The working cocker spaniel is the number one favorite breed in the UK and sixth most popular worldwide. As a medium-sized dog, it’s suitable for keeping inside a home, and you won’t need to worry too much about it bowling over furniture or small children.
So, should you or should you not get a working cocker spaniel? Have no fear! We at The Furry Companion like to talk about pets, and we are here to help you decide!
Getting to Know the Working Cocker Spaniel
It’s worth knowing that the cocker spaniel is known as a gun dog. Don’t let the name fool you. They’re not about to use firearms or ask to be brought to the range. What it means to be a gun dog is that they’re supposed to assist a hunter when they go out to look for game animals.
But what some people might not know about the cocker spaniel is that there are, in fact, two types of cocker spaniel! There is the show cocker spaniel and the working cocker spaniel.
Breeders breed show cocker spaniels to look good; they are generally better suited to be a family pet. This article is about the working cocker spaniel and whether or not you should have one of your own.
The Working Cocker Spaniel Is a Working Dog
As the name suggests, the working cocker spaniel is best for, well, work! This breed keeps close to the spaniel’s roots as a hunting dog, and it loves running around, sniffing things, and generally investigating the world around it. If you bring it out for a walk, expect your working cocker spaniel to zoom all over the place and sniff everything!
Working cocker spaniels, in particular, are usually trained to hunt at close ranges—specifically, at shotgun ranges—with their hunter. A working cocker spaniel is a specific kind of gun dog called a flushing dog. Like pointing/setting or retrieving dogs, a flushing dog has a particular role in hunting.
As the name suggests, they “flush” birds out of their hiding spots and force them to take wing, allowing hunters an opportunity to take a shot. They also have great retrieval instincts, meaning, they will bring the downed game to the hunter or wait by the game for a command to bring it home.
These hunting instincts also mean that your furry friend is going to look for plenty—and we mean plenty—of exercise. We would recommend bringing them out for a walk for about an hour or two every day. Although we say “walk,” expect there’s going to be less peaceful strolling on a leash and more running after them as they race everywhere.
Additionally, because of the working cocker spaniel’s close relationship with humans, this also means they’re relatively easy to train! The breed is amazingly intelligent. If you’re willing to put in the work to teach them, a working cocker spaniel will do well when it comes to commands similar to hunting—playing fetch, for instance!
Be sure to train your spaniel well and early, especially while they’re puppies! Those powerful hunting instincts might make them difficult to bring out once they’re fully grown adults.
A Super Loving Fur Friend
Dogs are called man’s best friend and with good reason! Dog owners will be quick to tell you just how much love there is between a human and their dog. Working cocker spaniels are marvelously social animals and adore being around their human family. Their sociability has its ups and downs, depending on how you want your dog to be.
Spaniels love to socialize, but this might put off some people. They will be sad if you leave them alone for a long time, so you might find it difficult to live with your spaniel if you’re away at work for most of the day. And even if you can stay home most of the time, they’ll require quite a lot of interaction to keep happy.
While you might be looking for a pet to fulfill your needs, remember your needs should also match your pet’s. If you can’t afford to spend lots of time with your pet, the working cocker spaniel might not be what you seek.
“Spending one-on-one time with your dog will deepen your bond and help deter annoying, attention- seeking behaviors such as excessive barking or whining,” Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP and co-author wrote.
However, if you would like an affectionate pet, then the working cocker spaniel is for you! The moment you stand up, expect that your spaniel will run to you and follow you around. A working cocker spaniel is a friend that needs a lot of your love and will have just as much love to give back to you!
Wailani Sung, MS, PhD, DVM, DACVB says “Cuddling and petting our pets can be soothing and stress reducing for many people. It is a great way to strengthen the human animal bond. It is normal for social animals to exhibit behaviors that maintain social contact.”
Indoor or Outdoor?
As we said earlier, a working cocker spaniel isn’t that large. Even running at full tilt, it probably won’t knock around your chairs and tables. If you have a small child, your cocker spaniel won’t crash into them and knock them down.
However, as a gun dog, the working cocker spaniel is not a lap dog! They have strong hunting instincts and likely will not sit still for a long time. If they catch the scent of something new or exciting, then they’ll be out of your lap in a flash to look for the source. While they might be patient and their size is friendly for an indoor dog, that doesn’t make them purely indoor creatures. You should expect your spaniel to love playing and running around.
