If you’ve ever been interested in a Cocker Spaniel, you may have wondered: are they a good fit for a family? The good news is yes, Cocker Spaniel dogs make excellent family pets. Known for their affectionate, easy-going personalities, Cocker Spaniels are excellent choices for those with young children.
Before running to your nearest rescue, take a look at our article below. We’ll talk about Cocker Spaniel’s history, types, basic care, temperament, and common health issues.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be more than prepared for your new Cocker Spaniel to come home!
Cocker Spaniel History
Cocker Spaniels are believed to have developed somewhere in Spain, leading to the term “spaniel” over time.
They were bred to be bird hunters before rifles were invented, and would help their owners hunt birds with their nets.
How Did the Cocker Spaniel Get Its Name?
In the 19th century, they were bred further for better athleticism when it came to hunting, which gave them the term “cocker,” as they hunted woodcock.
Cocker Spaniels in the United States
Years later, the Cocker Spaniel was separated into two varieties in the United States – the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel.
Both were considered separate Spaniel breeds by the 1940s and were listed in the AKC by 1946.
The unique breed was made a popular choice in the 1950s when the Cocker Spaniel became the most popular breed of the decade.
Famous Cocker Spaniels
Soon after this, pop culture started using the popularity of the Cocker Spaniel for classics like “Lady and the Tramp.”
The popular family dog breed was also adopted by Vice President Richard Nixon, who named his Cocker Spaniel “Checkers.”
Types of Cocker Spaniels
Cocker Spaniels actually have two different breeds: American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels.
Each of the Cocker Spaniel breeds makes great family pets, but they do have their main differences. Read below to learn more about each separate breed type.
American Cocker Spaniel
Though both types of dogs are excellent, the American Cocker Spaniel is a popular dog breed.
The American Cocker Spaniel is a bit shorter and longer than the English Cocker Spaniel and has a thicker, wavy coat.
They also tend to have longer hair on their legs than English Cocker Spaniels do.
In addition, the American Cocker Spaniel has a shorter muzzle and deep chiseling under its eyes.
They also have almond-shaped eyes instead of oval-shaped ones. Ultimately, the smaller, cuter appearance was chosen by Americans to make them a better fit for families.
English Cocker Spaniel
English Cocker Spaniels are also great pets for those with small children, but they do look a bit different from their American counterparts.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a bit taller in stature and does not have as dense of a coat as the American Cocker Spaniel.
They also have thinner hair in general which means less intense grooming for the owner.
This Cocker Spaniel type also has a longer muzzle and oval eyes. In general, they have softer eyes though they are still more bred for work than the American Cocker Spaniel is.
Cocker Spaniel Characteristics
Cocker Spaniels are moderate size dogs with interesting personalities. They have round heads and broad, square muzzles.
The Cocker Spaniel also has hair on their long floppy ears that feathers out. Though they are not big dogs, they have long, sloping backs perfect for carrying birds they were bred to hunt.
They are known for having a “regal” appearance.
Cocker Spaniel Size
Cocker Spaniels are small size dogs approximately 14-15 inches in height and 20-30 pounds in weight.
Cocker Spaniel Coat
They have long hair down their sides that is high maintenance and a double coat.
Cocker Spaniel Colors
Colors include black, blue, orange, tan, white, liver, gold, and red, and Cocker Spaniels can come in solid colors, like solid black, or any mixed combination of these colors!
Cocker Spaniel Temperament
Cocker Spaniels have one of the most easy-going temperaments of all dog breeds. They’re perfect for adults, children, and families with other pets.
Overall, they have excellent, loyal personalities that make for good family dogs.
Cocker Spaniels are sweet and intelligent dogs. They are easy to train and not as stubborn as other dog breeds.
They are also generally high-energy dogs since they were originally bred to hunt and work.
These dogs may be high-energy, but they don’t necessarily need a job to be happy. They’re content to simply play games and go on walks to get their energy out.
