Is the Cocker Spaniel the Right Dog for You?

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Anyone who has seen Disney’s “Lady & the Tramp” has probably thought about owning a Cocker Spaniel. Sweet dogs with a flowing coat and silky soft ears, the Cocker Spaniel is a popular companion dog. Though it’s easy to get swept up in their soulful eyes, you should make sure you know more about them than their sweet face before adding one to your family. Is the Cocker Spaniel the right dog for you? Read on to find out.

Breed History

Although at first glance you may think the Cocker Spaniel is a frilly lap dog, they are, in fact, a hunting dog. While spaniels as a group have been around for centuries in Europe, it was not until the 19th Century that the different types were divided into actual breeds with their own standards and “look.” The Cocker Spaniel was one of these breeds. Named after the woodcock for which it was mainly bred to help hunt, the Cocker was used to flush out birds that were then shot or trapped in nets.

The Cocker Spaniel maybe unique in that as much as it was known for hunting, it was always recognized as a great family dog, loving children.

In America, the breed was separated into two – the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel, the latter of which is taller and has a longer head.

Although popular, it wasn’t until 1985 that the Cocker Societies of Australia came together to form one parent club, the National Cocker Spaniel Council of Australia.

Today the Cocker Spaniel is still used for hunting, but has increasingly become even more of a companion and family dog. They are a medium sized dog, standing between 38-41 cm at the shoulder (wither) and weighing 13-14.5 kg.

Temperament

Cocker Spaniels have a bold, friendly and exuberant personality that attracts people to them. They love to play and enjoy children. It’s because of their wonderful disposition as a family dog that they spent many years as one of the American Kennel Club’s favorite breed in the 1950s. Of course, as hunting dogs the desire to chase and bark at “prey” (especially birds) is in them, but overall, they are a happy-go-lucky breed that is good in most situations.

Energy Level

The Cocker Spaniel does have a fair bit of energy, and definitely needs to have an outlet for it daily. They do love a daily game of fetch or a walk to keep them fit and not bored. As a companion dog, they want to do something with you, so are not going to be happy with being let loose alone in the yard for exercise. They want you to join in the game. They also enjoy another dog buddy to run and play with as well.

Space Needed

As a smaller breed, the Cocker Spaniel can easily live in a flat. As long as you can give them some daily exercise, they are perfectly content to spend the rest of the day by your feet or on your couch.

Common Health Problems

Cocker Spaniels are an overall healthy breed with a fairy long lifespan (average 15 years), but they do have some issues that a responsible breeder should screen for. These including hips and elbow issues (dysplasia and luxating patella) and eyes. Eye issues like cherry eye (can require surgery but is not serious), progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and glaucoma, both of which lead to blindness, are common in the breed. Heart failure is the leading cause of death in older Cocker Spaniels, so a good diet, exercise, a lean healthy weight and vet check-ups are important.

Aside from health issues, the Cocker Spaniel coat does require routine grooming. If you are not planning on learning how to do the grooming yourself, this would mean a monthly expense of a professional groomer.

Training

This companion dog just wants to please their people, making them an easy dog that’s fun to train. They do well with reward-based training and are ready to be involved in whatever you would like to do – including events such as agility, obedience, rally or hunting trials.

Feeding Recommendation

We recommend you feed your Cocker Spaniel puppy the Stay Loyal Salmon turkey and Pork All life stage, switching to adult portions around 8 months old.

If you are looking for a good-natured companion dog that does not take up too much room, the Cocker Spaniel might just be the dog you are looking for, provided you don’t mind routine grooming and daily exercise. Should you choose to add one to your family, find a reputable breeder that screens for hips, elbows and eyes.