Cocker Spaniels are lively, intelligent dogs that were originally bred as working gundogs and are today one of the most common gundog breeds and popular for people to purchase as a companion or family pet. However, the breed has been divided into two strains:
Show-Type &Working Type
The show-type Cocker Spaniel is the breed generally seen in the show rings (such as Crufts) and is bred to conform to The Kennel Club’s breed standard. Being of medium size, they are very adaptable to many environments and easy to transport with you, so resulting to becoming the most popular type of Cocker Spaniel as a typical family pet. The qualities to make a good specimen of this type are: sound temperament, intelligence, happy bustling movement, silky coat with feathering, biddable nature and pleasing ‘to the eye of the beholder’ – the show-type Cocker Spaniel can be energetic and will happily go for long country walks. Show type dogs can also happily fulfil active roles working as PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dogs and assistance dogs such as Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.
The working-type Cocker Spaniel is mostly referred to or known as the “Working Cocker”. This strain of Cocker Spaniel is potentially bred for use in the shooting field and other country pursuits and has gradually become popular and suitable for training in canine sporting activities, such as agility/flyball, and also excels in other disciplines such as Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and PAT (Pets as Therapy) Dogs. Working Cockers are also used by the police and customs services as sniffer dogs and some have been trained in detecting cancerous cells. All in all the Working Cocker is a popular choice as a working dog.
The Working Cocker is bred for the purpose and ability to work as a gundog and does not necessarily conform to The Kennel Club’s breed standard. Compared to the show-type Cocker Spaniel, their physical build and look is different and their coat is not so profuse. If you are considering a Working Cocker, the qualities to make a good specimen of the breed are: sound temperament, intelligence, stamina, speed and biddabilitiy - the Working Cocker must be sound in body and capable of being trained to perform the job it was bred for: hunting, flushing and retrieving game (on land and from water).
The Working Cocker is undoubtedly fantastic to watch in its ability, whether it is used as a gundog, a sniffer dog, an assistant dog, or in other canine sporting activities. If it is brought up with the correct knowledge, understanding and training, the working Cocker Spaniel would make a good companion in an active family home environment.
They make very good companions and family pets provided they are given careful training and socialisation as youngsters. If left to their own devices they may quickly develop behavioural problems. A Cocker is not a dog that can be left on it’s own for long periods of time as it will become disruptive and destructive. Cockers are not suitable for people who are out at work all day.
The Cocker Spaniel is generally a healthy breed of dog with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. Hereditary eye conditions can occur in the breed and for this reason breeding dogs and bitches should be eye tested. Joint problems can also occur but these are not as common as in larger breeds of dogs. The beautiful coat of the Cocker does need regular grooming and trimming. Ears and teeth need checking regularly. Cocker Spaniels customarily have their tails shortened and their dew claws removed.
As laid down in the Breed Standard acceptable colours of the Cocker Spaniel are as follows:
Black; red; golden; liver (chocolate); black and tan; liver and tan; No white allowed except a small amount on chest.
Black and white; orange and white; liver and white; lemon and white; All with or without ticking.
Black, white and tan; liver, white and tan.
Blue roan; orange roan; lemon roan; liver roan; blue roan and tan; liver roan and tan.