- What’s in a name? In Britain, what Americans call the “English” Cocker is the Cocker, and the American dog is the American Cocker.
- The term spaniel used to be applied to any dog that hunted and flushed game birds. They were usually differentiated by size or the way they worked.
AKC group: Sporting
UKC group: Gun Dog
Average lifespan: 12 to 14 years
Average size: 26 to 34 pounds
Coat appearance: medium-long coats that are flat or slightly wavy, with a silky texture
Coloration: parti-color (white with black, liver, or shades of red); solid black, liver, or shades of red; black and tan; and liver and tan
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
The term spaniel used to be applied to any dog that hunted and flushed game birds. They were usually differentiated by size or the way they worked. For instance, there were land spaniels and water spaniels. Dogs that hunted woodcock became known as Cockers, while larger spaniels that “sprang” game from cover by flushing it became known as Springers. At one time, different types could be born in the same litter, but eventually they were separated into breeds: Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels.
In the United States and Britain, Cockers developed different looks, so much so that they began to be considered separate breeds. The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was formed in 1935 for people who appreciated the different look and abilities of the English Cocker. The American Kennel Club recognized it as an individual breed in 1946. The American Cocker became more popular, but fanciers of the English Cocker consider their dogs a well-kept secret. Today, the English Cocker ranks 66th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The English Cocker is described as merry and affectionate with an equable disposition. He’s playful, trainable, and friendly toward people (although sometimes reserved with strangers) and other dogs. English Cockers will bark to let you know someone’s approaching, so they’re good watchdogs, but as typical spaniels they’ll happily show the burglar where the silver is.
Like every dog, English Cocker Spaniels need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your English Cocker puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
The English Cocker Spaniel has an average life expectancy of 11 to 12 years. Breed health problems can include a number of cardiovascular conditions, skin disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, immune-mediated hematological / immunological disorders and infectious conditions.
The English Cocker Spaniel should be taken on long walks, preferably for hours. This will give it the necessary daily exercise. Running and playing will be good physical exercise for the breed as well. Although the English Cocker Spaniel can survive outside in temperate weather, it is best to keep the dog at home with access to a yard.
One should check its ears regularly to remove dirt, while its coat should be combed and brushed two to three times a week. Trimming the fur at the tail and feet is necessary every two months, and head and ears are to be clipped properly at regular intervals.
The English Cocker Spaniel will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. They do best with at least an average-sized yard.
Cockers are easy to train, especially when the reward system involves food. This breed is incredibly sensitive and takes it personally when someone treats them harshly, which results in avoidance behaviors, or in some cases, retaliation. Positive reinforcement is always the best road to take when training a Cocker Spaniel.
There is no such thing as too much exercise for the English Cocker Spaniel. This breed needs daily exercise, so take it for a walk or run, or even train it for dog competitions. The English Cocker Spaniels excels at hunting, retrieving and agility competitions.
Brush the English Cocker’s medium-length coat two or three times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. You may also need to trim it for neatness every couple of months. A bath every six weeks or so doesn’t go amiss. The coat sheds moderately, but regular brushing will help keep loose hair from floating onto your floor, furniture, and clothing.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every couple of weeks. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Most important, keep the ears clean and dry to prevent bacterial or yeast infections from driving your dog into a state of itchy madness.
Children And Other Pets
English Cockers are friendly, fun-loving, and gentle family dogs who do well with children, especially if they’re brought up with them. Adult English Cockers who aren’t familiar with children may do best in a home with older children who understand how to interact with dogs.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
English Cockers enjoy the company of other dogs and can also get along fine with cats, especially if they’re introduced at an early age.
Is the English Cocker Spaniel the Right Breed for you?
Moderate Maintenance: Regular grooming is required to keep its fur in good shape. Professional trimming or stripping needed.
Moderate Shedding: Routine brushing will help. Be prepared to vacuum often!
Easy Training: The English Cocker Spaniel is known to listen to commands and obey its owner. Expect fewer repetitions when training this breed.
Fairly Active: It will need regular exercise to maintain its fitness. Trips to the dog park are a great idea.
Good for New Owners:
This breed is well suited for those who have little experience with dog ownership.
Good with Kids: This is a suitable breed for kids and is known to be playful, energetic, and affectionate around them.
Did You Know?
In comparison to the Cocker Spaniel, the English Cocker is taller, has a less abundant coat, and does not come in the popular buff color so often seen in the Cocker. Instead, he sports a silky, lightly feathered coat in black, liver, red, black and tan, liver and tan, or any of these colors on a white background.