Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
Posted June 26, 2013
My first dog was a cocker spaniel. We got her from a breeder after a family friend acquired her brother a year earlier from the same breeder. We had little experience with dogs prior, but we did our best with our girl, Misty. She died when she was 5 years old from anemia that I still don't know what the cause of it was. My review of the breed:
Appearance - I loved the long ear and coat. Very cure and sweet looking! She was a party (tri) colored cocker, and had three little freckles right by her nose. I personally adore the way cockers look.
Temperament - high strung! Misty could be sweet, loving, wanting attenshies, and playful. But she could also be intense and obsessive - almost like a beagle at times when it came to obsession levels. I'm not sure if it was because we didn't have too much dog owning knowledge at the time or because of her own personality or the breed, but I always associate cockers with being high strung and stressed.
Trainability - Misty knew basic commands: sit, stay, come. She followed them pretty well, too. But when she got really focused on something, it was hard to get her to pay attention. She even ran off once because of this propensity. In time, she calmed down somewhat and listened more, but we knew she had issues when she got really intense.
Overacll Activity Level - Misty could play ball for hours. She had a very good activity level.
Barks a lot - Misty only barked at strangers outside or people coming into the house. But she didn't bark at every noise - only if she truly thought someone was at the door.
Health/Vigor - Aside from her death at an early age that I am not sure what the exact cause was, she had ear problems. We had to clean out her ears once a week with ear drops because of how her ears drooped. She also had allergies and would chew her foot incessantly. These rarely got in the way of her everyday life, though.
Friendly with adult family members: Misty loved her family, and only had issue when she was about to be taken off of her spot. She loved her family very much.
Friendly with children: Aside from initial barking, Misty was actually pretty good around children. She knew to keep her space, and never snapped. She loved when young children would play ball with her.
Friendly with strangers: Misty would bark at new people, but she was shy, so she hid behind her family members to bark. Sometimes she would only bark once safely behind a family member. She never snapped at a stranger - she was mostly just wary of their existence on first contact.
Friendly with strange dogs: It took time for misty to warm up to a dog, but she would never get into fights with them. However, she would bark up a storm whenever she saw a new dog, and even broke free of her leash once to run across the street after a pair of dogs.
Watchdog ability: She could bark like no one's business, but only when she thought someone was there.
Guard Dog ability: she was a family dog - she never bit anyone. She was more of an alert system.
Easy to groom: Cockers have long coats and long ears. We kept Misty's coat trimmed down so that wouldn't get matted, but her ears still needed special attention. If you want to keep them with the classic cocker look, you'll have to invest in some grooming money or learn to groom them yourselves.
Low cost to own: It depends. Vet bills will always be an issue, but we groomed Misty ourselves, so those bills were never too high. If you take her monthly to the groomers, it will add up.
Overall, I loved my first dog. I will always remember her, and the breed in general, as a high strung, obsessive mess, but also very loving, caring, and protective.