Skip to Content

Cocker Spaniel: Affectionate but Demanding, High Grooming Needs Make This Dog Breed High Maintenance (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

are cocker spaniels high maintenanceYou have your heart set on bringing a Cocker Spaniel home. After all, who can resist those big, round eyes?

But before you make that commitment, there are a few things you need to know.

Cocker Spaniels are high-maintenance dogs. They need a lot of grooming, exercise, and attention.

If you’re not sure, read this article to learn more about the Cocker Spaniel’s grooming needs, health issues, and exercise requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • Require daily brushing and professional grooming every 6-8 weeks to prevent mats, tangles, and excessive shedding
  • Prone to ear infections and eye issues that need regular veterinary monitoring and treatment
  • Need 30-60 minutes of daily activity and playtime for physical and mental stimulation
  • Annual costs around $1,500 for food, supplies, vet care plus $60-$80 every 6-8 weeks for grooming

Cocker Spaniel Grooming Needs

Cocker Spaniel Grooming Needs
When it comes to grooming needs, cocker spaniels are considered high maintenance.

Their long, silky coats require daily brushing to prevent painful mats and tangles.

Frequent bathing is also necessary to keep their hair and skin clean and healthy.

Brushing Requirements

Because of its long, silky coat, you’ll need to brush your cocker spaniel at least twice a week to prevent painful matting.

Regular brushing helps remove loose hairs and prevents tangles from forming knots in the feathering.

Use a slicker brush first to detangle and fluff up the coat, then follow with a comb to catch any remaining mats.

Check the feathering behind the ears, legs, belly, and tail carefully when brushing – these areas tend to mat more easily.

Consistent brushing makes grooming faster and less stressful for both you and your dog.

It also helps limit shedding around your home.

Bathing Requirements

You’ll need to bathe your cocker spaniel every 2-3 months using a mild shampoo made for dogs.

Regular bathing helps remove dirt, debris, and loose hair from their silky coat.

Ensure you thoroughly rinse all shampoo out after washing to prevent skin irritation.

Be prepared for wet dog shakes!

Dry your cocker completely with a low-heat blow dryer to avoid matting.

Schedule a full spa day with a professional groomer every 6-8 weeks for clipping, trims, nail grinding, and anal gland expression.

Consistent coat care reduces shedding and keeps your cocker looking dapper while maintaining the grooming challenges of this high maintenance breed.

Cocker Spaniel Health Issues

Cocker Spaniel Health Issues
Due to their floppy ears and long hair, Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections and eye issues.

Problems like chronic otitis and progressive retinal atrophy impact their comfort and quality of life.

Monitoring your Cocker’s ears and eyes, as well as regular veterinary visits, can help minimize these breed-related conditions.

Ear Infections

Due to their long, floppy ears, you’re likely to deal with chronic ear infections in your cocker spaniel.

Preventive care like regular ear cleanings, plucking hair from the ear canal, and keeping ears dry after baths or swimming can help minimize ear infections.

Check their ears weekly for redness or odor, which may indicate infection. If you notice signs of infection, contact your veterinarian right away for medication.

Keeping ears trimmed and hair around ears neatly groomed makes cleaning easier.

Provide chew toys to discourage scratching irritated ears.

Diet and allergies can also contribute to ear issues, so discuss nutritional considerations with your vet.

Eye Issues

Although you’ll want to keep a close eye on your cocker spaniel’s peepers, the breed is prone to several common eye problems including glaucoma, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy.

Monitoring their vision and getting regular checkups can help catch issues early.

As a responsible pet owner, take preventative measures by having your vet evaluate your pup’s eyes annually.

If they detect early signs of disease, treatment plans can help manage symptoms before vision loss occurs.

With attentive care and advice from your veterinarian, you can keep your happy cocker’s eyes healthy.

Cocker Spaniel Exercise Needs

Cocker Spaniel Exercise Needs
With all these health issues to manage, you’ll still need to ensure your cocker spaniel gets adequate exercise.

Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of activity per day to keep them fit and prevent obesity.

Adjust intensity and duration based on their age, health status, and energy level.

Prioritize activities they enjoy, as mental stimulation is just as important.

Outdoor activities like walks, hikes, and games of fetch allow them to indulge their hunting instincts in a safe environment.

Indoor play like hide-and-seek and trick training provides mental exercise.

These playful dogs thrive when engaged in canine sports like agility, rally, and nose work.

And don’t forget the power of praise and play for bonding.

American and English cocker spaniels have high grooming needs but moderate exercise requirements, so adjust based on health while providing both physical and mental stimulation.

Cocker Spaniel Training Difficulty

Cocker Spaniel Training Difficulty
How challenging is it to train a Cocker Spaniel, given their eager-to-please personality but potential stubbornness?

You’d likely find them moderately easy to train with positive reinforcement techniques, though their excitability can test your patience at times.

  • Intelligence and eagerness to please makes training fairly straightforward.
  • Excitable nature requires extra patience during training sessions.
  • Early and consistent socialization curbs tendency toward aggression.
  • Use treats, toys, and praise as positive reinforcements.
  • Leash training assists with pulling and poor recall.

While their energetic and sometimes stubborn personality can pose obedience struggles, Cocker Spaniels respond very well overall to positive reinforcement training.

Setting clear expectations, remaining patient, socializing early and often, and rewarding good behavior with treats, toys, and praise facilitates progress.

The key is consistency using positive methods rather than punishment.

Their moderate training difficulty makes them a great dog for first-time owners.

Cocker Spaniel Barking Tendencies

Cocker Spaniel Barking Tendencies
Leaving training difficulties behind, let’s move on to discussing another potential issue with Cocker Spaniels – their tendency to bark.

