cocker spaniel in field of buttercups

All about your Cocker Spaniel

Playful, intelligent and friendly, it’s little wonder the English Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular of the spaniel family. From grooming advice to common health conditions, our guide covers the key things you should know about this affectionate, animated dog, known for his constantly wagging tail.

    Breed information & advice

    The Cocker Spaniel is a member of the gundog breed group, and whether he’s a show or working Cocker, his main aim in life is to please his owner. He loves going out for walks, but always use a lead and don’t be surprised if his hunting instinct kicks in, causing him to chase birds or squirrels.

    • The Cocker Spaniel displays his retrieving abilities around the house, so you’ll regularly find him with a toy or a slipper in his mouth
    • His medium-length coat needs grooming every day to avoid it becoming tangled
    • He will typically weigh between 12kg to 16 kg when fully grown
    • This breed of dog can usually live between 12 to 15 years

    Cocker Spaniel: Small: 38cm-41cm

        Wet Cocker Spaniel Running On A Sand And Pebble Beach

        Recommended exercise & nutrition

        A hunter at heart, the Cocker Spaniel loves getting out and about. While he will be happy enough having a run around the back garden, he’ll also need exercise for up to an hour a day to keep him in good shape, depending on his ability and medical history. Being a keen learner, along with his innate willingness to please, this dog is great in sports or obedience competitions.

        This breed has a great appetite and, given half the chance, a Cocker Spaniel could overeat. It is better to ignore his pleading eyes and discourage begging. Instead, treat him with some of his food allowance to encourage good behaviour, without risking diarrhoea and adding extra calories.

        Feed your dog a measured, daily amount of good quality dry food, following the instructions on the packet. Food amounts will vary according to the size and age of your dog, and the type of food, so be sure to read the guidance on the pack.

          Up to one hour of exercise per day

          Your dog loves to be active and he’ll be better behaved if he’s regularly outdoors with you and able to play.

              Cocker Spaniel Trots Through A Blooming Daisy Field

              Common health problems & illnesses

              There’s no reason why your Cocker Spaniel shouldn’t live a long and happy life. However, being aware of the ailments your dog will be more prone to, along with the associated symptoms, can help you to deal with any health issues that crop up.

                1. Dry Eye Syndrome

                Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), also known as dry eye syndrome, is caused by decreased tear production, resulting in severe drying and inflammation of a dog’s cornea and the inner surfaces of the eyelids. Signs of this can include itchy or uncomfortable eyes, blinking excessively, discharge from the eye and changes to the cornea. If diagnosed, dry eye can be managed or successfully treated by using daily eye drops as recommended by your vet.  If you notice anything unusual about your dog’s eyes, it’s always a good idea to seek advice.

                  2. Otitis Externa

                  This is a type of inflammation of the external ear canal and is very common in Cocker Spaniels. The reason they are likely to suffer from this is due to their long, hairy, drooping ears which cover the ear canal – making it a perfect place for bacteria and wax to build up unnoticed. Otitis externa causes discomfort in dogs, and if left untreated it can become painful and serious, leading to secondary ear problems. You can reduce the risk of this flaring up by gently cleaning your dog’s ears once a week using a mild ear cleaner or plain boiled water and cotton wool – this is also recommended after swimming. Taking your dog to the vet as soon as you suspect an ear problem is important – they will examine the ear canal and most likely prescribe medicated ear treatment.

                    3. Pancreatitis

                    Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, caused by factors including obesity, high-fat diets and certain diseases. This condition is more common in middle-aged to older dogs, although it can affect younger dogs. Pancreatitis is common after dogs have eaten inappropriate foods such as fat balls intended for wild birds, or fatty human foods such as bacon or fried bread. Signs of pancreatitis can occur suddenly in your Cocker Spaniel, and may include a painful abdomen – sitting in a hunched up or praying position, reluctance to go for walk, with vomiting, diarrhoea or no appetite.  Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Sometimes pancreatitis can be very serious and life threatening – other cases may be mild and managed with a low fat diet.

                      4. Arthritis and other joint problems

                      Some Cocker Spaniels – often as they get older – may have stiffness, lameness and general discomfort with their joints and bones – often in areas of an old injury, and sometimes leading to arthritis.  The breed can also be affected by hip dysplasia, or an abnormal and painful hip joint, which causes chronic lameness. These issues can be more noticeable after a long walk or when your dog moves after a period of rest. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour, mood or mobility, speak to your vet who can thoroughly examine him, and may be able to offer medication to improve his quality of life and help him to enjoy his walks without pain.

                        5. Anal gland problems

                        Very commonly seen with this breed – you may be aware of a strong, fishy odour and notice your dog scooting along the ground or licking his bottom often. The anal glands can be full up and can become infected and very sore. A good diet may help but if your dog often has a loose stool, he is more likely to have anal gland problems. Take him to the vet if you suspect this issue – the glands will be emptied and checked for signs of infection.

                            Cocker Spaniel Trots Through A Blooming Daisy Field

                            Dog name popularity

                            If you’re struggling to think of a name for your Cocker Spaniel, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Bank Pet Insurance for inspiration.

                              1 Bella
                              2 Poppy
                              3 Alfie
                              4 Molly
                              5 Bailey

                              Average treatment costs

                              Wondering whether pet insurance for your Cocker Spaniel is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance customers in 2019, and the average cost of treatment.

                                Top five conditions and average costs

                                Top five conditions and average costs





                                        Otitis externa


                                            Grass seed




                                                    Tesco Bank Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/09/19 to 31/08/20.

                                                    Considering Cocker Spaniel insurance?

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                                                    Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

                                                    Grooming advice

                                                    Your handsome Cocker Spaniel is renowned for his beautiful, glossy coat – but it does need maintaining. He needs dedicated grooming so many owners choose to have a professional groomer trim, bathe and brush their dog’s coat every six weeks or so. However, daily brushing is also important, as it prevents his coat from getting matted or tangled.

                                                    Clean his ears once a week, to keep them clear of moisture and wax build-up and to prevent any infections, but don’t re-use cotton wool balls or buds on both ears.

                                                    Introduce your dog to the grooming process in his puppy years if possible – get him used to it as early as you can, so that it becomes part of the daily routine for both of you.

                                                      Fun & interesting facts

                                                      • Cocker Spaniels originated from Spain and were so named because of their great ability in the field of hunting woodcock.
                                                      • There are two distinct strains of this breed – the working type and the show type. Working Cockers are bred for hunting in the shooting field, while the show strain makes for a great family pet and can often be seen on the stage at Crufts.
                                                      • Disney’s 1955 classic film Lady and the Tramp features a Cocker Spaniel as the leading “Lady”
                                                      • The royals have a Cocker Spaniel in their family – William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, adopted Lupo in 2012.
                                                      • And it’s been the breed of choice for many US presidents too, including Richard Nixon and Harry S Truman.

                                                      Important information

                                                      Key information

                                                      The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

                                                      Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

                                                      All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.

                                                        What is vetfone?

                                                        Vetfone™ is a 24/7 unlimited, free telephone or video call service that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

                                                        As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick telephone call or video call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you a trip to the vet.

                                                        Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by VetsDirect Ltd.

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