The English Cocker Spaniel is a happy and affectionate medium-sized dog breed with an easygoing demeanor. He’s playful, trainable, and super friendly but a little reserved around strangers and some other dogs. Also known as gundogs or bird dogs, this dog breed is confident in the field and pleasant at home. Most families admire the English Cocker due to its captivating great looks. 


Spaniels have existed for centuries as far back as the era of Shakespeare. In the 1600s, all spaniels were categorized together. The bigger ones were used for the springing game (water spaniels), while the tiny ones (land spaniels) were used for flushing out birds. 

English Cockers are classified as land spaniels and were bred to hunt gamebirds. The Spaniel Club in England was formed in 1885, and it created the breed standards for the English Cocker.

Across the pond, American breeders created the American Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was founded in 1936. The American Kennel Club recognized the English Cocker Spaniel and the American version (Cocker Spaniel) as two separate breeds.

The English Cocker is very popular in the United Kingdom and is less popular in the United States. This means the breed is truer to its roots as a hunting dog and companion. 

Physical Characteristics

The English Cocker Spaniel has a long, square muzzle. His eyes are suggestive, and his ears are long enough to reach the tip of his nose when pulled. The Cocker’s tail is docked, and he has a medium-length coat. 

Cocker’s medium-length coat is silky and can be flat or slightly way. Like the American Cocker Spaniel, this dog breed has feathering on the legs, chest and belly.  Coat colors include:

  • Blue roan
  • White with black, liver, or shades of red 
  • Solid black, liver or shades of red
  • Black and tan
  • Liver and tan

The English Cocker Spaniel is physically different from his American counterpart. He is larger and has a different body type. As a result, the English Cocker is more like the Field Spaniel and the Welsh Springer Spaniel. 


This dog breed stands at 15 to 17 inches (35 to 43cm) tall and weighs between 26 and 34 pounds (11 and 15kg).

Character & abilities

The English Cocker Spaniel has a happy temperament. He is affectionate and friendly towards people and other dogs. He is, however, reserved among strangers.

This breed is people-oriented, curious and likes to investigate. He thrives around families and gets along well with children. However, when left alone with no companionship or activity, he can become destructive. 

Though this breed doesn’t make an effective guard dog, the English Cocker is alert and will bark at noises. In addition, he is very friendly and has been known to wag his tail and lick the hands of strangers he encounters. 

Trainability & Intelligence

This English Cocker is intelligent and trainable. He makes an excellent retriever and can hunt well in rugged terrain. 

Though stubborn at times, this Spaniel can be trained to obey commands and come when called. However, to not break the dog’s spirit, training needs to be consistently gentle and stimulating. 

The English Cocker loves to learn. He excels in obedience training and performs well in obedience trials, tracking, flyball and agility. 

Housebreaking can be challenging, and crate training is recommended. Leash training is essential because the English Cocker can run off chasing small animals when outside.

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

The English Cocker Spaniel has a lot of energy and stamina. He requires daily exercise and enjoys long walks and activities like games of fetch or dog sports. 

Avoid vigorous physical activity with English Cocker puppies because their bones and joints are still developing.

This dog breed can be mischievous, especially during puppyhood. He is a chowhound that loves to eat and will get into the garbage, food or anything left out within his reach. To prevent excess weight gain, his meals should be measured into 1 or 2 cups per day divided into two meals. 


The medium-length coat needs brushing every other day and more frequently if the English Cocker Spaniel has spent time in the field. Also, if his feathering is touching the ground, it needs trimming to keep the feet tidy. 

English Cockers participating in dog shows require hand or knife stripping. Professional groomers can be hired to get the right look. 

Baths in lukewarm water once every three months can ward off diseases and infections. 

The dog’s hanging ears are prone to ear infections and require weekly cleaning with a vet-approved cleanser while checking for signs of conditions like foul smell, redness, itchiness or tenderness. 

If the English Cocker is shaking his head and scratching his ears frequently, he requires a visit to the vet to catch the infection early and start treatment. 

The teeth need to be brushed daily to prevent the buildup of tartar and bacteria. In addition, trimming and maintaining short nails will prevent the English Cocker from scratching or getting caught in upholstery.

Careful weekly exams during grooming can spot any potential health problems. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

English Cocker Spaniels are a highly adaptable dog breed and can live comfortably in an apartment as long as owners can take them out regularly for physical exercise. 


Even though English Cocker Spaniels are a generally healthy dog breed, they are susceptible to some genetic health conditions like:

  • Cataracts
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Glaucoma 
  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Renal failure
  • Familial nephropathy 
  • Patellar luxation
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Adult-onset neuropathy
  • Hearing loss
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

Every responsible breeder should have his breeding stock regularly tested for any condition that can impact this small dog breed. 

The English Cocker Spaniel has a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.


English Cockers are great companion dogs that are very people-oriented. They are eager to please and love to be close to their families. Sensitive in nature, this breed is energetic and enjoys daily walks and play, making him ideal for families that love physical activities. 

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we make it easy for you to learn about the type of dog you want to be part of your family. We answer all your questions in our small dog descriptions to help you pair up with your ideal companion. We recommend visiting your local animal rescue or a reputable breeder when you are ready to bring your small dog breed home.


3 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


2.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Energy Level

2.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


2.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Good with kids

5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


3 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Do you want to have your beloved small dog breed featured here on our site? We’d love to feature your pics – tag us over on Facebook or Instagram @allthesmalldogbreeds and we’ll be sure to give your pet a shout-out.