The shaggy, cuddly Cocker spaniel is a popular breed for good reason. These lovable dogs are wonderful companions despite their often high vet bills.
Cockers as they are affectionately known are in the Spaniel group and originate from the 14th Century. They were gun dogs used to flush out game for hunters, using their formidable sense of smell to track birds.
The English and American style Cocker Spaniels are very similar, with the American ones being shorter in the muzzle and overall height. They come in a dazzling variety of colours, but share the long coat and extremely hairy ears. Both these features mean they get frequent skin and ear problems.
WHAT DOES THE COCKER WANT IN THEIR PERFECT LIFE PARTNER/FAMILY?
I would love to live with a family that has the time to take me for long walks and sniffs somewhere interesting. I do love to play and need lots of company and someone who has time to spend with me.
AT A GLANCE
|Height (at shoulder)||34-39 cm|
Affectionate – Cockers love absolutely everyone and thrive in a family where they get lots of attention. They love cuddles, brushing and play and need to be with another dog or their family rather than being left alone for long periods.
Loyal – A Cocker will often bond very closely to their family and be extremely loyal. This can translate to a dog that is not suited to long periods of being alone. They need lots of love and attention.
EXERCISE & TRAINING
|Exercise Requirements||Medium – 0.5-1.0 hours per day|
|Training Requirements||Low – 0-0.5 hours per day|
Known for being lovable goof-balls, Cockers don’t need a lot of training or exercise. They just need company and lots of it. They are generally excellent with other dogs and children and have a very gentle nature overall. They do love to dig, so love to have their own digging spot in the yard. While they will chase smells their attentive nature means they don’t tend to stray too far even when off-lead.
|Trips to the Groomer||Yes – Every six to eight weeks|
|Brushing||High – Daily brushing required|
|Hair fall||High Shed – you will be living with lots of hair|
That beautiful coat requires lots of work. Regular brushing and trips to the groomer are essential and even then the coat tends to mat around the feet and ears. Their frequent skin problems are often related to that warm coat, and their heavy ears mean they do need a regular ear clean.
|Good With Kids||Excellent – Good with kids of any age|
|Good With Other Small Pets||Medium – Ok with other pets, supervision advised|
|Sociability||High – Loves other dogs and best in a multi-dog household.|
The lovable Cocker tends to love company whether that be child, older person or even cats on occasion. They can be inclined to chase smaller species, so should be watched closely during interactions with pocket pets. They would be an ideal family pet, or suited to an elderly person who is home a great deal.
|Overall Expenses (Annual)||High $2000+|
|Veterinary Expenses (Annual)||High – $300-$500+|
|Food Expenses (Weekly)||Medium – $15-$20|
When you consider their vet bills for frequent skin and ear infections and grooming needs, the Cocker can be an expensive pet to own. They are prone to a number of chronic health conditions and need a 2 monthly visit to the hairdresser at least. Otherwise their food requirements are moderate.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS
Ear problems/skin disease – Cockers can be prone to allergies, skin infections (particularly in those skin folds), ear infections and anal gland problems, often the whole package occurs due to an allergic condition called atopic dermatitis. In some cases the skin folds are so problematic that surgery (a facelift) is required to resolve eye and chronic skin infections.
PRA – progressive retinal atrophy is disease that leads to gradual blindness and occurs in many breeds. In the beginning it tends to cause night blindness
PREVENTATIVE CARE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Ask your vet to regularly check your Cocker’s eyes for retinal problems, as often early blindness is not obvious.
Take care with your Cocker’s weight, as they do like their food and have a tendency towards obesity.
Cockers with hairy feet and ears may develop a skin odour that is an early warning sign of impending yeast or bacterial infection. Ask your vet how to do thorough ear cleaning and what shampoo to use to limit infections.
BREED ORIGIN AND INTERESTING FACTS
The Cocker Spaniel was thought to originate from Spain and was named the Cocker due to its use hunting woodcocks. It was popular in England for its ability to flush out bird game during a hunt. There were originally just two types of spaniels, those that were used to spring game, thus the name Springer Spaniel and those used for woodcock.
During the 1930’s the Cocker Spaniel was the most popular dog in Britain and was for a further 20 years. The American Cocker came from the English, but has since developed a few differences so has been separately classified by the kennel club.
RESCUE A COCKER SPANIEL
Petfinder lists all types of dogs who need homes, both purebred and mixed breeds, adults and puppies.
The ASPCA often has Cockers for adoption; just do an advanced search on their adoption page.