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Cocker Spaniel Puppy Care & Training

For the purpose of this article I've grouped the two Cocker Spaniel puppy varieties together. I will discuss both the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel on this page - they are both sweet dogs.

A Cocker Spaniel puppy is a wonderful little package - they possess so many of the attractive qualities that us dog lovers cherish.

A well bred, socialized and trained Cocker Spaniel puppy is a beautiful and versatile family companion. They are an intelligent, trustworthy and cheerful housemate. Cocker Spaniels adapt well to most living conditions and are considered to be an excellent dog breed with children.

Cocker Spaniels are much loved worldwide for that warm affectionate nature, beautiful soft appearance and ever cheerful disposition.

Cocker Spaniel Pictures


History Of The Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels descended from one of the oldest of all dog breeds - the Spaniel. The Spaniel breeds originated in Spain and came in many shapes and sizes. There were water, land, springer, sussex and field spaniels - they all carried out different hunting duties. Size was the main point of difference between these early Spaniel breeds.

The smallest (and best!) of these was the wonderful Cocker Spaniel. They were used to flush out and retrieve small game such as quail, pheasant and woodcock. Cockers are unmatched for their hunting ability.

In 1946 the English Cocker Spaniel and American Cocker Spaniel were officially recognized by the AKC as separate breeds. The American Cocker is a smaller specimen, and some would say more elegant than his English cousin.

Cocker Spaniel Size & Appearance

Cockers stand out in a crowd due to their lovely expressive appearance. They have gorgeous dark eyes, those big floppy ears and a tail that just keeps on wagging.

A Cocker Spaniel puppy in good condition is a muscular, well balanced athlete who is capable of covering great distances during a day out hunting. They are a sturdy and compact little package, with a nice deep chest and strong neck.

Another feature of this great breed is their beautiful silky hair. It is a dense double coat that does require some maintenance to keep in top condition. Cocker Spaniels do shed. If you keep your Cocker's coat long you will need to give it a good brush every few days and a trim every 6 weeks. Many Cocker Spaniel puppy breeders and owners recommend a short "puppy cut" which requires very little maintenance.

The coat comes in three broad color categories - Black, ASCOB any solid color other than black and parti-colors (which includes roans). If you get along to a Cocker Spaniel dog show you will see a multitude of colors.

A fully grown American Cocker Spaniel puppy stands at around 14-15 inches tall at the shoulder. The English Cocker is about 2 inches taller, has a thicker body, a finer coat and longer muzzle.

Cocker Spaniel Grooming

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Temperament

A well bred, socialized and trained Cocker Spaniel puppy is a delight to be around. They are joyful, even tempered, dependable, affectionate, loyal, charming and gentle. It is this peerless temperament that has made the Cocker Spaniel one of the most sought after of all pure breed dogs around the world.

Unfortunately this rise in popularity has led to many problems with the Cocker Spaniel dog breed. Opportunistic and unscrupulous Cocker Spaniel breeders have cashed in at the expense of the breed. The temperament, overall health, longevity and most definitely the reputation of the breed has suffered badly in recent times. Poor breeding practices have led to numerous genetic problems and negative characteristics - including the so called "cocker rage" or "rage syndrome". These breeders have no concern for the future of the breed. They breed purely for profit, from poor unscreened breeding stock, puppies are often kept in unsuitable living conditions and are rarely socialized.

Always purchase your cocker from a reputable and responsible Cocker Spaniel puppy breeder when possible. Good breeders who genuinely care for the breed are winning the battle and returning the Cocker to the wonderful stable companions we grew to love:

  • When properly socialized Cockers are sweet, gentle and playful with kids and other animals.

  • Cocker Spaniel puppies are always busy and up for a game. They love games of fetch at the dog park and flyball is an absolute favorite with Cockers.

  • Cocker Spaniels are intelligent, sensitive and love human company. They bond closely with their human family and like to be with you at all times.

