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The cocker spaniel, not to be confused with its American cocker spaniel cousin, is believed to have descended from the popular spaniel breed in the thirteenth century. It is an intelligent pooch with a happy disposition and loves being in the company of people. It can get high-maintenance in the grooming front especially the show type, which needs to be professionally groomed at least every two to three months. Although it has been bred as a gun dog and would thrive in the countryside, it can do well in apartments as long as it gets appropriate exercise daily.
Interested in owning a cocker spaniel? Here is a brief background of this cute and endearing pooch that is also called the English cocker.
There are two types of cocker spaniels: the English cocker spaniel and the American cocker spaniel. Both are simply referred as cocker spaniel in their respective countries. The cocker spaniel is the descendant of the spaniel breed present in thirteenth-century England. The breed was often depicted in various literary works, including masterpieces of Chaucer and Shakespeare. However, it is believed that this type of dog was already around as early as 54 BC. The spaniel dog was sought after in the sixteenth century because it was a terrific game-bird hunter. The breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1983.
It was common for the spaniel breed to have differently sized puppies in one litter. It was up to the breeders to decide which jobs were appropriate for them based on their size, intelligence, and stamina. It was only during the end of the nineteenth century that the breeders decided to divide the spaniels into different breeds. These were the cocker, English springer, field, Sussex, Clumber, Welsh springer, and Irish water spaniel. In 1874, a spaniel under 11 kilograms was considered a cocker by the Kennel Club. A breed standard for the cocker spaniel was officially set in 1885. As American breeders chose the smaller varieties with rounder skulls, shorter muzzles, and thicker coats, a separate type was created. The American and English cocker spaniels were divided into separate breeds in 1935.
The cocker spaniel is a sturdy, compact, and magnificent-looking pooch. Larger than its American cousin, it weighs 26–34 pounds and stands 28–41 centimetres at the withers. Its body resembles the working-dog form of the English springer and field spaniels. The cocker has a square muzzle with a well-developed skull, and its head is well-proportioned to its sturdy body. Its dark brown/brown eyes are full but not prominent. Its charming lobular ears are set low on a level with its eyes.
There is a distinction in terms of the coats of a working cocker and a show cocker. The former has a finer coat with less feathering, whilst the latter has a flat and silky coat with plenty of feathering. Both should not be wiry, wavy, or curly. Feathering is found on the body, forelegs, and hind legs above the hocks. The breed comes in fun and adorable solid colours and combinations:
Solid colours: black, golden, liver, and red
Bicolours: black and white; black and tan; liver and tan; orange and white; lemon and white; liver and white
Tricolours: black, white, and tan; liver, white, and tan
Roans: blue roan; lemon roan; liver roan; orange roan; blue roan and tan; liver roan and tan
The cocker spaniel has demanding grooming needs, with the show cocker being more high-maintenance. Its long hair needs daily brushing to remove dirt and distribute natural oils. The coat also needs to be hand- or knife-stripped. Taking it to a professional groomer every three months will be a great idea to make your life much easier. Bathing can actually be done as needed. If your dog freely roams around in a farm or ranch, it can get muddy and would require frequent baths.
Apart from keeping your dog’s coat clean and healthy, also make sure that its nails are trimmed and its ears clean. Regularly check for ticks and fleas as these parasites carry deadly diseases. Also make sure that its teeth and gums are clean by regular brushing and giving it chew toys that prevent tartar build-up.
Happy, endearing, charming, intelligent, resilient, and alert are words often used to describe the cocker spaniel. It is always happy to be in the presence of people and will continuously wag its tail to express it. It is a great family pet especially if its owners live in the countryside and it is allowed to wander freely. It can also be a good apartment dog, but you have to remember that it was bred as a gun dog. You have to make time to walk it or take it to the dog park. When it is left to its own devices, the cocker can be destructive. It gets along with children especially when raised together.
The cocker’s intelligence is paired with its eagerness to learn and please its humans, making it very easy to train. It is also worth noting that this breed is very sensitive and does not respond to tough words and actions. Positive reinforcements in the form of praises and treats will work best. Aside from basic obedience, include canine sports in your training, like agility and fly ball.
More often than not, the type of breed plays a factor in your dog’s temperament and intelligence. However, not everyone fits the mould. Don’t have too much expectation because each dog is unique.
A typical serving for an adult cocker spaniel is one to two cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. You have to remember that the amount of food you give to your pet depends on its age, size, build, metabolism, and activity level. Owners need to have a clear idea of the basic nutritional needs of their cocker spaniel as a breed in general and consider its individual characteristics.
The following is the typical calorie needs of an adult cocker spaniel per day:
Whether it is commercial dog food or something home-made, the main ingredient should be real meat. Since the cocker is prone to bone issues, include food that contains glucosamine. Fat found in meat and fish or cod liver oil supplements is also essential to maintain its beautiful coat. Nonetheless, be careful not to overfeed it as it easily gains weight. Also include good carbohydrates found in oatmeal, rice, and barley to provide it with energy all day.
The cocker spaniel is generally healthy but prone to certain health issues, including eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). The breed can also suffer from renal failure, congenital sensorineural deafness, dilated cardiomyopathy, and hip dysplasia.
The English cocker is more energetic than the American breed and has higher exercise requirements. Not being able to release its energy through exercise can lead to destructive behaviour. The best type of physical activity is letting it run around freely in the countryside. On the other hand, if you live in the city, daily walks and runs paired with games of fetch would also suffice. Don’t leave it in a fenced yard unsupervised or it might escape whilst chasing other animals.
The cocker spaniel is a moderately expensive dog to maintain. The annual amount can range from £1,000 to £1,500. Remember that costs differ depending on a lot of factors such as size, age, and health. Firstly, premium dog food and treats can go as high as £520 per year. Grooming expenses at professional groomers for your cocker are around £30–£40, which can go higher if your dog requires stripping.
Routine vet visits for annual booster vaccination and flea/worming treatments can cost around £130. Basic pet insurance rates cost £240 per year, but be prepared for any required veterinary treatments that are not covered or that exceed your coverage.
Are you sure the Cocker Spaniel is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
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11th Dec 2018
Reading Time: 5 minutes
As early as a thirteen-week-old puppy, a cocker spaniel can be introduced to necessary training. In fact, Northumbria Police have begun training four cocker pups (Henry, Herbert, Hartley, and Hunter) to become the future Northumbria Police specialist search dogs.