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English cocker spaniel walking through a yard.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Sporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 15-17 inches
  • Weight — 26-34 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Silky, medium-length coat
  • Coat color — The breed’s coat colors are diverse, with some of the most common colors including black, tan, liver and roan or a combination of any of these colors.
  • Exercise needs — Moderate
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Somewhat vocal
  • Life span — 12-14 years
  • Temperament — Even-tempered, agreeable, affectionate, and loyal
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — England

English cocker spaniel fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male English Cocker Spaniels Max and Winston. Meanwhile, most of our users with female English Cocker Spaniels love Bella, then Daisy equally.

  • They once held the title of “world’s best bird dog.” They are still widely used as hunting companions due to their high level of intelligence, loyalty, and natural ability as hunters.
  • They’re known for being accomplished escape artists. Intelligent and agile, they are capable of squeezing through amazingly small spaces.
  • English cocker spaniels are great swimmers. They were originally bred to retrieve game birds from the water and enjoy a dip in the pool or lake.
Black and white English cocker spaniel sitting in grass.

English cocker spaniel temperament and characteristics 

English cocker spaniels are known for their playful and friendly temperament, making them ideal family pets. They are known to be great with kids and strangers alike, exhibiting a gentle and affectionate demeanor that makes them popular with owners young and old.

Their lively, playful nature makes them excellent companions for children, but they also do well in homes with adults who have plenty of time to devote to their energetic personalities. They are highly sociable and outgoing dogs and they enjoy being part of the family.

English cocker spaniels are happiest in homes where they receive plenty of attention and exercise. They require daily walks and playtime and do well with owners who have the time and energy to dedicate to their needs. They are also adaptable and can do well in small apartments or larger homes with plenty of outdoor space.


The English Cocker Spaniel is a lively and affectionate breed, easily identifiable by its long, wavy coat. According to the AKC breed standard, the coat comes in a wide range of colors, including parti-colors, which are either marked, ticked, or roaned, the white appearing in combination with black, liver, or shades of red. Solid colors are black, liver, or shades of red. Black and tans and liver and tans are considered solid colors. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, a common coat color for the English Cocker Spaniel is (67%) black. 

Common English cocker spaniel health problems

English cocker spaniels are a generally healthy breed. They are susceptible to several known genetic health problems, but a reputable breeder will have their breeding stock tested to prevent passing such conditions on. Other conditions you might want to watch out for include:

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects a dog’s hip joints, causing pain and difficulty walking. Breeders should screen breeding dogs using specialized x-rays to keep future generations of English cocker spaniels healthy.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy. This genetic condition can cause vision loss or blindness in English cocker spaniels.
  • Adult onset neuropathy (AON). AON is a genetic disease that affects the nervous system and can lead to difficulty walking or a loss of coordination.
  • Familial nephropathy. Thankfully, familial nephropathy (FN) is a rare condition. English cocker spaniels who inherit the disorder will suffer from early-onset kidney failure. A genetic test for FN was developed in 2006.

Cost of caring for an English cocker spaniel

The cost of caring for an English cocker spaniel can depend on various factors, including the breed’s typical lifespan, age, size, and overall health status. In general, the estimated cost of food, grooming aids, and yearly check-ups with the veterinarian can range from $700 to $1,200 per year. However, health issues can arise, which can add to the costs.

Conditions like hip dysplasia can require surgery, medication, and physical therapy, which can range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the condition.

Additionally, genetic diseases and disorders can lead to costly health complications. The cost of genetic testing can vary, but the potential savings from avoiding health complications can be significant.

You can reduce out-of-pocket expenses by signing up for pet health insurance or opening a pet savings account. Typically, the earlier you sign up, the more benefits you’ll reap from these programs.

Overall, proper care for an English cocker spaniel can vary in costs depending on preventative measures you take or treatment plans. Regular vet check-ups, investing in high-quality food, regular grooming, and being knowledgeable of the breed’s potential health conditions can help minimize costs.

Brown English cocker spaniel laying on a bed

History of the English cocker spaniel

The first cocker spaniels were raised in the Iberian Peninsula and valued for their skill in hunting and other work. In the 14th century, the breed began appearing in England, quickly earning their place beside English hunters as loyal hunting companions.

During the 19th century, the breed was further divided into two distinct breeds – the English cocker spaniel, and the Sussex and Wessex Spaniels, which later became known as the Springer Spaniel.

The English cocker spaniel was bred specifically for its skills as a hunting companion, particularly when it came to finding and flushing out birds in dense undergrowth. They were highly valued amongst gamekeepers, who needed dogs that could work quickly but also remain relatively quiet when working in open terrain so as not to scare off their quarry too soon.

As such, they were often trained to bark only twice when locating their target or on command from their handler. This skill eventually gave rise to the nickname “Cocker” which stands for two barks (or “cockers”).

