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English Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Traits & Care

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Dogster Team

english cocker spaniel on green grass

English Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Traits & Care

The English Cocker Spaniel is an extremely friendly dog that doesn’t get too large, so they are adaptable to a wide variety of living arrangements, and their long, floppy ears are a big hit with children. If you are thinking about getting one of these dogs but would like to know more about them first, keep reading as we discuss their origins, temperament, grooming requirements, and common health problems.

Breed Overview


15–17 inches


26–34 pounds


12–14 years


Black, black and white, blue roan, orange roan, red, gold, sable

Suitable for:

Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog


Friendly, adaptable, trainable

The English Cocker Spaniel is a purebred dog that was originally used for hunting so they can move swiftly on land and in water. They also have a keen sense of smell that’s perfect for tracking. However, what owners love most about this breed is their friendly personality, which helps them make fast friends with family members and even strangers. They also have a strong desire to please, so they’re great companions and easy to train.

English Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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English Cocker Spaniel Puppies

English Cocker Spaniel puppy
Image By: Katrina_S, Pixabay

English Cocker Spaniel puppies have soft, wavy fur that highlights any of the many colors and patterns that this breed is available in, including black, red, fold, and sable. They also have plenty of energy, so you will need to puppy-proof your home and start training early to shape your pup into a well-behaved adult. It’s also a good idea to let them spend time with as many people, places, and other animals as possible to help them feel more comfortable around those things as adults.

Finding an English Cocker Spaniel puppy can vary in difficulty, depending on your location, but they are quite popular, so it shouldn’t be impossible. Check with your local vet, animal shelters, and even pet stores to see if there are any breeders near you, or search online to see if any are available. Always ensure that the breeder you choose prioritizes the good health of their dogs and follows breed standards.

English Cocker Spaniel Origin & History

The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest of the sporting breeds, and breeders developed them to hunt the woodcock, a popular gamebird that the dogs would flush from their hiding spots. In the 19th century, dog shows began to become popular, which led to the formation of more official breeds, including the English Cocker Spaniel. Since then, American breeders have modified the breed to make them more of a companion dog, leading to the formation of the American Cocker Spaniel, which is a bit smaller. Even today, the English Cocker Spaniel breed stays true to their original specifications.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel often has a cheerful personality with a balance of playfulness and gentleness. These outgoing dogs enjoy being around other people and are always ready for an adventure. They are also intelligent and easy to train with an eager-to-please attitude that will have them trying hard to do what you want, especially if there is a treat or other reward in store for them. However, their high intelligence means they will need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom, which can lead to misbehaving.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The English Cocker Spaniel can make a fantastic family pet. They form strong bonds with family members and are patient and gentle with children. They enjoy playing and will often be trying to coax someone into a game. They also love to go for walks and enjoy swimming.

English cocker spaniel dog taking a shower with shampoo, soap and water in a bathtub_andriano.cz_Shutterstock
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽 

The English Cocker Spaniel usually gets along well with other pets, especially if you introduce them while your dog is still a puppy. They get along especially well with other dogs and even cats, but some Cocker Spaniels may have a strong prey instinct and chase after smaller animals, especially birds.

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Things to Know When Owning an English Cocker Spaniel

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Since the English Cocker Spaniel is a high-energy dog, they require high-quality dog food that has real meat like chicken or beef listed as the first ingredient. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs all have different nutrient requirements, so ensure that you choose a brand that is appropriate for their age and follow the portioning instructions on the package carefully to avoid accidental weight gain. Limit treats to no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calories, and resist allowing them to eat table food, as it often contains ingredients that are bad for them or can lead to obesity.

English cocker spaniel dog eating food from ceramic bowl
Image Credit: Switlana Sonyashna, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

The English Cocker Spaniel will need at least 1–2 hours of exercise and mental stimulation each day to stay happy and healthy. You can break this up into several sessions throughout the day to help make it easier. Games of fetch, running in a secure area, agility training, and swimming are great ways to keep your pet busy and burn off excess energy.

Training 🎾

The English Cocker Spaniel is an eager-to-please dog that is relatively easy to train, even for new owners, so they make a great first pet. Starting when your dog is still a puppy is best because it helps get them into a routine that will stay with them when they become an adult. Holding your sessions at a scheduled time each day, preferably right after playtime, and staying consistent will have the best results. Always use positive reinforcement in the form of treats or praise to help your dog know when they do something right, and always stay patient. It can take several weeks for your dog to learn a new trick, and becoming frustrated will only make it take longer.

english cocker spaniel walking outside
Image By: Katrina S, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

You will need to brush your English Cocker Spaniel several times each week to help prevent mats and tangles, especially if they have longer fur. They will also need a bath every few weeks with high-quality dog shampoo to keep the fur looking its best. But don’t overdo it, or you can strip the body of its natural oils. Clipping the nails when you hear them clicking on the floor and keeping their long ears clean and dry is also vital, as is brushing their teeth as frequently as possible with dog-safe toothpaste.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism is one of the most common hormone diseases in dogs, including the English Cocker Spaniel, and it causes the metabolism to slow down, which can lead to weight gain, lethargy, cold intolerance, and a thin coat. Medication can help, but frequent checkups at the vet are essential.
  • Dogs can suffer from allergies just like humans can, and many of the same things can trigger them, including pollen and food. The signs can include itchiness, hives, vomiting, and diarrhea, and some reactions can be quite serious. Avoiding allergens and allergy relief medication can help your pet cope.
Serious Conditions
  • Due to their long, floppy ears, English Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to ear infections, so regular cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection, which can include redness, odor, and scratching, is crucial. It usually clears up quickly with medication, but prevention is better than cure.
  • Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint doesn’t form correctly at birth, which causes it to deteriorate at a faster-than-normal rate and can lead to decreased activity, a strange bunny-hop gait, and even lameness. It occurs more rapidly in overweight dogs and active dogs like English Cocker Spaniels, so monitor them closely and help them maintain an ideal weight if they have the condition. Some may also need medication and surgery.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy is a condition that causes the photoreceptor cells in the eyes to deteriorate over time, leading to blindness. There is no cure, and it’s more common in Cocker Spaniels, so choosing a breeder who pays special attention to a dog’s ancestry is important.

Male vs. Female

Male English Cocker Spaniels are a bit larger and heavier than the females, which can help give them a fuller and more majestic appearance. The males may also be more inclined to assert dominance when strangers or other animals are nearby, while the females will be more reserved, focused, and easier to train.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the English Cocker Spaniel

1. They Are Popular in Art

The English Cocker Spaniel is featured prominently in literature and art, including Reuben Ward Binks’s paintings that were popular in the early 1900s.

2. They Possess Keen Sense of Smell

English Cocker Spaniels have a great sense of smell, which makes them popular sniffer dogs for detecting narcotics and explosives.

3. There Is Potential Aggressiveness Linked to Coat Color

English Cocker Spaniels with a solid color are likely to be more aggressive than those with a parti color.

English Cocker Spaniel lying on bed
Image By: Alkhaine, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

The English Cocker Spaniel is a wonderful dog that will get along well with family members, children, and even other pets. They are open to strangers and adaptable to various living arrangements. They also love to play and have endless energy, which can make them great fun to have around. Their eager-to-please attitude and high intelligence mean they’re easy to train and a good choice as a first pet. However, their long fur will require frequent brushing, and their floppy ears will need extra attention to avoid infections.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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