Getting to know the cocker spaniel

Getting to know your dog starts by getting to know its breed, and that includes getting a better idea about its appearance, personality, and health requirements. Here’s what you need to know about the Cocker Spaniel:

The Cocker Spaniel is a breed of dog that falls within two separate categories. First, you have the American Cocker Spaniel and second, the English Cocker Spaniel. Historians date the Spaniel breeds to somewhere around the 16th century although the variances in breeds did not become well known until around the 19th century. Most people think of Spaniels as being game retrievers, but they were actually used to flush out game for hunters.

In the mid-19th century, showing Cocker Spaniels became popular. Just eight years into the recognition by the American Kennel Club for showing, the two versions – American and English – were placed in different classes. Because of this, the two dogs are now bred specifically to incorporate traits of each. Regardless of its hybrid quality, the Cocker Spaniel falls in the working class, with amazing field and show skills.

Physical Appearance

The Cocker Spaniel is compact but strong and well proportioned. The eyes are dark and expressive, the ears floppy or lobular, skin loose, and the hair feathered, long, and silky. Most often, this breed has a docked tail to about four or five inches in length. The maximum height for the Cocker Spaniel as accepted by the American Kennel Club is 15 inches, with weight between 24 and 28 pounds. This breed also has a short but deep muzzle and domed head. Both the American and English Cocker Spaniel share the same color or color variations, which include:

* Chocolate * Red * Buff * Sable * Parti-color (any of the above colors with white/black and tan/chocolate and tan) * Tricolor (white, black, and tan) * Roan (black and white or red and white intermingled hairs) * Sable (black and brown, with or without white or tan markings)

Temperament and Personality

In most cases, the Cocker Spaniel has a happy and intelligent temperament. This particular breed is very trusting and eager to please, making them a great family pet. While the Cocker Spaniel has an outgoing personality, this is also an easy to train dog. The only thing to remember is that some breeds require a firm hand during training but the Cocker Spaniel is not one. Instead, you want to provide gentle training for better results.

If you want a family pet, one that is good with adults, children, and other animals, the Cocker Spaniel is a great option. The nature of this breed is very affectionate, highly faithful, and playful. This breed is so mellow that finding one with a bad temperament would be difficult. Rated as a good, all-around pet, both the American and English Cocker Spaniels should be added to your list for an addition to the family. One of the most important aspects is early and on-going socialization.


If considering this breed, you need to be aware of potential health risks. For instance, the Cocker Spaniel is prone to a number of things, specifically ear, and eye infections. Progressive Retinal Atrophy, cataracts, and glaucoma are just a few of the more common health challenges. In fact, the problem is so significant that breeders recommend the Cocker Spaniel have an annual eye exam.

Other possible problems include Hemolytic Anemia, Hip Dysplasia, and Luxating Patella, although not a common. Typically, the Cocker Spaniel lives between 12 and 14 years and if maintained on a good diet, followed by annual eye exams and proper exercise, will have few health issues.