English Cocker Spaniel – Facts, Breed History & Information

dog breeds cocker spaniel

Are you looking for a compact, active, intelligent, and good-natured dog? If so, then an English cocker spaniel is what you should adopt. Due to its relatively small stature and pleasant temperament, this puppy is compatible with all living styles (including city and countryside).

Although the cocker spaniel breed was initially bred to produce incomparable hunting dogs, today they are more popular for being great family pets.

With their floppy ears and literally puppy eyes, their charm is impossible to resist. That’s another reason why cocker spaniels have managed to trend in TV commercials and media, for decades.

Besides, the English cocker spaniel is the only dog breed that won the best-in-show title seven times. Plus, It’s the third most popular British dog breed.

And above all, even the Cambridge dukes and duchesses chose the English cocker spaniel for adoption rather than other popular breeds like german shepherds or golden retrievers.

So, considering the impressive credentials and unparalleled popularity of the cocker spaniel, today we are going to discuss this breed in detail (its history, temperament, personality, health & care, et cetera). Keep reading to figure out whether this cute working dog should be introduced to your family members or not!

English Cocker Spaniel

About the Breed

english cocker spaniel

English cocker spaniel falls in the category of medium-sized dog breeds. Its distinctive features include its compact build, elongated square muzzle, long floppy ears, and dark expressive eyes.

Various spaniel puppies’ parents use words like merry and balanced to refer to these pups since their personalities contain a perfect balance of all the qualities.

They are neither hyperactive nor too mellow. Instead, when on the field, it’d act as the best hunting dog, whereas when at home, it will serve as the best companion dog to share your solitude.

Till 1930, both the English and American cocker spaniel breeds were considered one, but after 1930, it was decided to consider them as different breeds. The reason was, indeed, the large number of differences they hold.

For example, both American and English cockers have different body structures and sizes. English cockers are larger than American cockers. Also, due to having high stamina and more energy, English spaniels are more active in hunting fields.

Not only are they excellent retrievers, but also possess incredible sniffing powers with which they work well even in the roughest and toughest terrains. Their curious nature will never allow them to return empty-handed.

Other dogs which fall into the spaniel family include springer spaniels and field spaniels. In addition to this, the English cocker spaniel breed is divided into two main classes; field breed and show breed.

Field breed, as the name implies, comprises English spaniels which are insane working dogs when it comes to flushing and retrieving your hunt.

On the other hand, show dogs are mainly bred to perform in the show rings and the duties of house dogs. Besides their natures, both types are slightly different from each other when it comes to physical attributes.

For example, show dogs have a smaller muzzle, a medium-length coat, and docked tail, whereas field-bred dogs have a shorter coat, closer to the ground body with deep & wide chests. The good thing is that both these types of English Spaniels are people-loving.

In other words, whatever type of English cocker you’d adopt, it won’t get exhausted on staying within a limited apartment – just make sure you are giving him enough exercise & attention!

History of the English Cocker Spaniel

 English Cocker Spaniel

Although the term spaniel is used to refer to all the dog breeds who partake in hunting and flushing games, the term cocker spaniel is used specifically for dogs that are used for hunting woodcock. Some also believed that the English spaniel dogs were originally bred from the canines of Spanish stock.

Likewise, based on their job types, experts classified spaniels into different types; land spaniels, springer spaniels, water spaniels, cocker spaniels, etc. According to the English cocker spaniel club of America, spaniels have been around there since 1300.

However, due to the lack of research, all spaniels have been considered the same breed since 1903. People of that time used to believe that since all these spaniels were born in the same litter, they must belong to the same family and class.

However, at the beginning of 20s century, scientists started to produce distinctive breeds of spaniels, with the techniques of selective breeding. Even the American breeders developed a spaniel cocker with a shorter head, more extravagant coat, and smaller stature than its British cousin.

In this way, all the spaniels didn’t only begin to be deemed as cousins, on the spaniel family tree but also started getting registered as separate breeds in the early 20th century. Later on, the Kennel Club issued a breed standard list, after which spaniels were officially categorized into different breeds.

To appreciate and register such a wide range of appearances and abilities of English cockers, the English cocker spaniel club of America came into being in 1935. Finally, in 1946, the American kennel club recognized English cocker spaniels as a separate individual breed.

Although American spaniels are more popular, it’s the English cocker spaniel dog that is considered the ultimate favorite as a competition and show dog.

