Pros & Cons of Cocker Spaniels

by Kimberly DeCosta
Cocker spaniels have beautiful coats that require routine attention.

Cocker spaniels have beautiful coats that require routine attention.

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The cocker spaniel's origins date back to the 14th century. The smallest member of the American Kennel Club's sporting group, the cocker is an effective hunting dog, expert at flushing game and occasionally retrieving from water. Categorized as a land spaniel, the dog gets the “cocker” part of his name from his woodcock flushing prowess. While the cocker spaniel has roots in hunting and sport, he has evolved into a popular family pet due to his amiable nature.

Exercise Required

Cocker spaniels are a jolly breed, with an easygoing demeanor, and a friendly and loyal attitude. They are dedicated to their human family and prefer to be in the company of those they love. The downside to this is that cockers tend to get separation anxiety if they are left alone for extended periods and can exhibit destructive behavior as a result. Cockers need owner with plenty of time to dedicate to them. Such owners will have merry, playful dogs as constant and faithful companions.

Training's a Cinch

The cocker's willingness to please her owner makes training her easier than training an aloof breed. Due to the dog's pleasant nature, training a cocker with gentle cues and voice commands will be much more effective than intimidating demands or rough handling. Work with your cocker at least once every day to progress in her training. In time, she can become a polite and well-mannered dog who is happy to do what you ask of her.

Health Issues Exist

Cocker spaniels are predisposed to a number of health issues; consider them before choosing this breed. Cockers are prone to skin problems such as atopic dermatitis. This condition results in excessive scratching under the ears, belly and legs of affected specimens. Dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease, is reversible only if caught early on and before symptoms, such as weakness or inability to exercise, occur. Cockers can contract autoimmune hemolytic anemia; females are the most affected. Symptoms include pale mucous membranes or lethargy; treatment includes medication such as steroids. If you have any health concerns about your cocker spaniel, contact your veterinarian.

Grooming Takes Commitment

Cocker spaniels tend to grow an immense amount of fur, so grooming is a necessity to avoid mats and tangles. If you choose to groom your cocker yourself, you will need a slicker brush and a pair of clippers suitable for dog grooming. You may opt to hire a professional groomer who will ensure your dog will stay free of snarls. Even if you have your dog groomed by a professional, you will have to maintain her coat with routine brushing. Because of a cocker's rapid fur growth, people with allergies to dogs should consider a breed other than the cocker.

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