Cocker Spaniel Breed Information

Cocker Spaniels are a member of the ‘Gundog’ breed group. Dogs in the Gundog group were originally trained to find live game and retrieve game that had been shot and wounded. The group is divided into four categories: Retrievers, Spaniels, Hunt/Point/Retrieve, Pointers and Setters.

Cocker Spaniels are cheerful, inquisitive and devoted. They are very affectionate, ideal for children and get on well with other household pets. They respond well to training and welcome the extra mental stimulation. For more information on training your dog using reward-based techniques and socialisation, take a look at our dog behaviour page.

Breed-related health problems:

Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Cocker Spaniels are prone to include:

  • Recurrent ear infections/ear problems
  • Luxating patellas - the kneecaps slipping temporarily out of place.
  • Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
  • Atopy – hypersensitivity to certain allergens, causing itching and skin trauma.
  • Ear infections can occur in Cocker Spaniels due to their long ears. Bacteria can build up in the ears and cause otitis externa.
  • Dry eye – Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) occurs when one or both eyes don’t produce a normal amount, or type, of tears. This leads to the eye becoming very dry, which in turn can cause infections and ulcers.
  • Distichiasis – a condition in which small eyelashes grow on the inner surface or the very edge of the eye, which can then rub on the surface of the eye, causing irritation.
  • Immune mediated haemolytic anaemia - a condition where an animals’ own immune system destroys it’s red blood cells, leading to anaemia (too few red blood cells).
  • Epilepsy – a brain disorder which can lead to seizures.
  • Addison's Disease – a condition caused by an abnormally low production of hormones, such as cortisol, by the adrenal glands.

For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.

You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.

Exercise and grooming requirements:

Cocker Spaniels have high energy levels and will need 1-2 hours exercise per day and will happily join in with any games that may be on offer. Their coats require daily grooming – particularly after being out and about – and will require clipping throughout the year by a professional groomer. Their ears also need regular cleaning to prevent a build-up of dirt.

Estimated lifetime cost:

The likely lifetime costs for a Cocker Spaniel are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:

They do not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.

Insure your Cocker Spaniel with PDSA:

1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Cocker Spaniels that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:

  • 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
  • 4 levels of cover to suit you
  • Monthly payment at no extra cost

*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.

By insuring your Cocker Spaniel with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.

Energy levels
Easy to train
Exercise needed
Barking/likely to be vocal
Size Medium
Average height 38-41 cm
Average weight 13-15 kg
Average lifespan Over 10 years
Minimum exercise (per day) 1 hour
Coat length Medium
Minimum cost (per month) £80

Not sure if the Cocker Spaniel is the right pet for you?