English Cocker Spaniel Facts

english cocker spaniel black
  1. The skin of cocker spaniels releases more sebaceous oil than other dogs. Due to this, they are more prone to getting skin irritations, in the form of itchiness, lumps, and bumps.
  2. Cocker spaniels have crazy appetites, which makes them notorious foodies. Therefore, it’s important to keep a strict eye on their food consumption.
  3. Cockers are one of those few dog breeds which have hair instead of fur. If you don’t know the difference between the two, then the fur is denser & shorter, whereas hair is long and feels silkier.
  4. English cocker spaniels are famously called sporting dogs. The reason is that they partake in almost all dog sports, including dog jumping, obedience, agility, flyball, nose work, and lure coursing.
  5. The average life expectancy of the cocker spaniel dog breed is 12-15 years. However, some cockers managed to live even longer, with their good diet and exercise routine.
  6. The most photographed dog up till now is an English cocker spaniel named Brucie. He used to win the best in shows title various times, back to back – a thing no other dog could ever succeed to do.
  7. Behavioral experts rank English cocker spaniels at the 18th position in the list of most intelligent dog breeds.
  8. Small spaniel cockers were originally bred to hunt birds; woodcocks, and that’s exactly where this dog breed got its name.
  9. Tangle, a cocker spaniel was one of the first dogs who detect cancerous cells in humans.
  10. As compared to American cocker spaniels, English cockers are slightly taller with elongated, narrower skulls and almond-shaped eyes.

English Cocker Spaniel Appearance

English cocker spaniels have narrower and longer heads than other spaniels. Their eyes are dark with soft expressions covering their face. The long floppy ears lie freely near the skull, whereas the head possesses soft contours without any sharp ridges or angles.

english cocker spaniel golden

Let’s have a closer look at some other aspects of the English cocker’s appearance:


As stated before, English cocker spaniels are taller than American cockers however even the English cockers are shorter than springer spaniels. A male English spaniel may grow up to 16-17 inches tall whereas a female English spaniel may grow up to 15-16 inches.

Besides their bodies, their tail may also grow up to 8-9 inches long. However, it’s a common practice to dock the tails of hunting spaniels to 4 inches so they won’t get caught in thick bushes.


Male English cockers, being taller, stand on the heavier side and weigh around 28-34 lbs. On the other hand, female English cockers may weigh anywhere around 26-32 lbs.


English cocker spaniel is a double-coated dog breed, having smooth and silky coats of medium length. The coat may or may not shed, based on the breeding quality and spaniel type. The good part is that the coat is straight, throughout the length, and slightly feathered at the end.

This, in turn, prevents your dog’s coat from matting. But still, it needs to be brushed and trimmed frequently to avoid any sort of inconvenience in near future.


English cocker spaniels exist in a wide range of colors including black n tan, red, liver, solid black, blue roan, ticked, and particolored. Mostly, you’ll find English spaniels in combinations and beautiful patterns rather than in solid colors.

The main reason behind this color and pattern variety is the vast gene pool which determines both the coat color and pattern type (solid, particolored, ticked, roan, open marked, et).

Common color combinations you’d get to see in English cockers are black and grey, lemon and white, orange tan, and black n tan.

English Cocker Spaniel Temperament and Personality

english cocker

Due to their background, English cocker spaniel possesses super strong hunting instincts, and due to this, they sometimes bother you during daily walks. However, at the same time, these dogs hold a huge amount of devotion and urge to please.

They feel on cloud nine when being around their families and happily participate in all sorts of activities. With its loyal, funny, playful, biddable, and delightful personality, it makes the perfect companion for everyone – whether it’s an adventurer adult or a carefree teen.

An English cocker spaniel puppy could be an excellent watchdog, but since they are naturally easy-going, they become friendly to everyone way too quickly, even with the invaders. Therefore, cocker spaniels can’t be recommended to adopt as security dogs.

Also, they get attached to their owner super quickly, after which they crave for his unlimited attention. Due to having too much energy folded into their small bodies and attachment issues, these small dogs can develop separation anxiety quickly – even when left alone only for a few hours.

As a result of this separation anxiety, these normally cheerful pooches might end up being super frustrated canines. Furthermore, to vent this frustration, they could show undesirable behaviors like chewing, stress barking, etc.

So if you can’t stay around your merry cocker 24/7, at least try to provide easy access to a fenced yard where he could play freely. Don’t worry about the pools or any other water body you have on your property since English cockers are natural swimmers.

Lastly, English cocker spaniels can stay comfortably with other pets, including cats. However, for keeping things simpler, it’s advised to raise your cocker pup with those pets.

English Cocker Spaniel Health and Care

english cocker spaniel temperament

Generally, English cocker spaniels are healthy, but like other dog breeds, they are prone to inherit some genetic health problems, such as follows:

Hip Dysplasia

This situation involves deformed hip joints, which may or may not affect the normal living of your cocker. Sometimes, a spaniel cocker lives a very normal and cheerful life, even despite having hip dysplasia but still, you need to keep an eye on your dog’s movements.