They also don’t bark much but will bark to alert you of strangers or other dogs.
Are Cocker Spaniels Good Around Other Animals?
If you’re looking for a dog to get along with your other pets, a Cocker Spaniel is a great choice! These dogs are smaller in size so they’re less likely to cause harm to other cats and dogs.
They’re also extremely affectionate, friendly dogs and adapt to family life easily, so they’ll adjust to your other small animals better than other breeds.
They also enjoy playing and may want to play with any other pets you have to get some of their energy out.
Are Cocker Spaniels Good Around Children?
If you have small kids, you’ll find that Cocker Spaniels make some of the best family dogs. Your Cocker Spaniel will welcome family members of all ages and sizes, as they tend to grow attached to their human family quite quickly.
They may not be a good idea as guard dogs (due to their size), but they are extremely loyal to their families, especially those of young ages.
Cocker Spaniel Care
Cocker Spaniels, like all dogs, need proper care to keep them happy and healthy. They need food, water, grooming, exercise, and training.
Cocker Spaniel Diet
Obviously, your Cocker Spaniel needs food and water. You’ll want to get high-quality dog food that is high in protein from the pet store to keep them healthy.
If your dog has any food allergies, you may want to get your food from your veterinarian to make sure your dog doesn’t have any reactions.
You also need to make sure that their water is fresh and changed at least once a day. You may also want to consider gravity feeders and waterers to give your dog access to their food and water even when you’re not home.
If you’re worried about overfeeding or weight gain in your pup, some gravity feeders have timers to release food at specific times!
Cocker Spaniel Grooming Requirements
Because Cocker Spaniels have long hair, they’ll need specific grooming such as regular brushing.
Your Cocker Spaniel ideally should be brushed 2-3 times per week to prevent their hair from becoming matted, which can become painful for your dog.
You also want to bathe them at least once per month to get rid of any dirt that has built up in their coat.
If you show your dog or adventure outside a lot, you may bathe them more often depending on your needs.
Is a Cocker Spaniel Hypoallergenic?
This is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog and the Cocker Spaniel is no exception to that.
Cocker Spaniels don’t shed as much as some other dog breeds but they do shed and they do have moderately long hair that can produce dander.
While dander does cause problems for allergy sufferers many Cocker Spaniel owners suggest that they are still a good choice to bring into your home.
Your Cocker Spaniel will also need its teeth brushed and nails trimmed, which you can do at home or you can contact a groomer to do all of this.
A groomer will also be able to regularly give your Cocker Spaniel a haircut when their hair is getting particularly long on the sides.
How Much Exercise Does a Cocker Spaniel Need?
You want to make sure your Cocker Spaniel gets plenty of exercise. Great ways you can exercise with your Cocker Spaniel include going for walks, playing fetch, or practicing agility.
Cocker Spaniels also enjoy frisbees and playing with other dogs, so providing them with early socialization at dog parks may also be a great form of exercise for them.
How to Train a Cocker Spaniel
Proper training is essential for your Cocker Spaniel. Specifically, you should strongly consider taking your Cocker Spaniel puppy to obedience training.
This first type of training will give your new puppy the ground rules for behavior in the home and interactions with other people and animals and deters aggressive behavior.
If you want your Cocker Spaniel to get further training than obedience classes, you may want to consider advanced training with a specialist.
A professional in your area can help you teach your young puppy commands beyond basic obedience and can even help you teach them tricks.
This training is especially recommended for those who intend on using their working breed dog for hunting or other work.
Cocker Spaniel Common Health Problems
As with all dog breeds, Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to some genetic health problems.
In this section, we will go over some of the most common medical issues in Cocker Spaniels and how to treat them. After all, healthy dogs are happy dogs!
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that causes improper growth of the hip joints. Over time, this can lead to arthritis.
Your Cocker Spaniel may develop lameness, slow movement, or difficulty standing.
If you’re concerned about hip dysplasia in your Cocker Spaniel, get them assessed by your veterinarian and they can give your dog medication to relieve joint pain.
