Physical characteristics of the English Cocker Spaniel
Varieties: a) red; b) black; c) other colors
The English Cocker Spaniel is a cheerful, robust, sporty, compact dog. The length of the trunk is more or less equal to the height at the withers. The head is well chiselled, with a well developed skull, square muzzle, well defined stop. The eyes are large, not prominent and must be brown or dark brown but never light; they are intelligent and gentle. The ears are set low, lobular, hanging: they must reach, but not exceed, the nose. The body is strong and compact, the limbs are well boned and upright. The tail, which is cut off, is inserted slightly below the dorsal line; it is always wagging (characteristic of the breed).
Hair : smooth, silky, with not too much fringing.
Color: according to the variety, all colors are allowed; in the unicolours white is only allowed on the chest.
Size : 39 to 41 cm for the male and 38 to 39 cm for the female.
Weight: 12.5 to 14.5 kg
Origins and history
It is a “Spaniel”, but does it mean “Spanish” or English? Unquestionably, it is English and cannot be more so: the breed was selected in Great Britain from 1879 but from the 18th century, the English used Spaniel type dogs for hunting. However, its more remote origin is probably Spanish, as Dr. Cajus wrote as early as 1570 in his De canibus britannicis. Descriptions of English Spaniel can even be found in books dating back to the end of the 14th century. Its name comes from the English word woodcock which means woodcock. The Cocker is indeed a true specialist in the hunting of this bird.
Character and aptitudes
Gentle and affectionate and above all very demonstrative, this hunting dog is a companion full of life with whom it is very pleasant to cohabit as his joviality is communicative.
Very cheerful and lively, this dog is a tireless player and particularly enjoys spending time with children.
When he is a puppy, the English Cocker Spaniel is very difficult to channel due to his great energy and permanent enthusiasm. It is only with age and a good education that he manages to calm down.
The English Cocker Spaniel is very intelligent, he quickly understands what is expected of him and adapts perfectly to many situations and different environments. This makes him a remarkable hunting dog and an ideal life companion for many profiles.
Often considered only as a companion dog, we tend to forget that he is a formidable hunter. Initially selected to hunt woodcock, he is however very versatile and can just as well hunt rabbit, pheasant or any other small furry or feathered game.
Fearful / distrustful of strangers :
Towards strangers, there are some differences in temperament depending on the variety of the dog (although of course there are exceptions). It turns out that the multicoloured English Cocker Spaniels are friendly with everyone, they welcome guests with enthusiasm and cheerfulness. On the other hand, single-coloured Cocker Spaniels are more exclusive and possessive towards members of their social group and are therefore more distant with strangers.
Very faithful, the English Cocker Spaniel is a very good companion, an accomplice sometimes and especially a very good auxiliary of work. In fact, he is always very dependent on his master for whom he could move heaven and earth to satisfy him.
Supports solitude :
The English Cocker spaniel is only happy when surrounded by members of his social group. He lives very badly the absences of his masters and must not suffer prolonged absences (maximum 5 hours).
Easy to educate / obedient :
It is said that the multi-colored subjects are more dissipated than the unicolored ones but nevertheless question much less the orders of their master; contrary to the unicolored subjects who are certainly more attentive but also more stubborn sometimes.
In fact, education must be initiated from the earliest age of the English Cocker Spaniel puppy. As soon as he arrives at home, limits must be set to prevent the puppy from developing bad habits.
Firmness, gentleness, rigour, consistency and correctness are the key words to obtain the cooperation of this dog.
When this dog barks, it is mainly to claim the attention that is not given to him. Thus, it is his way of making him understand that he is there and that he needs to be taken care of.
Beware, this attitude must not be reinforced under any circumstances at the risk that barking becomes excessive.
Among hunting dogs, the English Cocker Spaniel is certainly one of the least runaway. Indeed, very faithful to his master it is really necessary that the track to be followed is very interesting for him to get away from him.
He is so attached to his master that he can be very stirring and destructive if he is left alone too long without having benefited from a positive and progressive habituation to solitude.
