Cocker Spaniel

Save as favorite

Avg. Owner Satisfaction


(325 Reviews)

Is the Cocker Spaniel right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): American Cocker Spaniel; Cocker

The basics:
The happy, eye-catching Cocker Spaniel has a lot to recommend it both to pet owners and exhibitors. Its easy-going personality means that these dogs are particularly attractive to families, including families with multiple pets in the home.

In 1946, the AKC recognized the American Cocker Spaniel as a separate sporting breed from the English Cocker Spaniel, which was originally developed in the Middle Ages to flush woodcock, a game bird. The American Cocker Spaniel is smaller-- indeed, the AKC calls it the smallest breed in the hunting group-- and it boasts a rounder head with a shorter muzzle.

Appearance / health:
The Cocker Spaniel has very long hanging ears, a rounded head, and a medium-length coat. The head is chiseled with an abrupt stop. The muzzle is wide, deep, and broad with a square jaw. The upper lip hangs down, covering the lower jaw completely. The teeth are strong and should meet in a scissors bite. The nose is always black on black dogs, but may be brown on other dogs. The eyes are round, and set on so they look directly forward. The eye rims are slightly oval.

The body is compact with a short back. The top line slopes gently downwards from front to back. The front legs are straight with good bone. The tail is docked to two-fifth of its original length and is carried on a line with its back; it is constantly in motion. This breed is free and merry, sound, and well balanced throughout. In action, it shows a keen inclination to work.

Cocker Spaniels need thorough grooming every day. Some owners prefer to leave the coat long, brushing daily and shampooing frequently, with regular scissoring and clipping. Others prefer to clip the coat to medium length to make it more functional. Either way, the dog requires routine trimming. They also need regular bathing, to clean their skin and minimize odor.

The eyes of the Cocker Spaniel need regular cleaning. Their ears require careful attention, as ear infections often occur due to the restricted airflow; in addition, the long ears usually trail in food bowls—unless specially designed ones are used—and therefore need regular cleaning. Attention must be paid to the lip folds, making sure that they are clean and free from infection. Teeth have to be regularly cleaned. Feet should be checked for matted hair or dried mud. Careful brushing is required to avoid pulling out the silky hair. This breed is an average shedder.

Cockers have plenty of stamina and need regular exercise. They adjust well to apartment living if they are adequately exercised, and are fairly active indoors. A small yard is sufficient for exercising. Walking for 60 to 80 minutes is sufficient.

Some major health concerns in Cocker Spaniels are: cataracts; glaucoma; and patellar luxation (dislocation of the kneecap).

Some minor concerns include: hip dysplasia (lameness due to deformed hips); ectropion (an outward turning or sagging of the eyelid); entropion (an inward folding of the eyelid, particularly the lower one); allergies; seborrhea (flaking on the face, scalp or trunk); lip fold pyoderma (bacterial infection of the skin); otitis externa (bacterial infection of the external ear canal); liver disease; urolithiasis (crystals / stones in the urine causing acute ureteral obstruction); prolapse of nictitans gland ("flipping out" of the tear gland located behind the third eyelid); phosphofructokinase deficiency (genetic disease preventing glucose metabolism into energy resulting in exercise intolerance; muscle disease and anemia); and cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease that impairs the heart's ability to pump blood). Other medical concerns occasionally found among Cocker Spaniels include gastric torsion (twisting of the stomach after gastric distention occurs) and elbow dysplasia.

Immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) is relatively common in Cockers, and is almost always fatal. IMHA is an accelerated destruction of red blood cells due to the attachment of immunoglobulin and/or complement to the erythrocyte membrane (red blood cells). It is a common cause of severe anemia and hemolysis (breaking open of red blood cells and the release of hemoglobin into the surrounding fluid or plasma) in dogs. It is a fast-acting, silent killer.

Behavior / temperament:
Bold and keen to work, the Cocker Spaniel is equally suited to life as a gundog or as a companion pet. Cheerful, sweet, and sensitive, the Cocker Spaniel is an inseparable friend of children, and respectful of its master's authority without much challenge. Merry and endearing, they are happy tail-waggers. Cockers love, and need, people around to be happy.

They are lively, playful, and devoted, but may require to be socialized well when they are young, to avoid timidity. This breed may be difficult to housebreak. However, it is intelligent and can be easily trained. The Cocker Spaniel’s rate of obedience is high, whereas that of problem solving is low.

Cocker Spaniels are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound, and may bark excessively.


beautiful cocker spaniels, happy nature, great watchdog, perfect gentleman, wonderful cockers


rambunctious children, separation anxiety, Cherry Eye Cocker, common eye condition, mammary tumors


ETHICAL breeder, great apartment dog, pure energy cockers, puppy mill survivors

Adopt a Cocker Spaniel from a shelter near you

No pets available within 50 miles
Powered by Petfinder

Recommended Cocker Spaniel Products

Is Prime
Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Mea...

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Mea...

$ 5249 ($0.15/Count) $53.99

View more >

Is Prime
Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Sensitive...

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Sensitive...

$ 5799 ($0.15/Count) $57.99

View more >

Annamaet Food - 26% Extra Dog - 15 lb

$ 4799 ($0.15/Count) $35.99

View more >

Elevate Acadia Recipe Super Premium Dog Food (6 Po...

$ 2449 ($0.15/Count) $24.49

View more >

Member photos