The English Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed

Written By: Lindsay Giguiere

Editor: Julie Zawadzki

Dog Breeds
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The English Cocker Spaniel is a breed that embodies the best of both worlds – they're excellent hunters and devoted family pets. With their charming personalities and distinctive appearance, it's no wonder they've captured the hearts of dog lovers for generations.

Did You Know these Facts about the English Cocker Spaniel?

  • The English Cocker Spaniel, often simply called the Cocker Spaniel, boasts an impressive history as a skilled bird hunter. They're known for their ability to "flush" game, meaning they uncover birds hidden in dense underbrush.

  • Despite their name, English Cocker Spaniels aren't significantly larger than their American counterparts. Both breeds originated from the same root stock but evolved differently due to their roles on either side of the Atlantic.

  • Cocker Spaniels are renowned for their friendly and affectionate nature. They're equally at home snuggling on the couch as they are fetching a ball in the yard. This adaptability makes them excellent family pets.

  • They come in an array of coat colors and patterns, from solid black to parti-color (two or more colors with distinct patches). Their expressive eyes and long floppy ears are impossible to resist.

  •  Cocker Spaniels have graced the silver screen in notable films like "Lady and the Tramp." Lady, the beloved Disney character, is an English Cocker Spaniel, which helped increase their popularity. 

As a breed, the English Cocker Spaniel holds a respected position. While not as popular as some other breeds, they managed the grab position #40 in the AKC´s 2022 popularity list. Their unique blend of intelligence, charm, and adaptability has endeared them to families and hunters alike.

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Traits of the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Personality. English Cocker Spaniels are bursting with personality. They are known for their affectionate and friendly disposition. These dogs thrive on human interaction and are often described as "people pleasers." They're equally content to lounge around the house or engage in outdoor adventures, making them adaptable companions.

Family Life. Cocker Spaniels are fantastic family dogs. They're patient with children and usually get along well with other pets in the household. Their playful nature means they're always up for a game of fetch or a romp in the yard.

Appearance. English Cocker Spaniels typically stand around 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 26 to 34 pounds. Their expressive, almond-shaped eyes and long, hanging ears are characteristic features. The coat comes in a variety of colors, including solid black, liver, and parti-color variations.

Sociability. These dogs are social butterflies. They thrive on companionship and are known for forming strong bonds with their families. However, their social nature also means they might suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods.

Average Sizes & Life Expectancy

  • Height: 15 to 16 inches tall (38 to 41 cm)
  • Weight: 26 to 34 pounds (12 to 15 kg)
  • Life Expectancy: Around 12 to 15 years

Detailed Description of the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Appearance.  The English Cocker Spaniel boasts a distinctive and appealing appearance. They stand at an average height of 38-41 centimeters (15-16 inches) and weigh between 12-15 kilograms (26-34 pounds). These dogs have a well-proportioned body with a compact build, conveying strength and agility.

One of their most notable features is their expressive, almond-shaped eyes that are often dark and brimming with intelligence. Their long, pendulous ears, adorned with flowing silky hair, frame their face beautifully. The coat of the English Cocker Spaniel is typically medium-length, flat, and silky to the touch. This breed comes in an array of coat colors, including solid black, liver, and parti-color combinations.

Temperament. English Cocker Spaniels are renowned for their friendly and affectionate nature. They're often described as "people pleasers" because they thrive on human interaction and companionship. Their loyalty knows no bounds, and they form deep bonds with their families.

Enthusiastic and lively, they're playful and enjoy a good game of fetch or a romp in the yard. Their spirited nature makes them excellent playmates for children, and they tend to get along well with other pets in the household. 

Adaptability. English Cocker Spaniels are well-suited to various types of households, from bustling families to active individuals.  individuals. Their adaptable nature allows them to thrive in both urban and rural environments, as long as they receive the attention and exercise they need.

For families, these dogs can be a wonderful addition. They are patient with children and enjoy being part of the family activities. Their size and temperament make them suitable for households with kids.

Additionally, English Cocker Spaniels can adapt to apartment living as long as they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation. They do require outdoor playtime and walks to maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Care Guidelines. The English Cocker Spaniel's silky coat needs regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles. Brush them several times a week and trim their feathering to keep them looking their best. These dogs are active and require daily exercise. Regular walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are essential to prevent boredom.

