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What are Some Characteristics of Cocker Spaniels?

Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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A cocker spaniel is an active dog with heavy exercise requirements. If not exercised properly, they can become destructive and take out their energy on the owner's belongings. The same is true if they are left alone for long periods of time. Because they were bred for hunting, these dogs can sometimes seem hyperactive. In fact, a couple of daily walks plus a weekly run in the park should be enough exercise to keep the most active dog satisfied. A cocker spaniel loves structured learning, and will do quite well in agility training and ability work.

These dogs make excellent family pets and tend to be more accepting of children than other breeds. While of course this varies with each particular dog, cocker spaniels are usually dedicated animals with a great deal of playfulness. They make excellent play companions, but tend to resent teasing, which means they do better with older children. These dogs can share a home with other animals, including cats, other dogs, and even small mammals, but early socialization is key and can make all the difference in how the dog will take to the presence of other species.

Cocker Spaniels require quite a deal of grooming and clipping. Daily brushings are encouraged, especially after walks in the field, and monthly professional grooming is recommended. This can add up in the long run, so it is important for people to remember this expense when considering this breed.

These dogs can sometimes get themselves in a lot of trouble because of their tracking abilities. Dozens get lost every month trying to track their owners after they have left home, and unless the owner has a fenced yard, leaving one outdoors alone is a big risk. Loneliness and boredom are the two major causes of misbehavior in cocker spaniels, but as long as they are actively involved in the everyday activities of the family, they can make excellent pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the defining physical characteristics of Cocker Spaniels?

Cocker Spaniels are known for their luxurious, silky coats and long, floppy ears. They have a sturdy, compact body and typically weigh between 20 to 30 pounds. Their expressive eyes and gentle expression are hallmarks of the breed. They come in a variety of colors, including black, liver, red, and golden, and sometimes have tan points or parti-colored coats.

How do Cocker Spaniels generally behave?

Cocker Spaniels are renowned for their friendly and affectionate nature. They are eager to please, which makes them highly trainable. This breed is known for being sociable and enjoys being around people, often forming strong bonds with family members. However, they can be sensitive and may require gentle training and socialization from a young age.

Are Cocker Spaniels good with children and other pets?

Yes, Cocker Spaniels are typically very good with children, displaying patience and a gentle demeanor. They are also generally good with other pets, especially when raised with them from a young age. Early socialization is key to fostering their natural sociability and ensuring they grow up to be well-rounded adults.

What kind of exercise requirements do Cocker Spaniels have?

Cocker Spaniels are an active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their health and happiness. A daily walk combined with some playtime is usually sufficient. They also enjoy activities like fetching and swimming. Without adequate exercise, they may become restless and exhibit behavioral issues.

What are common health concerns for Cocker Spaniels?

Cocker Spaniels are prone to certain health issues such as ear infections, due to their floppy ears, and eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma. They can also be susceptible to hip dysplasia and certain heart diseases. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian and proper care can help manage these conditions.

How much grooming do Cocker Spaniels require?

Cocker Spaniels require regular grooming to maintain their coat's condition and prevent matting. Brushing a few times a week and professional grooming every 6 to 8 weeks is recommended. Paying special attention to their ears is important to prevent infections. Regular nail trimming and dental care are also essential for their overall well-being.

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Discussion Comments

By cloudel — On Feb 18, 2013

My Cocker Spaniel used to follow me to work. I lived within walking distance to my job, but I worked on a farm down a rural road, so this wasn't a big deal.

My boss didn't mind him being there at all. He liked to watch him track and hunt and listen to his excited bark when he picked up a scent.

My dog roamed and did his own thing on the property all day, but he knew when quitting time was. At five every day, he would come and find me and accompany me home.

By giddion — On Feb 18, 2013

The most striking thing about the Cocker Spaniel breed is their curly coat. It looks like a head of naturally curly hair, and it is often blonde and so pretty.

I would hate to have to spend a lot of money on grooming, and I'm sure this is necessary with these dogs. I suppose you could do it yourself, but it wouldn't look as professional as if you paid an expert to do it.

By healthy4life — On Feb 17, 2013

@StarJo – As long as you are sure that she won't tease it, then it would make a good pet. Just be sure that you spay it or neuter it.

My dad got me an American Cocker Spaniel when I was young. It was very friendly and agreeable, but the problem was that we didn't have it neutered.

It kept running away from home in search of a mate. It would stay gone for weeks at a time.

One day, my dad found it several miles from home lying dead on the side of the road. He didn't want to tell me, so he just let me believe that the dog was missing for years.

By StarJo — On Feb 16, 2013
Is it a good idea to get my five-year-old daughter a Cocker Spaniel as a pet? I've always thought they were so cute, and after reading that they are good with children, I'm seriously considering it.
By anon126535 — On Nov 13, 2010

My husband and I have a cocker/king charles mix. Everything above is true. We have a farm and unless he gets a full day of running around with the horses, cows, and other dogs, he will drive us nuts being cooped up inside.

I had him at my parents for 10 days and they live in a residential community. This to him was like prison and I couldn't wait to get him home he was so insane.

He loves to "hunt" (look for missing tennis balls, and other things, loves roaming the woods and outdoors, but like this article said, they can be naughty. Charlie is not destructive but sometimes gets that devil in him and doesn't want to come when he's told because it's just too fun. He's very well trained, very loyal and extremely intelligent. Loves people and is just an overall joy to have.

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