Wondering which dog breeds are perfect for a family? Gentle pups immediately recognizable by their oversized ears and silky coat, cocker spaniels have been a long-time favorite for American dog owners. It’s not just their soul-piercing puppy-dog eyes and kind, intelligent nature that makes them so instantly lovable; they’re also prized hunting dogs—bred to chase birds and bring home supper.
With a range of coat colors, including tan, black, black and white, brown and white, red and white, or tri-color, this breed has a beautiful diversity of looks. People-pleasers at heart, cocker spaniels are always looking for the best way to bring a smile to your face (though they might enjoy a little mischief from time to time as well).
Looking to have a cocker spaniel join your family? You can look forward to a small-sized pooch with plenty of energy and boundless affection.
Also Known As…
The Merry Cocker, The Winsome Wagger, and Spaniel Day-Lewis.
What Is The History Of The Cocker Spaniel?
Perhaps it’s no surprise—given the name—that the spaniel breed traces its roots to Spain.1 While the earliest origins of the cocker spaniel predecessor are a bit hazy, spaniels (first sorted as “land spaniels” and “water spaniels”) served as hunting companions for Europeans for centuries—prized for their unmatched skill and agility.
In the 19th century, breeders developed several categories including the English springer spaniels, the English toy spaniels, and, of course, the cocker spaniel. This original English breed—named after the woodcock bird that these dogs excelled at hunting—is the closest ancestor to today’s American cocker spaniel. Compared to its British progenitor, the American cocker spaniel is slightly smaller in stature with a shorter muzzle and a longer, more abundant coat.
In the nearly 80 years since the American Kennel Club first recognized and registered both the English and American water spaniel versions of the breed, the cocker spaniel has wagged its way into pop culture, history, and the White House. Disney fans may even recognize this breed as the star of the beloved classic “Lady and The Tramp.” With the cuteness dialed up all the way, it’s no wonder the cocker spaniel remains a top dog for celebrities and the non-famous alike—take one look at this stupendously sweet breed and you’ll know precisely why.
How Big Do Cocker Spaniels Get?
Height: 13.5–15.5 inches
Weight: 20–30 pounds
How Long Do Cocker Spaniels (Generally) Live?
This pup is actually one of the dog breeds that live the longest. Cocker spaniels have a standard lifespan for dogs of their size. You can expect to spend 12 to 15 years with your precious cocker spaniel puppy.2
What Is A Cocker Spaniel’s Temperament & Personality Like?
Generous with nuzzles, tail wags, and affection, this pure-hearted breed brings new meaning to the phrase “good dog.” Expect little to no time waiting for your young spaniel to warm up to you (and your family), as this breed is known to make fast friends.
While they have a long history as hunting dogs, cocker spaniels are not aggressive and more likely to join a cuddle puddle than to go after some trouble.
Are Cocker Spaniels Good With Kids? Cats? Dogs?
Considered by many as the original family dogs, cockers spaniels make an excellent choice for families with young children. They’re liable to become your kids’ best friends, following them from room to room, excited for the next backyard play session or a relaxing evening of belly rubs.
Your cocker spaniel is also a great friend to your other pets. With proper training and a stress-free introduction, this breed will likely get along well with other cats and dogs—though you may want to avoid keeping a bird in the house. Some instincts just don’t quit.
Are Cocker Spaniels High Energy?
While cocker spaniels aren’t necessarily couch potatoes, they’re also not the type to run a marathon every day. Provide your pup with about 30 minutes of mild exercise daily, and they should be more than happy.
Are Cocker Spaniels Hard To Train?
A few centuries of domestication have made this breed a cinch to train. Since they’re always after their owner’s love and affection, positive reinforcement can do wonders during your training sessions. Supply your spaniel with the right amount of kind words and tasty treats, and you should find them sitting, shaking, and rolling over in no time.
Do Cocker Spaniels Have Health Issues?
Small but sturdy, cocker spaniels typically have a strong constitution and aren’t particularly susceptible to the standard pet health problem like heart disease or ear infections. That said, certain health issues or genetic predispositions to be aware of include:2
- Eye disorders – Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and glaucoma can impact these pups.
- Patellar luxation – Some spaniels may experience slipping kneecaps, which can be corrected with surgery if serious.
- Hypothyroidism – Cocker spaniels may be at risk for lower thyroid levels, which can be treated with medication.
To get a complete picture of your pup’s bill of health and early detection of any health problem, schedule a preliminary veterinary appointment and ask your adoption specialist whether your cocker spaniel has undergone genetic and diagnostic testing.
Do Cocker Spaniels Need To Be Groomed?
Looking this luxurious requires a little work. Cocker spaniels have dense, wavy locks that require regular brushing, combing, and washing. Aim to brush your pup every 1 to 3 days to ensure they stay snarl-free, and bathe them with a dog-approve shampoo every month or so.
Additionally, you should plan on a regular trim every 6 to 8 weeks at your preferred groomer. With long, fast-growing hair, cocker spaniels need a little off the top to stay looking fresh.
Do Cocker Spaniels Shed?
While you shouldn’t expect a mountain of hair from these mild-shedding dogs, it does add up over time. Keep the vacuum handy for taking care of excess fur.
How Much Does It Cost To Care For A Cocker Spaniel?
Factoring in adoption fees, cocker spaniel puppy care, and monthly expenses, you could expect to spend around $1,200 per year on your cocker spaniel.
It doesn’t take too much food to satisfy your cocker spaniel. Just 1.5 to 2.5 cups of kibble a day should keep them happy and healthy. Depending on your food of choice, this could cost $30 to $80 per month.
Forget hunting—find food designed specifically for your cocker spaniel through BARK Eats, the highly nutritious, puppy-approved meal plan delivered straight to your door. Developed by veterinary nutritionists and formulated to satisfy your breed’s specific needs, BARK Eats is the best way to keep your dog fed. Get 50% off your first month!
Routine Vet Care (Healthy Dog)
Standard vet visits cost around $50, but additional x-rays, blood work, and antibiotics could extend to the high hundreds.
Preventative Medications For Cocker Spaniel
Vaccines and parasite prevention medications are integral to pet health. Expect to spend at least $100 per year on these essential medications.
Cocker Spaniel Grooming
Brushes, combs, and shampoo could cost you less than $100 a year if you opt to do all the grooming yourself. On the other hand, if you’re counting on a groomer to keep your cocker spaniel looking their best, you may be spending $50 to $100 per session on grooming.
Toys, Treats, Beds, & Accessories
While there’s no doggy outfit or accessory that could hold a candle to your spaniel’s majestic floppy ears and bodacious beach waves, you can make your cocker spaniel feel extra special with customized collars, leashes, toys, and more. How much you spend is up to you, but it could add up to a few hundred dollars, all said and done.
Excite your cocker spaniel every month with BarkBox, the monthly subscription service that offers 2 toys, 2 full-size bags of treats, and a tasty chew for only $23/month. Does your pup have jaws of steel? Try the Super Chewer subscription with 2 durable toys, 2 bags of treats, and two meaty chews. Now, you can double your first box free!
Before stepping out, remember to account for additional service costs, including:
- Dog walks ($20+ per session)
- Pet sitters ($40–$100 per day)
- Kenneling ($60 per night)
American Kennel Club. Cocker Spaniel.
Pet MD. American Cocker Spaniel. https://www.petmd.com/dog/breeds/c_dg_am_cocker_spaniel