However, the breed is highly adaptable! As long as you can take your spaniel outdoors regularly, your new buddy will be happy living in an apartment or a dense city block. On top of that, as we said, the working cocker spaniel is an affectionate, loving, and social dog, so they will be happiest whenever they are with you.
Although it loves to run around, it’s not a dog that does well if kept in the yard. It’s a social dog, so when the daily activities are complete and the family comes together to bond, bring in your furry friend! They’ll love you all the more for it.
These qualities make them great for people who can balance their time between being indoors and outdoors. Just remember to bring them in the fun and love!
Health & Grooming
Working cocker spaniels, while bred to be working dogs, do suffer from some health conditions. They’re particularly vulnerable to hip dysplasia, a deterioration of the hip joints in dogs.
Hip dysplasia will make life painful for your dog, as the bones grind against each other. While this is a genetic issue, you can curb or even totally avoid this condition by giving your dog proper nutrition. A good diet with glucosamine and chondroitin supplements will help keep this condition at bay.
“Screening for hip dysplasia in young dogs is important for treating affected individuals as well as for making breeding recommendations for owners,” Michael Weh, DVM, DACVS points out.
As far as grooming goes, the working cocker spaniel is a long-haired breed, and it sheds. Shed hair won’t fall to the ground as it does with short-haired breeds; instead, it will tangle in the fur. We highly recommend that you groom your working cocker spaniel regularly, and even more so as a puppy. Regular grooming as a puppy allows it to get used to the grooming process at a young age so that grooming won’t be difficult in adulthood.
Regular grooming is good not only for the spaniel’s fur but also for its relationship with you! Grooming time is quality time spent with you, its owner. As a very affectionate dog, it will want plenty of that in its life.
In the end, it depends on what kind of relationship you want with your dog. As a hunting dog, it’ll want to be outside and running about, so you’ll need to consider that when deciding whether this is the right breed for you. A working cocker spaniel will love you for its entire life, and it will show it! It will want to be with you as much as possible, day in and day out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do working cocker spaniels make good pets?
Yes, working cocker spaniels are good pets. They are adaptable, gentle, lively, kind, and friendly. This breed is also perfect for first-time dog owners. Since they are initially gundogs, they tend to work. These dogs are very loyal, intelligent, and willing to please.
What’s the difference between a working and show cocker spaniel?
There are unique differences between the two breeds of a cocker spaniel. The working cocker spaniel has a flat and broad head with significantly less coat. In terms of character, this breed prefers doing physical activities rather than staying indoors. On the other hand, the show cockers are perfect as family pets. They are very affectionate towards humans with a laid-back attitude.
Do working cocker spaniels calm down?
People say that working cocker spaniels doesn’t calm down, making them challenging to take care of. Both the puppies and adult cocker spaniels seem to have the same amount of energy in them. If you are looking into getting a working cocker spaniel as a pet, be prepared for their enthusiasm.
Can cocker spaniels be left alone during the day?
Regardless of the breed, dogs should not be left alone in the house. But you can leave them on their own only for a couple of hours. Since dogs are social, they need constant company. If you are away for more than four hours, make sure that they have food and water to consume.
Do working cocker spaniels bark a lot?
Yes, cocker spaniels do bark a lot because it is their natural response to a stimulus. Expect them to bark at almost any such as phone ringing, knock on the door, or a stranger’s voice. Barking is their way to warn about a situation. Working cocker spaniels are not ideal for closed living spaces and quiet households.
Is it better to get a male or female cocker spaniel?
It depends on your preference, but female cocker spaniels are more affectionate, calm, and sensitive than the male counterpart. Male cocker spaniels are more independent by nature. However, if you plan to breed your cocker spaniels, you will need to consider the sex.
Are cocker spaniels high maintenance?
Cocker spaniels are relatively high maintenance because of their coat. It needs daily brushing, weekly baths, and trims. Even when the cocker spaniels with short trim also needs regular brushing, trimming, and bathing. Also, consider regular ear cleaning to avoid infections.
Are cocker spaniels easy to train?
Yes, cocker spaniels are easy to train because it is an intelligent breed. Owners of cocker spaniels should have regular weekly dog training and systematic obedience work for them to develop their skills fully.
A dabbler in arts martial, visual, and literary, Matthew takes interest in aesthetics in general. He responsibly keeps that separate from work, though, and is happiest behind a desk.