The Cocker Spaniel


“Spanyells,” as a breed are referenced in text as early as the 14th century. At that time they were split into two groups: water and land, with those in the land group being further subdivided by size.  Although the exact origin is unclear they are believed to have come from Spain. “Cockers,” the smallest of the sporting group, are descendant from the Sussex Spaniel and the Field Spaniel. The name Cocker stems from the woodcock, which the breed was bred to hunt with great efficiancy. The English and American Cocker Spaniel share a common blood line, but have evolved differently and are now considered separate breeds. The father of the English breed was named Ch, his son Obo II was born in America and is the father of every prize winning American Cocker Spaniel. The Cocker Spaniel spiked in popularity in the 1950’s, following its appearance in the Walt Disney picture, Lady and the Tramp. It was the most popular breed in America until the 90’s and has now fallen back to number 25.

Sizing Up

  • Weight: 28 – 32 pounds
  • Height : 14.5 - 16 inches
  • Color: Black, black and tan, black and white, black and white and tan, brown, brown and tan, brown and white, brown white and tan, sable, sable and white, red roan, golden, cream, blue roan and tan, blue roan, red, red and white.
  • Life expectancy: 10.5 years


If you're considering a cocker, it's a good idea to learn about chronic otitis.

What are they like?

Finding the right breeder is a very important step in raising a well adjusted Cocker Spaniel. Unfortunately, the popularity of the breed has led to some negative consequences: one of them being an abundance of breeders who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s important to do your research and find a breeder you can trust. Once you find the right dog, begin training right away. A well breed Cocker Spaniel will be sweet and intelligent so training won’t be difficult. Positive reinforcement is important as the Cocker is sensitive and won’t respond well to harsh words. As with most breeds you should socialize early and often.

The Cocker Spaniel was born and bred for hunting. That doesn’t mean you’ll need to take up hunting, but it does mean that exercise will be an important part of daily life. He could run all day, but doesn’t necessarily need to, a half hour of exercise twice a day should be sufficient for an average Cocker.

Due to the size of the breed they are great around kids. They're big enough to play but not so big that they might knock children over, not to mention the affection and love they would offer a toddler. They’re also good with cats, although maybe not so good with birds. (They are programmed to hunt them after all.)

Just because the Cocker Spaniel is a hunting dog doesn’t mean you can leave them outside all day. They’re an indoor dog and would much prefer to be with the family. They are likely going to have some amount of separation anxiety and wait anxiously for you to return.

The breed sometimes suffers from hip dysplasia, ear problems and eye conditions. The most common cause of death is cancer. A healthy lifestyle and regular grooming can go a long way towards preventing these conditions.

Right breed for you?

  • Family dog: Cocker Spaniels are a people dog, meaning they need attention and constant encouragement.
  • Exercise: They're hunters, and need a chance to burn off energy a few times per day.
  • Grooming: At a minimum they should be groomed every few weeks to keep their fur from becoming matted.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.