The American cocker spaniel arrived in the United States from England during the late 1800s. Over time and through selective breeding, it developed its own distinct characteristics such as a heavier body structure and a wider range of coat colors.

Caring for your English cocker spaniel

Caring for a new English cocker spaniel puppy requires several steps to ensure a healthy and happy pup. The first trip to the vet should include a check-up, necessary vaccinations, and advice on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention if needed. Additionally, proper puppy-proofing is important to remove any potential hazards and keep your pup safe.


English cocker spaniels have moderate exercise needs and require at least 30 minutes to an hour of daily exercise. They have a playful and energetic nature and enjoy a variety of activities such as taking walks, playing games of fetch, and running in open areas. They also love to swim and can excel in agility courses.

Their exercise needs don’t necessarily change throughout the year but it’s important to keep their needs in mind during extreme weather conditions. During the summer months, it’s best to exercise them early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooler outside. During the winter months, shorter walks coupled with indoor activities can suffice.

English cocker spaniel running on a beach


English cocker spaniels have a beautiful, silky coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition. Pet owners should expect to brush their coats at least two to three times per week to prevent matting and tangling.

During shedding season, which typically occurs in spring and fall, owners may need to increase the frequency of brushing daily to remove loose fur.

It’s important to use a good quality brush and comb to make sure that the coat is tangle-free. Pay special attention to the ears and other areas where the fur is dense, as these can easily become matted if left unchecked. Trimming the fur around the ears, paws, and tail can help prevent matting too.

Pay special attention to the ears as they can trap dirt and debris easily, which can lead to ear infections. Regular bathing, nail trimming, and teeth brushing are also important to keep your English cocker spaniel looking and feeling its best.

Diet and nutrition

Feeding an English cocker spaniel a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to their overall health and well-being. English cocker spaniels have a tendency to gain weight easily, so it’s important to monitor their calorie intake carefully to avoid obesity.

As a general rule, English cocker spaniels should be fed twice a day with a high-quality, size-appropriate kibble that meets their specific nutritional needs. Some English cocker spaniels may have specific dietary requirements, such as allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, so it’s important to work with a veterinarian to determine the best diet for your dog’s individual needs.

Training your English cocker spaniel

English cocker spaniels are an intelligent breed of dog, known for their trainability and desire to please their owners. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, including treats, praise, and playtime. It is important to begin training early to foster good behaviors that will stay with the dog throughout their life.

They can sometimes have a stubborn streak, but they are generally obedient and quick learners. Crate training, basic obedience, and socialization are all important parts of training an English cocker spaniel. With time, patience, and consistency, they can easily learn a variety of tricks, as well as more advanced obedience commands.

Overall, English cocker spaniels make great family dogs and are an excellent breed for first-time dog owners, as they are eager to please and enjoy learning. Engaging in regular positive training sessions ensures they are well-behaved and properly stimulated. Professional obedience classes can also be useful, especially for more challenging behaviors such as excessive barking, aggression toward other animals, or separation anxiety.

English cocker spaniel on a teal leash by a tree.

Breeds similar to the English cocker spaniel

Not quite sure that an English cocker spaniel is the right puppy for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Affenpinscher. These small, dynamic terriers are known to be highly adaptable and active. Their sometimes mischievous, always charming personality makes them an ideal breed for those looking for a high-energy, outgoing, and affectionate companion that will be loyal and loving.
  • French bulldog. Loving, affectionate, and playful, these small dogs are great companions for anyone living in smaller spaces. They also require much less grooming and maintenance than English cocker spaniels.
  • Weimaraner. This breed shares the English cocker spaniel’s active, intelligent, and loyal nature. Weimaraners can be tricky to train though, so they may be better suited to more experienced dog owners.

Frequently asked questions

Are English cocker spaniels good house dogs?

These gentle and intelligent animals make excellent family companions and love spending time with their owners. They are loyal and loving and tend to get along well with children and other dogs. They are known for being escape artists, though. They should never be left unattended for an extended amount of time as they may find their way into trouble.

Are English cocker spaniels high maintenance?

English cocker spaniels require regular brushing to keep their coat healthy and tangle-free. Their ears should also be checked regularly to prevent ear infections from starting. You will also need to be prepared to satisfy their daily exercise needs.

How big do English cocker spaniels get?

English cocker spaniels typically grow to be between 15 and 17 inches in height. They normally weigh anywhere from 26 to 34 pounds when fully grown. This size makes them ideal for most households, as they can fit comfortably into small living spaces.

What’s the difference between a cocker spaniel and an English cocker spaniel?

There are two breeds that are known as “cocker spaniels,” – the American cocker spaniel and the English cocker spaniel. The biggest differences between the two is their size, coat color and texture, and their face shapes. American cocker spaniels are generally smaller and rounder with a square face.