English Cocker Spaniel


Physical characteristics
The English Cocker Spaniel measures 39 to 41 cm at the withers for males and 38 to 39 cm for females, for a weight of about 13 to 14.5 kg. Its coat is flat with a silky texture, never wavy or curly. Its coat can be unicolored black, red, fawn or brown or multicolored with many compositions up to roanné. The tail is carried horizontally, but never raised. They have large drooping ears with bangs of long silky hair.

The English cocker spaniel is classified by the Fédération Cynologiques Internationale among the dogs raising game. (1)

Origins and history
The English Cocker Spaniel shares common origins with Field and Springer Spaniels, but was recognized as a breed in its own right just after the founding of the English Kennel Club in 1873. Its current name derives from the old “cocking spaniel”, which was given to it in reference to its use in woodcock hunting. (1)

Spaniel is the English version of the term spaniel, which refers to hunting dogs from Spain with long hair and hanging ears. (2)

Character and behaviour
In spite of a little begging look with his big drooping ears and his big hazelnut eyes, one can read in the cocker spaniel’s eyes his liveliness of mind and his joyful temperament. He is a dog full of energy and owes his past as a game hunter, a great physical shape and a need for moderate exercise. But he is also a faithful companion whose primary goal in life is to satisfy his master. He is therefore easy to train and will be the delight of dog show aficionados. For those simply looking for a cheerful and affectionate companion, he is also an ideal family or companion dog.

Whether you choose to have him run on the moor in pursuit of game, participate in dog shows or rather pamper him at home, this dog is known to never stop wagging his tail. Certainly a sign of his good mood and jovial temperament.

The frequent pathologies and diseases of the English Cocker Spaniel
According to the 2014 Kennel Club UK Purebred Dog Health Survey, the English cocker spaniel has a life expectancy of over 10 years and the main causes of death were cancer (non-specific), old age and kidney failure. (3)

The English cocker spaniel is a healthy animal, but like other purebred dogs, it can be prone to the development of certain hereditary diseases. Among these the most frequent are coxo-femoral dysplasia, dilated cardiomyopathy, distichiasis. (4-5)

Coxo-femoral dysplasia

Coxo-femoral dysplasia is an inherited disease resulting from a malformed hip joint. As a result of the malformation, the leg bone moves poorly in the joint and causes painful wear of the joint, tears, inflammation and osteoarthritis.

The diagnosis and classification of the stage of dysplasia is mainly made by an X-ray of the hip.

It is a hereditary disease, but the development of the disease is progressive and the diagnosis is often made in the older dog, which complicates management. The first line of treatment is most often anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate osteoarthritis and pain. Ultimately, surgery or even hip replacement may be considered in the most severe cases. It is important to note that a good medication management can significantly improve the dog’s comfort. (4-5)

Dilated cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle (myocardium) and is characterized by an increase in the size of the ventricle and a thinning of the walls. Its anatomical damage is accompanied by contraction defects.

Symptoms appear in dogs between 5 and 6 years of age and are mainly cough, dyspnea, anorexia, ascites and even syncopation.

Diagnosis is based on clinical examination and cardiac auscultation, but also on tests such as chest X-ray, electrocardiogram and echocardiography in order to visualize ventricular abnormalities and to highlight contractile disorders.

The disease first progresses to left heart failure with pulmonary oedema, then to right heart failure with ascites and pleural effusion. The prognosis is very poor and survival is 6 to 24 months after the start of treatment. (4-5)


Distichiasis is an abnormality of the eyelids that is characterized by the presence of an extra row of eyelashes at the level of glands that usually produce a protective liquid for the eye (Meibomius glands). Depending on their number, texture and contact with the eye or cornea, the presence of this extra row may be inconsequential or may cause keratitis, conjunctivitis, or corneal ulcers.

Diagnosis is based on the observation of clinical signs and the use of the slit lamp to visualize the extra lash line. To verify corneal involvement, the veterinarian may then use Fluorescein, the Rose Bengal test or a magnifying glass examination.

The treatment is then done by removing the excess eyelashes and the prognosis is good if the eyes do not show any serious symptoms. Otherwise there is a risk of blindness.

Distichiasis should not be confused with trichiasis.

Trichiasis is also characterized by a mal-implantation of the eyelashes, but in this case, the supernumerary eyelashes come out of the same hair follicle and their implantation leads to the deviation of normal or supernumerary eyelashes towards the cornea. The methods of diagnosis and treatment are the same as for distichiasis. (4-5)

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