Britebay Kennels 

The Cocker Spaniel

THE COCKER SPANIEL: Is it right for you?




The Cocker Spaniel is a fun loving, merry little dog who makes a wonderful family friend and a devoted companion. 

They are an intelligent animal and very easy to train.



There is evidence of the existence of spaniel type dogs in the Mediterranean countries about 3000 years ago.  Ancient Greek ceramics depict these dogs.  There is further mention in Roman literature of the long-eared Spanish rabbit dogs observed when the Romans were fighting the Punic Wars ( 285-202BC).  It is believed that these dogs were taken to northern Europe by the Romans and to after the Roman Conquest (43AD) of that country.

Spaniels featured prominently both as working dogs and pets through the reigns of Henry VIII and the Stuart Kings and there is evidence that Henry VIII, a great sportsman, kept a kennel of Spaniels.  Popularity grew during the reigns of the Stuart Kings and the dogs featured prominently in royal portraits of the age. 

During the 18th and 19th Centuries three types of Spaniels emerged: Firstly was the toy spaniel (pet), secondly the springer spaniel and thirdly the wood cocking spaniel (both working dogs).  The wood cocking (Cocker) spaniel was very popular as they could go through the undergrowth to flush out the wood cock.  At this time there was great diversity of type and colour and in the latter part of the 19th century a Spaniel Club was formed and the dogs were classified by weight, the dogs over 25 pounds being classed as Field spaniels and those under 25 pounds as Cockers.

The beginning of last century saw the formation of the Cocker Spaniel Club of England and they drew up the early standard of the breed for shooters who needed a small, active, strong dog, sturdy enough to work cheerfully and tirelessly all day flushing or driving out the game.

Over the years the Breed Standard has been revised and the Cocker of today is a far sturdier dog but still capable of performing the tasks for which it was designed.


Known as the “Merry Cocker” this little dog is friendly, affectionate and loyal with an incessant wagging tail.  He is an intelligent animal and is easy to train, happy to work and happy to play.  They thrive on human company and make excellent companions for almost everyone: active adults, less active seniors and well behaved children.

While Cocker Spaniels are alert they will not attack strangers although they will most certainly let you know you have a visitor.


The Cocker Spaniel is known as a medium sized dog, growing to approximately Dogs: 39-41cms (151/2 to 16 inches); Bitches: 38-39cms (15 to151/2 inches) at the shoulder and a similar length to the set on of the tail.

 Basic colours of a Cocker Spaniel are: Black; Gold; Black & White; Blue Roan; Gold/Orange & White; Gold/Orange Roan; There are more unusual colours sometimes available such as: Black and Tan; Tri-colour; Liver & White and Liver Roan etc.


The Cocker Spaniel has a long and silky coat.  The coat, if not clipped, will require regular and thorough grooming in order to prevent matting and keep the dog comfortable.  It requires regular brushing and de-matting of the tangles. Particular attention should be made to keep the hair trimmed away from under and around the ears, the undercarriage and around the feet and pads.  The ears also need to be checked often as with the long ear cover, infections can occur.  Regular cleaning with a cotton ball (not bud) is recommended.


Cocker Spaniels can do almost anything.  They have been used in every facet of dog work from showing to jumping, as well as being a lovable pet.  They need to have the opportunity to use their intelligence and endurance and to keep their minds occupied. They are wonderful dogs for many activities including obedience, tracking, agility and fly-ball and information regarding these disciplines can be obtained from the VCA or the Cocker Spaniel Club of Victoria Inc.

Remember the Cocker Spaniel is an exuberant little fellow which needs to be trained.  Even if you go to Obedience training for 12 months you and your dog will benefit from the experience.  It is preferred if you are in control of your dog rather than vice versa.


The breed as a whole fortunately does not encounter many problems.

All prospective owners of a Cocker Spaniel are advised to ask the breeder about any known hereditary diseases in the breed and the measures that have been taken by the breeder to counteract them.  Some problems have been known but are not common.  PRA – progressive retinal atrophy, canine hip dysplasia and kidney disease are those that can occur.  However, none are prevalent due to DNA testing and careful breeding.  So please think and research carefully before you buy your Cocker Spaniel.

The sturdy little Cocker can be housed indoors or out of doors and providing the dog receives the love and affection it requires, it will happily settle for either situation.  If kept out of doors, the dog will require a suitable shed or kennel which is warm and draught free in winter, cool in summer and weatherproof at all times.


A “good doer”, the Cocker is not a fussy eater and will eat almost anything. As a result many Cocker Spaniels are over-weight and diligence is required to ensure that this problem does not occur.  Do not feed your dog human “junk food”.  Uncooked chicken necks, wings and/or brisket bones will keep the teeth in good condition.  A narrow food bowl is recommended so that their long ears fall either side of the bowl and not in the food. Further advice on nutrition should be obtained from your breeder or veterinarian.


The Cocker is a busy, active breed and it will happily walk for miles when fully mature but it is very adaptable and will be content with a couple of shorter walks a day or an energetic game.  Most Cockers like water and will enjoy the occasional swim.  When given the opportunity it will also enjoy many happy hours investigating interesting smells and flushing out or chasing wildlife in the surrounding countryside.




The Cocker Spaniel Club of Victoria Inc. was founded in 1931 to cater for the needs of Cocker Spaniel owners in this State and the main objectives of the Club are the welfare and improvement of the breed.

The Club conducts a variety of information nights and the topics covered include general dog care, showing, obedience, grooming, veterinary lectures etc., Members’ Competitions (for both showing and obedience).  An Open Show and Championship Show and some fun activities are also conducted.


Written by Margaret Brodie for DogVictoria December issue.

Contact Details
Margaret & Louise Brodie
Seaford, VIC, Australia
Phone : 0418396744
Email : [email protected]

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