Fred, 7 week old chocolate and tan English cocker spaniel puppy / how to find a cocker spaniel puppy / cocker spaniel puppy ads / first published on Perfect cocker spaniel blog / (C) Natalia Ashton

Q&A | How to find a perfect English cocker spaniel puppy?

WHERE & HOW DO YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR THAT PERFECT COCKER SPANIEL PUPPY? I’ve talked about the subject a lot in my book Perfect cocker spaniel, but since the question is one I get asked a lot, I wanted to cover the basics here, too.

True, these days you can find puppies online easily enough. Social media and websites give you a quick access to dozens of puppy ads.  These, however, can bring a lot of problems, especially if you never had cockers before and this is your first ever experience of finding a pup.

The safest way I recommend is to look via the Kennel Club website. All good breeders & pure-line litters are registered there. If you like a certain breeder, but they don’t have litters at them moment, leave your details with them. Waiting lists are very common!

If you choose to look for a pup elsewhere, always remember a few simple rules.

Good breeder will…
… be KC listed + council licensed if they breed to sell or have more than 3 litters a year;
… have each litter KC registered (note: puppy farms can do it, too, so check for other signs & use common sense);
… ask you questions to ensure that you’re a suitable puppy parent;
… be knowledgeable about cockers;
… introduce you to puppy’s parents (I like to see BOTH dogs of I’ve never met a breeder before);
… have pedigree certificates for both parents;
… have valid health test certificate for both parents;
… take extra precautions when showing you the pup;
… will not let you see a pup in person before the pup is at least 5 weeks old (personally I feel it’s best to wait until a pup is 6-7 weeks old);
… have pups health-checked by a vet;
… never sell you a pup before he’s at least 8 weeks old;
… offer life-time support & advice.

Avoid breeders who…
… do not meet all of the above rules;
… offer pups at an oddly low price;
… have pups that look unwell;
… offer to meet half-way or bring a pup to you;
… sell puppies through shops;
… have too many dogs & breeds;
… have untidy & dirty premises;
… refuse to show you pups mum;
… don’t care about mixing working & show lines;
… sell pups that aren’t KC registered;
… breed from “a family pet” without pedigree or health certificates & are listed as “a private individual”, not a “breeder” or “business”.

Photo source: Fred at 7 weeks old, photographed by me


How and where to find cocker spaniel puppy / how to make your pet famous on instagram

Puppies & Instagram

I recently saw a report saying that most people spend more time deciding which pair of shoes to buy than getting a puppy. And, of course, I couldn’t help noticing how seeing pups on Instagram prompted people to run and get one there and then.

So if you are thinking about getting a dog, remember that love isn’t enough. You are going to be responsible for somebody who will be spending their whole life with you & rely on you in everything.

Research, learn, take your time & be realistic when you make a decision to have a dog. Never rush into it. Because once you have a dog, your life will change & you will have to be ready to accept it and become the most dedicated, caring and loving parent for your new baby.

Photo source: image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

Cooper, my red sable English cocker spaniel (C) Natalia Ashton, Perfect cocker spaniel

Q&A | What is a sable colour in English cocker spaniels?

To be honest, I’ve never chosen a puppy based on his colour. It has always been more about the face, personality & little features that made my heart beat faster.

I really don’t care if the sable dogs are “rare” or not allowed in a show ring. Personally I find them beautiful just like I find any cocker spaniel beautiful.

Sables vary in colour a lot. They can be black, chocolate, golden or silver-looking. Often the sable pups are very similar to “approved” colours and the coat changes happen gradually and after the pup is handstripped.

So if you are looking for a sable puppy specifically and not quite sure whether or not your future baby is sable, look at both his fur and eyes. The sables will always have dark hairs (black, chocolate or red depending on their coat) running through their coat. Many may also have a mask around their eyes and running down their nose.

And all sables will have what I call “the Cleopatra eyes” – a solid liner around their eyes.

One thing to bear in mind. Sable cockers can become rather fluffy by the time they are ready to be hand-strip, so their coat will need more time, efforts and attention, both on a daily basis and when groomed. Always have a look at your puppy’s parents – if one of them is not too fluffy, your baby may just grow into the smooth and beautiful cocker, too. If both parents have rich coats, you’ve just signed yourself for plenty of grooming fun.

Photo source: Cooper, photo taken by me

Fred, chocolate and tan English cocker spaniel puppy, 2.5 months old (C) Natalia Ashton, Perfect cocker spaniel

Q&A | What are the colours of English cocker spaniels?

Cockers are like confetti… or a bag of M&Ms: very colourful! The first cockers were solid black and blue roan, but in time the breed became one of the most colourful out there.

Cockers come in solid gold, red (very deep shade of gold, very similar to chestnut), black and chocolate (also known as less-poetic sounding liver); blue, orange, lemon and chocolate roan; black & white, black & tan, chocolate & tan, chocolate & white, orange & white; chocolate white & tan, black white & tan, liver white & tan.

The parti-coloured coats can also be ticked – have spots of colour on white areas (in roans the spots are more “blurred”) Solid cockers should have no white spots, though a white mark on the chest is acceptable.

Sable cocker spaniels, as gorgeous as the can be, are no accepted by the Kennel Club as one of the “official colours”. Bear this in mind if you want to show your pup in the future.

Photo source: Fred photographed by me

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.