The English Cocker Spaniel is a compact, muscular dog of medium size. Its coatings are smooth and silky with lots of fringes on the front legs. The English spaniel is available in different colors and combinations: solid black, red, orange and brown; combinations of black with white, liver with white, red and white, blue roan, orange roan and colorless black roan; and tricolor.
Sometime in the distant past, the ancestors of modern English Cocker Spaniels became famous as ideal game bird hunters.
Now representatives of the breed live in the houses of their owners as family members. They are loyal friends, companions, partners in games and sports.
Cheerfulness, tenderness, playfulness, lively mind and a desire to please their owners are the qualities thanks to which the English Cocker Spaniel won love in many countries. Like the Irish Setter and Weimaraner, an ideal hunting dog, this man’s friend is great at home with noisy kids.
In this article of Pets Feed, we will explain all the information you need about the English Spaniel, its origin, the care it needs or the most common diseases in this dog breed.
The English Cocker Spaniel was once a breed distinct from the Field Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel, after the formation of the Kennel Club. Initially, it was known as “cocking spaniel” derived from “flushing woodcock”. The name derives from the old French, “spaigneul”, which literally means “Spanish dog” since the original breed came from Spain, the country in which it was used as a hunter and point dog. The Cocker Spaniel arrived in England from the hands of Spanish owners and you can see the enormous popularity they have acquired in numerous references in English literature, such as in the works of Sheakespeare or Chaucer.
This breed has been very marked by hunting. Although in the past they were used for different types of prey according to their size, no distinction was made by breeds. Thus, in the same litter of the spaniel, large dogs (more used to hunting mammals) and small dogs (more used to hunting birds) could be born. Therefore, the dogs we know today as the English Cocker Spaniel, Field Spaniel, English Springer and Sussex Spaniel were one group.
It was not until the end of the 19th century that these breeds were separated and the English Cocker Spaniel was officially recognized for the first time as a hunting dog.
This little dog has become very popular in Britain, its homeland and the rest of Europe. It was then exported to the United States of America where it also gained popularity, but American breeders decided to modify the breed to obtain a somewhat different appearance.
Logically, British breeders opposed the changes made by the Americans and decided to ban crossbreeding between the original breed and the American variety. Thus, the two varieties were separated into two different breeds, the American cocker spaniel and the English cocker spaniel.
The American cocker spaniel has become extremely popular in his country, surpassing the English cocker spaniel. However, the American version of the breed is little known in the rest of the world, while the English version of the cocker spaniel is very popular and appreciated. At the moment, we can discover small differences between the breed intended for “work” and that of “beauty”, as with the German Shepherd dog.
Physical characteristics of the English Cocker Spaniel
Until the thirties of the twentieth century, the English and American Cocker Spaniel were considered a single breed. Then they were divided, officially proclaimed as separate species.
It is difficult for uninformed people to distinguish between an English and an American Cocker Spaniel, since they are very similar. But the differences do exist and are outlined in the list below:
- Representatives of the English Cocker Spaniel species are 5-6 cm higher than the American one.
- The American Cocker Spaniel has a more elegant exterior, while the English has a more modest, working appearance.
- The English cocker has a larger head
- The American cocker is lazier and more decorative, the English is more active, he has a stronger hunter.
Cocker spaniels are divided into show and hunting spaniels by appointment. The first ones are distinguished by more luxurious, long hair, long ears and a tail, which is up to 10 cm long.
Hunting cockers have a shorter coat than show cockers. The tail is docked to a length of up to 13 cm.
According to the established standard, the English Cocker Spaniel should look like this:
- The English cocker spaniel is a small breed. He has a compact build. The weight of adults is 13.5 – 14.5 kg., The height at the withers is 38-40 cm.
- A rather large, but, at the same time, graceful head rests on a strong, medium-length neck. The ears are long, drooping, lobe-shaped.
- Large eyes, no bulge allowed. Eye color – all shades of brown. The nose is large with open nostrils, like all hunting dogs.
- This indicates the perfect scent of the English Cocker Spaniel. The jaws are powerful, the teeth are strong and sharp. Scissor bite.
- The loin is strong, of medium length. The back is straight with a slight slope towards the base of the tail. The chest is well developed and deep.
- The tail is docked. He is very mobile, but the cocker never lifts him up.
