Cocker Spaniel Breed Portrait: Little Hunter With A Heart

The Cocker Spaniel looks very elegant but is not too bad for anything. In the case of inattentive owners, this causes surprises here and there.

Big, good-natured eyes, long black lashes, a beautiful face, and shiny, fluffy hair. This could be a Hollywood diva, but it’s Susi, the heroine of “Lady and the Tramp”, one of the most famous cartoons and most beautiful dog films in the world.

It can’t be a coincidence that Susi is an English Cocker Spaniel lady, because the breed not only looks particularly lovable but is also one of the liveliest and happiest dog breeds of all.

Our breed portrait of the long-eared English Cocker Spaniels tells you where Susi’s role models come from, what characterizes her appearance, and what the ideal care, attitude, and training look like.

What does a Cocker Spaniel look like?

Even if the appearance of the Cocker Spaniel lady Susi was somewhat exaggerated in her Hollywood film, the dogs are undoubtedly unique. The English Cocker Spaniel is particularly characterized by its fluffy fur and very large and long-hanging ears. They give the dogs a lovable and happy appearance.

The Spaniel’s silky, soft coat is usually short on the head and face. On the rest of the body, such as the belly, chest, legs, ears, and tail, it grows medium-long and wavy. The color variety of the fur knows no limits in the breed: There are numerous one-, two- or multi-colored variants, including, for example, the fur colors

  • Red,
  • Brown,
  • Black,
  • blue mold,
  • orange mold,
  • Black-and-white,
  • brown-white,
  • orange-white
  • and many other combinations.

The physique of the dogs is compact and should appear robust and agile. This is where the English Cocker Spaniel differs from its relative, the American Cocker Spaniel. It is slightly larger, stronger, and more compact than its American brother. In addition, the English Cocker Spaniel has a visibly longer and stronger muzzle. In contrast to the American variant, which is primarily bred as a show dog, the coat of the English Spaniel should by no means be excessively long and wiry.

How big is a Cocker Spaniel?

The beautiful spaniels belong to medium-sized dog breeds. Males reach an average height at the withers of between 39 cm and 41 cm. Bitches grow between 38 cm and 39 cm.

How heavy is a Cocker Spaniel?

A healthy dog should ideally weigh between 12.5 kg and 14.5 kg. The differences between males and females are minimal in the Cocker.

How old does a Cocker Spaniel get?

The health of the small spaniels is usually robust. The breed has an average lifespan of between 10 and 14 years. With good care and nutrition, some dogs can live even longer.

What character or nature does the Cocker Spaniel have?

You can already see it in the dog’s face: behind the long floppy ears and the good-natured eyes, there is a little whirlwind that will bring a lot of joy to his family. The dogs are considered happy, exuberant, curious, people-related, and sporty. Her joie de vivre is almost contagious.

The dog is very affectionate and feels at home in large families with children and other four-legged friends. If the Cocker Spaniel is busy enough, it is also suitable as a family dog.

Strangers are reported extensively barking. With a few strokes and treats, however, the dog will quickly count the guest among its new best friends. The breed is therefore rather poorly suited as a guard dog.

Due to its original use as a hunting dog, games, fun, and outdoor sports are still among Cocker Spaniel’s favorite pastimes. Dogs especially love browsing and tracking down tracks. It can happen that his hunting instinct triumphs over his upbringing when there is an unexpected “hot” lead and the spaniel suddenly disappears into the undergrowth. In general, the dog is characterized by a self-confident and sometimes stubborn character. Overall, however, he is submissive and wants to please his caregivers.

Where does the Cocker Spaniel come from?

Spaniels are among the oldest dog breeds in the world. Their history is said to go back up to 2,000 years, but this can no longer be proven today. The breed was first clearly described in the 14th century. In the course of the centuries, the different types of spaniels probably developed more and more, including the English Cocker Spaniel. In 1892 the English Kennel Club recognized the small spaniels as a separate breed.

The main task of all early spaniels was to track down small and large games and drive them out so that the game could be killed by the hunter. Retrieving was also one of their duties. The spaniels with the big ears were particularly suitable for hunting woodcocks because of their very fine nose, their tenacity, and their joy in diving into the densest undergrowth. The name of the dog breed was ultimately derived from the English name for woodcock.

Like many other breeds, the small spaniels today have a partially different appearance than their ancestors. This has mainly to do with the focus on breeding on purely optical characteristics, such as in the field of dog shows. The optimization craze doesn’t even stop at the Spaniels’ trademarks: Some breeding litters today have ears that are twice as long as their ancestors.

Cocker Spaniel: The right attitude and training

The intelligent, enthusiastic and affectionate character of the small spaniels makes training them relatively easy compared to other breeds. Since the breed is just overflowing with happiness and zest for action, consistent training without harshness is important, just like with the training of all other dog breeds. But beware! The dogs are intelligent and see through very quickly how to manipulate their people. Once you have fallen for the innocent dachshund look, the dog will certainly take advantage of it.

The fluffy long-eared bats can be kept well in an apartment without a garden, provided there are plenty of green exercise areas in the immediate vicinity. As original hunting dogs, Spaniels require plenty of exercise, play, and outdoor exercise. The snooping dog especially likes it when it gets enough time with every walk to sniff out all the diverse smells at the edge of the meadow and forest. In addition to nose work and various fetch games, agility is also well suited for dogs who love to exercise.

Always pay attention to the dog’s hunting instinct, which can take over even with good training. Before you know it, the otherwise loyal family dog ​​disappears into the undergrowth.

What Grooming Does the Cocker Spaniel Need?

Such a beautiful and soft coat of fur requires quite a bit of care. Dogs’ coats should be brushed daily or at least every other day to prevent matting. For optimal care, the hair should also be trimmed every few months.

When it comes to nutrition, protein and vitamin-rich food are ideal. Since the dogs love to eat, make sure you have a balanced and appropriate diet. Weigh your dog regularly to avoid obesity. This gives your dog the best chance of long-term health.

What are the typical diseases of the Cocker Spaniel?

In general, the breed can enjoy robust health with good care. One of the few breed-specific disorders is Congenital Vestibular Syndrome. This is a disorder of the inner ear that results in impaired balance and possible hearing loss. In addition, the breed has a tendency to develop lip dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin.

Unique among the breed is the so-called “cocker rage”. These are phases of aggression that appear to occur without a reason and are followed by severe exhaustion, similar to that after an epilepsy attack. Little is known about this presumably hereditary phenomenon and it only affects a small proportion of all dogs.

How much does a Cocker Spaniel cost?

As with all purebred puppies from the breeder, the prices for the English Cocker Spaniel are in the (low) four-digit range. The breeders in Germany are mostly organized in clubs and have voluntarily subjected themselves to high standards and strict controls so that the puppies can live as healthy and long a life as possible.

Stay away from cheaper and dubious offers for puppies. These providers cannot guarantee that they have bred their litter in a healthy and species-appropriate manner. If you don’t want to or can’t spend that much money on a puppy from a breeder, you should definitely take a look at the animal shelter or animal welfare organizations. Adult English Cocker Spaniels (and countless other dogs) are always waiting there for a loving home.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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