To prevent the condition from getting worse, keep your dog from overdoing the exercise. Otherwise, your pet might have to suffer greatly, and the only solution he’d be left with will be hip replacement surgery.

Renal Failure

As the name implies, this health condition involves kidney failure. However, it usually occurs in your dog at a very young age which makes it clear that this disease is genetic.

Eye Conditions

Eye problems are most common in English cockers, and they are, most of the time, inherited. Progressive retinal atrophy is one of the most common eye problems among cocker spaniels in which the dog loses its ability to see gradually.

The disease attacks the retinal cells of spaniels which ends up making them completely blind. Other eye diseases which may attack spaniels include glaucoma, cataracts, etc.

Considering all these genetic abnormalities to which an English cocker spaniel may be prone to develop, it’s important to purchase your spaniel from responsible breeders. A reputable breeder won’t only be open and honest about the health issues of pets but also will be willing to show health clearances.

It doesn’t matter from which pet store you are buying your English spaniel, always ask for the clearance certificates from the OFA BAER, orthopedic foundation, and canine eye registry foundation.

These certificates will ensure that the spaniel you are going to buy is free of all structural, visionary, and auditory disorders.


cocker spaniels images

After checking for all the health certificates and getting sure about your dog’s utmost health, the next task is to take care of him so he won’t develop any severe health issues later on.

The very first thing you need to do in this regard is to check your dog’s diet and exercise. According to your dog’s age, his exercise needs could be different. For example, for a puppy of nine weeks to four months, a playtime of about 15-20 minutes will be sufficient.

On the other hand, an adult dog would have higher exercise needs. For example, if your dog is now six months old, you can take him along with you for jogging. Start by jogging for one mile and keep increasing this distance gradually as your canine matures.

Discuss your pet’s diet with your vet so he could suggest how many calories your dog should intake based on his activity level. This will help your dog from becoming obese and developing related disorders.

Besides proper diet and daily exercise, English cocker spaniels also come with high grooming requirements. To prevent hair from getting tangled and matted, brush your dog’s coat at least twice a week. In addition to combing, the hair should be trimmed off regularly, to maintain a neat look.

Since their ears, a naturally floppy, English cockers tend to develop ear infections, if not cleaned regularly. So make sure you clean the ears, nails, and teeth of your English spaniel to keep him in his healthiest state.

English Cocker Spaniel Training

english cocker spaniels

English cocker Spaniels may be stubborn sometimes, but it doesn’t mean that you use harsh training methods to teach them. Remember that the spaniels have soft and loving temperaments, so if you went too harsh on them, they’d get scared or depressed.

Therefore, it’s always advised to use positive reinforcement methods to train your pup, either for companionship, a show ring, or hunting missions. Verbal praise, food rewards, and appreciative taps are all your dog needs to cooperate with you, so stay gentle.

Since Spaniels possess huge tendencies to please their owners, if done correctly, you can get through the phase of obedience training in a few weeks. If you want your English spaniel to cope well with all sorts of situations, it’s better to indulge him in socialization from an early age.

Remember that your English spaniel is ready to partake in training the day you bring him home. Even a one-month-old pup can learn things quite fast. If you don’t start training your English cocker at such a young age, you’d have to have a tough time, training a more headstrong canine.

However, the vet advises training your pup at home until his vaccination gets completed. Otherwise, your small pup could be a walking threat to other people and animals out there.


By now, we have discussed almost every aspect of the English cocker spaniel, We hope that this article would have helped you cross the fence. You can buy an English cocker spaniel but remember that in rescue groups and foster homes, hundreds of English cockers are awaiting you.

Still, if you are more comfortable with the idea of purchasing a brand-new English spaniel, make sure you are buying it from someone reputable and responsible. The price of an English spaniel may vary based on various factors, including the dog’s sex, parental temperament, type, etc.

Some breeders offer English cockers without papers, at a discounted price. Upon seeing such an offer, never let yourself fall into the trap since not only such breeders might be illegal but could also victimize you with their unethical actions (including data-stealing).

The puppy you buy should belong to a calm and delightful parent line, bred and raised in a peaceful environment, tested, vaccinated, vetted, and socialized so it could have the freshest, healthiest start in his and your life!

Cody Mitchell
Cody Mitchell is a pet lover and a passionate pet writer. He has worked as a professional writer for over 6 years, with a focus on creating compelling content for pet-related brands. His work has been featured in major publications. When he's not writing, Cody can be found playing with his two dogs (a labradoodle and a cocker spaniel) or cuddling his cat.

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