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June 22, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 6 Faves: 0

Cocker Spaniel

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

Looking for a happy, medium size breed? Are you in need of a walking buddy? The "Merry Cocker" could be the breed you are looking for!

This breed got their start in Great Britain. There are two Cocker Spaniels: the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. The American Cocker Spaniel is derived from the English and has only become its own entity and been recognized as the American Cocker Spaniel since the early 19th century.

The American Cocker Spaniel was the number one breed in the United States off and on for quite some time, holding the spot for 25 years.

Bred For

A gun dog originally, they were bred to hunt and flush out Woodcocks (game bird), thus how their name came about. They are more commonly known today as a companion dog.

Appearance

The American Cocker's height is 13.5-15.5 inches and they can weigh between 24-30 pounds. The English Cocker's height is 15-16 inches and they can weigh between 28-32 pounds.

The American Cocker is smaller and more compact then its English Cocker cousin. They also have a shorter muzzle and rounder eyes with a more pronounced eyebrow and shorter ear length then the English. They both have dark eyes and a nose that is black or brown. Their tail is typically docked and their coat is silky and feathery around their ears, chest, belly, and legs. It is medium-length with a dense undercoat. Regular grooming and daily brushings are needed for this breed. The coat color comes in black or any other solid color such as: blonde (buff), red, brown, silver. Other coloring combinations are tan and black, parti-colored with or without white markings at the chest, throat or tan points as well as blue, liver or orange roan.

Personality

The Cocker is known to be lively, friendly, trusting, and even-tempered. They are often referred to as "Merry Cocker" because of their outgoing and joyful personality. They tend to be snippy with small children if not properly socialized at an early age with kind and respectful children. They are a smart breed so early obedience training will benefit your relationship with your Cocker. They LOVE and need to be around their people and other animals with their never ending wagging tail. They are not "back-yard" dogs and pet-parents should not expect to leave them alone for long periods. They can develop Small Dog Syndrome very easily if they do not have rules and boundaries in their home and are consistently over-spoiled and treated like a human. With a firm, but calm, approach the Cocker can have an outstanding relationship with their human. They enjoy barking, and if allowed, can get out of control. The American Cocker can be difficult to potty train.

Activity Level

Their activity level is moderate. This is a working breed that was bred to flush out birds, so they have a strong work-ethic. This breed will do great in agility competitions because of their energy level and work ethic. They will require a one 45 minute walk a day to help burn off their energy. The Cocker makes a great pet for an active family that enjoys playing fetch with their dog or likes to go swimming. This breed is considered to be one of the best breeds for the elderly as long as they get a daily walk. Without proper exercise, this breed can develop behavioral and temperament problems very quickly, such as: excessive barking, nipping at children, resource guarding, hyper-activity, and submissive urination. The Cocker LOVES food, so moderation and exercise will help keep your fur buddy fit and trim!

Health Concerns

A typical life span for the Cocker Spaniel is 10- 15 years. Health concerns are: Canine Epilepsy, Rage Syndrome (sudden and unprovoked violent attacks), defects of the eye (cataracts) and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), Hip Dysplasia, Luxating Patellas, Heart Conditions, and Otitis Externa (inflammation of the ear canal).

Rescue First

As you begin looking for a Cocker Spaniel, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized, not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescues. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!

Resources:

Dog Breed Info

Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe

More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading

6 Comments

  • I've always thought Cocker Spaniels were so beautiful! I love that photo above of the black one :)

    I've never heard of Rage Syndrome...it sounds awful! How common is that?

  • I have a almost 2 year old Cocker Spaniel. For the most part she was easy to train. She loves being outside and for the most part she listens except when I go to my sisters house when I get to my sister's house there are rabbits around or birds or even motor cycles or bikes she takes off and doesn't listen right away. When she is home she can be chasing a deer or chipmunk she stops and comes back right away. Any ideas?

  • Hi Laura~
    To be honest, it was my first time hearing about Rage Syndrome too! It is more common in the English Cocker then the American one and is often misdiagnosed as a form of aggression. It is not a common syndrome in dogs and is thought to be more of a genetic issue as well as an epileptic disorder that controls the emotion part of the dog's brain.

  • YOUR QUESTION:
    I have a almost 2 year old Cocker Spaniel. For the most part she was easy to train. She loves being outside and for the most part she listens except when I go to my sisters house when I get to my sister's house there are rabbits around or birds or even motor cycles or bikes she takes off and doesn't listen right away. When she is home she can be chasing a deer or chipmunk she stops and comes back right away. Any ideas?

    Hi Diane~ I think your sister's house is a "new" FUN experience each time she visits. So to her it is an opportunity to be a little mischievous and not want to listen (think of it like little kids going to their grandparents, sometimes they get overstimulated and overspoiled while visiting). I would practice her "manners" (commands) at your sisters when you first get there. Make her do a "sit" or "down" before she gets out of the car. Practice her "stay" outside at your sister's home. Reward her with treats that this is the behavior you like. I would also work on reinforcing her recall command (Come) at your sister's so she learns it is very valuable to respond to it while there. To make it valuable give her treats every time you call her and she comes to you. To make this training easier, I would keep her on a 10 to 15 ft. lead letting her drag it around, if she gets to far away from you and doesn't respond when you call her, step on it, say "uh-oh", pull her back to you as you say "come" and then give her a treat to teach her she gets a treat when she listens to you. Plus the lead will help keep her safe while you are out their with her. Practicing and making it fun for her will hopefully "ship-shape" her behavior to the better while at your sister's. I hope this helps.

  • I have a orange roan cocker spaniel and she just loves to play ball. She will carry a ball in her mouth all day if she could and will follow me everywhere. She is my 3rd cocker spaniel and I lover this breed so much. They can be difficult when left as puppies but as far as a constant companion they are the best. Not outdoor dogs at all. Always good around children and will bark at the postman!

  • Thanks Carol for sharing! She sounds sweet!

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