In hopes that I can give my readers some insight into dog breeds’ personalities, I am featuring different breeds each week. I will give a little history about the breed, i.e., what they were bred to do, talk about their personalities, and provide advice on the lifestyle needs of the breed. Remember, as I always say, every dog is an individual. Some dogs will exactly fit the breed characteristics while others may be nothing like it.

No dog makes people cheer as the Cocker Spaniel when seen prancing at a dog show with their long, lush coats flying around them. The Cocker has long been a favorite in the United States and at one time was the most popular dog breed. During that time in the 1960s into the 1980s, the Cocker was so overbred that it had significant aggression issues. It was difficult to meet a Cocker during this period that was nice. Thankfully, breeders worked on eliminating the aggression from the breed and most Cockers you meet now are sweethearts.

The Cocker Spaniel anecdotally has its roots all the way back to the time of Caesar in 55 B.C. when the spaniel dog was brought to England from Spain, hence the name spaniel. Spaniels were used for hunting, both on land and in the water. Over the centuries, spaniel types were divided by these two distinctions. Water spaniels went on to become the Irish Spaniel and the English Water Spaniel. The land spaniels became known as the springing spaniels and from them the Springer Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, and the Cocker Spaniel were derived. The word “cocker” was added to their name because of their specialty of flushing out woodcocks.

The Cocker Spaniel is thought to have come over to the United States on the Mayflower however, history records its origins to be around 1879 when the first one was registered with the AKC. It was not officially recognized as the Cocker Spaniel until 1946.

Cocker Spaniels were bred to be hunting dogs, flushing out the game to allow the hunters to shoot them. When the game falls to the ground, the Cocker’s job additionally was to sit there so that the hunter can find the game. Due to their easy trainability and loyal disposition, Cockers quickly became family pets.

Cocker Spaniels are happy, loving dogs. They bond with people quite easily and make great family dogs. Most Cockers love children and other dogs, as long as they are socialized early with them. They have a very well-balanced temperament, making them not a very demanding dog. Although they love being with people, they can adapt to being left alone for long periods of time. They require exercise, like all dogs, but not a huge amount as their larger hunting dog counterparts, the Labs and Goldens. Playtime is a must, as Cockers are very playful especially as pups. Playing fetch with a ball is a favorite game for many Cockers.

Cockers are very intelligent and easy to train. They make great agility dogs and candidates for competitive obedience. Due to their intelligence, they may get bored, so frequent training sessions are recommended. They are very sensitive dogs so please be sure not to use harsh training methods. All positive methods are preferred (as with all dogs, please!).

Cockers are a medium-sized dog, ranging in size from 20 to no larger than 30 pounds. They do not shed but be prepared for a great deal of time grooming your Cocker. They require regular brushing, daily is recommended. Their coats are thick and can grow quite long. Frequent trips to the groomers are required to shave them down, so be sure that you have allocated this cost into your budget. I have seen way too many neglected Cockers come into shelters as strays who had never been groomed. Their hair was so matted that it cut off the circulation to their paws.

My sister has an adorable Cocker Spaniel named Monique who she rescued from a shelter.


Sadly, you will find Cockers at shelters, so if you are considering one, please check your local shelter or go on to look for one in your area.