Perfect cocker spaniel, according to the Kennel Club breed standard

I thought it’s a good idea to share an official description of the English Cocker Spaniel not so much to help you find “the perfect cocker puppy” (because when you see the one you will know), but give you some useful information regarding the breed and make that puppy search as successful and stress-free as possible.

According to The Kennel Club “the Cocker is an active, happy, small dog who quickly adapts himself to surroundings. He is highly intelligent and affectionate, and in his element foraging around fields and hedges. He also employs retrieving instincts around the house, and can often be found with a toy or slipper in his mouth. They are easy to train and thrive on human companionship.” All true.

Cocker spaniels belong to a group of gun dogs, and are divided into two categories – show cockers and working cockers. Both are lovely, but the show type is chunkier, sturdy, more “teddy bear” like and really is what you picture when talking about an English cocker spaniel.

Working cockers have a “drier” constitution, slimmer, with a narrower-looking face. I don’t know if it’s a rule or typical of a working cocker, but I’ve never seen them with long hair.

From time to time breeders of the working cockers are legally allowed to dock pups’ tails, so unlike the show type that always have a long tail unless they were born before 2006 , the year when the tail-docking was banned, a working cocker may have a short one.

Height approximately: dogs: 39-41 cms (15.5-16 ins); bitches: 38-39 cms (15-15.5 ins). Weight approximately: 13-14.5 kgs (28-32 lbs).

Cockers are like a bag of M&Ms. They come in a variety of colours, which are often referred to as “solid” (gold, red, black chocolate) and “parti-coloured” (black & tan, black & white, black & white ticked, black, white & tan, blue roan, blue roan & tan, chocolate & tan, chocolate & white, chocolate roan, chocolate roan & tan, chocolate white & tan, lemon & white, lemon roan, liver & white, liver & white ticked, liver roan, liver roan & tan, liver white & tan, orange & white, orange & white ticked, orange roan and sable)

It is very important to bear in mind that any solid colour must be solid, “no white is allowed except for on the chest” and sable colour is not Kennel Club recognised.

Spaniel’s hair is glistening, silky, flat – never too wavy or curly. Requires daily grooming, plus regular trimming and hand-stripping.

Cocker spaniels are considered to be one of the strong and healthy breeds and live beyond 10 years, but when choosing a puppy ensure that BOTH his parents have been health screened and the breeder has official results for BVA/KC/ISDS Eye test, DNA test – prcd-PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy & Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy) & FN (Familial Nephropathy), plus BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia test and, ideally as it doesn’t need to be done annually, BVA/KC/ISDS Gonioscopy (Primary Glaucoma). If in double, you can always check the recommended tests by speaking to a vet and contacting The Kennel Club. While it may sound like hard work or too much information, these tests ensure that a) the breeder cares for his dogs and reputation b) you get a puppy who will not develop eye and bone problems typical of the breed.

Other health issues that are not tested for but known to affect English cockers are haemolytic anaemia, chronic pancreatitis, adult onset neuropathy, acral mutilaion syndrome (working lines), cataracts, pertistent pupillary membrane, extra eye lashes (distichiasis), entropion (ingrowing eyelids) and ectropion (sagging, loose eye lids).

To stay healthy, cockers need minimum an hour of exercise daily and good diet ideally chosen according to the breed needs.

So as long as you look after yours, they really are a breeze and, yes, you guessed it, most perfect little guys to hang with.

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