The English Cocker Spaniel – Breed Profile, Care, Diet and Nutrition

The English Cocker Spaniel is a good-natured and active companion. Spaniels exist in many varieties and have been around for centuries with references of them in the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer.

However, the English Cocker spaniel makes the most popular pet due to its well-proportioned appearance, cheerful nature and characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness. 

breed overview


Sporting or hunting dogs


16 to 17 inches (males)
15 to 16 inches (females)


13–14.5 kilograms (29–32 lbs)


Silky coat of medium length on ears, legs, and torso. The coat comes in many solid colours, including black and golden. Parti-colour coats are white with black, liver/brown, or red colouring.


12-14 years


Initially, spaniels in England were divided among land spaniels and water spaniels. The differentiation among the spaniels that led to the breeds that we see today did not begin until the mid-19th century.

Spaniels are prized as sporting dogs used by hunters to flush game birds from cover; it is also trained to retrieve. “Cocker” likely refers to its use in flushing woodcocks. The cockers are the smallest of the hunting spaniels (the toy spaniels are companion dogs).

In 1883, the cocker spaniel was given breed status in England and registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1878. The English cocker spaniel was separated from the American by the AKC in 1946.


The English Cocker spaniel is a cheerful and friendly dog by nature. They make great family pets and watchdogs too as they are typically intelligent, affectionate, alert, loyal and resilient.

However, the breed does not like to be alone and requires a lot of attention. They may suffer from separation anxiety and destructive behaviors if left alone for long. They are happiest around people.  


As a sporting group breed, English Cocker Spaniels are energetic and enjoy long, brisk walks and games of fetch. They are also adaptable and can do well living in an apartment as long as they receive daily exercise to keep them in shape.

Puppies from 9 weeks to 4 months of age, will benefit from once or twice a week of exercise, training, and socialization, daily half-mile walks will meet their needs, plus playtime in the yard. As he continues to mature, increase the distance and time.These graduated levels of exercise will protect his developing bones and joints.

The English Cocker spaniel has a sensitive temperament and will not respond well to harshness. They are naturally eager to please personality will make training easier and fun by using positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards, praise, and play.

As long-haired dogs, regular grooming is the biggest investment of time for an English Cocker spaniel. The silky hair that gives English Cocker spaniels such a beautiful coat can easily become matted and is subject to shedding.

Control excessive shedding and maintain a healthy coat with regular brushing. The hair around the legs and torso often needs to be trimmed to avoid becoming unruly.

common health problems

Like all pure breeds, the English Cocker spaniel is prone to certain ailments.

When adopting, look out for health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition as listed below:

  • Cataracts
  • Ear infections
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Renal Failure
  • Deafness (in parti-coloured dogs)
  • Hypothyroidism

diet and nutrition

Feed your English Cocker spaniel a well-balanced and nutritionally complete dog food for optimal health and well-being. The quality of dog food also makes a difference. Opt for breed specific food to optimize on his unique nourishment needs.

Whether you choose a conventional kibble diet, incorporate wet food, or opt for a raw diet, be alert for indications of an allergic reaction, which plagues some spaniels. If your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, you might opt for a limited-ingredient diet.

As the breed is prone to obesity, keep a close eye on his weight by measuring his food and limit feeding to twice a day.

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