Training Strategies. These dogs respond best to patient and gentle training methods. Use positive methods such as treats, praise, and play to motivate and reward your dog. 

Expose your English Cocker Spaniel to various people, animals, and environments from a young age to ensure they grow up well-adjusted and confident. Be consistent with your training commands and expectations to avoid confusion. 

Notable in History and Pop Culture. The English Cocker Spaniel has a notable presence in both history and pop culture. Historically, they were bred as bird-hunting dogs, particularly skilled at "flushing" game birds from dense underbrush. Their ability to work closely with hunters made them invaluable in the field.

In pop culture, English Cocker Spaniels have appeared in various films and TV shows. Most notably, "Lady," the lead character in Disney's "Lady and the Tramp," is an English Cocker Spaniel. This beloved film introduced the breed to a wide audience and further solidified its place in popular culture.

In short, the English Cocker Spaniel is a breed that combines beauty, intelligence, and an affectionate nature. Whether you're seeking a loving family pet or a versatile companion for outdoor activities, this breed has it all. With proper care, training, and attention, an English Cocker Spaniel can be a cherished member of your family for many years.

What to expect when living with the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Personality. The English Cocker Spaniel is renowned for its friendly and loving personality. These dogs thrive on human interaction and are known for their loyalty. They form strong bonds with their families and often become devoted companions. 

Expect a dog that is not only affectionate but also enthusiastic and lively. They bring an energy and playfulness to your home that can brighten even the gloomiest of days. Their playful nature makes them excellent playmates for children, and their adaptability means they can fit well into various lifestyles.

Ideal Environment. English Cocker Spaniels are versatile when it comes to living environments. They are equally at home in urban apartments and rural houses, provided they receive the attention and exercise they need.  However, keep in mind that they do require daily exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy, and they don't do when when left alone for extended periods. Regular playtimes and walks are essential to fulfill their emotional and energetic needs.

Maintenance Level. The English Cocker Spaniel's maintenance level is moderate. While they are not high-maintenance dogs, they do require regular grooming to keep their silky coat in good condition. Brush their coat several times a week to prevent mats and tangles. You'll also need to trim their feathering and ears periodically. In addition to grooming, daily exercise is essential to prevent boredom and maintain their overall well-being.

Overall Health Expectations and Best Health Tests for the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Health Considerations. English Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Being aware of these potential problems and taking preventive measures is essential to ensure a long and healthy life for your furry friend.

Common health concerns:

  • Hip Dysplasia - This condition occurs when the hip joint doesn't develop properly, leading to arthritis and discomfort.
  • Ear Infections -  Their floppy ears can trap moisture and debris, making them susceptible to infections. Regular ear cleaning can help prevent this issue.
  • Autoimmune Disorders -  English Cocker Spaniels can be prone to certain autoimmune conditions that affect their immune system's function.

Recommended Health Tests. 

  • Hip Evaluation -  Regular hip evaluations by a veterinarian can detect hip dysplasia early, allowing for appropriate management.
  • Eye Exams -  Routine eye exams can help identify and address any ocular issues.
  • Ear Cleaning -  Regular ear cleaning, as recommended by your vet, can help prevent ear infections.
  • Autoimmune Disorder Screening - If your dog shows signs of autoimmune disorders, consult your veterinarian for appropriate testing and management.

Best Nutrition, Diet & Supplements for the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Nutrition and Diet. English Cocker Spaniels are active dogs that require a diet rich in high-quality proteins to support their energy levels and muscle maintenance. 

Look for dog foods that list a meat source as the first ingredient, such as chicken or lamb. A diet with moderate fat content is suitable for their active lifestyle. They are prone to obesity, so it's essential to monitor their food intake and maintain a healthy weight. Follow the feeding guidelines provided on the dog food packaging, but adjust portions based on your dog's individual needs, activity level, and age.

Establish a regular feeding schedule with two meals per day. This routine helps prevent overeating and aids in digestion.

Hydration is Key. Adequate hydration is essential for English Cocker Spaniels. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.

Supplements. While these dogs can receive essential nutrients from a balanced diet, some supplements can support their overall health. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, can help maintain healthy skin and coat. Additionally, consider supplements such as a glucosamine and chondroitin  combination to support joint health. Probiotics can enhance their immune systems.