  • Cockers still have many of the hunting instincts that they were originally bred for. You'll often find your Cocker with his nose down tracking something or other, with his tail wagging high above him. Most Cocker Spaniel puppies also love to swim.

  • Fearful or timid Cockers are all too common these days. These traits should be avoided at all times when selecting your puppy.

Cocker Spaniel Health Concerns

Generally speaking the Cocker Spaniel is still a hardy and healthy breed. With some planning and a bit of luck you'll have a happy, stable and active Cocker as your housemate for around 15 years. Once again, your Cocker Spaniel breeder plays a crucial role in determining the long term health and wellbeing of your dog.

Below is a list of some general health issues Cocker Spaniel owners are confronted with:

  • Cocker Spaniels love their food - eating is the favorite pastime of many Cockers. Be careful not to over feed your Cocker as obesity brings on many associated health problems. Always provide a well balanced and nutritious diet to your Cocker.

  • Dog ear infections are a big concern with the Cocker Spaniel breed. A quick inspection of the long pendulous ears each day is advisable in order to identify any build up of moisture or objects, such as lodged grass seeds. Some Cocker owners like to keep the hair inside the ears trimmed.

  • Other health problems which can arise with your Cocker Spaniel are: Various skin conditions, PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), cataracts, glaucoma, hemolytic anemia, luxating patella, hip dysplasia, heart problems, epilepsy and kidney failure.

English Cocker Spaniel
An English Cocker Spaniel In Full Flight!

Cocker Spaniel Puppy Training

Cocker Spaniel puppies love the physical and mental stimulation that obedience training provides. They are intelligent, quick learners and love trying new things. Plus time spent training is time spent with you - which is always a bonus to your Cocker.

Concentrate your efforts on using positive reward based training methods that rely on consistency and repetition to shape new behaviors. Make your Cocker training sessions short, intense and most of all fun. Work on the theory that if your Cocker Spaniel puppy does something you like, immediately give him/her something he likes. This is the best way to shape and reinforce a new behavior.

There is no place for punishment or harsh "corrections" when training your Cocker. They don't respond well to bullying tactics (nor do they need them anyway) and may go into their shell and quickly lose confidence. They can be a very sensitive breed.

Some common Cocker Spaniel puppy training issues you are likely to encounter:

  • Cocker Spaniel house training is always a popular talking point among Cocker owners. House training a Cocker Spaniel puppy doesn't need to be such a big issue. The key is to start early and be consistent. I suggest you pick out a good puppy house training schedule and apply it with absolute consistency and persistence. I've found that using a crate is a valuable asset in the housebreaking process. Your goal when house training is to prevent messy mistakes and reward desirable eliminations - supervision of your young puppy is crucial to your success.

  • Leash training your Cocker is another behavior you will want to get right. Cocker Spaniels are strong little dogs who like to get their nose down low and pull like crazy. Start your leash training sessions as soon as you can - it's never too early. Try following this leash training method - Cocker Spaniel puppy leash training.

  • All the basic commands such as sit, down, stay, come and heel should be taught to your Cocker Spaniel puppy. You will rely on these commands in many day to day situations and they are essential for the safety of your dog. These commands are easily learned by Cockers - they pick them up in quick time.

  • Cocker Spaniels have excelled in many dog sports and training activities. Cockers love agility, flyball, obedience trials, tracking, hunting and also work as therapy dogs.

  • Resource guarding or canine possesion aggression is a subject that comes up when discussing Cocker Spaniels. I've never had a problem such as this with a Cocker but it obviously occurs in some Cocker households. Check out my article on this behavior - dog food aggression.

  • Some Cockers love to dig - it can be a big problem if you are fond of your plants. The best solution is to provide an area in your yard where it is ok for your Cocker to dig.

Puppy kindergarten and dog obedience training schools are great venues to socialize and train your Cocker Spaniel puppy. If you prefer to raise and train your Cocker yourself, at home I recommend you join this fantastic community of dog lovers - Dog Training Inner Circle.


Check Out These Cute Cocker Spaniel Puppies!


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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.