- Legs well muscled, not too long. A distinctive feature of the English cocker is large feet with small membranes. This feature allows the spaniel to move easily over swampy areas and swim quickly.
- The coat is long. Soft, silky to the touch. Slight waviness is allowed, but not curly. There is an undercoat.
- Various colors are allowed.
- The most common: black, red, black and blue, black and tan.
- Unrecognized, rare: gray, sable, white with black or red markings, and other solid colors.
- The pure white color of the English Cocker Spaniel often carries the gene for deafness, white cockers are rare and not appreciated by breeders.
Personality and character of the English cocker spaniel
These active and friendly dogs need human companionship to feel good and want to please their owners more than anything else. They are ideal dogs for homes with children and get along well with other animals. The English cocker spaniel is a very happy breed, which wags its tail and is constantly attentive to everyone. This dog is easy to train because it is eager to learn and to please.
It is important to emphasize that the character of each dog is unique and although some general characteristics observed in the breed can be mentioned, each individual has his own temperament. The character of the English cocker spaniel is generally soft and tender with its close relations. On the contrary, it is generally quite far from strangers. He is a dog attached to his humans because he enjoys spending time with them. He is very loyal and attentive.
It is also a breed with a cheerful, active and strong personality, particularly playful and nervous, which will integrate perfectly into an active family, which will be able to offer you the love you require. It is generally surprising for his silent attitude to his energetic lifestyle, but the truth is that the character of this dog falls in love with everyone who knows him.
The most common behavioral problems of the English cocker spaniel are destructiveness, persecution of small animals or aggression. Generally, these problems appear when the dog is not properly socialized, when he is not mentally or physically stimulated or when there is a social conflict between him and his loved ones.
As with almost all breeds, especially those with pedigree, the English cocker spaniel is susceptible to several hereditary diseases. Deafness, for example, is a major problem in this breed of dog (colorless dogs). Among the most common diseases of the English cocker spaniel are:
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Hip dysplasia
- Family nephropathy
It is important to make regular visits to the veterinarian, every 6 or 12 months, to quickly detect any of these health problems. It will also be very necessary to correctly follow the dog’s vaccination schedule, as well as periodic, internal and external dewormers.
On average, the English Cocker Spaniel can live 14-15 years. Among the representatives of the breed, there are centenarians who have lived to 16-18 years.
It is better to keep an English Cocker Spaniel in the house, next to people. Before you buy a pet, equip a corner for it, where you install a bed, containers for water, food, and put toys.
Also buy a collar, leash, hairbrush, shampoo, and other grooming products right away.
Due to its small size, a English Cocker Spaniel will not cause inconvenience to the owners even in a small apartment. But we must not forget that the English Spaniel is a hunting dog, although it is not used for its intended purpose.
Therefore, such a pet needs a fairly high level of physical activity.
Be sure to walk your English Spaniel every day. Brief walks at a slow pace are not for the spaniel. He needs long, active, daily walks, which generally last 2-3 hours.
Letting go of the leash next to busy streets, where there is a lot of transport and people is not allowed. A highly developed hunting instinct will bring the dog to trouble.
A English Cocker Spaniel can, forgetting about upbringing, not hearing the commands of the owner, rush after a pigeon, a cyclist, or just an empty bag driven by the wind.
Caring for a English Cocker Spaniel requires time and patience from the owner. If you take care of such a pet incorrectly, problems will arise not only with appearance, but also with health.
In order not to lead to trouble, on time, in accordance with all the rules, carry out the following procedures:
- We comb out the wool 3-4 times a week.
- Coat haircut can be done by the owner or with the help of a dog hairdresser. Usually an English cocker is cut in two stages. Immediately the head and torso, after – ears and paws. No hair is cut on the back. In most cases, the first haircut is done at an early puppy age.
- We bathe every 7-10 days; it is important to carefully monitor so that water does not get into the ears.
- We wipe our dog’s eyes every morning with a damp cloth.
- We clean the ears and examine them 2-3 times a week. They require prophylactic treatment with special solutions recommended by a veterinarian.
- You need to trim your dog’s nails about once every 3-4 months.
The English Cocker Spaniel is very fond of eating, a decrease in appetite can be observed only during illness.
Representatives of the breed are prone to begging, while the English Cocker Spaniel sees everything that is edible as a delicacy, be it a cookie, sausage or a piece of apple.
