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English Cocker Spaniel


General Description:

The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the smallest of the sporting dogs (the smallest is the "American" Cocker Spaniel, which has a similar history). English Cocker Spaniels are the original Cocker, getting its name from the Woodcock birds it was typically used to hunt for. In the last few decades there has been a trend in breeding that separates the English Cocker into a show type and a field type. Because the field type are mostly used in hunting, they generally have a retriever-like coat are often allowed to keep their natural tail as it is used as a flag marker when the dogs are at work in tall grasses. Confirmation / Obedience type English Cockers sometimes have more coat and generally have docked tails. They are generally bred for show confirmation and are used in both obedience and agility work. They also possess the ability and desire to hunt. Both types are the same breed.



Females: Preferred height at the withers is 15-16 inches, and roughly 26-32 pounds. Males: Preferred height at the withers is 16-17 inches, and roughly 28-34 pounds. The EC has a level top line and a medium-heavy coat with heavy feathering at the legs. The head has a long, square muzzle, low-set ears and the most expressive eyes of a spaniel.



Various colors are: black, black/white, blue roan, liver, liver/white, liver roan, golden, red, red/white, red roan, orange/white, orange roan, lemon/white, lemon roan, sable and sable/white. Tan markings can also occur on most of these color combinations. Blue roan is generally the most popular color.  English Cockers are known among breeders as a “dog of many colors.” For some pictures of the many colors of this breed, click here.


Energy Level:

The English Cocker Spaniel is a member of the Sporting Group, and as such, is a very active dog. It is inquisitive, loves to be around humans, and especially thrives on being with its master and family. Long periods of confinement will not be good for the EC, as it will become destructive due to its energy and inquisitiveness not having an outlet. It is important that a Cocker Spaniel be trained in obedience.


Life expectancy:

Average longevity is between 12 to 15 years.



Children and dogs should never be left alone and unattended even for a moment. Young children do not have proper dog etiquette and dogs do not understand a child's behavior, this can result in tragedy with any breed of dog. This breed tends to love and be dedicated to their human family and can be especially fond of children. They are like most dogs best off with older children. Like children, each dog is also different in personality, energy and patience levels. So each dog and child relationship should be considered as an individual.


Other animals:

English Cocker Spaniels are terrific hunters. When introducing a cocker to the family it will require you to be careful if you have pet birds, cats, or other small animals as pets.



All English Cockers are active sporting dogs that like a job. They were bred to accompany their human for many miles while on the hunt. Most English Cockers are now house companions so it is important to keep the breed’s origin, instincts and activity levels in mind when considering ownership. The ideal English Cocker is even tempered, obedient, easy to train, and has a desire to please. This breed is joyful, happy, can even be considered clownish. They are active and require exercise, love, and structured activities. Obedience, agility, fly ball, field work are all good activities for the English Cocker. They also love companionship and affection. Boredom and loneliness for a English Cocker can lead to behavior problems, like excessive barking. These dogs have a strong desire to carry and retrieve objects so they adore games like ball and frisbee. These same urges, if not channeled properly, can result in chewing and kidnapping of the owners belongings. The English Cocker personality and activity levels vary from dog to dog. Genetics, training, socializing, and the care they receive are a large part of what determines each dogs personality. Cocker Spaniels are very sensitive to their master's moods and tone of voice.



Although shedding is minimal, the English Cocker Spaniel has a high maintenance coat. It requires daily brushing and de-matting of tangles. If left unchecked even for a day or two, know that it will require four times the effort to return the coat back to its original state. The ears must be checked every day also. With long ears, ear infections can easily occur. You may find you will need to take the dog to a grooming shop every four weeks. Grooming can be expensive ($50-$100 per visit), so you may want to learn how to do bathing, clipping and care of your dog's coat yourself.



English Cockers are generally healthy. The more frequent health problems are retinal atrophy, cataracts, kidney disease, and ear problems.  It has also been noted some types/lines of English Cocker have been associated with Rage Syndrome.  For more information on Rage Syndrome in English Cocker Spaniels, read this case study.


Best with:

English Cockers do best with a family/guardian that understands the breed’s intelligence, endurance and the need to keep their active minds busy. Cockers can make excellent companions for active adults, less-active seniors and for families with well behaved children. To achieve their very best potential, the English Cocker Spaniel must have human companionship and be trained and treated sensitively – this breed is highly emotional and will shut down or act out when treated harshly.


Not for:

Families who travel a lot and have to board or leave their dog behind may find this breed not compatible with their lifestyle. The Cocker bonds strongly to its family and becomes depressed quickly when left – they want to be with you ALL THE TIME. English Cockers should only be kept as indoor housedogs; they will waste away physically and mentally if left in the back yard or in a dog run for hours on end. Also, trainers who train dogs using compulsion (choke chain, shock collar, prong collar, etc.) will find those techniques have adverse, negative affects on the dog and will ultimately shut the dog down and harm the dog’s relationship with the handler.



  • Friendly disposition
  • Very talented and quick to learn numerous activities
  • Long life span
  • Is a relatively healthy breed
  • Relatively easy to train, even adults
  • Typically gets along well with other dogs and children
  • Exercise requirements are not significant; daily walks or a light jog around the block is all that is necessary to keep the pet cocker fit and happy



  • Grooming requirements
  • Sensitivity to correction
  • They get into everything and will eat anything
  • Can be diggers and jumpers/climbers
  • Chase prey animals (birds, squirrels, cats, etc.)
  • Although a generally tolerant breed, the English Cocker will more likely bite than back off when provoked


Further Information:

English Cocker Spaniel Club of America
Cascade English Cocker Spaniel Fanciers
General Information about the breed on Wikipedia
Breed Details

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