Is a Cocker Spaniel Right for You?
Cocker Spaniels enjoyed a surge of popularity in the United States in the late 1950’s thanks to Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. Since then, the Cocker Spaniel has remained among the 30 most popular breeds in the United States. Is a Cocker Spaniel right for you?
The temperament of a well-bred Cocker Spaniel can be described as happy, intelligent, and gentle. This breed is a well-known family dog thanks to its loyal, trusting nature and friendly, playful personality. While a Cocker Spaniel will bark to alert you that someone is at the front door, these sweet dogs would rather lick an intruder to death than serve as a vicious guard dog.
Size, Coloring, and Upkeep
Cocker Spaniels are well-known for their small size, soft coat, and long, dangling ears. Female Cockers should stand 13.5’’ – 14.5’’ tall at the shoulder, while males stand 14.5’’ – 15.5’’ tall. Both sexes should weigh between 24 – 30 lbs.
There are thirteen accepted colorings for a Cocker Spaniel, including black, brown, buff, red, silver, and associated variations such as brown and white, black and white, brown and tan, etc. In addition, Cockers can have merle or roan markings. Due to their long coats and characteristic feathering, Cocker Spaniels require frequent brushing and grooming appointments.
The Cocker Spaniel is an affable breed that does well with other dogs when properly socialized. Due to their original use as gun dogs, many Cockers have a prey drive which might make them unsuitable as companions for pets of different species. However, their willingness to learn means that many Cockers can be taught to play well with smaller animals, such as cats, with proper training.
Cocker Spaniels are eager to learn and love to please, which makes this breed very easy to train. However, given their gentle personality they do best with positive, reward based training. When aversive techniques are used, this breed can become anxious, overly submissive, aggressive, or sullen.
Cocker Spaniels have a tendency to gain weight easily, so care must be taken to ensure this breed has appropriate portion sizes and healthy treats. Since Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections and other ear disorders, it is important to feed a high quality diet that is free of fillers, preservatives, and ingredients that might cause excessive inflammation.
Cocker Spaniels are moderately active dogs. They thrive on daily exercise, but are also content to serve as a lap dog. Some Cocker Spaniels suffer from separation anxiety, in which case vigorous exercise might improve symptoms and lead to less destruction.
This breed does well in small spaces when properly exercised. Cocker Spaniels are great companions for apartment or urban living.
There are a number of health disorders that Cocker Spaniels can inherit. Cardiac issues are common, especially the heart deformity called Mitral Valve Disease, which can lead to Congestive Heart Failure. Additionally, ear infections and ear mites are extremely common in Cocker Spaniels due to their long, pendulous ears. Regular ear cleanings are necessary for this breed. Typical life expectancy is 10 – 14 years.
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