It is important to formulate the diet correctly, since the spaniel is able to quickly gain excess weight. You can feed it naturally or artificially. The main thing is not to overfeed, not to lead to obesity.
With natural feeding, the diet should include: raw meat, cereals, stewed vegetables, eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, sea fish.
Prohibited foods for the spaniel: pearl barley, semolina, legumes, sweets, smoked meats.
Diet by age:
- Up to 2 months are fed 6 times a day;
- From 2 to 4 – 5 times;
- From 4 to 6 – 4 times;
- From 6 to 10 – 3 times;
- From 10 months and more – 2-3 times, depending on physical activity.
The diet should contain the following foods:
- Beef, scalded with boiling water.
- Boiled offal.
- Boiled sea fish, from which the bones were previously extracted.
- Fermented milk products – kefir, cottage cheese, yogurt.
- Soft-boiled eggs.
- Bread and cereals – any kind in small quantities. An exception – barley porridge should not be given to English Cocker Spaniel puppies; it irritates their stomach.
- Vegetables, herbs – finely chop and mix with vegetable oil or low-fat sour cream.
- Raisins, cheese, dried fruits – give as a delicacy.
The English Cocker Spaniel can be fed premium dry food.
Under no circumstances should the spaniel have these foods in the menu:
- Bones – do not carry nutritional value and can injure the esophagus and damage the intestines of the dog.
- Food that is very hot or too cold.
- Salty, fatty, spicy, smoked, sausages, sausages and the like.
- Sweets, cookies and other sweets, especially for puppies.
- River fish.
- Pork, fatty lamb and fresh chicken.
The English Cocker Spaniel has a good appetite, the owners should make sure that the dog does not overeat, otherwise it will become very obese.
If the dog is naughty and refuses to eat what is given for 1-2 days, you don’t have to worry about it, a little fasting will never hurt the spaniel.
Especially if at the same time the dog remains active and cheerful.
These dogs adapt effortlessly to the family situation, but remember that they are hunting dogs and, as such, should exercise (at least an hour a day, preferably more). The English cocker spaniel likes to swim, so you should be aware of its safety when it is near water. Let it play without a leash for a while to burn energy.
It will be necessary to carry out between 2 and 3 daily walks, but including daily physical exercise to keep his muscles in shape and help him release stress. It may be a good idea to participate in canine sports, but the truth is that with an hour of games and fun, we will have enough to make our English cocker spaniel happy.
Finally, we recommend that you practice odor games and exercises with this breed that allow them to feel stimulated.
Training and education
The English Cocker Spaniel is smart and quick-witted, he has a high level of intelligence, but at the same time he is wayward, often stubborn.
Without proper education and training, despite its small size, a cocker can bring a lot of problems to the owners.
The spaniel has a wonderful memory. With the right approach, he is able to quickly learn, memorize many different commands. In addition, it is in the nature of the cocker to please the owner, this facilitates the process of training.
It is recommended to start raising and teaching basic commands when the puppy is three months old.
A more serious training course is selected by the owner, starting from the purpose for which the pet is trained (hunting, companion, show career).
English Cocker Spaniel Fun Facts
- The cockers have such a strong appetite that they are known as incorrigible gluttons, it seems that these little dogs have a dimensionless stomach.
- Left alone for a long time, the English Spaniel begins to howl loudly.
- Before the official recognition of the breed, the English Cocker Spaniel was called by lovers of these small dogs “cheerful cocker” or “field spaniel”.
- In ancient times, white English Cocker Spaniel dogs were most appreciated by hunters, for the reason that they were clearly visible from afar in the tall grass. In the modern world, Cocker Spaniels with pure white coats are not allowed on show.
English cocker spaniel Dog Breed Highlights
Having decided to buy a purebred English Cocker Spaniel, you should contact breeders, nurseries with an excellent reputation. It is also worth getting to know the main advantages and disadvantages of this breed first.
- The English cocker spaniel is of good size and adapts well to apartment life
- He is lively and playful.
- This dog is good with people and other animals, including dogs.
- He is very people oriented.
- The English spaniel is good around children.
- He may suffer from separation anxiety when left alone.
- High maintenance on the grooming front.
- The English cocker spaniel is known to like the sound of its own voice, which leads to excessive barking.
- It can be excitable if it is not properly socialized and trained at a sufficiently young age.
- Not so good with toddlers and very young children.
- The English cocker spaniel is prone to drool when excited.