In some extreme cases, your dog may need surgery to improve its quality of life.
Cocker Spaniels, while sweet, can also be nervous dogs. As a result, they’re susceptible to developing separation anxiety.
Signs of separation anxiety include destructive behaviors such as biting, chewing, and urination inside when you’re not home.
Some training can be a good way to make your dog less anxious when you leave, so they know you’re eventually coming back.
You may also try some supplements or provide more toys at home so they don’t chew on your belongings.
In more extreme cases, your dog may need anxiety medication to keep them calm when you leave.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Some Cocker Spaniels develop progressive retinal atrophy, a genetic condition that leads to poor vision as the dog ages.
The cells in the retina will start to degenerate, which means poor vision in dim and bright light for your dog.
There is no effective treatment for this condition, but you may be able to help your dog by providing them with an easier layout to navigate in your home and providing supplements to reduce stress on their lenses.
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Cocker Spaniels may carry a gene that causes autoimmune hemolytic anemia. In simple terms, this means their immune system attacks their own blood cells, which can cause anemia.
This genetic disease is serious and should be taken up with a vet immediately, as your dog will need hospitalization and intensive treatment.
Cocker Spaniel Names
Having a regal dog such as a Cocker Spaniel takes on great responsibility and one of those pet owner responsibilities is to make sure you give your dog a great name worthy of them!
Popular Cocker Spaniel Names
Related Cocker Spaniel Questions
What is the life expectancy of Cocker Spaniels?
Cocker Spaniels tend to have a bit of a longer lifespan compared to other breeds. On average, they live between 10 and 14 years.
This means your Cocker Spaniel is a long-time commitment, so make sure you can take that on before bringing the puppy home!
Are There Other Health Issues Cocker Spaniels are Susceptible To?
Yes, beyond those discussed in this article, Cocker Spaniels can also be susceptible to conditions such as patellar luxation, heart disease, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (dry eye), and ear infections.
If you’re concerned about any of these conditions in your dog, make an appointment with your veterinarian for an assessment.
If they believe your Cocker Spaniel has any of these, they will be able to develop a treatment plan for them.
Where Do I Find a Cocker Spaniel?
If you’re looking for Cocker Spaniel puppies, you can find them from reputable breeders through the American Kennel Club (AKC).
You may also be able to find puppies at your local shelter, though this is not guaranteed.
You’ll have better luck finding an adult Cocker Spaniel at a shelter than a puppy, but adult dogs can make excellent family pets as well.
What is the American Spaniel Club?
The American Spaniel Club (ASC) is an official club dedicated to the Cocker Spaniel Breed.
It was founded in 1881 by Cocker Spaniel owners in North America and currently supports all Spaniel breeds.
Can Cocker Spaniels Be Left Alone?
Cocker Spaniels are known to suffer from separation anxiety so it is not a good idea to leave them alone for long periods of time.
Four to five hours is really the maximum you want to leave them alone. This is something to consider before you bring a Cocker Spaniel into your home as a family pet.
Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive?
Yes, even though they look unintimidating with their floppy ears they can be aggressive dogs so that is something to keep in mind, especially around children.
The trick to avoiding an aggressive Spaniel is early training.
Do Cocker Spaniels Like to Cuddle?
As we mentioned above, Cocker Spaniels do form a tight emotional bond with their family members and because of that they often like to snuggle and cuddle on the lap of their owner.
It is not unusual for your Spaniels to go to sleep on your lap.
Now you know that Cocker Spaniels do make good family pets. If you’re looking for a wonderful family dog, look no further than those playful mutts with silky coats.
Between working outdoors and being a loyal family member, there’s nothing not to love about this incredible breed.
Before you run off to get your new Cocker Spaniel puppy, keep in mind the care requirements and medical concerns with this breed.
Find a vet nearby that can help you care for your pup as needed. As long as you’re ready to take on the responsibility, you’ll love having a Cocker Spaniel in your family.