Living with a Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel is a relatively small sized merry compact little dog. I always think of my Boys as big dogs in small packages. They have a height of between 15-16 inches (although Sebastian is around 16½) at the shoulder and a weight range of approximately 30-32lbs. A well cared for Cocker Spaniel can expect to live until they are 12 years old, although many now live until they are 15+.
The origins of the Spaniel go back through the centuries, as there are paintings from the middle ages depicting small Spaniels and in writings back to the 12th century. In the middle of the 19th century when dog shows began there appeared a division in size. Those over 25lbs were called Field Spaniels and those under, Cocker Spaniels. In about 1890 the Kennel Club officially recognized the different breeds of Spaniels of which nowadays there are eight: American Cocker, Clumber, Cocker, English Springer, Field, Irish Water, Sussex and Welsh Springer Spaniels.
Cockers are well used as a Gundogs, being originally bred to work with man to flush, quarter and retriever small game birds or rabbits in the thickest of brush, bramble and woodlands. They also enjoy (given the opportunity!) many happy hours investigating interesting smells and looking for any opportunity to flush out birds, rabbits and if you have a Douglas chase the occasional cat. My three love nothing more than having a good old dig and will spend hours investigating rabbit holes, then they dash to the sea to cool off and luckily for me get rid of all the dirt that has been collected in their feathering!!
They come in seventeen different colours, the Solid Colours – Black, Red, Golden, Black & Tan, Liver, Liver & Tan. The Parti Colours – Black & White, Black & White Ticked, Black White & Tan, Blue Roan, Blue Roan & Tan, Liver Roan, Liver Roan & Tan, Liver & White, Orange Roan, Orange & White, Lemon Roan etc. Any colour or marking other than listed is considered undesirable. This is one of the things that make the Cocker Spaniel so popular the vast range of different colours that they come in.
As with all dogs grooming is especially important with a Cocker Spaniel as they have long silky feathering which needs to be kept knot and matt free. Regular grooming is a most for anybody who wishes to take on a Cocker Spaniel. If you haven’t got the time to put into looking after their coats then get a Breed with shorthair!!
There are a number of diseases seen in the Breed such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Familial Nephropathy (FN). Selected Breeding is helping to eradicate these problems and in recent years the situation has improved, mainly due to Responsible Breeders who eye test their breeding stock under the BVA/KC Health Schemes. If you are looking to buy a Cocker Spaniel Puppy it is highly recommended that you check to see that both the Sire and Dam have current clear eye certificates.
They make wonderful family pets due to their very good temperaments. They are friendly, happy and well-mannered dogs. They are easy to train and very eager to please and make devoted companions. Be warned though that if you give a Cocker Spaniel an inch they will take a mile. You need to be firm with them when they are puppies or you will be asking for trouble. Take it from me, I learnt the hard way with Sebastian as he was my first dog and I had waited so long to have him that he was and still is truly spoilt. I was off for two months when I first had him so he was used to having me around and getting what he wanted and when he wanted it. I soon learnt though that if you give in to your Cocker Spaniel you will have a very cunning Dog on your hands. Sebastian knows just what to do to get his own way. With Bart & Douglas they can be both left and will not whine in their cage for me, but leave Sebastian and you will hear him from one side of the Sarnia Hall at Beau sejour to the other whining and whinging away!! Even in the car if I’m not sat by him he will whinge and whine the whole trip. When we went to our first Champ Show he sounded like a squeak in the car and was only drowned out when we were on the motorway.
I hope that those of you that don’t have a Cocker will find this informative and those of you that have them know exactly what I mean.
If you would like further information on Cocker Spaniels I will be more than happy to help you. You can also search the Internet and have a look at The Cocker Spaniel Club website http://www.cockerspanielclub.com.
Written by Derryn De Carteret