Foods to Avoid. Some human foods are toxic to dogs and should be strictly avoided. These include chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and foods containing the artificial sweetener xylitol. Avoid foods with excessive fillers, artificial additives, or excessive grain content.

Grooming Requirements for the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Coat Maintenance and Shedding. English Cocker Spaniels have a medium-length, silky coat that should be groomed at least three times a week to prevent painful matting and tangling. More frequent grooming may be necessary during shedding seasons. Use a slicker brush or a pin brush to remove loose hair and prevent tangles. Pay close attention to their feathering (the longer fur on the ears, legs, and chest) as it's more prone to matting.

English Cocker Spaniels are moderate shedders. Regular grooming helps control shedding and keeps their coat in good condition. Brushing also reduces the amount of loose hair in your home.

Paw Care and Hygiene. Check their paws regularly for any signs of injury or foreign objects. Trim their nails to prevent overgrowth, which can cause discomfort and affect their gait. If you hear their nails clicking on the floor when they walk or run, it's time for a trim!

Ear Care. English Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears that can trap moisture and debris. Clean their ears regularly, ideally once a week, using a vet-approved ear cleaner. Be gentle to avoid pushing debris further into the ear canal.

Bathing Frequency. Bathing should be done as needed, typically every 6-8 weeks or when your dog gets particularly dirty. Use a mild dog shampoo to avoid drying out their skin and coat.

Exercise Required for the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

English Cocker Spaniels are active and energetic dogs that require daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. 

They need least 60-90 minutes of exercise each day. This should include a mix of brisk walks, playtime, and mentally stimulating activities. They enjoy playing fetch, chase, and interactive games like hide and seek. These activities engage their natural hunting instincts.

 In addition to physical exercise, provide mental stimulation through puzzle toys, obedience training, or scent games. These activities keep their minds sharp and prevent boredom.

Training Tips for the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Training an English Cocker Spaniel can be a rewarding experience, but it requires patience and consistency.


  • Use positive reinforcement techniques including treats, praise, and toys to reward good behavior. English Cocker Spaniels respond best to positive feedback.
  • Be consistent in your commands and expectations. Use the same cues for specific behaviors to avoid confusion.
  • Start socializing your English Cocker Spaniel from a young age. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments to help them become well-adjusted adults.
  • Enroll in obedience classes to provide structured training. These classes can help with basic commands and proper leash manners.


  • Use harsh training methods or punishment-based techniques. English Cocker Spaniels are sensitive dogs, and punitive methods can harm the bond between you and your dog.
  • Neglect their exercise needs. A bored and under-exercised English Cocker Spaniel may develop behavioral issues.
  • Use Inconsistent Rules. Ensure that everyone in your household follows the same rules and commands. Inconsistency can confuse your dog.
  • Neglect Mental Stimulation. English Cocker Spaniels are intelligent dogs. Neglecting mental stimulation can lead to boredom and destructive behavior.

The English Cocker Spaniel Breed is Suitable For

English Cockers are energetic dogs that love to play and explore. They are a fantastic choice for active families who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, running, or playing fetch in the yard. This breed can keep up with an active lifestyle and provides a great reason to get outside and exercise.

They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent companions for families with children. They are patient and gentle, which is important when kids are involved. However, as with any breed, it's essential to teach children how to interact with dogs respectfully.

They usually get along well with other pets, including cats and other dogs. They have a sociable disposition and enjoy the company of their furry friends. Proper socialization from an early age can help ensure peaceful coexistence. 

Whether you live in a spacious house with a big backyard or a cozy apartment, English Cocker Spaniels can adapt to different living arrangements. They are small enough to comfortably fit into apartment living but still appreciate outdoor space for exercise.

The English Cocker Spaniel Breed is Not Suitable For

English Cockers require daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. If you have a sedentary lifestyle and cannot commit to regular walks and playtime, this breed may not be suitable for you. Likewise if you live a busy life with too many other commitments to allow you to devote time to your dog, this breed is not for you - they need attention and companionship.

Lack of exercise can lead to behavioral issues. These dogs thrive on social interaction and can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods. If your lifestyle involves frequent long hours away from home, an English Cocker Spaniel may not be the best choice.

