The English cocker spaniel is cute, lively, and a highly intelligent dog that makes a wonderful family pet or a hunting companion. Many small dog enthusiasts choose this breed for its loving and cheerful personality. You may remember the Cocker spaniel from the movie The Lady and the Tramp. The dog depicted therein accurately portrays all the features which Cockers are famous for – loyalty, sweetness, and an eagerness to play at all times.
Let s study some facts, temperament and other important factors to know when raising Cocker Spaniels.
Fun facts about the English Cocker Spaniel
- The breed is quite old; they have even been mentioned in the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare. Spaniels have been around for at least 500 years.
- Cockers were bred to flush game and they could easily hunt in water and on land.
- American Cocker spaniel and their English counterparts are two separate breeds. They look different and the American is mostly developed as a show dog. The English breed is taller and has a narrower head and chest.
- President Nixon had a white cocker spaniel and his daughters had named him Checkers. Nixon even mentioned Checkers in his famous speech after he was accused of accepting gifts and money. He mentioned in his televised speech that the only gift he had ever received was Checkers whom everyone in his family loved and whom they planned on keeping.
- Male cockers stand up to 15 inches while females measure up to 14 inches at withers.
- Cockers weigh between 22 and 28 lbs. They are small, medium dogs with furry, long ears. Their eyes are usually brown and the tail is docked.
- Cocker spaniels come in various colors like brown, black, cream, tan, or reddish-brown. They may also have tan markings. Sometimes they come in a combination of the above colors and white.
Where to find an English Cocker Spaniel
Avoid buying your cocker spaniel puppy from a breeder whose facility is unkempt or who seems to have an off-putting rapport with his female or male English cocker spaniel. Also, avoid purchasing from a breeder or owner of whom the puppies seem afraid. Ask to meet the dam of the puppy. Do not buy the puppy if its dam appears hostile, afraid, aggressive, or excessively timid. All these characteristics indicate that the breeder may be simply breeding for money.
When you meet and talk to several breeders, ask each one what his/her intentions are behind their breeding program. You can get recommendations for good breeders from the official club of English cocker spaniel here. Your vet can also guide you to ethical breeders of Cockers in your area. Alternatively, visit dog shows or canine events nearby to find top breeders of the English cocker spaniel. Expect to pay anywhere between $600 to $1000 for a cocker spaniel puppy depending on its bloodline, the breeder, and your location.
Cocker spaniel temperament is cheerful, happy, and extremely lively. Some people say that this is the happiest dog breed in the world. A cocker will be happy in any home provided he gets plenty of attention and love. Dogs wag their tails when they are happy; a cocker wags more than his tail. He will wag his entire hind quarters!
They love being outdoors with their family. Most cockers love all their humans; though some tend to attach themselves to one person in the family. These active dogs are extremely obedient, gentle, and fairly easy to train. They are extremely loyal dogs who hate being left alone for long periods of time. They love children and get along well with other pets provided you socialize them from an early age.
Training your Cocker Spaniel puppy
You are your dog’s leader and he looks up to you. Always start training your puppy as soon as he comes home. Be firm, gentle, and consistent with training. Your pet reads your emotions, so avoid training on days you are tired, in a bad mood, or distracted. Your dog will read these signs. Be sure to dedicate at least 30-45 minutes for training. For young pups, keep training sessions short and end each session with plenty of play.
Cockers love their food so tasty and healthy treats are a good way to reinforce positive behavior. The ‘sit’ command is a good way to start your pet’s training since most dogs find this natural position rather easy to understand and follow. Praise, smile and treat your dog when he sits. Also, end each training session with the ‘sit command’ so that you end each lesson on a high note. Cockers also do well with agility and obedience classes, so if possible, find a class near you.
All dogs, regardless of their breed, require some form of daily exercise. Your cocker will love to accompany you on walks and he will love to retrieve and fetch stuff from land or water. However, what an English cocker spaniel loves the most is free running in a fenced yard or a wooded area. Of course, you must always supervise your pet and make sure he comes when called.
Avoid exercising very young puppies for more than 15-20 minutes per day. You may be excited to have your little buddy meet everyone around the neighborhood. But, like human babies, cocker puppies can get tired and cranky. Their young joints are also susceptible to damage if they jump from a distance or over-exert them. So avoid strenuous activities.
Once your puppy is about 9 months old, you can extend his walk and playtime. Exercise is a must for your cocker; a bored cocker will find ways to entertain himself and that could lead to unwanted behaviors like digging under the fence, chewing up the furniture, or excess barking.
Grooming and shedding
This is a breed that requires a lot of grooming. Daily brushing using a natural boar bristle brush is essential to keep mats and tangles away and also to stimulate the skin’s natural oils. Cockers shed heavily twice a year. So brushing during the season is a must unless you don’t mind hair all over the place.
This breed also has a lot of fur around and inside the ears which need to be trimmed regularly. Failure to do so can cause ear problems. Brush your pet’s teeth daily and trim the toenails and hair around the paws from time to time.
Eye problems have always been a major concern in the English Cocker spaniel and so has hip dysplasia. Today, another main hereditary concern in this breed is familial nephropathy, a condition that causes kidney failure in very young dogs. Your Cocker will be considered a senior at the age of 9 years. The average expected life span of the breed is 12-14 years.