English Cocker Spaniel Dog


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english cocker spaniel

Breed information Guide

English Cocker Spaniel is the one of the most popular dogs in the UK but also round the world. According to Kennel Club 29,000 English cocker spaniels were registered in the UK in 2022 making it only second to the Labrador. In the US according to the American Kennel Club it is ranked 29th (of 287 breeds) in 2022.

This article is perfect for anyone looking to understand more about this special dog breed. If you are looking for a dog this article will provide the general information required to understand if an English Cocker Spaniel is the right fit for you.

Quick Facts:

  • Size: medium
  • Weight: 13-15kg
  • Height: up to 42cm
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Types: working and show varieties
  • Allergies: English Cockers Spaniels are not hypoallergenic (in fact no dogs are completely) but they do shed less than other breeds and have less dander. Some of the cross spaniel and poodle breeds are the most hypoallergenic e.g. cavapoos or cockapoos.
  • Movies: yes they are famous appearing in Disney film ‘lady and the tramp’!
  • Appearance: distinctive long ears with different hair length and many colours (bi or tri colours).
  • Temperament: intelligent, friendly, active and sociable ideal family dog. These dogs love company so can suffer from separation anxiety if left at home alone too long.
  • Other pets: Ideal mate to cats or other dogs but caution with small birds and animals due to gun dog heritage and preying instinct.
  • Barking: spaniels can be vocal so training and adequate exercise helps
  • Training: responsive to reward based training and can develop good recall (ability to return to you on command).
  • Exercise required: minimum of an hour a day with plenty of opportunity to run around and smell scents in grassy areas (often seen with nose to ground).
  • Owner requirement: fit and active enough to provide the daily walks and exercise required and commit the time required (cannot be left at home for more than 3-4 hours).
  • Grooming: weekly brushing required (checking ears) given their active lifestyle, periodic professional grooming visits.
  • Health: typical problems include ear disorders, eye conditions, hip dysplasia and blood disorders
  • Nutrition: fresh water and mix of dry and wet food twice a day.
  • Accommodation: enough outdoor space at home to run around, ideally in a rural location.
  • Cost: £1,000 – £1,500 from reputable breeder and circa £80 per month (largely food and insurance as key on-going costs). According to the PDSA over their lifetime this type of dog can cost £13,000.
  • Kennel Club Group: Gundog

Breed History & Traits:

The history of the English Cocker Spaniel is steeped in tradition. Originally bred as a gun dog, this breed has a long-standing reputation as a working dog and remains a popular choice for hunters to this day. While their name may suggest otherwise, the English Cocker Spaniel is a breed of dog that is internationally recognised for its exceptional versatility in bird flushing for hunting a variety of game including woodcock (hence the name). Indeed, the English Cocker Spaniel’s history is one filled with tales of their prowess in the field, and their ability to thrive in a wide variety of working situations makes them a beloved breed for hunters and non-hunters alike. In addition to being a working dog english cocker spaniels are popular show dogs and have won at Crufts (dog competition in the UK) more than any other breed.

Temperament and Personality:

In our view if asked to describe the english cocker spaniel in two words it would be ‘friendly’ and ‘energetic’!

The English Cocker Spaniel dog temperament is known for their delightful personality and friendly disposition towards everyone, especially children. They are the perfect playmate for kids, as they love to run and play. This breed is highly valued for their ability to be an excellent family pet, and their energy level is just right for children who love to play fetch or go on long walks. The Cocker Spaniel is known for their affection and willingness to please their owners, making them a wonderful companion for any family. They are easy to train, eager to please, and always ready to make their family happy and content.

It is worth noting that spaniels in general can be vocal and do bark especially when not stimulated or left alone for too long as they can suffer from separation anxiety. Despite this whilst they will undoubtedly alert you to someone at the door they do not make particularly good guard dogs as they are so friendly when encountering people!

Appearance and Colours

English Cocker Spaniels have long silky thick coats with trademark long ears with a feathered look. Tails can be docked or left natural. They also make incredibly cute puppies!

English cocker spaniels have a great range of colours and also look striking with bi (for example tan and white or black and white) and tri colours (often with white, black and tan). The main colours include black, cream, tan (brown) and red.


English cocker spaniels are one of the more responsive dogs to training especially reward based due to their intelligence and temperament. Socialising your dog from a young age is important as is leaving them alone for short periods. With young children it is important to ensure any biting is dealt with swiftly at a young age and good behaviour is rewarded. They are eager to please so positive feedback training is preferential.


It is important to note unlike some dog breeds English Cocker Spaniels do require regular daily exercise with a minimum of an hour. Due to their gun dog heritage you will notice they often latch onto scents on walks and enjoy having a good sniff!

