye exam by a registered Ophthalmologist will diagnose the disease. DNA testing for late consent PRA is available, and is done by taking a cheek swab of your Border Collie. The PRA DNA test identifies one type of PRA, which is related to night blindness. There are another two types of PRA, for which there are currently no DNA tests available.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a knee cap problem in dogs. It occurs when the dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated from its normal anatomic position in the groove of the thigh bone (femur). When the kneecap is dislocated from the groove of the thigh bone, it can only be returned to its normal position once the quadriceps muscles in the hind legs of the animal relax and lengthen. It is for this reason that most dogs with the condition will hold up their hind legs for a few minutes.

Feeding

How much does a Cocker Spaniel eat?

Selecting the best diet can be a matter of trial and for the individual dog. The key is to pay attention to food labels for quality ingredients. The owner can seek advice from their dog’s veterinarian regarding any particular sensitivities or needs the Cocker has. Choose a high-quality food and give it a fair tryout. A chicken and rice–based food has long been a good starting point for Cocker food trials, but consider individual sensitivities, likes, and needs. Maintain proper weight, but be careful not to overfeed. Groomers and veterinarians often see overweight Cockers.

Shedding

How often does the fur fall off?

Cocker Spaniels are average shedders. They do have an elaborate coat, which requires grooming at least a couple of hours weekly to keep it in good shape. Some professional trimming from time to time is needed.

Cocker Spaniels require regular, thorough grooming. Sessions missed are not easily made up and may result in tangles or mats in the Cocker’s coat. A metal, professional-quality dog comb with fine and medium spacing for the teeth is a necessity. You can follow combing with a gentle slicker brush, but the comb is key. Loose hair should be carefully removed with the comb, making sure you are clear and can see through to the skin everywhere. If you encounter snarls, do not pull through; rather, pick snarls apart, starting at the tips of the coat and then comb through. Be cautious when combing ears; the skin at the edges is thin and can be pierced by too-vigorous combing. The Cocker requires thorough bathing with quality dog shampoo. Thorough rinsing and re-rinsing are crucial, as soap residue can cause skin irritation. Dry carefully with a blow-dryer on not too hot a setting. Learn the procedure for cleaning and drying the ear canals. During bathing, check the Cocker’s skin for any inflamed spots and get treatment. It is key to learn grooming procedures yourself and/or enlist the services of a professional groomer who likes and is experienced in grooming the breed.

Grooming

Are Border Collies high maintenance?

A Cocker Spaniel’s long ears are both a part of his beauty and a potential health problem. Be sure to check your Cocker’s ears every week for infections.

Keeping the Cocker coat beautiful is expensive and a lot of work. Plan on paying a professional groomer and on brushing the coat every day.

Grooming is an intense — and potentially expensive — proposition for the Cocker Spaniel. Most owners opt to have a professional groomer bathe, brush, and trim their dogs’ coats every six to eight weeks, and prices are high for this time-intensive breed. Daily brushing at home is also necessary to keep the coat free of tangles and mats. If you are hesitant about a breed that requires substantial grooming, the Cocker is not for you.

Some owners opt to clip the coat short to make care easier. Even so, trimming and bathing every six to eight weeks is necessary to keep the Cocker clean and the coat short.

Unfortunately, the Cocker has a reputation with groomers (and veterinarians) as being less than cooperative. This touchy attitude usually stems from lack of training to accept handling. Positive, kind lessons on how to act on the grooming table or at the veterinarian’s office are needed.

The nails need to be trimmed once a month (or at grooming sessions), and the ears checked once a week for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. The Cocker Spaniel is prone to ear infections, so it’s essential to be vigilant. Wipe the ears out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent problems.

Their coats must be brushed regularly. The excess hair around the ear passages and beneath the ears must be removed to ensure the ears are adequately ventilated and that no infections set in. The hair around their feet and that between their pads also needs regular attention. They should be stripped out 3 or 4 times a year by a professional groomer. It is possible, however, to learn how to do this yourself.

Exercise

How much exercise does a Cocker Spaniel need?

A daily romp in the yard along with a brisk 30-minute walk can keep him happy and trim.

The Cocker Spaniel is a sporting breed and should maintain good muscle tone, although the breed is not one that needs a lot of exercise for the purpose of discharging an abundance of energy. Cockers often enjoy getting their exercise by means of retrieving a ball or other toy, or accompanying their people on a walk. They very much enjoy spending time with their people, so walking is a good exercise option. If the Cocker has a canine companion, they can play to exercise each other. The Cocker Spaniel wants to please people and enjoys play, so these are tools you can use to encourage exercise.

Vet Visits

How often should a Cocker Spaniel visit the vet?

Veterinary care is essential to a dog’s health and wellbeing, however the frequency of treatment and checkups will depend on the dog.

Scheduled six-monthly health check visits with your vet are important to ensure your Cocker Spaniel is healthy and happy throughout all life stages. In these annual visits, your vet will complete a physical examination, take your dog’s temperature and check his heartbeat, among other things. Routine maintenance for your dog gives you a chance to track your dog’s growth and development and discuss any concerns with your vet, and forms a key part of preventative care.

Family Suitability

Are Cocker Spaniels kid-friendly and sociable with humans?

The typical Cocker Spaniel is gentle, a loving and trustworthy family companion who is good with children, other pets, and the elderly.

One of the reasons the Cocker Spaniel is so popular is that he makes a good family dog. He gets along well with children — as long as he is raised with them and the kids are kind and respectful to animals. But because he is a sensitive dog, all interactions between the Cocker and children should be supervised by a responsible adult.

Trainability

Are Cocker Spaniels difficult to train?

Regarding training the Cocker Spaniel, the good news is that in general this is a people-pleasing breed. They want to be “good” in order to please their people, and they are generally sensitive and responsive to correction and a disapproving tone in their owner’s voice. Harsh means of correction are not usually warranted, nor are they productive in the Cocker. The breed enjoys the challenge of performance activities, and it is a good idea to try out the available activities and events to see what interests your individual Cocker and follow through with training. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Cockers are rather easily motivated with food rewards and with play and praise.

Harsh training methods will make him fearful, so be sure to use gentle, consistent training to get the best results.

Compatibility with other pets

Do Cocker Spaniels get along with other dogs or cats?

The Cocker Spaniel also gets along with other family pets (given proper training and introductions), including dogs, cats, and small animals.

Need for company

How often do they need to be around humans?

The Cocker is not pleased to be left alone outdoors for the day, and he may respond by digging or barking to keep himself amused. He’s most content when he’s with his family, participating in the group’s activities.

Cocker Spaniels can suffer from separation anxiety and best enjoy being in a household environment around people.

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