A well-bred cocker is a complete joy to own! They are, however, a VERY high-maintenance breed. They require regular grooming that will require visits to a professional groomer, or you will need to buy the equipment and learn to do it yourself. As with most mammals, they do shed some, but regular brushing helps.
The most important thing to remember when considering a cocker is their emotional needs. Cockers are VERY people-oriented. They MUST have a great deal of attention from their human family. Because of this, they do NOT make good "outside dogs." Cockers are little "magnet dogs;" wherever you go, they go! They are not a breed that will be happy going off somewhere by themselves. They want to be with you always, and prefer to be touching you! (they make the best feet warmers!)
Cockers are very adaptable and happy in almost any home environment. (as long as they are not alone!) They enjoy the company of other dogs, and cats. They don't require a great deal of exercise, but do need a good walk everyday, just as any dog. Their favorite way to exercise is to chase tennis balls! They are very playful!
Cockers are very good with children. However, all children MUST be taught to be very gentle, and to behave appropriately with all animals. They should NEVER be permitted to pull a cocker's ears, tail or coat, or tease or harm the dog in any way.
Cockers are HIGHLY trainable. They are very willing to please, and enjoy doing almost anything their master wants! Cockers excel at obedience, agility, tracking, flyball, rally, and field work. Yes- the cocker has maintained the hunting instincts for which he was bred!
Cockers are OBSESSED with food! This contributes to their trainability ("Will work for food!") but can also lead to obesity. Owners should always select a high quality food, and always measure it out. Treats should also be carefully chosen, and "table food" should not be fed. Just as in humans, obesity leads to many health problems.
Cockers can develop any number of genetic health problems. This is true with any dog, but sadly, the enormous popularity of the breed over the past 50 years has lead to ignorant, indiscriminate breeding of inferior dogs. Breeders seeking to capitalize on this popularity did not educate themselves on pedigrees, health issues and selecting the proper dogs for breeding. They also did not perform genetic health testing on their breeding stock, which perpetuated health and temperament problems which continue to plague the breed today. Breeding good, sound cockers does not require a degree in biology, but it does require a great deal of research and mentoring by those who have been successful. Even reputable breeders sometimes get health problems in their stock, but the chances are much less when breeding is done responsibly and knowledgeably.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us. There is also some great information on our LINKS page.
For more information on the Cocker Spaniel, including the entire breed standard, visit the American Spaniel Club website (see LINKS page) or go to the Cocker page on the American Kennel Club site: http://www.akc.org/breeds/cocker_spaniel/index.cfm