Some owners may think their spaniel would make a good running companion but their preference is to have bursts of running interspersed with stops to sniff around. They love to play fetch with balls. They are good with other dogs so happy to run around and play with other breeds. Being able to take them to a safe off-lead area is great for them to burn off energy.

As with most dogs they should be on leads near main roads, as they have a high prey drive they are prone to running off if they spot a small animal / bird!

Ideal Home & Owner:

Per above as an owner you will need be fit enough or have access to those who can walk your spaniel on a daily basis. As a family who owns a spaniel it is often the parents who will have to walk the dog so this should be considered alongside other commitments.

From a work perspective English Cocker Spaniels would suit a home or part time worker (or someone retired) who can keep them company. It would not be appropriate to leave them at home alone for longer than 3-4 hours.

English cocker spaniels are active dogs so it is important they have enough outdoor space at home to run to let off some of their energy! The ideal home set-up would be in a semi-rural location or if urban it should include a garden with enough space for exercise. This avoids them getting bored and then any subsequent destructive behaviour at home (chewing furniture etc).

Other Animals

English cocker spaniels are sociable with other animals so tend to be fine with other animals but due to their prey drive caution is required with other smaller pets such as birds (e.g. Budgerigars), Hamsters or Guinea pigs.

Size & Weight

The English Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized dog breed that is admired for its charming temperament. This breed is smaller than other Spaniels, but it is not too small to be considered a toy breed. Its playful and affectionate nature makes it a great companion for households with children or other pets. Despite its small stature, the English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy and athletic breed that excels in activities such as agility and hunting. Its medium-sized body is perfectly suited for these activities and makes it a versatile breed. Overall, the English Cocker Spaniel’s size is just right for those seeking a playful and adaptable pet.

Grooming & Care

Due to the long coat and length of ears (which often get wet / dirty due to their nose to ground style on walks) english cocker spaniels do require regular brushing and then professional grooming circa 3-4 times a year which would include a clipping of coat and nails. Due to the length of their ears these should be checked weekly to ensure clean and healthy.

In the summer it is worth remembering not cutting their coat too short as it actually provides protection against the sun.

Nutrition & Food:

As these dogs are very active they require access to fresh water as and when required and food of a quality to support their energetic lifestyle. Typically food is provided twice a day (morning and evening). This can be a combination of wet and dry food as required. Spaniels are food driven so be careful not to provide too many treats in between meals other than being used for reward based training.

Please note be careful not to leave spaniels alone in the kitchen near food. Our dog ate half a baguette loaf from a plate before we could stop her!


Below are some of the common health problems English cocker spaniels can face. Per below in considering this type of dog it is recommended that adequate health insurance is funded to keep your dog in the best condition.

  • Ear infections – spaniels are prone to these which can impact the external, middle or inner ear. The dog may scratch it’s ears or shake it’s head.
  • Hip dysplasia – This is where the hip joint doesn’t fit together perfectly and can lead to arthritis, dogs can be screened by breeders for this.
  • Blood disorders – according to PetPlan Cocker Spaniels are 70% more likely to need treatment for blood disorders e.g. anaemia where the dog shows with weakness or lethargy.
  • Eye problems – including Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye) and dry eye, symptoms include redness of the eye or vision loss. 


In our experience of owning our spaniel comprehensive pet insurance has been incredibly valuable (costing up to £50 per month) to cover all the health requirements. Without insurance the bills from vets can be significant. In our experience day visits to the veterinary hospital for scans run into thousands of pounds and even vet tests are hundreds of pounds.

Check out our detailed guide on comparing best pet insurance cover for your spaniel.

Buying & Breeders:

When looking for English Cocker Spaniels for sale it is recommended that potential owners look for reputable breeders and as a premium breed, expect to pay circa £1k to £1.5k for a puppy. Anything much lower in price could indicate the seller is not reputable and caution is advised. Reputable breeders (Kennel Club Assured) screen the breeding parents for genetic conditions (heart conditions for example or hip dysplasia per above) to ensure the puppies are in the best health they can be. In addition ensure any puppies have relevant vaccinations and are socialised properly to avoid issues with children and family settings.

Rescue & Re-homing:

There are some fantastic charities including Spaniel Aid who are dedicated to re-homing spaniels alongside the other well know dog charities such as Battersea dog home. For the reasons outline above it is important to have an open conversation with the charity about the animal to ensure it works for your family circumstance and home set-up.

Mixed Breeds:

They are available as pure breed but also popular as mixed breeds. Popular mixed spaniel breeds include sprockers. Cross breeds include Cockapoo (poodle mix), Golden cocker (Golden Retriever mix), Chi-spaniel (Chihuaha mix), Bocker (Beagle mix), Docker (Dachshund mix), Spanador (Labrador mix) and Cocker Collie (Border Collie mix).

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