Cocker Spaniel

Canis lupus

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Blanco


Cocker Spaniel Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Cocker Spaniel Conservation Status

Cocker Spaniel Locations

Cocker Spaniel Locations

Cocker Spaniel Facts


Cocker Spaniel Physical Characteristics

Cocker Spaniel as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
$800 - $2,000
Dog group
Male weight
- lbs
Female weight
- lbs

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With a history as a hunting dog in the 1400s, the Spaniels were eventually divided into land and water dogs. The cocker spaniel was used primarily for land hunting excursions.

The cocker spaniel comes in many colors. The breed is rather small, but they use this small size to their advantage as a bird dog or a hunting dog. Not to be mistaken for the English cocker spaniel, this dog has been a separate breed since the 1940s.

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The (American) Cocker Spaniel is slighty smaller than the English Cocker Spaniel (ECS), and they are groomed differently since the Cocker Spaniel has a heavier coat. The ECS was bred for hunting while the American cousin is used for companionship and as a show dog.

Spaniels originated in Spain (thus the name). As far back as the 16th century, when spaniels were employed as hunting dogs, litters were divided into “springers,” which were larger pups used for hunting larger game, and “cockers,” smaller pups that specialized in hunting woodcock. The “cockers” eventually became the English Cocker Spaniel.

The first Spaniel came to America on the Mayflower in 1620 and was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878. Regal and adored, this breed often comes with a much bigger commitment to grooming than most owners realize.

3 Pros and Cons of Ownership

Companion-focused breed: This bird dog is just as happy while relaxing on its owner’s lap as it is going out for hunting season.Many health issues: Even with the best diet and a naturally long lifespan, you will have to spend a lot of money and time on veterinary care to screen for genetic problems.
Requires little space: Since you won’t have to take this pup out for more than 30 minutes a day, it is just fine living in the close quarters of an apartment.Immense grooming needs: The beautiful coat of this spaniel is quite tedious to maintain, which is a problem that most owners don’t realize when they initially adopt this breed.
Intelligent: While the breed is a little sensitive, the right training makes these dogs quite jovial to be around.Potential aggression: Take great care to train and treat the dog gently. Being too firm or angry with it could lead to barking and even biting.
Cocker spaniels were originally bred to be hunting dogs.

© Wealleans

Size and Weight

Known as the smallest dog breed of the sporting group, the long-haired cocker spaniel has an average height of 14-15 inches when measuring from the foot to the top of the shoulder. Males can reach a maximum height of 17 inches, while females tend to be no bigger than 16 inches tall. The female tends to be slightly smaller in size, contributing to their lower weight. Once fully grown, this dog breed reaches a weight of 24-28 lbs., and the male is often heavier for their larger size.

Health and Entertainment for your Cocker Spaniel

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While the breed typically lives to be about 15 years old, the oldest to have ever lived was over 22 years old with ideal care.

Height (Male):15-17 inches tall
Height (Female):14-16 inches tall
Weight (Male):24-28 pounds, fully grown
Weight (Female):22-26 pounds, fully grown

Common Health Issues

As many wonderful attributes as the spaniel have, one of the biggest problems with the breed is their health concerns. Every animal comes with some health issues to consider, but the right breeders can make a big difference.

The biggest health issues that this breed faces are related to their eyes, including progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, patellar luxation, and glaucoma. Much like with bulldogs, cherry eye is a major concern, as are allergies and congestive heart failure. Getting exams with a vet can screen your dog for issues in its hips, knees, thyroid, and eyes. Alhough this dog is at risk for anemia, you can get a DNA test to determine if it is at risk due to phosphofructokinase deficiency.

Gastric torsion, elbow dysplasia, and epilepsy are also issues that this pup should be screened for. Though problems like hip dysplasia may be a risk, you can check with the breeders to see if it is inherited through the mother. Generally, this breed is also at risk for liver issues, urinary stones, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism as well. Despite these many challenges, the lifespan of a healthy cocker spaniel continues to be up to 15 years old.

Ultimately, the main health issues of this dog breed are:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Patellar luxation
  • Glaucoma
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Gastric torsion
  • Epilepsy
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Ectropion
  • Urinary stones
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cherry eye
  • Liver disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Anemia
  • Allergies

Temperament and Behavior

cocker spaniel laying on pavers

The Cocker Spaniel is lovable and affectionate but also playful and active.

© Blanco

The lovability and affectionate personality of the cocker spaniel is the main reason that it has such a great reputation. Early socialization is easily the best way to preserve this nature. They love to cuddle with their family members, though they also become quite playful and active. Originally bred as bird dogs, bringing this dog along during a hunting trip can be a positive experience for both of you.

Even though the main appeal of this breed’s traits is their adoration of their family, they can be very sensitive. Harsh treatment or scolding is not met with positive behavior. Instead, fear and pain are often conveyed with growling at the person who acts that way towards them. The breed tends to be intelligent overall, but proper training for their manners is crucial to bring out their good side.


Caring for a Cocker Spaniel requires specific attention to its needs. Even as a puppy, it must be groomed properly and fed a healthy diet to thrive. This pet has many health issues to watch for, which is primarily the result of careless breeding in their origins.

Best Dog Food

The diet of these dogs needs to consist of at least 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food every day, though they may eat up to 2.5 cups. For that reason, the ROYAL CANIN Cocker Spaniel Adult Dry Dog Food comes highly recommended.
They have quite a voracious appetite, but their likelihood of becoming obese is quite high. To avoid being put on a diet, don’t give into their begging for more food.

