What is this energetic pooch like as a furry companion? Are you a good match for this breed? Below is the list of Pros and Cons of the Working Cocker Spaniel breed.
What Is a Working Cocker Spaniel?
Before we start with the pros and cons, let’s first know what a Working Cocker Spaniel is. Let’s start from the very beginning—the Cocker Spaniel breed’s history.
The Cocker Spaniel’s origins go all the way back to 14th-century Spain. In the later years, he was also bred in the United States. However, Cocker Spaniels from Europe and America became distinct from each other.
This caused the divergence of the breed. As a result, 2 different types of Cocker Spaniels, namely English Cocker Spaniels, and American Cocker Spaniels, were officially acknowledged by various kennel clubs.
The 1900s was the starting point of the English Cocker Spaniel’s show-dog career. This phenomenon led to the creation of 2 strains in the breed: Working and Show Cockers.
After the breed standards were set in place, some breeders centralised their efforts on creating English Cocker Spaniels that closely match the ideal appearance of the breed. These dogs were called Show Cocker Spaniels since they are developed for conformation competitions.
Meanwhile, English Cocker Spaniel breeders who bred dogs for fieldwork continued to enhance their work. They made sure to produce strong and highly intelligent English Cocker Spaniels.
This was the birth of Working Cocker Spaniels. Unlike Show-bred Cockers, they were bred to be gun dogs.
Rather than aesthetics and appearance, they boast intrinsic qualities greatly valued in hunting and retrieving games, such as high levels of endurance and stamina.
6 Pros of Owning a Working Cocker Spaniel
Below are the top 6 positive aspects when you’re welcoming a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy into your home:
1) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is a Sociable and Loving Companion.
Do Working Cocker Spaniels make good pets? Yes, they are. They are extroverted and don’t want to miss out on the fun.
So much so that they will constantly tag along with their owners anywhere they go. After a hard day’s work being a dog, the Working Cocker Spaniel can be found contentedly relaxing, close to their loved ones.
His zest for life has enlivened countless homes and families, including prominent personalities. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Beckhams are some of the many fanciers of this wonderful pooch.
2) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is Small and Compact.
How much should a Working Cocker Spaniel weigh? The Working Cocker Spaniel size is medium, but he is smaller than most gun dogs. Generally, he weighs around 11–27 kilos (26–60 pounds) and can grow up to 35–38 centimetres (14–15 inches) tall.
Thus, it is easier for the Working Cocker Spaniel to hunt in small spaces than other breeds of dogs. He can squeeze into brambles and thickets to hunt down prey without much problem. His compact size is another reason why he is one of the best gun dogs around.
The compact size of the Working Cocker Spaniel also makes him a preferred companion for families with a not-so-spacious home. So long as he gets enough exercise, he can thrive in small flats and houses.
Raising the Working Cocker Spaniel is less costly compared to other dog breeds. Being a small/medium-sized pooch, it costs less to feed a working cocker than large dogs.
3) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is Highly Intelligent and Eager to Please.
As a gun dog, the Working Cocker Spaniel is naturally blessed with smarts. Countless avid hunters have praised him for being a biddable dog with a big enthusiasm for learning.
Working Cocker Spaniels are also very devoted and loyal to their owners. As such, they have a strong inclination to show off and impress. These attributes mould them to become highly versatile dogs.
Working Spaniels don’t only excel in hunting but also in other areas of canine work. They can be trained as sniffer dogs, police dogs, and search and rescue dogs.
4) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is a Bold and Fearless Gun Dog.
Gun dogs were meant to chase their prey and make it easy for their owners to shoot it down. However, some failed to carry out this task.
They become easily overtaken by indecisiveness and fear whilst pursuing their target. And this can be a huge setback for hunters.
In the case of Working Cocker Spaniels, they fearlessly give chase to their prey no matter where it flees. Because of their grit and diligence in hunting, they became huge favourites in the gun dog community.
5) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is a Tenacious Hunter with High Endurance.
Are Working Cockers hard workers? Yes, they are admirably hard-working and possess incredible working abilities. They have high levels of endurance, can rummage bushes and tail after their target for hours without getting exhausted.
Super athletic and brimming with energy, Working Cocker Spaniels are great family pets for households with active lifestyles. They will always look forward to participating in fun games with their families.
6) The Working Cocker Spaniel Needs Less Grooming Than His Show Line Counterpart.
Do Working Cocker Spaniels shed? Yes, they do shed significant amounts of hair, but less than Show-bred Cocker Spaniels. Mind that generally, the Cocker Spaniel breed is a high-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming.
However, since the Working-type of Cocker Spaniel has a shorter and fine coat, he consumes less grooming time. Keep his shedding to a minimum by brushing him daily.
It is also a good idea to brush the Working Cocker Spaniel’s coat after walks to dislodge any dirt or debris stuck on his coat.
