Frequently Asked Questions About the Cocker Spaniel

1.  What makes a Cocker 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 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 love to swim and some prefer to 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.  It 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 toe 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!

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 (ies) 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.  But in the end, all the puppies from that litter have come 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.  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 the breeding program.  In addition to breeders, judges also use the Standard when evaluating show dogs.  Judges should judge to the standard and not consider their own personal preferences when selecting dogs for a win.  Reputable breeders constantly strive to produce dogs that are as close to the Standard as possible.