The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels

Cocker Spaniels are a breed blessed with sweetness and light. Easy to adapt in many kinds of households, their amicable ways are what make it such a popular breed of dog. So, how do you show your Cocker Spaniel the care and attention it deserves? Read on to find out.

History

Given that the name sounds suspiciously like “Spain,” some believe that Spaniels originated from the Iberian peninsula. Other stories throw us back to the time of the Romans, with Spaniels potentially coming across on the boats during invasions. Wherever the truth lies, it’s fair to say that Spaniels are one of the oldest breeds of dog.

Part of the Gundog group, they were used to hunt for game, first from those brought down by arrows, and latterly by guns. They also pointed hunters towards their prey, with nifty, creeping actions. Cocker Spaniels are direct descendants from these original dogs.

The breeding line used Springing Spaniels to birth both Springer and Cocker, and Sussex Spaniels. Ultimately these breeds are only differentiated by their size. In a litter from a Springing Spaniel, the smaller dogs would be called Cocker and Sussex Spaniels, and the larger was named Springer Spaniels. It was only in the late 19th century that Cocker Spaniels were recognised as a stand-alone breed.

Appearance

Cocker Spaniels are classed as a medium sized dog, with a silky, longhaired coat. That means regular grooming for you as the owner to keep them looking glossy. They tend to dive into the water too, so you’ll find it extra handy to have a brush close to hand at home.

They stand around 14 or 15 inches tall, and weigh between around 11 to 13 kilos depending on their gender. One of their most lovable physical features is their eyes. Big, innocent and dark, they are made to melt hearts.

With their sturdy, strong bodies, balanced build and flowing gait, they are also a pleasure to have on a walk with you. You’ll notice that this athletic stature means they love to exercise too.

Temperament

To keep your Cocker Spaniel happy, you’ll need to make exercise a firm fixture in both your lives. They are sporty and full of energy; and enjoy walks, games, and taking a dip in the nearest watering hole. They are also extremely good natured, which makes them famously good family dogs – even with smaller children and first-time dog owners.

They were bred as working dogs, and this instinct is never far away. This makes playing with your Cocker Spaniel extra fun. Whether they’re engaging with other dogs or humans, they love social contact and the opportunity to frolic. They are also big people pleasers, which makes them a joy to live with and train. On the other hand, they’re sensitive characters and may get afraid easily or snap if threatened. As their owner, you’ll need to be aware of your Cocker’s needs in order to make sure they’re comfortable and happy in any situation.

Training a Cocker Spaniel

The fact that Cocker Spaniels are hardwired to delight their owners means that they are keen to learn. But without proper guidance, they can develop bad manners and habits. So, it’s important to keep their training going from an early stage, and to continue with positive routines throughout their life. It’s also advised to steer clear of harsh reprimands in your tone of voice or otherwise.

Simple things like walking them every day, for at least 30 minutes, along with time to play outside, games like catch and peekaboo will keep your dog happy, healthy and entertained. It will also help guard against behavioural problems like barking and digging.

Training Tips

Other things to try at home include:

  • Crate training – this is a great idea for almost any dog, because it gives them a sense of space, and security even when you’re not around. It will also reduce the chance of accidents and destructive behaviour around your home.
  • Encouraging good manners – from socialising your dog with puppy parties to rewarding good behaviour, keeping your Cocker’s manners on track will help you sidestep bad habits. It can also include simple obedience commands, like “sit.”
  • Reducing separation anxiety – this is something that can happen to any dog, but Cocker Spaniels are receptive to training which will help you manage any separation anxiety. By understanding the signs of this anxiety and reducing it with aids like toys, a crate, and a calm exit when you leave, you can keep stress to a minimum.

Nutrition

Nutritional needs can vary as it will very much depend on their lifestyle and other factors such as age. For instance, if they’re a working dog, a high protein diet could be the best approach. As breeds go, they tend to eat heartily, so it’s also wise to keep an eye on his weight and exercise routine.

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