Frequently Asked Questions About the Cocker Spaniel

1.  What makes a Cocker Spaniel a wonderful family companion?

If bred correctly, the Cocker Spaniel can be a wonderful family companion.  Their size makes them easy to manage and yet they are sturdy enough to handle all of the family fun.  Temperament is hereditary so it's important that your new puppy comes from solid breeding stock with infallible temperaments.  Remember that show dogs actually pass a temperament test every time they step into the ring with a judge they have never met.  Cocker Spaniels prefer to be followers and not leaders.  They do best with owners who are familiar with the breed and who can set boundaries for the puppy.  Firm but gentle leadership helps produce a well-trained, obedient dog that is a pleasure to live with.  Some basic obedience classes can teach you how to train your dog and can help build a foundation for you to handle any behavioral problems you may encounter.   Cocker puppies have high energy and are perfect for families with children who can help focus that energy in a safe environment. Cockers love to run, play fetch and will retrieve all day long if you let them!   Many Cockers also love to swim and some prefer to just stand on shore.  

2.  What kind of grooming does a Cocker Spaniel require?

A Cocker Spaniel has a coat that requires maintenance for its entire life.  Unlike the coat of a Labrador or a Beagle, a Cocker Spaniel's hair will continue to grow and will not naturally shed.  Hair must be clippered and clippered often to prevent painful matting.  Keeping your dog in a manageable puppy cut is usually the easiest way to keep your dog's skin and coat in good shape.  Baths and trims should be scheduled for every 4 to 5 weeks with your groomer.  Clippering the top portion of the hair on their ears (inside the flap also) will help circulate air and prevent ear infections.  Clippering the hair on the pads of the feet as well as keeping the nails short, is necessary so that your dog has good traction on floors.  Make note of whether your puppy has dew claws because they will have to be trimmed also.  Consider the grooming that is involved with this breed and decide if this is something you can deal with.  

3.  But I don't want a SHOW DOG, I just want a pet!

Actually, you do!  Because a puppy from show dog lines will be from parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc. who have all been health tested AND temperament tested.  Responsible breeders health test all their breeding dogs to produce healthier puppies.  These puppies are the future of our show lines.  The puppy that you take home is often the littermate to a puppy that was kept for showing.  Breeders evaluate litters and select the puppy that we feel will do the best in the show ring.  Sometimes it's just a subtle difference that helps decide which puppy we keep.  All of my litters contain both show dogs and pets from generations of health tested parents.

4.  What is the "Standard"?  How does it influence a breeder?

For every breed that the American Kennel Club recognizes, there is a Breed Standard.  The Standard is developed by the parent club for each breed.  In our breed's case, the parent club is the American Spaniel Club (www.americanspanielclub.org).  The Cocker Spaniel Standard is a blueprint that describes the appearance, movement and temperament of an ideal Cocker Spaniel.  It may also include any disqualifying faults or traits.  Breeders use the Standard as a guideline when breeding.  Dogs with obvious faults or disqualifications are removed from our breeding program.  In addition to breeders, judges also use the Standard when evaluating show dogs.  Dog shows were originally held to evaluate breeding stock.  Judges judge according to the Standard and do not consider their own personal preferences when selecting dogs for a win.  A Judge's goal is to find the dog that comes closest to what our Standard considers to be the "perfect Cocker".  Reputable breeders constantly strive to produce dogs that are as close to the Standard as possible.  We don't intentionally breed disqualifying colors or traits, over or under -sized dogs or dogs with questionable temperaments.

5.  Should I invest in Pet Insurance?

It's a good idea!  The cost of pet care has increased so much over the years that it makes good sense to have insurance.  Just make sure to thoroughly examine the policy to determine what they consider covered and not covered conditions.  Since I feel strongly about NOT over vaccinating my dogs, a policy that covers 'yearly' vaccinations would be of no use to me (and hopefully not to you).  You are looking for a policy that covers catastrophic injuries that can often run into the thousands of dollars.  The Puppy Wellness programs that some of the big box vet clinics (Banfield, VCA) offer would also not be of value.  They encourage routine vaccinations and early spaying and neutering that I do not recommend.  It is also suggested that in lieu of insurance, you save a set monthly amount in a special account that you can use if ever the need arises.  

6. Why do you Microchip your puppies?

I believe in microchipping all my dogs in the unlikely event they go missing.  Collars can fall off or be removed but the chip is always there.  Nowadays, all the vet clinics and shelters have scanners and scanning the dog is the first thing they do when a stray comes in the door.  My puppies are all registered with the AKC's Reunite program in the new owner's name as well as my name.  We will both be contacted if the dog is ever lost.  My dogs don't wear collars unless they leave the property.  Collars can get caught on kitchen cabinet handles, doorknobs etc.  They can get caught in another dog's teeth if they are playing causing the dog to choke.  They are not needed for identification, so my dogs don't need to wear them.  Please reconsider using a collar unless you are going for a walk or leaving the house for any other reason.  Your puppy's microchip number is included in their Health Records.  

7.  Why should I get on a Waiting List?

I take Holding Fees (deposits) for current and future litters because I do not want to produce puppies that I cannot place. I want to know that I have families waiting.  And families on my Waiting List must be patient!  The reward will be worth the wait, I can assure you.  From the time I do a breeding to the time the puppies are ready to go home is approximately four (4) months.  Gestation is 63 days and then I keep the puppies until they are 8 to 10 weeks old.   There is a lot of time, hard work, money and commitment that go into producing a litter.  Raising puppies is not anything you can put a price on.  Find a breeder that you are comfortable with.  Their breeding philosophy should make sense to you and your personal ethics.  Then all that's left to do is be patient and hurry up and WAIT!!!

8.  What are your thoughts on training classes?

Training is the kindest thing you could ever do for your puppy.   A well-rounded puppy needs some basic obedience training to make them an enjoyable member of the family.  Teaching them what’s right and wrong is not only the fair thing to do, but it’s necessary for a dog to live a safe and happy life.  I can assist you in find a training class if you need help locating one near you.