Breed Type: Spaniel / Water Dog
Country of Origin: England
Size:  Medium
Also known as : Cocker, English Cocker Spaniel
Males Height: 39-39cm Weight: 13-15kg
Females Height: 34-37cm Weight: 12-14kg
Exercise Requirements: Medium to High
Care Requirements: High – medium if you click them-
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Best Suited as: Family Pet

When a dog in Australia is referred to as a cocker spaniel it is the larger, English variety of cocker spaniel that is being referred to as opposed to the smaller newer American breed.  They are a very popular dog in Australia known for their merry dispositions, their soft silky fur and their compact built for action bodies.

Appearance
The Cocker spaniel is on the small side of medium for a dog and is one of the smaller breeds of working Spaniel. They are a cheerful and loving breed with an almost always wagging tail. They are somewhat square in conformation being roughly as high as they are long. As with many Spaniels the head has a distinct and well developed stop.  Jaws meet in a scissor bite.  Eyes are full, round and dark and coloured either Brown dark brown,  or hazel in the liver coloured variety.

They have an intelligent and willing expression without any hint of aggression. They have long silky pendulous years set low on the head virtuallylevel with their eyes.  Their body is covered with fine,straight, silky hair-like fur.

The body is muscular and athletic without being burdened by coarseness or stiff muscling.  Their back slopes gently from the shoulders to the Withers. The forelegs are straight and strong bones whilst the rear legs are rounded and muscular.  Feet are well padded like a cat’s. The tail is set low below the line of the back and is carriedlevel as they run. Traditionally in Europe their tails were docked both to protect them during hunting but also for cosmetic reasons.  This process is now banned in Australia and other parts of the world and has resulted in naturally tail cocker spaniel is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

History
England has a long history of breeding Spaniels as gundogs – the ancestors of the cocker spaniel can be traced back to the Spaniel breeding programs that have been continuing in England since as early as the 14th century.  Fast forward 500 years and these working spaniels were divided into different breeds of which one was the cocker spaniel.

One of the smallest of the spaniels they were granted their name because of their special talent assisting hunters hunting species of bird called the Woodcock. Whilst their remains a working version of cocker spaniel the popularity of the breed in dog shows and as pets has seen the show variety with its more luxurious coat and different lines become the more popular of the two versions.

Throughout the last 30 years they have remained in the top five most popular dogs both in Australia and the UK.

Temperament
A well bred cocker spaniel will be softhearted and loving, full of energy and a have an irrepressible sense of fun. Bred to work they are high energy dogs with an eagerness to please their human masters.

They do well as family pets or as companions to single adults. They are great with children –  their lack of aggression makes them ideal animals in homes with multiple pet types.  Few who have met a cocker spaniel would forget their open and loving expressions as they peer up into your face with what seems like a permanently wagging tail.

Whilst this gentle disposition is by far the rule for these dogs and it is exceptionally rare to find a cocker spaniel that will show any level of aggression there has been a problem reported in the breed that can cause them to act with unexplained and unpredictable rage. Uncommon in the world, even less common in Australia it seems virtually limited to the Golden cocker spaniel and is the result of breeders preferring coat colour over temperament when trying to develop the cocker spaniel with the most glorious of gold coat colours.

Many cocker spaniel owners who own Cocker’s all their life will never see a dog with this condition but since the ramifications of buying such a dog when expecting a gentle family pet could well be terrible we have noted the problem in our breed description.

Care and Grooming
The show version of the cocker spaniel has much longer hair than a working version and as a result will require far more grooming. Its fine silky hair like human hair requires daily brushing and will quickly pick up grass seeds and burs.  A cocker spaniel’s coat left arm brushed for a week is sure to become knotted and tangled.  If you don’t wish to go to all the work of constantly grooming your cocker spaniel and you’re not looking to show it certainly consider getting their hair clipped short – it will save a lot of fuss and bother.

The short haired working version is less work but still requires brushing a couple of times a week.

A weekly bath will keep them clean make sure you use a vet approved shampoo for best results.

Health
The cocker spaniel in Australia is a very healthy dog. They suffer from very few genetic problems and they usually long-lived and healthy well into old age.
They are affected by some known conditions including

 

  • malformed draw resulting in an under or over shot bite
  • epilepsy
  • turned out or turned in eyelids which can cause eye infections and blindness
  • deafness  – sometimes from birth that usually manifesting in middle-aged
  • hip dysplasia which manifests in older age
  • progressive retinal atrophy which will cause blindness in older dogs
  • renal disease such as Familial nephropathy which is fatal usually within 2 to 3 years from birth
  • unexplained aggression or rage

Though this list is quite long the incidences are rare in the puppies of experienced and registered breeders. You should never purchase a cocker spaniel from a backyard breeder or a puppy Miller and certainly buying a cross breed cocker spaniel such as is Spoodle is fraught with danger especially as breeders doing this sort of crossbreeding are unlikely to be starting with high level breed stock in the first place.

The best way to choose a cocker spaniel puppy is to visit a few different breeders and talk to them about the history of their breeding stock with regard to health and temperament. The breed stock and any recent puppies. Because the breed is so popular should have little difficulty in finding several breeders wherever you live in Australia.

Suitability as  pet
it is difficult to think of a situation where they wouldn’t be suitable as a pet. Great with kids, great singles, they are fun loving affectionate and docile. They can be high energy and love a good romp, at the Park at the beach et cetera but it kept as indoor dogs will happily spend most of their time lying on their mat as long as their owner is nearby to keep them company.

If you are looking for a watchdog then perhaps this is not the dog for you?