Recommended for: Singles, families
Maintenance level: Medium
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Temperament: Active, intelligent
Health Risk: This breed has an around average probability of having health issues in its lifetime, hence it is one of the more affordable breeds to insure.
The Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized, long-haired dog that originated in the UK as hunting dogs. There are two breeds of Cocker Spaniels: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel.
The English Cocker Spaniel has a long, silky coat which is usually straight or slightly wavy, and its legs, chest and belly are covered in longer hair called “feathering”. The Cocker Spaniel does require a lot of grooming and is an average shedder. Its coat is either a solid colour (usually black, light cream, red or brown) or multi-coloured (one of the previously mentioned colours mixed with white). The American Cocker Spaniel tends to be smaller with a shorter back, shorter muzzle and a domed head.
Like most dogs, Cocker Spaniels love exercise and will take as much as you can give them. Usually a daily walk and a couple of hours of playtime are sufficient.
COCKER SPANIEL HISTORY
The Cocker Spaniel we see today is descended from the Spaniel family which dates back to ancient times. The word “Spaniel” means “Spanish dog”, so it is probable that the dog originated in Spain. The word “Cocker” comes from the dog’s use as Woodcock hunters.
By the 1800s, Spaniels were divided into two categories: hunting dogs and companion dogs, and hunting dogs were further divided into land and water spaniels.
Spaniels had existed in England for many centuries but the Cocker Spaniel was not recognised as a breed until 1892.
English Cocker Spaniels were brought to the US in the late 1870s and the American Spaniel Club was established in 1881, making it the oldest breed club in America. It later split up into different divisions for each different Spaniel breed.
American Cocker Spaniels arose out of breeding the smallest English Cocker Spaniels, as American Woodcocks were smaller than those in England.
The AKC recognised the Cocker Spaniel as a breed in 1878 but only registered the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed in 1946. As of 2013 Cocker Spaniels are the 29th most popular breed in the US and English Cocker Spaniels 62nd.
COCKER SPANIEL TEMPERAMENT
The Cocker Spaniel is easy to train and very talented in the areas of obedience, agility, hunting, flyball and more. They also make fantastic therapy dogs.
As pets, Cocker Spaniels are affectionate, loyal and energetic dogs. They are great with children, the elderly and other pets, as long as they are socialised and trained from a young age. They are very intelligent and trainable, and are average barkers. They love spending time with their family and make great companions for their owners.
Because of their roots as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. If not exercised regularly, the dog may develop behavioural issues.
COMMON COCKER SPANIEL DISEASES & CONDITIONS
- Progressive retinal atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a family of eye diseases which gradually result in the deterioration of the retina, causing first night blindness then full blindness. There is no cure, but most dogs adapt very easily to the vision loss, provided their environment does not change too much.
Like in humans, canine cataracts occur when a cloudy membrane forms over the eye, causing vision loss. They can be removed surgically.
- Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemia
Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia is a disorder which causes the dog’s immune system to attack its own blood cells. Signs include pale gums, lethargy, jaundice and a swollen abdomen. Treatment is available for affected dogs but they should not be bred as the condition is hereditable.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms include epilepsy, loss of hair, fatigue and patchy skin. It is treatable with medication and a special diet.
- Primary Seborrhea
Primary seborrhea is a skin condition in which the skin becomes greasy, scaly and smelly due to the overproduction of skin cells. It is treated with medication and special shampoos.
Cocker Spaniels can be particularly prone to certain allergies, including food allergies, contact allergies and inhalant allergies. Treatment usually involves removal of the allergen from the dog’s environment or medication.
- Idiopathic Epilepsy
Idiopathic epilepsy is a heritable condition which causes seizures. Seizures may also be a side effect of other conditions, so it is important to see a vet and get diagnosed.
- Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a condition where the thighbone and hip joint do not fit together properly, causing pain and lameness. Less severe cases can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, but surgery may be required for serious cases.
- Patellar Luxation
Patellar luxation occurs when the bones of the patella are not aligned properly and as a result slip in and out of place, causing pain and an abnormal gait. Mild cases generally do not require treatment and do not impact too much on the dog’s life, but severe cases may require surgery.
- Other Issues
Glaucoma, ear infections and obesity may be problems for the Cocker Spaniel. Ensure that the ears are cleaned regularly and that the dog is not overfed.
INTERESTING COCKER SPANIEL FACTS
- An American Cocker Spaniel named Obo is considered to be the father of the breed we see today.
- The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge William & Kate adopted a cocker spaniel named Lupo in 2012.
- “Lady” in the Disney film Lady and the Tramp was a Cocker Spaniel
- Cocker Spaniels have been popular with US presidents, with Richard Nixon, Harry Truman, JFK and Bill Clinton all owning them.
- Between 1936 and 1952, the American Cocker Spaniel was the most popular dog in the USA. That’s a record of 16 years, unmatched by no other breed.
- The most common cause of death in Cocker Spaniels is cancer, followed closely by old age.
- Studies have shown that Cocker Spaniels help lower high blood pressure, making them great pets for people in stressful jobs.
- Famous Cocker Spaniel owners have included Bing Crosby, Brittany Murphy, Charlize Theron, Oprah Winfrey, Lauren Bacall and Naomi Watts.
Cocker Spaniel Society of NSW: http://cockersocietynsw.asn.au/cssnsw/Home.html
Cocker Spaniel Club of QLD: http://www.cockerspanielclub.com/
Cocker Spaniel Club of Victoria: http://www.cockerspanielclubvic.org/
Cocker Spaniel Pet Insurance Quote
Getting pet insurance for your Cocker Spaniel will help ensure you can always afford the best vet care for them. Bow Wow Meow offers a range of flexible pet insurance options including cover for accidental injury, illness and routine care.
Wondering how much it would cost to insure your Cocker Spaniel if you got one? It’s quick and easy to get a quote.
(Note: dogs must be over 8 weeks old to take out insurance, so please enter a birth date to reflect this when getting an indicative quote.)