Cocker Spaniel – an Easy Going Happy Dog That “Goes With the Flow”

The Cocker Spaniel is a beautiful, sweet dog that loves people. He makes an excellent pet, but presents a few challenges to the owner.

General Appearance and Description

The American Cocker Spaniel was originally developed through breeding of the English Cocker Spaniel. The American Cocker is smaller than the English version, and the English Cocker often has a finer and shorter coat of hair.

The Cocker Spaniel has long ears, and a medium-length coat that’s shiny and feathered looking.

On black Cocker Spaniels, the nose will always be black, but on other colored Spaniels, the nose can be brown.  You might get a Cocker Spaniel that’s buff-colored, or black. The coat is usually one color, but some can be a primary color with another color accent (such as white with black and tan accents).

Most Cocker Spaniel breeders will suggest that you get your Cocker Spaniel’s tail docked, but if you aren’t showing him, you might not need to do that.

Basic Temperament

The Cocker Spaniel enjoys work, but it’s just as happy being a pet in your house. This is an easy-going dog that will happily go with the flow and complain little.

In general the American Cocker Spaniel is cheerful, sensitive, respectful and pleasant to be around. These dogs are gentle and can be prone to shyness, and will eschew new relationships with people and other dogs if not socialized properly. It’s best to socialize Cocker Spaniel puppies early and often so they don’t develop that shy side.

Unlike some dogs that will challenge your authority and attempt to establish themselves as the “top dog,” Cocker Spaniel dogs are happy to accept you as the leader, and they seem to inherently understand that you are the boss and they are inferior to you.

Care Required

If you keep your Cocker Spaniel dog’s coat long, be prepared to brush it daily and shampoo it frequently. To keep it shiny and beautiful looking, it does require some care. Even if you keep his coat shorter, you’ll still have to brush him regularly and get it trimmed regularly. You can be a bit more lax, however.

Cocker Spaniel dogs don’t shed too terribly much, though they can leave a trail behind if their coat is left long. The hairs can come out easily, so be careful when brushing that you don’t pull out the long hairs.

Exercise Requirements
You might not think by looking at this sweet-faced and regal dog that he’s a bit of a wild man, but he is. That is, the Cocker Spaniel dog needs a good amount of activity on a regular basis. If he doesn’t get it, he might challenge your home environment.

Be sure to give your Cocker Spaniel regular walks that are long and sometimes challenging. When walking him, avoid going through areas that contain thickets or anything that could damage your Cocker’s coat.

While the American Cocker Spaniel does best in a home environment with a large yard, he can live in an apartment if he’s exercised regularly and well. He’s active indoors, so plenty of area to play and plenty of toys to play with are both essential.


Because the Cocker Spaniel innately knows who is boss (you), he’s relatively easy to train. Some Cocker Spaniels can be difficult to housebreak, however, so some patience is required during that process.

Height and Weight

The male Cocker Spaniel will grow to be about 15 ½ inches tall, while the female will be about 14 ½ inches tall. Both male and female will weigh between 15 and 30 pounds.

Health and Longevity

Cocker Spaniel dogs are prone to a number of health problems. If you do add one to your home, it’s important that you consider the many challenges that Cocker Spaniels can face with regard to their health.

Some of the most common health problems that your Cocker Spaniel might deal with include cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy and other eye conditions. They also suffer knee problems and hip dysplasia, along with liver disease and cardiomyopathy. Some have allergies, ear infections, and a very serious condition called immune mediated hemolytic anemia.

If your Cocker Spaniel stays healthy, or is lucky enough to deal well with whatever health conditions he might suffer, he can live to be about 12 to 15 years old.


The Cocker Spaniel loves children and does well in a house with children and other pets. They also make good watchdogs, enjoy agility and will work to do well in trials, and they make excellent hunting dogs.

More Information

Further information about the Cocker Spaniel can be found here.

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