English Cocker Spaniel

Breed Group: Sporting

Temperament and Behavior

The English Cocker Spaniel lacks the popularity in the US of the American Cocker. As a result, English Cocker Spaniels lack the temperament problems seen in many of his American cousins as a result of demand-driven poor breeding practices. English Cockers are just as affectionate, happy, gentle and loyal as the best of his American counterparts. The English Cocker Spaniel adores children and is slightly better with them than the corresponding American breed. He is equally loving with all family members, eager to greet them with tail wagging and great excitement no matter how long they have been gone. Most English Cocker Spaniels greet strangers only slightly less lovingly and do well with many household pets. But they have stronger hunting instincts than the corresponding American breed so care should be taken with birds and small furry pets. Quick to bark, they make above average watchdogs. But typically they make below average guard dogs. Great for active families, English Cocker Spaniels are energetic and look forward to a fair amount of outdoor exercise. If it is given, they adapt well to apartment life. If not given, they may become overly noisy and destructive. Dogs from show lines may make a better pet as field lines may be too energetic. Some are prone to excessive barking and digging. They can be difficult to housebreak and submissive urination (sudden wetting when excited) can also be a problem with some dogs.

Physical Characteristics

English Cocker Spaniels are an average size dog that ranges between 15 and 17 inches in height and weighs between 26 and 34 pounds. Slightly larger than the American Cocker, they are sturdier than many other dogs their size. More than half of all English Cocker Spaniels have blue roan coats; other colors include red, black, gold, liver, black and white, liver and white, and tricolor. Their hair is flat and silky with fairly long feathering on their ears, abdomen, and legs. They need more grooming than an average dog – regular brushing and combing, with occasional clipping of hair around the head and ears and scissor trimming around the feet and tail. Make sure keep his ears clean and dry. With proper grooming, they are average shedders. They do best in a temperate climate.

Trainer's Notes

Although English Cocker Spaniels are sociable by nature, it is important to socialize them with children, strangers, dogs and other pets. This builds confidence and reduces the tendency of some dogs to be reserved with strangers and overly protective with family. Encourage independence to prevent them from becoming clingy. On rare occasion, a dog is affected by Rage Syndrome. Intelligent, obedient, and confident, English Cocker Spaniels are smart enough to pick up what is being taught and are normally eager to please. Training should be firm but always gentle. This breed is overly sensitive to harsh correction and can become despondent if handled roughly. They make a great training partner for novice and experienced dog owners alike.

English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel, blue roan


In general a healthy breed, English Cocker Spaniels’ major health concerns include PRA, Cataracts, and Glaucoma each of which can cause blindness. Ectropion also affects their eyes. About 1 in 20 dogs suffer from Patellar Luxation or Hip Dysplasia, which is more prevalent in solid colored dogs. Hypothyroidism, chronic ear infections, and skin infections also occur. Particolored puppies should come with a BAER printout showing normal hearing as they have an increased incidence of deafness. English Cocker Spaniels typically live from 12 to 15 years.


Not as popular in the US as American bred spaniels, the English Cocker Spaniel is ranked 74th in popularity by the AKC with about 1,300 dogs registered each year. But in the rest of the world, the English Cocker Spaniel is more popular than the dogs bred in America.

Breed History

Originating in England as a flushing spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel comes from one of the largest groups of dogs. Spaniels date back to at least 1300. But it wasn’t until 1892 that English Spaniels were separated into different breeds. Before that time the English Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel developed together with the only difference being the Cocker Spaniel's smaller size. Even today both breeds share many of the same traits. In the early 1900's English Cocker Spaniels became extremely popular. As a result, to the objection of their English counterparts, American breeders decided to create their own variation of the breed. In 1946, the English Cocker Spaniel was declared separate from the American bred variety.

Additional Information

The biggest difference in behavior between the American and English Cocker Spaniel is the latter’s ability to hunt, a trait that is not nearly as strong in today’s American Cocker. English Cockers require little training to become good hunting companions. They have an excellent scenting ability and willingly penetrate thick brush to flush game birds. Most retrieve and love water. The National Breed Club is the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America

Is An English Cocker Spaniel THE BEST Dog For YOU?

Recommended Articles

Three Mistakes Most People Make Looking For A Dog

Six Questions You Must Be Able To Answer Before You Can Find Your Best Dog


The Complete Dog Selection System