The English Cocker Spaniel

descriptive textDog breed info
English Cocker Spaniel
Weight: 26 — 34 lbs
Height: 15” — 17”
AKC Rank 2008 #68
Lifespan: 12—14 yrs
Group: Sporting
Origin: England

Dog Breed Info - English Cocker Spaniel

This is Max, an English Cocker who is
lucky enough to have a whole
website about him. Photo shared with us
by his owner, Pauline in the UK. See below.

Breed Overview

Origin 1800’s. Original function Bird flushing and retrieving. Today, Bird flushing and retrieving. Colors: Black, Red, Black and Tan, Liver and Tan, any of these colors on white background.

The English Cocker Spanial is one of the land spaniels. The land spaniels consisted of larger spaniels that were better at springing game, and smaller spaniels that proved better at hunting woodcock. In 1892, the two sizes were considered separate breeds. The smaller size, under 25 pounds, was designated the Cocker Spaniel. Since both breeds shared the same genes, they still had most of the same hunting abilities. In 1901, the weight limit was done away with. Cocker Spaniels became very popular in England but American breeders tried to change the breed in ways the English didn’t like. In 1946 the English Cocker was designated a separate breed from the American and was registered by the AKC. In Europe, the English version remains by far the most popular of the two breeds.

"How To Train Your Cocker Spaniel" if a 96 page hardcover book that gives you ideas about getting the dog, tips on caring for it and on training. It's a 5-star customer rated book.

How to Train Your Cocker Spaniel (Tr-106)


Yes, easy to train. The Cocker does exceptionally well with clicker training and positive reinforcement training. This is easy for the dog to understand and simple to teach. Pick up a clicker at any pet store for around $3.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your English Cocker Spaniel? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

English Cocker Spaniel puppies are relatively easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

English Cocker Spaniel brothers
descriptive test


The English Cocker Spaniel retains more of it’s hunting nature than the American version, and it also needs a bit more exercise. This dog is inquisitive, cheerful, devoted and loyal. The breed tends to be quite sensitive and is a highly sociable sort that prefers to stay close to it’s human family.

If you happen to get one with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Yes, they get along with dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes. The English Cocker Spaniel enjoys the company of just about anything.

Here's a happy English Cocker Spaniel!
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Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, likes people generally.


Yes, very playful.


Very affectionate. Love family.

Good with children?

Maybe. Only if raised with children. Cockers don’t tolerate the nonsense of very young children, so older kids only.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The English Cocker Spaniel is a good companion for seniors. As long as he/she can get out and walk or throw a ball several times a day it will work. The owner MUST be active.Ig longevity or training are an issue, go to English Cocker Spaniel Rescue and look for 2 or 3 year old dogs that are already house trained and know a few commands. Things will be much better than getting a puppy.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, city OK. Needs to be indoors with family. Okay as long as it gets enough exercise. Does not need a big yard. Small yards are fine as long as the dog gets her walks and play time.

Cocker puppy sniffs the flowers
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Energy level


Exercise needs, daily

Two long walks daily or a good run in the field or some lively games of fetch in the yard are needed to keep the English Cocker Spaniel in proper shape.


Fairly good. Has protective instincts.

Guard dog

Fair to poor. Not aggressive enough to be taken seriously.


A little.


Brushing three times a week. Plus regular grooming of the head, tail and feet every 8 weeks. It’s a good idea to trim the whole body to keep the dog looking smart.

Ears need cleaning weekly.

Want to learn more about the Cocker Spaniel? This is a site packed with good information about Cocker Spaniels. The site, About Cocker, features tips and advice on how to care for Cockers from puppy to adulthood. Included is advice on choosing your Cocker Spaniel, care, crate and toilet training, socialization, obedience training, health problems and a much more.


Suggested Reading For The English Cocker Spaniel

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners to keep close at hand.


English Cocker Spaniel Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for English Cocker Spaniel puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training. This breed is hard to find in the USA. Try this site:
English Cocker Spaniel Breeders with puppies for sale.

English Cocker Spaniel Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for an English Cocker Spaniel Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - English Cocker Spaniel Rescue As of this writing, Petfinder is showing only 21 of this breed available for adoption in the entire country! Go online and search for English Cocker Spaniel Rescue Groups as well as shelters and see what you can find. Seems this breed is scarce. If you do find one to adopt, try to locate the dog health records for possible future use.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but based on what we found with Petfinder above, this is a difficult breed to find. As suggested, surf for English Cocker Spaniel Rescue groups and keep trying.

Dog Health Issues - English Cocker Spaniel
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the English Cocker Spaniel by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, hind/back leg acts lame, can't move, weak legs. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing the Cocker Spaniel great pain, weakness and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Intervertebral disc disease—Biochemical changes in a young dog of certain breeds can cause at least one diseased or mineralized disc in the spine of a dog. A disc that is not functioning properly will cause pain, problems walking, stumbling, severe neck pain and even paralysis. The Dachshund has an 80% chance of having this problem. Treatments can go from non-invasive doses of anti-inflammatory steroids, muscle relaxants and bed-rest to surgery. Pain meds are also given as needed. Mess with the spine and you have a serious situation and it’s tough on the dog!