Professional grooming is something the Show dog variety needs every 3 months. His coat requires not only brushing but also trimming by the groomer.
But for the Working Cocker Spaniel, he only needs to visit the groomer occasionally since his coat is short and more manageable.
5 Disadvantages of Owning a Working Cocker Spaniel
Having a Working Cocker Spaniel as a furry buddy is not always sunshine and rainbows. Here are the 5 drawbacks you should know before owning a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy:
1) The Working Cocker Spaniel Has High Exercise Needs.
The Working Cocker Spaniel is not the ideal pet to own for homebodies. As he is a working dog, his energy levels are high, and he should be given lots of physical exercises and mental stimulation.
At least 1–2 hours must be spent on engaging the Working Cocker Spaniel with fun and exhaustive activities. Short walks will not suffice for him. Thus, owners need to come up with different canine games and exercise routines.
Do Working Cocker Spaniels calm down? Some believe that dogs do calm down after they reach maturity. However, this is not the case for most Working Cocker Spaniel puppies. Even after full growth, most of them will remain hyperactive.
The only way for Working Cocker Spaniels to calm down is to tire them out with exercise. Otherwise, they will become bored and take it upon themselves to find a source of entertainment.
This doesn’t often end well as they may resort to destructive behaviour.
2) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is a barker.
Do Working Cocker Spaniels bark a lot? Yes, many of them are notorious barkers, especially when they sense strangers in their territory. Yapping is their way of warning their owners that they might be in danger.
Some Working Cocker Spaniels bark because they crave attention. This undesirable behaviour can be diminished by training your Working Cocker Spaniel puppy to bark only when necessary.
Depleting the Working Cocker Spaniel puppy’s energy through rigorous exercise will also minimise his incessant barking. He would prefer to curl up in his dog bed right after than yap noisily around the house.
3) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is Challenging to Train.
The Working Cocker Spaniel is more obstinate than his Springer Spaniel and Field Spaniel cousins. He is also a clever and mischievous dog that will do his own thing if he wills it.
Novice dog owners will find it challenging to train a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy. Experienced handlers have a better shot at achieving successful training outcomes.
Although the Working Cocker Spaniel is not easy to train, you can still make considerable progress in gun dog training. Make sure to be consistent but creative. Since he gets distracted quickly, turn training sessions into a fun game to hold his focus longer.
Learning takes time, so be patient in training your Working Cocker Spaniel puppy. However, do not let any of his mischief slide, or else he is bound to repeat it.
Harsh corrective methods such as shouting should be avoided because he is highly sensitive to your emotions. Discipline your puppy in a firm but soft voice.
Always end Working Cocker Spaniel training on a positive note to make your dog look forward to another training session.
4) The Working Cocker Spaniel Is a Mouthy Pooch.
Mouthiness is a common trait in hunting, retrieving, and herding breeds. They are predisposed to this behaviour because they were bred to mouth or nip their target.
Whilst it is useful in fieldwork, it can be distressing if you become the target of your Working Cocker Spaniel puppy’s mouthiness. This behaviour should be curbed to avoid serious biting accidents when they mature.
The first step is to provide your Working Cocker Spaniel with lots of dog-safe chew toys. Note that mouthing cannot be completely inhibited, particularly in working dogs. Thus, he should be taught bite inhibition to prevent him from mouthing too hard.
5) The Working Cocker Spaniel Has several Health Concerns.
What is the life expectancy of a Working Cocker Spaniel? How long do Working Cocker Spaniels live? They have a lifespan of 10–15 years if well cared for.
If you plan to own a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy, just beware that he is highly at risk of developing certain diseases such as progressive renal atrophy (PRA). It is an incurable eye condition that can cause irreversible loss of vision.
Hip dysplasia is also another prevalent health problem found in Working Cocker Spaniels. This illness is caused by the looseness or degeneration of the hip joints.
Whilst it is not as serious as PRA, hip dysplasia can greatly affect their work as gun dogs. That’s because it causes lameness and even early onset of arthritis.
When buying a puppy, be sure to look for reputable Working Cocker Spaniel breeders in Northern Ireland, England, and Wales. Also, ask for documents proving that your chosen Working Cocker Spaniel puppy and his parents have undergone health testing.
You should also work with the vet to create preventive measures to keep potential canine diseases at bay.
Are Working Cocker Spaniels Suitable for You?
Working Cocker Spaniels are excellent working dogs as well as terrific family pets. But note that they are not the right canine companions for everyone.
Dog lovers who are vying to own a Working Cocker Spaniel should be prepared to face his good and bad side. Experienced individuals with an active lifestyle are a better fit for this dog.
If you don’t tick all of these boxes, raising a Working Cocker Spaniel may not work out. It would be best to research for a different dog unless you are greatly confident that you can handle the Working Cocker Spaniel.