The exact amount your dog will eat will depend on its age, activity level, and other factors. If your pup likes to spend more time doing physical activities, it might be at the higher end of this range.

Maintenance and Grooming

A golden cocker spaniel with curly ears cocks its head

A Cocker Spaniel has a regal appearance with its thick fur and long, fluffy ears, but its beauty takes a lot of grooming.


With moderate shedding, this dog breed has to be cared for properly to keep its regal appearance. Their thick fur needs regular grooming, showing off the beautiful colors of its red, brown, light cream, or black coat. The grooming of this dog breed is labor-intensive and quite costly, which is why most owners outsource this task to a professional. The trimming, bathing, and brushing of this dog should happen every six to eight weeks, bringing up the amount of money you’ll have to spend on the right professional. Even with this care, brushing the coat at home each day is necessary to stave off matting. If you aren’t ready for the many grooming needs of this dog breed, you may want to look elsewhere.

To make the dog more comfortable with grooming, you should start the process relatively early. With this exposure, it’ll stand confidently and calmly among all of the clipping, brushing, cleaning, and other processes associated with its coat.


These dogs tend to be easy to train, which gives them great appeal among novice dog owners. They particularly thrive in training for show rings, performing their obedience and agility challenges perfectly. However, that’s part of the reason you need to be gentle with your training – this breed becomes fearful of its owner if harsher methods are used. Be consistent and train with a kind hand.


Since the spaniel tends to be rather active, the dog will enjoy nearly any physical activity, even if you just take it on a brief yet brisk walk. Taking 30 minutes outside should be enough to satisfy this breed. Due to the minimal exercise needs, cocker spaniels tend to be great dogs for apartment living. They don’t require much space, and the space they do need is easy to get on a walk or a trip to the dog park.


Cocker Spaniel puppies need early socialization and acclimation to their extensive grooming.

© undefined

The main concerns with adopting a puppy are the socialization of the pet and the acclimation to grooming. Puppies need to be groomed early on to get them used to the amount of maintenance that needs to happen for their coat to be healthy. Since these dogs can be incredibly sensitive, it is important to train the puppy to be obedient to certain commands to avoid confusion. Always train gently and kindly to amplify the beloved temperament of this dog breed.

If you choose to buy a puppy from one of your local breeders, ask for proof of testing the parents for hip dysplasia and other problems. These concerns can often be avoided with the proper research. Considering their long lifespan, addressing health concerns during their younger years is a proactive way to keep this breed healthy.


If you choose this dog breed, part of the appeal is the way that they bond with family members, especially children. However, you have a much better chance of a positive relationship with children in the house if the dog is raised from its puppy years with little ones. Since the Cocker Spaniel is incredibly sensitive, teaching your child to properly handle and interact with the pup is a necessity. It will not react kindly to any family member that is rough with it.

Similar Dogs

Some similar dog breeds that replicate much of the loved characteristics of Cocker Spaniels include the American water Spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and the English Cocker Spaniel.


Cocker Spaniels have a beautiful, regal, and friendly temperament that makes them ideal for movies and for the celebrities in them. Some of the most famous Cocker Spaniels in history include:

  • President Nixon and his family had a cocker spaniel named Checkers that lived to be 13 years old.
  • George Clooney adopted a cocker spaniel named Einstein from a shelter when he was five years old, leading the actor and his wife to adopt more shelter animals.
  • Elton John’s dog Arthur has made multiple appearances with the musician on the red carpet.
  • Perhaps the most famous cocker spaniel of all time isn’t actually real. Lady of the Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp” is one as well!

Here are a few popular names for the beloved cocker spaniel:

  • Lady
  • Duchess
  • Lucky
  • King
  • Penny

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

Cocker Spaniel FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a cocker spaniel?

This dog breed is from the sporting group, though they have frequently been used for their prowess as a bird dog. They are great within a family, though they are a little less patient with children. Their colors are mainly blonde and white, giving them a regal and friendly appearance. They are incredibly vocal, though they are quite small.

How big does a cocker spaniel get?

Most males reach a size of 28lbs. in their 15-inch-tall frame. Females, on the other hand, typically stand about 14 inches tall and only weigh 25lbs.

What does a cocker spaniel look like?

The cocker spaniel has a rounded head with wavy fur along its ears. It is typically at least one foot tall, showing off long and soft blonde fur.

Are cocker spaniels good family pets?

For the most part, yes. They love children, other pets, and elderly companions.

Do cocker spaniels shed a lot?

While this dog sheds, the amount varies from one dog to the next.

Are cocker spaniels smart?

Yes. This dog breed is rather easy to train as a result of its intelligence.

Do cocker spaniels like to cuddle?

Yes. These dogs like to be incredibly affectionate with their families.

How much does the cocker spaniel cost to own?

To adopt a purebred cocker spaniel, the typical cost with breeders is between $800 and $2,000, though it depends on their pedigree and proof of purebred genetics. Adopting from a rescue is a much lower price at $200 to $350. Though this dog breed isn’t often found in shelters, you will get the lowest price at one of these facilities, often for less than $100. Along with the initial price, your first year of expenses with vaccinations, veterinary feeds, food, and more will be about $2,530. The cost per month is usually at least $100.

Is the cocker spaniel good with kids?

Yes. This dog breed is quite loving, though it should be supervised with especially young children that are still learning to behave properly around dogs.

How long does a cocker spaniel live?

The average lifespan of the cocker spaniel is 12-15 years.

How much does a cocker spaniel weigh?

The average weight of this dog breed is 11 to 13kg, or 24 to 28lbs. Females often weigh a little less than their male counterparts because they are smaller in size.

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