  • Pancreatitis—A life-threatening disease commonly affecting middle age and older Miniature Schnauzers, Miniature Poodles, American and English Cocker Spaniels. The pancreas produces enzymes that help process food. With the disease, the pancreas begins digesting it’s own tissue. Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain follow in most cases. Some dogs will die from lack of response to treatments. PREVENT the disease by not allowing the dog to become obese, and not giving high-fat foods to the dog Info thanks to

  • Patellar luxation—Cocker Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg, weak legs. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small dogs like the English Cocker Spaniel. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, lame or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Urolithiasis—Cocker Spaniel kidney stones or bladder stones. Excessive crystals (aka urinary stones or bladder or kidney stones) can form in the urinary tract or kidney, bladder or urethra, blocking the flow of urine. Dogs can be treated by diet, medications and surgery, depending on the dog, severity and other circumstances of the individual case.

  • Otitis externa—Ear infections—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps like the English Cocker Spaniel. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Lens luxation—Hereditary in the English Cocker SApaniel. Weak fibers holding the lens of the eye allow the lens to dislocate. The eye can not focus. This leads to painful, red eyes that tear a lot and can lead to Uveitis or Glaucoma if not treated right away. If detected early, surgery and medication might solve the problem.

  • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eyes and eventually causes total blindness if not treated early.

  • Cataract—Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and if not treated will cause total blindness.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age in the young English Cocker Spaniel. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Ectropion—A hereditary medical problem. The lower eyelid grows outward leaving a gap between the eye and the eyelid. Excessive tearing and conjunctivitis are common signs of the disease but some dogs will have no symptoms. Blunt trauma and/or nerve damage can also cause the problem. If the cornea becomes damaged or if the conjunctivitis becomes chronic, surgery will be necessary.

  • Cherry eye—One of the English Cocker Spaniel’s tear glands is in the third eyelid. The gland contributes a significant amount of fluid to lubricate the eye so it can not be removed. A congenital defect, breed related, allows the gland to bulge out because it is not held strongly in place. Thus, the gland prolapses out to a visible position as a reddish mass. Out of position, the gland does not move blood properly and so may swell. Since the gland is needed for lubrication in the eye, vets now do a “tuck and stitch” procedure that pouts the gland back in place and preserves the original function of tear production.

  • Anal sac adenocarcinoma—A malignant tumor in the tissue of the anal sac. Very aggressive in nature. Small tumors of this cancer are located by rectal exams by the vet. If not treated, these tumors will metastasize to lymph nodes and spread quickly to other organs. If this develops into hypercalcaemia, you’ll see increased thirst, urination, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and a slow heart rate and “scooting.”. The larger the tumor, the poorer the prognosis. See your vet immediately upon suspecting any kind of problem.

  • Hemolytic anemia - Blood disorder caused by a deficiency in the immune system. The dog becomes extremely anemic. The illness is life-threatening. English Cocker Spaniels are prone to this.

  • Familial nephropathy—A fatal kidney disease, slowed only by treatments. First signs are increased drinking and urination. As kidney function is lost, the English Cocker Spaniel will lose appetite and weight, become lethargic, vomit and have pale gums from being anemic. The disease is hereditary and complete failure and death generally occur around 5 years of age. Only the Bernese Mtn. Dog, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, English Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Norwegian Elkhound, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Samoyed, Shar Pei, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Alaskan Malamute, Chow, Golden retriever, Miniature Schnauzer and Standard Poodle are subject to this disease.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland.. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Sick sinus syndrome—A disturbance in the rhythm of the heart. Common visible symptoms are weakness and fainting. Treatment can be by medicine but that is often only temporary. More likely will be a pacemaker if the condition is chronic and severe. Implanted pacemaker prognosis is good. This procedure is not inexpensive. Common to Miniature Schnauzers, Boxers, Pugs, English Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds and Pomeranian's.

  • Valvular heart disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. Can lead to heart murmurs and heart failure. See vet immediately for treatment program!

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the English Cocker Spaniel's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Seborrhea—Hereditary. Skin disease. Itching and scratching. Usually dry, flaky coat with the familiar “dog” odor. Sebaceous glands will produce a waxy, oily substance in the armpits, in the ears, under the dog and around the elbow joints. Secondary ear and skin infections are common too. There are many, many causes and IF the vet can identify one and treat it, you’re lucky. It’s a tough disorder to pinpoint. Springer and Cocker Spaniels, Westies and Retrievers are among the most susceptible

  • Epilepsy - A serious seizure disorder showing up at around 2 to 4 or 5 y=ears of age.

  • Cardiomyopathy—Disease of the heart muscle causing the heart to enlarge and not function properly. Cause is unknown. Older, bigger dogs , 4 to 10 years are usually affected. The prognosis is generally about 6 months to 2 years for a dog with this form of heart failure and only a matter of weeks for some severe cases.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—PDA Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

Other health problems could occur with your English Cocker Spaniel. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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