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Breed Focus: Cocker Spaniel   Leave a comment

By Nicola van Ass – from ThinkingPets newsletter – see Websites I Recommend

Cocker Spaniel

There are two types of Cocker Spaniel: The American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. While their origin is unknown, this breed was bred for hunting in the UK and got its name “Cocker” from hunting a bird called the Eurasian Woodcock, and eventually the American Woodcock. Because of their hunting abilities, they are classified in the Gun Dog group. When dealing with Spaniels, it’s important to remember some key facts:

  1. They are very trainable, but when they catch sight of a bird their training normally goes out the window. They go into a “zone” and it’s nearly impossible to get them to focus until the bird has gone away. What works well here is to make sure that your recall is impeccable from an early age and also to have a key word or sound that is used when getting the attention of your Spaniel.
  2. They are quite an energetic breed. Being bred for hunting, they have good stamina and need to be exercised regularly. Walking every day is a must, although long walks are not necessary. Rather, short but frequent walks are great for this breed.
  3. Many Spaniels enjoy water. This can become a problem if they are not groomed regularly. They have a soft fur that grows quite long on the ears and because of this, if the ears get wet, it can cause ear infections very swiftly. This is because there are folds in the ears that sometimes do not allow air to get into the ear and this makes it nice and warm, as well as wet inside the ear. A breeding ground for bacteria. It is important to make sure that you dry them off well after they have been for a swim. Also, because the ears hang down, many people forget to check the ears because they are not immediately visible inside. It really makes a difference when you check their ears every couple of days to make sure there are no problems.

They are not large dogs, with the males growing up to 41cm and weighing up to 16 kg. According to the breed standard, they should be the same height from withers to floor, as their length from withers to root of the tail. Their lifespan is between 9 – 15 years, although some have been known to live for many more years than that!

They do not require heavy grooming, but it is recommended that you brush them every day or two to make sure that their coat doesn’t knot. Pay special attention to their ears, under their arms as well as their feet. These are the places where the fur knots very quickly and can become very painful if not sorted out as soon as possible. The Spaniel’s hair doesn’t grow back with the same silky texture if it has been shaved, although a lot of people shave their Spaniels during summer when they swim all the time.

As said before, this is a very trainable breed, but one needs to remember that patience and consistency are the keys to successful training. Start from as young an age as possible and keep going. There are so many things for your dog to learn that it is very beneficial to train throughout their lives. This is a very lovable breed that enjoys human interaction. They don’t do well outside on their own and need to be part of the family. The Spaniel has been known to snap at children, but remember this is also due to socialisation and experience throughout the dog’s life. Try to keep every experience as positive as possible and make sure that they are positively introduced to as many people and children as possible from a puppy, as well as meeting as many other dogs (or cats) as possible.