Breed Spotlight: Cocker Spaniel

4 min read
Sep 12, 2022

Cocker Spaniel Quick Stats


10 – 14 years


20 – 30 lbs


13 – 15 inches




Gentle, affectionate, active

Common Health Problems: 

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, patellar luxation

Cocker Spaniel: How Do I Look?

Cocker spaniels are well-known and well-loved for their doe eyes and floppy ears, but they’re more than just a pretty face. Sitting at 15 inches at their tallest, the cocker spaniel’s compact frame allows them to fulfill their duty as a sporting dog.

Coat Type and Colors

The cocker spaniel can present a wide array of fur colors, including black, brown, tan, white, and red, to name a few.3 These colors can also be found together in merle markings. Regardless of color, cocker spaniels have a long, silky double coat.


The cocker spaniel’s ears hang low and cover the ear canal. This makes them susceptible to ear infections, so frequent cleaning is essential to keep them healthy.3

Drooling Level

Cocker spaniels are not known to be droolers.

Shedding and Grooming

Cocker spaniels should be brushed daily to prevent their fur from tangling and matting. Brushing a cocker spaniel daily and taking them in for grooming every 6 to 8 weeks will help them keep a beautiful, healthy coat.

The good news is that, despite their grooming demands, cocker spaniels are moderate shedders. You won’t find hair all over the house as a good daily brush should catch all of their fallout.

Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic?

No, cocker spaniels are not hypoallergenic. They do have less dander than other breeds, however, which makes them a better option for owners with allergies. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog.

Cocker Spaniel: Personality Traits

What My Adoption Bio Would Say:

Looking for a lifelong companion with long hair, beautiful eyes, and a heart of gold? It’s me, the cocker spaniel! Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my family, especially the kids. City or country, pick me up or let me roam free, I’m content with it all! Some say I’m the full package, and I don’t disagree.


The cocker spaniel is an extremely affectionate, gentle breed.3 Their trusting personality makes them a great fit for families who have small children, other pets, or elderly owners. When properly socialized, this breed is an excellent family dog. If not properly socialized, this dog can be extremely sensitive and possess a fear of strangers.

The cocker spaniel was initially bred to be a hunter, so don’t be surprised if they’re particularly interested in birds and other small animals around your home. Due to their hunting instinct, they’re also escape artists who will do anything to chase a bird or squirrel.

Exercise Needs

The cocker spaniel doesn’t need a whole lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy. One hour of exercise per day is recommended, which can be anything from walks to a good game of fetch.

Good With Other Pets?

Cocker spaniels are just as good with other pets as they are with kids. They don’t mind following the leader, and get along well with both dogs and cats.


Cocker spaniels are extremely intelligent and eager to please their owner, making them relatively easy to train.

Good with Kids?

Cocker spaniels are known to be great with kids due to their gentleness and easy-going nature. Training your dog early and making sure your kids know how to properly touch and interact with a dog will further enrich their relationship.

Barking Level

Cocker spaniels may become excessive barkers due to their hunting nature, so it’s important to train them when it’s acceptable to bark.

Cocker Spaniel History

The cocker spaniel originated in England as a hunting dog as early as the 1300s, but they fell out of favor due to their impatience and eagerness to chase.4 This caused them to become a more popular dog for families rather than hunters in London. The breed went on to become one of the most popular breeds for pet owners and families.

The cocker spaniel’s breed evolution is an interesting one.4 The modern-day cocker spaniel, also known as the American cocker spaniel, evolved from the English cocker spaniel in the 1900s. While they resemble each other, there are a few differences that set them apart.

American Cocker Spaniel vs. English Cocker Spaniel

The distinction between the American cocker spaniel and English cocker spaniel occurred when the English cocker spaniel was brought to the United States in the mid-1800s.6

The dogs began to evolve as they continued breeding in the United States due to their differing duties and desired traits from breeders. It resulted in smaller and shorter-muzzled versions of the breed in the United States, while the longer-nosed and slightly larger cocker spaniel still existed in England.

English cocker spaniels are built for retrieving, and their features accurately reflect it. They have thicker fur, a higher prey driver than their American counterpart, and can weigh up to 35 pounds. They also have a slightly longer lifespan of 12-15 years. Despite these differences, they were long considered the same breed as the American cocker spaniel.

In 1936, the American Kennel Club recognized the English cocker spaniel as a separate variety of cocker spaniel. It wasn’t until 1947 that they were formally recognized as two separate breeds; the American cocker spaniel was simply classified as the cocker spaniel and the breed in England became classified as the English cocker spaniel. In European countries, the cocker spaniel may also be known as the American cocker spaniel.

Common Cocker Spaniel Mixes

  • Cockapoo: A cocker spaniel/poodle mix
  • Corkie: A cocker spaniel/corgi mix
  • Bocker: A cocker spaniel/beagle mix
  • Cockalier:  A cocker spaniel/cavalier King Charles spaniel mix

Cocker Spaniel Health Issues

Cocker spaniels may experience a variety of health issues, including:7

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): This is a genetic condition that results in blindness.
  • Cataracts: These cause cloudiness in eye lenses.
  • Glaucoma: This can cause increased eye pressure.
  • Patellar luxation: This is when the kneecap migrates from its normal location, hindering movement.
  • UTI: Short for “urinary tract infection.”
  • Allergies

Protect your Pets

Even the healthiest of pups can come with unexpected vet costs. Pet insurance can help keep your dog and your bank account happy.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Cocker Spaniels

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy is a genetic disease that is diagnosed in dogs at around 2 – 3 months old, but can also have a late onset version of the disease that’s detected most commonly between the ages of 3 – 9 years old.6 A MetLife dog insurance policy may help cover the cost of diagnosis or treatment for progressive retinal atrophy.1,2


Seasonal allergies are a common problem in dogs, and cocker spaniels are particularly prone due to the oil production of the skin to support their beautiful coats. MetLife dog insurance may cover the cost of medication needed to curb your dog’s sniffles and itchy skin.2

Thinking of bringing home a new puppy? Consider protecting your new furry friend with a dog insurance policy from MetLife Pet Insurance. Our dog insurance policies can provide the coverage and care your new four-legged family member deserves.2 Get your free quote today.

Protect your Cocker Spaniel with Pet Insurance

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC. 

3 “Cocker Spaniel,” American Kennel Club

4 “Cocker Spaniel History: America’s Most Popular Dog in the Mid-1900s,” American Kennel Club

5 “American Cocker Spaniel,” PetMD

6 “Meet Two Similar Yet Different Breeds: English Cocker Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel,” American Kennel Club

7 “Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

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