English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel, in fact a distinct breed from the plain old Cocker Spaniel, is a brilliant family pet. Originally bred to hunt, and still quite able, these steady dogs charm owners with their loving personalities.

With gorgeous, silky coats, these dogs do require some special grooming. However, their personality can more than make up for their diva status. Read on to learn more about the English Cocker Spaniel.

Description of the English Cocker Spaniel

These dogs retain their classic lines. Solid frames made for hunting support a long head, all of it covered in flowing locks of hair. Most English Cockers’ eyes are irresistibly large and doleful, making it nearly impossible to deny them a belly rub.

The English Cocker Spaniel’s coat is soft and silky. It traditionally reaches the floor and highlights the breed’s long ears. However, some people keep them smartly trimmed. The breed comes in many colors, including black, black and tan, blue roan, golden, lemon roan, orange and white, and liver. Their coats may be solid or have ticked, white, or tan markings.

Despite their glamour, these are hunters through and through. Spaniels are some of the oldest sporting dogs, meant to hunt birds. Cocker Spaniels came from Spanish stock, but breeders in the United Kingdom developed them to hunt gamecock on land.

The English Cocker Spaniel is the more traditional hunting variety. The American style Cocker Spaniel is a smaller breed, more specialized to life as a pet.

Life Expectancy and Size

This breed generally lives into their early teens, generally reaching between 12 and 14 years.

As some of the smaller sporting dogs, these dogs fall between the small and medium size categories. English Cocker Spaniels stand between 15 and 17 inches, weighing 26 to 34 pounds.

Protective Ability

This breed is simply too friendly to be a guard dog. Their lovable personality is reminiscent of family favorites like the Golden Retriever. Having said that, some Cockers enjoy patrolling the perimeter of a property and may bark at intruders. They may function as proficient watchdogs.


Training is usually a breeze with this breed. With a regimen based in reward and relationship, Cockers can pick up new ideas quickly. English Cockers are so smart that they’re a favorite with many professional trainers!

The biggest prerequisite is a positive attitude. These are well-meaning and good-hearted dogs. Treat them as such and they will reward your efforts. Always praise the English Cocker Spaniel for good behavior and avoid resorting to harshness.

Socialization is important as with all dogs. It can particularly help to avoid excessive timidness, which some individuals face.

Energy Level

It’s easy to think that such an easygoing dog does not need much exercise. However, these are hunting dogs, especially the English version of the Cocker Spaniel. Most pups will jump at the chance of new activities. Regular exercise is a must. Alert and happy, they love just about anything their owners are doing.

What Living with an English Cocker Spaniel is Like

Most English Cockers make steady family pets. They are naturally sweet and enjoy the company of their humans as well as other animals.

These are not troublemakers, but reliable companions. This is especially true when their humans properly exercise them. Activity can mitigate any negative side effects of boredom.

This breed is generally good with children, given proper training and socialization. They do need owners that are able to spend the majority of the day with them. Some Cockers can be clingy, especially if they’re already feeling lonely.

Although this breed suffers from some undeniable health issues, they usually have no trouble living through their early teens.

Care of the English Cocker Spaniel

These hardy dogs can handle most environments. Their biggest requirement is adequate social interaction with their families, although they do need a decent amount of exercise, too.

Environmental Needs

Like most breeds from Britain, the English Cocker is hardy. Bred to hunt in sometimes-miserable conditions, they could not afford to be prissy. These dogs do have a good amount of hair, so it is important to provide access to water and shade in the summer, lest they overheat.

Exercise Needs

This sporty breed is also quite adaptable. They do not necessarily need directed activities, although the English Cocker Spaniel is more work-oriented than the American variety.

At minimum, they will need outside play sessions with the family walk. They also hold up well to jogs or hikes. Of course, they’re bred to hunt and will simply adore you if you allow them to perform their job.

Shedding and Grooming

This beautiful breed needs to have daily brushing, or at least a few times a week. Their long hair can mat easily. Some owners decide to clip their Cockers for easier care. They may not be show ring ready, but will be much easier for the layperson to handle.

At minimum, trim around the face, feet, and neck to avoid matting in these problem areas. Like most dogs, these spaniels should get baths only when necessary. They are moderate shedders.

The English Cocker Spaniel is prone to ear infections thanks to long, droopy ears. Make sure to check and clean ears for wax and debris.

Ideal Home Environment

This breed is a great family dog. They are generally patient with kids, and families tend to have the manpower to sustain their social needs. These dogs should not be left home alone all day.

The English Cocker Spaniel should have some access to the outdoors to stretch their legs. Although adaptable, these are not lapdogs.

It is important for owners to commit to their exercise and grooming needs.

Health Concerns

The Cocker Spaniel has some well-known health problems, but these usually do not shorten their life too much.

The biggest concerns are nephropathy and neuropathy, problems with the kidney and nerves respectively. More minor concerns include eye and hip problems, which occur especially as the Cocker ages. The breed is also prone to ear infection.

Behavior Problems

This breed is generally well behaved. With their sweet personality comes some concerning tendencies. They may become timid or clingy. Proper socialization can help the Cocker develop into a confident and kind adult.