Cocker Spaniel Overview

Dog Breed:
Cocker Spaniel
Breed Group:
Gentle, playful, smart, energetic and sporty
13.5-15.5 inches
Life Span:
10-14 years
Coat Colors:
Three varieties, blacks any solid color other than black and parti-colors
Area of Origin:
Great Britain
Best For:
Active families / Keen interest in training / Able to commit to grooming requirements / Apartment or house
Mixed Breeds:
Cockapoo & Pembroke Cocker Corgi

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Cocker Spaniel

  • Related to the English Cocker Spaniel

  • Friendly and active dogs

  • High maintenance coat


Belonging to the Sporting Group, the Cocker Spaniel is its smallest member. Known for their friendly temperament and flowing coat, they’re an allrounder who loves spending time with their family.

Coming from a hunting background and being related to the English Cocker Spaniel, their appearance may fool people into believing that this is just another lapdog breed. Nothing could be further from the truth! This a dog who will enjoy running through muddy fields, hiking hills, and then curling up on the sofa with their family in the evening.

With this level of energy, a family who are keen outdoors folk all year round is essential. Then there’s that fantastic coat. Dedicated owners are needed to commit to the daily grooming on top of regular visits to the groomers to keep it in top condition. 


Cocker Spaniel Breed History

  • First Spaniel arrived in the US on the Mayflower

  • First Cocker Spaniel registered in 1878

  • One of the most popular pet breeds in the US

In 1620 the very first spaniel arrived in America on the Mayflower. Over two hundred years late, in 1878, Cocker Spaniel was finally registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). The term ‘Cocker,’ comes from the breeds specialization of assisting with the hunting of the woodcock.

By the 1920s, there began to be a noticeable difference between the English and American varieties of the breed. So, in 1946, the AKC decided to split the breed into the English Cocker Spaniel and the (American) Cocker Spaniel. In most countries in the world, the two types are known as the Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. 

The American Cocker gained huge popularity in the 1940s and 1950s and when it was the most popular breed in the US. In 2013, the cocker spaniel ranked 29th for the numbers registered with the American Kennel Club.

Cocker Spaniel Size & Weight

  • Smallest sporting breed

  • Height: 13.5-15.5 inches

  • Weight: 20-30 pounds


These are the smallest of the sporting spaniels with males standing between 14.5-15.5 inches and weighing 25-30 pounds. Females measure 13.5-14.5 inches and weight between 20-25 pounds. 

With their long coat, this is no longer a dog who is likely to take part in a day hunting, but they still make a perfect family pet. Small enough to take out and about, and adjust to apartment living, they’re still robust enough to enjoy a good run in the field. 

Cocker Spaniel Personality & Temperament

  • Even temperament

  • Highly intelligent

  • Search out reputable breeders


Known as the ‘Merry Cocker,’ this breed is loved for their even temperament and affectionate nature. Highly intelligent, the Cocker Spaniel can turn their paw to many performance activities, including agility and obedience. 

However, caution is needed to ensure that you obtain your pup from a reputable breeder. The popularity of the Cocker has meant that they have become a popular choice with puppy mills and pet stores. Sadly, with their unscrupulous breeding, the temperament of dogs’ breed in these environments has suffered. Ensure that you meet at least the mother of the pups and that she is a well-cared for, happy, and confident dog. 

The well-bred Cocker should be the perfect family dog who will enjoy the opportunity to play with the children and become their devoted companion. As with all breeds, a watchful eye is needed over young children and a puppy. A well-socialized Cocker will enjoy the opportunity to meet other dogs and the chance for a good run. 

With their love of their family, the Cocker will not be happy left alone for long periods, and this is likely to result in anxiety and destructive behavior. 

Cocker Spaniel Health & Grooming

  • Generally healthy and long-lived

  • Parents should have eyes and hips checked before breeding

  • Their coat requires daily attention and visits to the groomers


Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy and long-lived. Some health tests should take place before the parents are mated, and the breeder should be able to show you documentation of these being completed. 

First of all, the parents should have an eye test in the twelve months before the breeding takes place. Three different conditions are checked for:

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is a degenerative disease which leads to blindness
  2. Cataracts, where a cloudy film forms over the eye
  3. Glaucoma which causes pressure to build in the inside of the eyeball

Then the parents should have their hips x-rayed to assess whether they are affected by hip dysplasia. This condition can cause deformities of the hip, which prevents the ‘ball’ of the thighbone from sitting correctly in the hip socket. This can result in both lameness and pain for affected dogs. 

A well-groomed Cocker Spaniel is an impressive looking dog, but behind that appearance comes considerable and potentially expensive grooming responsibilities. Most owners rely on the assistance of a professional groomer, making visits every six to eight weeks for brushing and trimming of the coat. 

You can clip the coat short, making it more manageable, but even with this style, trips to the groomers will still be a regular event. Do be aware, though, that whichever length you decide to keep their coat, you will still need to groom your Cocker every day to keep them free of tangles and mats. 

The Cockers’ coat does shed, although the amount does seem to vary from dog to dog. Regular grooming will reduce hair loss, but this might not be the perfect breed for very house-proud owners!

Cocker Spaniel Training

  • Highly intelligent

  • Thrive with reward-based training

  • Retains a hunting instinct


This sporting breed is super intelligent and will be an excellent choice for someone keen to attend training classes. Many Cocker Spaniels compete in performance activities and thrive with the opportunity to problem-solve and use their brains.

Known to be a sensitive dog, the Cocker Spaniel is often described as having a ‘soft’ personality. So, this means that they will not respond well to harsh training. Reward-based training will get the best results and build a strong relationship between you and your dog. 

We shouldn’t forget this breeds background, and even though they are no longer bred for fieldwork, they still retain a desire to hunt. Scent work can be an excellent option for Cocker Spaniels. This provides them with the opportunity to put their fantastic nose to work in a safe environment. 


Cocker Spaniel Exercise Requirements

  • Highly intelligent

  • Thrive with reward-based training

  • Retains a hunting instinct


This is not a breed that is going to be content with a five-minute walk around the block. As a busy and active little dog, Cockers love to go for long walks or a run. They should receive at least an hour of exercise every day to keep them in peak condition. 

The opportunity to free-run is an excellent way of providing aerobic exercise. With their biddable nature, and once a good recall has been trained, the Cocker Spaniel can enjoy the freedom to run free in parks and open spaces. 

This is a breed that will love playing games in the garden. Whether it’s retrieving balls or catching a frisbee, they’ll be keen to join in the fun.

Cocker Spaniel Diet & Feeding

  • Speak to your veterinarian or pet nutritionist for advice

  • Tendency to become overweight

  • Avoid damp and spoiled ears with deep and narrow water and food bowls


For professional advice on nutrition and diet for your Cocker Spaniel, your veterinarian or pet nutritionist should be your first point of contact. This is a breed that can quickly become overweight, and so care is needed to select a feed that is appropriate to an individual dog’s age, size, and activity levels. 

Many Cocker owners provide food and water for their spaniels from a deep and narrow bowl, which prevents their ears from getting damp or soiled with food. Extra ear protection can be achieved by placing a snood onto their dogs while they eat. 

Cocker Spaniel Rescue Groups


With the breed’s popularity, it does sadly mean that there are often a high number of dogs looking for new home. More information on rescuing a Cocker can be found through the following organizations- 


Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue

Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center

Camp Cocker


Additional information on the Cocker Spaniel can be found on the breed club webpage at