The English Cocker Spaniel is a widely known dog breed. However, most people don’t know that the breed has two different strains: the Show Cocker Spaniel and the Working Cocker Spaniel. Ever thinking about owning one of these amazing pooches? Here are seven things you should know before getting a Show Cocker Spaniel.
1. Show Cocker Spaniels are bred for beauty.
For those new to the Cocker Spaniel breed, you may be wondering, “What is a show-type Cocker Spaniel?”
The Show Cocker Spaniel is 1 of 2 different strains in the English Cocker Spaniel breed. His main purpose is to participate in various show rings and conformation competitions.
Show Cocker Spaniel Breeders prioritise improving the aesthetic value of their dogs. They aim to produce Cocker Spaniels that conform to the Kennel Club’s breed standards.
Show Cocker Spaniels excel greatly in what they do. These dogs have won “Best in Show” at Crufts 7 times. Other dog breeds were not able to reap this achievement.
The other strain of the English Cocker breed is the Working Cocker Spaniel. He is deliberately designed to work on the field as a gun dog that flushes out game birds, just like other Spaniel breeds like the English Springer Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel, and the Field Spaniel.
Note that English Cocker Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels are 2 separate breeds. Both Show and Working strains are only found in the English variation.
2. Show-bred Cocker Spaniels look different from the Working Cockers.
Working and Show Cockers come from the same breed, but they are different types of Cocker Spaniels. Not only are they distinct in function but also appearance.
What’s the difference between a Show Cocker and Working Cocker? Both types have similar appearances when they are born. Once they reach around 10–12 weeks old, each will develop unique traits to his type.
Show Cocker Spaniels will have a compact and shorter body than Working types. Their physique also has more angulation and balance.
The Show-bred Cockers have a relatively short, square muzzle, a slightly rounded skull, and long ears. They may also have loose facial wrinkles, causing their eyes to droop.
On the other hand, Working Cocker Spaniels tend to sport a narrower and longer muzzle, a slightly flatter skull, and shorter ears.
The coats of both types of Cocker Spaniels are different as well. The show dog variation possesses a thicker and longer coat. There is a significant feathering on his body, forelegs, and hind legs.
In comparison, Cocker Working types have fine, shorter coats with minimal feathering.
When it comes to coat colours, Show Cocker Spaniels should have colourations congruent to the breed standards, including blue roan and black and white. Mind that their coat should not have white except on their chest and muzzle.
For Working Cockers, following the breed standard’s coat colour is not a requisite. Thus, any coat colours, including white, are acceptable.
Tail docking is considered illegal in the UK, but some dogs are exempted. Unlike the Show variety, Working Cocker Spaniels can get their tails docked provided that a vet does it.
But note that this is not compulsory, and the decision depends on their owners. Thus, it is possible for some Working Cockers to have long tails, just like Show Cockers.
3. Show Cocker Spaniels have more to offer other than their appearance.
Are Show Cockers good family pets despite being bred mainly for competitions? Yes, these dogs are great family pets.
Nicknamed the “Merry Cockers” due to their cheery disposition and perpetually wagging tails, these dogs are social butterflies that devote most of their time to their loved ones.
These loving Show-bred Cocker Spaniels need to be involved in their families’ daily activities. Leaving them all alone at home is not recommended since they are very prone to separation anxiety.
A Show Cocker who doesn’t get enough interaction with his human companions is bound to develop destructive habits. This dog is for people who have plenty of time to spend on their pets.
4. Show Cocker Spaniels don’t mix well with smaller animals.
Show Cocker Spaniels are not bred to become gun dogs as they are meant for show competitions. Hence, they have a lower prey drive compared to their working counterparts.
But these Show Cockers are still hunting dogs at heart. Their urge to chase prey may not be as strong as Working Cockers, but this instinct still remains. Care should be taken whenever these dogs are around small pets.
For pet owners who plan to integrate their Show-bred Cockers into a multi-pet household, a gradual introduction must be followed. Properly socialising all pets is imperative as well to increase their likelihood of peacefully living together.
5. Show-bred Cockers are energetic dogs who don’t mind being homebodies.
As a working dog bred to hunt woodcock, the English Cocker Spaniel breed is full of energy and vigour. He is a lively pooch with an active lifestyle.
However, Show Cocker Spaniels don’t possess extremely high energy levels, unlike Working Cockers. For this reason, they don’t need a lot of time for exercise. An hour or so of playtime and other fun doggy activities will suffice.
Are Show Cockers calmer than Working Cockers then? Yes. Compared to the Working Cocker’s disposition, the Show Cocker Spaniel’s temperament is calmer and relaxed.
After Show Cocker Spaniels get sufficient amounts of exercise, they are ready to unwind and relax at home. Whereas Working Cocker Spaniels will continue to need their human companions to take them out for a walk or play.
Needless to say, both types of Cocker Spaniels are not the best choice for sedentary individuals. Disregarding their need for daily exercise can lead to destructive canine habits.
6. Show Cocker Spaniel Training is a rough road to traverse.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a highly intelligent dog with a strong desire to please his master. However, he is not easy to train.
The breed has drawbacks that can be observed in both Show and Working Cocker types. They can be headstrong and impulsive, which is a frequent setback in training.
Show Cocker Spaniels are also less motivated to work hard. Unlike Working Cockers, they are not well-experienced in following commands. Thus, making a significant breakthrough in their training may take some time.
Show Cocker Spaniel will slowly but surely make a small but substantial improvement during training with patience and firm leadership.
Use positive reinforcement to fire up the Show Cocker Spaniels’ motivation. Avoid harsh punishments and corrective methods as these can break their trust and drive to learn.
Show Cocker Spaniels are not bred to be gun dogs, but they can be trained to be one. However, this is not a practical idea as their physique, such as their facial wrinkles and thick coats, makes them vulnerable to injuries whilst hunting.
7. The Show Cocker Spaniel is vulnerable to certain health issues.
Show-bred Cockers are healthy pooches, but they are not entirely free from diseases. Because of their physical appearance and genetics, they are susceptible to a few health problems.
Eye disorders are quite common in Show Cocker Spaniels. They are at risk of having entropion due to their facial wrinkles. It is an ocular problem that causes the eyelids to roll inwards.
A more serious eye problem is progressive renal atrophy, resulting in permanent blindness.
Ear infections are also prevalent in Show-bred Cocker Spaniels due to their long droopy ears. This type of health condition can be prevented simply by cleaning their ears daily.
Another disease that frequents Show Cocker Spaniels is hip dysplasia. Typically a genetic problem, it can cause lameness due to the disproportionate hip sockets and joints.
Buying a puppy from a reputable breeder will considerably reduce the risk of these diseases developing. The pup should be health-tested as well as his parents. This way, you can ensure that they are not carriers of any gene that can cause hereditary health problems.
Also, regularly bring your Show Cocker Spaniel puppy to the vet for health check-ups. It will greatly matter in the early detection and treatment of disease and increases your dog’s chances of survival.
The Show Cocker Spaniel can live up to 12–14 years if properly cared for.