While they are good with children, English Cockers may become stressed in chaotic or noisy environments. They appreciate a calm and loving atmosphere. If your home is extremely busy or has high noise levels, it may not be the ideal setting for this breed.

English Cocker Spaniels are intelligent and sometimes strong-willed. They require consistent training and socialization. If you're a first-time dog owner and not prepared to invest time in training, you may find this breed's behavior challenging to manage.

Famous English Cocker Spaniel Owners

  • Princess Diana -  The late Princess Diana of Wales was a devoted owner of an English Cocker Spaniel named "Harvey." She often took Harvey on family holidays and loved him dearly. Harvey became a beloved member of the royal family.

  • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall -  The iconic Hollywood couple, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, owned an English Cocker Spaniel named "Duke." Duke even made appearances in some of their films, becoming a minor canine star in Hollywood.

  • Dame Judi Dench - The celebrated British actress Dame Judi Dench is known for her love of dogs, particularly English Cocker Spaniels. She has owned several Cockers over the years and is an advocate for dog welfare.

Accomplishments of the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

English Cockers have a rich history as skilled bird hunters, particularly in the sport of bird flushing. Their exceptional sense of smell and agility in dense undergrowth have made them valuable hunting companions.

The breed has achieved success in the world of dog shows. English Cockers have won numerous awards and titles, showcasing their beauty and conformation to breed standards. 

English Cocker Spaniels  have been trained as search and rescue dogs. Their keen noses and determination make them effective in locating missing persons in various terrains.

English Cocker Spaniels have appeared in various films and television series over the years, charming audiences with their playful and endearing personalities. Their friendly and affectionate nature makes them excellent therapy dogs. They provide comfort and emotional support to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities.

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The History of the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Creation and Purpose. The history of the English Cocker Spaniel is a tale of versatile sporting dogs bred for specific purposes, evolving into beloved family companions. The breed's roots can be traced back to 19th-century England when spaniel-type dogs were selectively bred for their distinct skills.

The English Cocker Spaniel's journey began as a working dog, primarily used for hunting woodcock, a game bird known for its elusive nature. The breed was developed to excel in flushing out these birds from dense undergrowth, and their name "Cocker" likely originates from their proficiency in hunting woodcock.

Early Roles and Evolution. As hunting methods evolved, the English Cocker Spaniel adapted to a broader range of game. They became valuable assets to hunters pursuing various upland game birds, including pheasants and grouse. Their agility, intelligence, and keen sense of smell made them indispensable in the field.

Over time, as hunting became more of a recreational sport, breeders began to refine the English Cocker Spaniel's appearance and temperament for dog shows. This led to the emergence of two distinct lines within the breed: the working or field line and the show line. While both shared a common ancestry, they began to exhibit subtle differences in appearance and behavior.

The show line English Cockers were selectively bred for their aesthetic qualities, leading to a more refined appearance with a luxurious coat and gentle temperament. These dogs excelled in conformation shows and became popular as companion animals. On the other hand, the field line English Cockers retained their hunting prowess, prized by sportsmen for their hunting abilities.

Changes and Modern Impact.  In the mid-20th century, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed from the American Cocker Spaniel due to their distinctive characteristics and history.

Today, English Cocker Spaniels are cherished as versatile pets, equally comfortable in the hunting field or as beloved family members. They retain their reputation as skilled hunting dogs, while their affectionate and adaptable nature makes them excellent companions. 

The English Cocker Spaniel Breed Standard

The English Cocker Spaniel belongs to the "Sporting Group" according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). This group includes breeds originally bred for hunting game birds.

The AKC's formal breed standard for the English Cocker Spaniel describes an elegant yet compact dog with a sturdy build. Their coat is silky and flat or slightly wavy, with various color patterns acceptable. 

They possess an intelligent and alert expression, indicative of their sharp-minded nature. These dogs should be well-balanced, displaying strength and agility. The standard emphasizes their enthusiastic and merry disposition.