On the other hand, the Cocker often has fun pricking his slippers or whatever, simply to “amuse” the gallery and attract the attention of his family.
Greedy / glutton :
Very good eater, it is important not to give in to all the whims of this dog to avoid overweight.
Guard dog :
Very sociable and friendly with guests, this dog is by no means a good guard dog. In fact, welcoming an intruder by asking him/her to cuddle is not the most dissuasive technique.
First dog :
The English Cocker Spaniel is an ideal companion dog for many people: single people who want jovial company, a family with children or a sportsman who is looking for a teammate to go running. He delights young and old and adapts to the mood of his interlocutors.
English Cocker in apartment :
He can live in an apartment, but must have several daily outings to release his great energy.
Whether he lives anywhere (apartment or house with garden), his only wish is to be close to his masters, warm, inside. It is therefore not possible to leave him outside constantly, in which case he would develop serious behavioral problems.
Need for exercise / sports :
It should never be forgotten that the English Cocker Spaniel is above all a working dog. In fact, he needs a significant physical, mental, olfactory and social expenditure to express his full potential and to develop fully.
In addition to being a very good companion for hunting, he is a first choice teammate for the more sportive who wish to be accompanied by a canine in their various activities.
Travel / Ease of transport :
This medium-sized dog is relatively easy to transport but must acquire a good educational base and be very well socialized to accompany its masters everywhere.
The English Cocker Spaniel and the Cats :
The dog/cat intraspecific agreement can go very well, especially if they grew up together and the Cocker’s predation instinct is controlled.
The English Cocker Spaniel and Other Dogs :
Rather sociable with his fellow dogs, this does not prevent a good socialization from the first month of life of the English Cocker Spaniel puppy so that he develops and reinforces his canine codes. The meetings must be controlled, regular and above all always positive.
The English Cocker Spaniel and children :
A real clown, this hunting dog loves to play and spend time with children. Endowed with great energy, he proves to be tireless, especially in helping children do stupid things around the house.
The English Cocker Spaniel :
Although he can easily adapt, the English Cocker Spaniel is not a “living room” dog. More sedentary people, the elderly and all those who do not like to take a dog for a run should rather turn to his cousin the American Cocker Spaniel, who has a calmer character and is less prone to stress.
Resistant / robust :
He is robust and lives a very long time; you just have to clean his eyes and check his long ears often, especially if the dog lives in the country, to make sure that no foreign body responsible for very annoying ear infections has entered.
Withstands heat :
Hardy and passionate at work, this hunting dog should not be subjected to too much intense effort in hot weather.
Withstands the cold:
In spite of its robustness, it is not advisable to make him sleep outside during bad weather (cold and rain).
Tendency to put on weight:
If it is sufficiently spent, there is no reason for the English Cocker Spaniel to gain weight. On the other hand, being particularly greedy, one should not give in to all his whims and avoid spoiling him too much with sweets.
Frequent illnesses :
Progressive atrophy of the retina
Familial nephropathy (kidney disease)
Grooming and maintenance
The grooming of the English Cocker Spaniel can prove to be complex for the subjects of exposure, it is recommended to call upon a professional canine groomer.
Otherwise, simple weekly brushing will maintain the beauty and cleanliness of his coat.
His hanging ears should of course be closely monitored and cleaned regularly.
Hair loss :
Throughout the year, the loss of hair is quite moderate but becomes more pronounced in autumn and spring, during the annual shedding. Brushing should then be daily.
The price of an English Cocker spaniel varies according to its origin, age and gender. On average, you should count on 900 € for a dog registered in the LOF. The highest bloodlines can be sold up to more than 1300 €.
Concerning the average budget to support a dog of this size, it is necessary to count approximately 30€ / month.
Average life expectancy: about 15 years
Remarks and advice
For several decades (1970s), the English Cocker Spaniel has had a reputation as a nasty dog. But it is unfortunately only the result of bad selections made by unscrupulous breeders who were surfing at the time on the great popularity of this breed. Many dogs were therefore produced and sold without any concern for the repercussions. Since the 90’s, passionate and honest breeders have been fighting to restore the reputation of this dog with multiple qualities.