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4 photos of american cocker spaniels, one long haired, and one puppy  

American Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are divided into two groups, American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels. The American Cocker is smaller and has a slightly smaller head and shorter nose than the English Cocker Spaniel. Although both Cockers originated as hunting dogs, the American Cocker Spaniel has become primarily a pet while the English Cocker Spanie has remained primarily a hunting dog. The American Cocker Spaniel is in the top 20 purebred dogs recognized by the AKC, and for many years was the most popular breed in the U.S. The American Cocker is the smallest of 26 dog breeds in the sporting group and was originally bred for hunting birds.

24-28 lbs

Height: 14-15”
Color: black, cream, red, brown and tan in solid colors or parti-colored on a white background
Coat: long, silky coat with thick feathers over the ears, and legs
Grooming: weekly to daily
Longevity: 10-15 years
  Cocker Spaniels are especially good at:
  • Living harmoniously with families and other pets because they are affectionate and friendly
  • They like physical activity but you don't have to be a fanatic
  • Good watchdogs and bark when noticing anything out of the ordinary
  •   Watch out for these with Cocker Spaniels:
  • Moist ear infections that are difficult to clear up
  • Food collecting in ears that hang in the food bowl or the deep lip folds
  • Thorns, grass awns or matted hair hidden under the topcoat, especially on the feet or between the toes
  • Snapping and irritability
  • Dullness, weight gain or behavior change caused by hypothyroidism
    Cocker Spaniel Appearance
    The American Cocker Spaniel is a small to medium-sized dog with a beautifully flowing coat and feathering over the ears and legs. Cockers can be kept with their coats long or can be trimmed in a puppy cut. The Cocker is elegant, yet sturdily built and spunky. They have large, dark eyes, and long, low-set ears that are covered with long feathering hair. The Cocker’s appearance is that of a dog that is rugged, playful, and affectionate.

    Cocker Spaniel Behavior
    The best Cockers are extraordinarily affectionate and friendly toward people, dogs, and other pets. They are active and alert but not aggressive or overly barky. Unfortunately, there was a period when Cockers without friendly, balanced personalities were bred and some of these dogs are inclined to bite and be aggressive. Because Cockers are sensitive, they respond to consistent, positive discipline free of threats and physical punishment. If treated roughly, they can develop fear aggression.

    Cocker Spaniel Health (dog breed health problems)

    Cocker Spaniel allergies that predispose them to ear infections
    Providing a natural, holistic diet and vaccinating only when necessary and for the fewest diseases helps prevent and manage immune problems, such as allergies.

    Cocker Spaniel Hypothyroidism
    Low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism) are easily treated with medication. Many veterinarians believe the incidence of hypothyroidism is reduced if Cockers are not over-vaccinated.

    Cocker Spaniel Seborrhea with dry or greasy flaking skin that develops an odor
    Seborrhea (dandruff) is treated with weekly or twice weekly bathing with special shampoo.

    Cocker Spaniel Entropion and ectropion
    Entropion is a condition caused as the eyelid rolls inward and eye lashes rub the cornea causing pain, tearing, and inflammation. Ectropion is an eyelid that rolls outward so that tears aren’t channeled into the tear ducts but drain on the face. Eyelid surgeries repair either of these problems.

    Cocker Spaniel Bone and joint problems
    Patellar luxation and cranial cruciate rupture are common in American Cocker Spaniels. It’s best to start the dogs on chondroprotective medications when young and use anti-inflammatory medications, such as Rimadyl and Deramaxx as prescribed.

    Cocker Spaniel Dry eye
    Dry eye (KCS or keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is treated with artificial tears or with Optimmune (cyclosporine) (Rx). Avoid medications such as sulfa antibiotics that may predispose dogs to develop dry eyes.

    photos of more cocker spaniels in different scenarios

    Grooming your Cocker Spaniel
    Cockers require brushing daily or every other day to prevent the long, fine coat and thick undercoat from developing mats. Keep hair over the feet clipped or examine daily for burrs, grass awns, or twigs. Use a clothespin to clip the ears up when your Cocker eats and immediately wash hair that has gotten into the food bowl. Cocker Spaniels have a deep lip fold that traps food and should be cleaned after meals. A Cocker Spaniel’s outer ear canals may be thickly haired and damp. This predisposes Cockers to chronic ear infections, especially if your Cocker has allergies. Keep the ear canals dry and yeast-free by using weekly ear cleansers. Cut the nails at least monthly unless your dog exercises on rough surfaces. Watch for scooting and signs that allergies are causing the bottom to itch. Scooting can lead to anal sac problems, including impacted anal glands, and these should be taken care of by your veterinarian rather than by a groomer.


    Daily or every other day

    Essential to keep matted hair from forming
    Self-trimming if active on rough surfaces
    Eyes, Ears, & Face
    Check ears frequently and use an ear cleanser weekly. Clean lip folds after eating.
    Anal Sacs
    Seldom need to be expressed unless your Cocker has allergies that lead to scooting

    Recommended products for your American Cocker Spaniel!

      Be Well   1-800-PetMeds Ear Cleansing Solution   LiquiTears   1-800-PetMeds Oatmeal and Aloe Shampoo  

    More Recommended Cocker Spaniel products (not pictured):

    Rimadyl (Rx)
    Optimmune (cyclosporine) (Rx)

    The articles here were answered by a variety of pharmacists and veterinarians
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    This information is for educational purposes only and is intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your veterinarian. The information is NOT to be used for diagnosis or treatment of your pet. You should always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the treatment of your pet.

    The information about medications is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, allergic reactions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for your pet. It is not a substitute for a veterinary exam, and it does not replace the need for services provided by your veterinarian.

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