The national breed club for English Cocker Spaniels in the United States is the "English Cocker Spaniel Club of America (ECSCA)," and you can find more information about this club on their website:

General Appearance

Head, Muzzle, Nose. The English Cocker's head is both refined and expressive. Their medium-length, slightly arched skull transitions smoothly into a well-defined, medium-length foreface. The stop is moderately pronounced, creating an alert and intelligent expression. The almond-shaped eyes are dark and convey a kind and attentive demeanor.  The muzzle is well-chiseled, providing ample space for teeth and facilitating their primary role as gun dogs. The nose is broad and well-developed, usually in coordination with their coat color. Black, liver, or even parti-color noses are common, matching the respective coat colors.

Teeth. English Cockers have strong jaws with a perfect scissor bite, meaning their upper teeth overlap the lower teeth closely and cleanly. This is crucial for retrieving and carrying game without causing damage, underscoring their hunting heritage.

Neck. The neck of an English Cocker is muscular and clean-cut, blending smoothly into well-laid-back shoulders. This allows efficient movement, particularly when working in the field. Their neck is of moderate length and displays an elegant arch, contributing to their overall grace and balance.

Body. The English Cocker boasts a compact yet solid body. They are slightly longer than they are tall, with a deep chest that showcases their stamina and lung capacity. 

Their back is straight, ending in a gently sloping croup that adds to their agility. 

The ribcage is well-sprung, permitting ample room for their heart and lungs, crucial during periods of intense physical activity in the field.

Tail. A distinctive feature of the breed is their docked tail. Traditionally, English Cocker Spainels had their tails shortened to a couple of inches, but in many countries, docking is now prohibited. 

When docked, their tails are carried gaily, while undocked tails are moderately long and set on slightly below the level of the back. Regardless of length, the tail is always in harmony with the dog's overall appearance.

Coat. The English Cocker Spaniel's coat is a hallmark of their charm. It is of medium length, silky, and flat or slightly wavy. This luxurious coat offers protection from harsh weather conditions, making them exceptional hunters in various terrains. Coat colors are diverse, including solids, particolors, and roans, with various shades of liver, black, red, or orange.

Size. English Cockers are a medium-sized breed. The ideal height at the withers for males is around 16 to 17 inches (41-43 cm), and for females, it's slightly less, approximately 15 to 16 inches (38-41 cm). Their weight typically ranges between 26 to 34 pounds (12-15 kg), with males on the heavier side.

Gait. The English Cocker Spaniel's gait is purposeful and energetic, reflecting their strong and agile physique. They move with a graceful, fluid motion, covering ground efficiently. 

Their stride is balanced and effortless, showcasing their endurance and vitality. In the field, their gait allows them to maneuver quickly and with precision, characteristics that are equally appreciated in the show ring and at home as loyal and loving companions.

Reputable Breeders

For those seeking a well-bred Spaniel, there are reputable breeders who prioritize health, temperament, and the breed's standard. Here are a few notable breeders:

  1. English Cocker Organization

  2. American Kennel Club Marketplace

  3. Max Cocker

Top Shelters for Adoption

Adopting a dog can be a rewarding experience. Here are a few shelters where you might find a Spaniel in need of a loving home:

  1. English Cocker Spaniel Rescue Me

  2. Save a Rescue

  3. Angels Saving Those in Need

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions & Answers about the English Cocker Spaniel Breed

Is the English Cocker Spaniel a good family dog?

Yes, they are excellent family dogs known for their affection and adaptability.

Do English Cocker Spaniels get along with other pets?

With proper socialization, they can coexist peacefully with other pets.

What is their grooming requirement?

They have a moderate grooming need, including regular brushing and occasional trimming.

Are English Cocker Spaniels good for first-time dog owners?

They can be suitable for first-time owners with dedication to training and exercise.

Do they shed a lot?

They shed moderately, so regular grooming helps manage their coat.

A Final Tip for Bringing a English Cocker Spaniel into Your Life

When considering bringing an English Cocker Spaniel into your life, expect a loyal, joyful, and adaptable companion. They thrive in active households and reward their owners with unwavering love. With proper training and socialization, they make delightful family pets, deserving their place as cherished members of the household.

Valuable Resources for Your Journey to Parenting a English Cocker Spaniel

At Felicitails you will find many wonderful services, supplies and guides for your life ahead with a loving pup at your side.

Hope You Enjoyed The Read!

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Hello, I’m Lindsay!

A warm welcome from Lindsay & Huck (my English Pointer). Hope you enjoy the read and find just what you are looking for when it comes to living your best life with your loved pets.

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