Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel Breed description: Character & Co

Cocker Spaniel Breed description: Character & Co

The English Cocker Spaniel is an FCI-approved British dog breed of the FCI Group 8 (Retrieving dogs - Searching dogs - Water dogs), Section 2 (Searching dogs), Standard No. 5 with working test. The official name of this dog is "English Cocker Spaniel". The addition "English" was necessary, since there is an "American Cocker Spaniel" existing in the USA.

The "American Cocker Spaniel" is a breed variation of its British sibling. Medieval records from the 14th century suggest that the English Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest Spaniel breeds. In any case, it is one of the first modern representatives of today's pedigree dog breeding.

Difference English Cocker Spaniel American Cocker
English Cocker Spaniel American Cocker Spaniel
Retrieving dogs - Flushing dogs - Water dogs
variation of its British sibling
working test low prey drive
urge to move adaptable
needs stimulation - intelligent not challenging

Breed characteristics and nature of the Cocker Spaniel

The English breed was bred as a hunting dog. They are used as flushing- and retrieving dogs, which do not bait game like other dogs, but only track it down and drive it in front of the hunter's shotgun. After the shot, the dog must retrieve the dead animal. The Cocker Spaniel is a friendly, uncomplicated and cheerful, but also temperamental hunting-, companion and house dog. It is playful and sometimes also cuddly. It is very attached to its owner and loves to play around with them. These dogs are extremely curious, always eager to explore their surroundings and are not suspicious of strangers. They don't take long to make friends and radiate a joy for life. These characteristics have made them one of the most popular dog breeds in Germany.

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Alternate Name English Cocker Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel
Origin England
Life expectancy 10 - 17 years
Care requirements high-maintenance
Activity level average
FCI group Flushing Dogs
AKC group Sporting Group
KC group Gundog Group

Keeping and raising of the Cocker Spaniel

These behaviours, which they have been bred for from the beginning, does not make it easy to keep the Cocker Spaniel. This is due to its very strong urge to move. Daily walks of at least 2-3 hours are a necessity. But the dogs also enjoy dog sports, agility and retrieving games. Furthermore, they are well suited as companions when going for a run or cycling. Training these docile dogs can also be successful for beginners, as long as you are committed and consistent enough. Otherwise, the Cocker Spaniel can become quite obstinate and take its owner for a fool. Basically, however, they are very people-oriented and also suitable as family dogs. They are very sociable towards children and other dogs. However, one should consider their innate tendency for barking when keeping them in a flat or multi-family houses. Their care is limited to daily brushing and occasional (every 2-3 months) trimming at the groomers. The groomer cuts off excess hair on their back, underneath their ears and on their belly. Their diet is uncomplicated. The "English Cocker Spaniel" eats a lot and fast by nature and tends to put on excess weight easily. Therefore, the amount of food and especially treats should be kept under control.


  • affectionate
  • educable
  • friendly
  • quite
  • faithfully
  • playful


  • Hunting Dog
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If this has awakened your interest and made you want to buy an English Cocker Spaniel, it is best to decide for a puppy from a breeder. In Germany, there are a lot of breeders who are dedicated to breeding Cocker Spaniels. Here you should pay make sure it is part of a VHD club. This is an indication that it is a serious breeder. A Cocker Spaniel puppy costs about 1.000 Euros. But if you want to help dogs in need, visit your local shelter or one of the 'Cocker-in-Not' (Cockers in need) initiatives. Maybe the right animal is already waiting for you there. By the way, Spaniel breeding in Germany works together with Austria and Switzerland. Already more than 90 years ago a common breed registry was kept.

Race-specific diseases

The Cocker Spaniel is prone to suffering from ear problems due to its large, drooping ears. This can be prevented by cleaning them regularly. Furthermore, the breed also suffers from hereditary diseases.

  • Ear compulsion: inflammation of the external auditory canal
  • Lips eczema: red, weeping inflammation of the skin around the lips
  • familial nephropathy: a kidney disease occurring in early adolescence. However, the responsible disease gene can be brought under control by correct breeding selection
  • Cocker fever: epileptic nervous disease with a tendency to spontaneous aggressiveness (this genetic defect is relatively rare)
  • Progressive retinal atrophy: This is a hereditary eye disease in which the retina of dogs slowly deteriorates, causing blindness in both eyes
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Males reach a height of 39-41 cm measured at withers and a weight of 12-14,5 kg, females measure 38-39 cm and reach a weight of 10-12 kg. Their build is muscular with strong front and hind legs. The coat of the dogs is close fitting, silky soft and dense. The coat colours vary from monochrome: black, red, chocolate brown, black or brown tan, to bi-coloured: black and white, orange and white, brown and white, lemon and white, to tri-coloured: black, white tan and brown or white tan. The dogs have a life expectancy of 10 - 17 years.

Interesting facts about the Cocker Spaniel's coat

Cocker Spaniels are less suitable for people with a tendency for dog allergies. If you still want to try keeping them - cleaning, cleaning and once again cleaning helps. Perhaps eye drops, nasal sprays, allergy tablets or a desensitisation at the doctor's can also alleviate your symptoms. If all this does not help, the only option is to choose a mostly hypoallergenic breed (e.g. poodle or Maltese) or to decide against a dog altogether. The English Cocker Spaniel is not considered a list dog. Also the 'Cocker anger', which allegedly concerns predominantly red-coloured dogs and apparently makes these dogs particularly aggressive, is an old wives' tale. But even if such dogs exist, they should be removed from breeding.

Fur length medium
Fur wavy
Ear shape Floppy Ear
Tail fanned out
Anatomy dainty
Size ♀ 36 - 41 cm
Weight ♀ 12 - 15 kg
Size ♂ 38 - 43 cm
Weight ♂ 13 - 16 kg
Suitable For


black Loh brown gold white tricolour Reddish-brown silver black and white brown-white
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  • Epilepsy

    Definition: Dog has epilepsy if, for example, at least two epileptic seizures occur more than 24 hours apart.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

    Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a slowly progressive death of the retina in dogs.

  • Yes, Cocker Spaniels are considered docile and are easily trainable. One should always keep in mind that they are hunting dogs basically and thus the breed needs a lot of training and mental workout.

  • An English Cocker Spaniel puppy costs about 1800 Euro.

  • No, Cocker Spaniels do not shed more than other dog breeds with an undercoat. All dog breeds that undergo a coat change in summer and winter shed heavily at this time.

  • A dog should never stay alone for more than 3-6 hours. With good education, however, this works quite well and without problems.

Other medium dogs

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