Cocker Spaniel

  • Overview

    These little dogs are the smallest members of the Sporting Group. Cocker Spaniels are playful, cheerful companions who are quick to please and eager for activity. Because of the breed's popularity, many inferior dogs with poor temperaments and bad health are being bred. Excessive flaws in temperament, including submissiveness, snappish behavior around dogs and children and timid tendencies are all signs of poor breeding. Cocker Spaniels are cheerful dogs who enjoy being given tasks and commands. They respond well to gentle, affectionate training and interactions. Take the time to carefully maintain their coat and select a reputable breeder and these dogs will make friendly and affable family companions.

    View Grooming Diagram for cocker spaniel
  • Personality

    The Cocker Spaniel has a balanced temperament. They are sweet and gentle, especially with their owners. These little dogs should not be assertive, but socialization and gentle handling will keep them from becoming overly timid or submissive. Their birding instincts can still be strong — many Cocker Spaniels enjoy chasing and sniffing in a large, fenced in yard. They are playful dogs who should be comfortable amusing themselves and their owners with lots of active play. Cocker Spaniels should be responsive to training and to their owner's attitudes. Disinterest and unruliness are faults. Cocker Spaniels should enjoy socializing and easily adapt to new social situations and faces. They will appreciate frequent socialization, with dogs and children, when they are puppies to help them avoid their timid instincts. Cocker Spaniels respond to training and authority without much challenge, so they can easily be trained to follow commands. Cockers should never be adverse to exercise. Even though they do not require constant activity, they are an athletic breed who should enjoy playing and being active, especially to avoid becoming overweight. Dogs should not weigh more than 30 pounds.

  • Coat Care

    The Cocker Spaniel's flowing coat is part of what makes it so popular. The silky, flat coat is slightly wavy, especially around the bottom of the body. The coat comes in a variety of colors, including black and a range of colors from light cream to deep red. Many Cocker Spaniel's coats are parti-colored with a white background and darker markings. Cocker Spaniels require extensive grooming, and they can often be uncooperative or nervous on the grooming table. Owners should take care to help their dogs become accustomed to being groomed from a young age by making it a positive experience for their pet. Cocker Spaniels can be skittish in response to being touched, so always handle them gently and provide rewards for good behavior.

Cocker Spaniel
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The long hair around the Cocker Spaniel's ears and legs can often become matted, especially after activity, so brush your dog frequently with a pin brush to avoid mats and tangles

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but it's generally best to bathe dogs with silky coats more often. The coat should end up fresh smelling, light and shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry.

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Hair Clipping

The coat needs regular trimming and clipping to avoid excessive length. Pay special attention to the areas around the ears and eyes while grooming, because they have a tendency to become dirty and irritate your Cocker Spaniel. Because Cocker Spaniels' coats can become long and unmanageable, hand-scissoring between clips will help it stay a reasonable length.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Pay special attention to the areas around the ears and eyes while grooming, because they have a tendency to become dirty and irritate your Cocker Spaniel.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.