Before Labradors and Golden Retrievers took the spotlight as perfect companions of the modern family, the cocker spaniel was the most beloved breed in the UK and beyond. Not only do they look adorable with their long ears and silky fur but they also thrive on human companionship and have a pleasant temperament.

Whether it’s in a home environment or in the field, they are considered to be an ideal choice as a pet. Read on to find out more about them and how you can take proper care of them.

Overview

In terms of ancestry, they fall under the spaniel type which has historic records going back to the 14th century. They have also been mentioned in writings from the 16th and 17th centuries. However, there are many who believe that they arrived in Britain sometime around the Roman invasion in 54 to 55 BC.

Prior to the 1600s, all spaniels were categorised as one breed. They were eventually divided into two groups of toys and hunters. Different hunting types have since evolved with time; some retrieving from water and others working on land.

The cocker spaniel was originally bred as a working gundog in the English countryside. It was especially good at flushing woodcocks and retrieving them under command, hence its name. It’s the smallest type yet to fall under the sporting group.

In the beginning, they were not recognised as an individual breed by The Kennel Club in the UK. It was only in 1892 that it was finally separated from the other types. They quickly gained popularity with the public and dog lovers, and they have continued to be one of the most popular breeds in the world.

Breed Characteristics

  • Siccaro Average Weight:
    26 to 35 pounds for both males and females
  • Siccaro Height at Withers:
    36 to 38 centimetres for females, 39 to 43 centimetres for males
  • Siccaro Classification:
    Medium-sized

They were bred to be durable gundogs that move with a smooth gait. Hence, they have a well-balanced body that’s both solid and sturdy. Their nicely-proportioned skulls feature square jaws and wide muzzles as well as upper lips hanging over their lower jaws.

Their eyes are almond-shaped and typically brown or black in colour. Depending on their coat, their noses are also either black or brown. Docked tails, short backs, deep chests, and long necks are other characteristics common in this type of spaniel. As for their ears, these are lobular and long plus they always lie close to their heads.

According to their breed standards, they should have lots of feathering on their front and back legs. There are, of course, differences when you compare the show types versus the working types. A miniature cocker spaniel may also have features not found in full-sized ones.

One of their most appealing physical traits would have to be their variety of fur colours though. One could be chocolate, white and tan while another could be blue roan. Others could just be plain liver, golden, black, or red.

cocker spaniel
 

Health and Grooming

Like humans, dogs also run the risk of developing genetic diseases. They are known to suffer from acquired and congenital health conditions as well. It’s worth learning about them if you are sharing your home with a cocker.

Here are several disorders you’ll want to watch out for:

  • Cancer
  • Distichiasis
  • Bite problems
  • Entropion
  • Deafness
  • Ectropion
  • Primary glaucoma
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Benign tumours
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cataracts
  • Heart murmurs
  • Skin allergies
  • Persistent pupillary membrane
  • Mammary tumours

With regards to vaccinations, puppies should be getting their injections when they’re 8 to 12 weeks old. Some veterinarians also suggest yearly boosters, especially if you’re interested in using boarding kennels in the future.

To properly monitor the health of your cocker spaniel, watch out for any physical symptoms. Redness in the eyes could be a sign of problems or abnormalities and should get checked out. On the other hand, a medium amount of shedding is pretty normal and not something you should worry about.

While on the subject of fur, you should know that the silky coats on show dogs don’t just happen. They take a lot of work to be kept tangle-free and shiny. Many owners choose to keep their pets in a puppy cut though this still requires a good amount of maintenance.

Bathing, brushing, and trimming are things that should happen at least once a week. Toenails shouldn’t get long enough to clack on the floor as they can make it uncomfortable for your canine to walk. Teeth should be brushed frequently for fresh breath and good dental health.

If you find grooming too overwhelming to do on your own, you should find a professional groomer to handle the job. They would have the equipment to handle cutting hair and even cleaning out the ears so you can rest easy.

 

Exercise Needs

The recommended amount of exercise per day for cockers is approximately 60 minutes. They have medium energy levels and need mental stimulation so take them on a walk to reduce their boredom and keep them healthy. Working types will need more as they are quite active.

They love to meet people and other dogs as well as just run around. Hence, it’s important that you give them lots of chances to do so. Swimming is also an activity they will find enjoyable so don’t be surprised if they try to jump in a pool or any other body of water during your walks.

If your pet has a tendency to just dive in without forewarning, it pays to be equipped with an outdoor dual-purpose coat so you can easily dry them off and keep them warm. Our Spirit by Siccaro is a particularly good item to have on hand with its absorbent Wet2Dry fabric technology that will get your spaniel dry in around 15 minutes.

 

Trainability

On a scale of one to five, cocker spaniels are at five on how easy they are to train. Not only are they intelligent but they are also willing to learn new things. Make sure that you provide their education as early as possible and keep their training consistent throughout their lives.

Like with other breeds, they need to be taught basic obedience so they are aware of the boundaries. Among the first commands you should teach are: sit, stay, come, wait, leave, quiet, and bed. They normally don’t test the limits once you set them so housetraining is usually not an issue especially on where they should do their business.

When given the right exercise and training, cockers can form close bonds with their families and even learn to get along with other pets. They may have a reputation of being uncooperative with veterinarians and groomers but this usually stems from a lack of training. Lessons on how they should behave at the clinic or grooming table are always beneficial.

Few dogs can cover different kinds of terrain in a working capacity with as much poise as them so you will want to hone these skills if you’re thinking to take them hunting. Gentle methods with positive reinforcement are the most effective means of achieving this. But you will want to have a firm hand when it comes to their instinct to jump in the water.

With that said...

It’s clear to see that cockers are an excellent dog to have for your home. They have a gentle and loving nature so they are fine being around children. They are also so eager to please and full of life so you never feel bored when you’re playing with them.

Though Labs and Retrievers may be taking the cake for being the most family-friendly, spaniels are still worth checking out. A miniature cocker spaniel would be especially nice when you have limited space or live in an apartment.

Just remember to take proper care of them so they can stay healthy and happy. Their average life expectancy may be about 12 to 15 years but it’s entirely possible for them to live past that with the right amount of care.

 
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