As affectionate and people-oriented pets, Cocker Spaniels can be prone to attention-seeking and boredom barking when left alone. Their demands for companionship mean separation often triggers loud vocalizations.

Furthermore, their alert nature makes them quick to sound the alarm at any strange sight or sound.

Teaching basic obedience cues like quiet can help them learn volume control. Providing interactive toys when you can’t directly engage with your pet helps too.

Properly meeting the breed’s needs for activity and belonging will limit unnecessary barking.

So if you find the noise level climbing with a restless, lonely, or stimulated Cocker, try more playtime and training before blaming the breed’s fundamental temperament.

Meeting their needs for attention and occupation curtails negative barking tendencies.

Costs of Owning a Cocker Spaniel

Costs of Owning a Cocker Spaniel
You’re looking at around $1,500 annually for food, supplies, veterinary care, and grooming to properly care for your Cocker Spaniel.

Being a high-maintenance breed, Cocker Spaniels require regular grooming, which can cost $60-$80 every 6-8 weeks.

Additional expenses include:

  • High-quality dog food and treats ($500-800 per year)
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives ($250 per year)
  • Annual veterinary exams, vaccines, and medications ($200-300 per year)

To keep your Cocker Spaniel mentally and physically fit, factor in:

  • Periodic training classes or private sessions ($150+ per course)
  • Interactive toys ($50 per year)
  • Admission fees for outdoor adventures like hiking and swimming ($100+ per year)

While the upfront and recurring expenses can seem daunting, the joy of caring for this affectionate yet demanding breed makes it worthwhile for the right owner.

Maintaining their skin, coat, ears, and eyes properly minimizes painful infections that could result from neglect.

Time Commitment for a Cocker Spaniel

Time Commitment for a Cocker Spaniel
Although owning a Cocker Spaniel can get expensive with grooming and veterinary costs, you’ll need to spend a good amount of time with them daily.

These affectionate dogs thrive on human interaction and play. If you don’t have at least an hour a day for walks, training, grooming, and snuggle time, a Cocker may not be the right pet for your lifestyle.

Cocker Spaniels crave bonding and attention from their owners. They need at least an hour a day of focused social interaction through activities like walks, play time, training sessions, and cuddling.

Without sufficient human contact and mental stimulation, Cockers can become anxious or destructive.

Given their grooming requirements and clingy personality, Cockers do demand a serious daily time investment compared to other breeds.

But for owners able to dedicate over an hour a day to a devoted companion, a Cocker can be a loving addition to the family.

Cocker Spaniel Separation Anxiety

Cocker Spaniel Separation Anxiety
When you’re away, your Cocker Spaniel may whine, bark, or engage in destructive behaviors due to their tendency towards separation anxiety.

They may urinate, defecate, chew objects, or bark while you’re gone.

Separation anxiety can result from a lack of proper crate training, anxiety, or poor socialization.

Strategies like providing puzzle toys, adequate exercise beforehand, music, and monitored separation can help ease their distress.

Cocker Spaniels prone to separation distress benefit greatly from incremental training to tolerate being left alone.

Using behavioral techniques, enrichment activities, and professional guidance, most dogs can learn to become more independent.

However, their intrinsically social nature means they always prefer having company.

Consistency, patience, and meeting their needs for stimulation are key to minimizing anxious behaviors when you must leave your loving Cocker Spaniel behind.

Finding a Reputable Cocker Spaniel Breeder

Finding a Reputable Cocker Spaniel Breeder
How can you make sure that the Cocker Spaniel breeder you’re considering is reputable and responsible?

After dealing with your pup’s separation anxiety, it’s crucial to find an ethical breeder who screens for health and temperament issues.

Look for breeders who test for common genetic diseases like progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism. Responsible breeders should happily provide you with documentation of these health screens.

Additionally, they should allow you to meet both parent dogs and see evidence of their sweet, even dispositions.

An ethical Cocker Spaniel breeder focuses on bettering the breed rather than profits.

They require spay/neuter contracts for companion puppies and take back dogs they’ve bred if the owner can no longer care for them.

Finding a breeder invested in their pups’ welfare throughout life ensures you get a physically and mentally healthy Cocker pal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How destructive can Cocker Spaniels be if bored or alone for long periods?

Cocker spaniels can become quite destructive if left alone for long periods without stimulation.

Out of boredom or separation anxiety, they may:

  • Chew household items
  • Bark excessively
  • Have accidents

Providing plenty of toys and exercise can help prevent this behavior.

How well do Cocker Spaniels get along with other pets like cats or small animals?

Cocker Spaniels’ friendliness extends to other pets.

They often coexist peacefully with cats and small animals, making them great additions to multi-pet households.

What are common personality traits of the Cocker Spaniel breed?

Cocker Spaniels are typically happy, enthusiastic dogs.

They love being around people and get very attached to their families.

Cockers need lots of attention and don’t like being left alone for long periods.

Without proper socialization and training, they may become timid or nervous around strangers.

Cockers are smart and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods.

What size home or yard is best suited for a Cocker Spaniel?

A medium-sized home with a securely fenced yard is ideal for a Cocker Spaniel.

Their moderate exercise needs don’t require extensive space, but access to a yard allows room to play and relieve themselves.

Inside, they’ll happily curl up on the sofa or their dog bed when it’s time to relax.

Overall, Cockers are very adaptable.

How loud is the bark of a Cocker Spaniel?

The Cocker Spaniel has a loud, frequent bark that can be piercing at times.

Though eager to please, their vocal nature requires dedicated training from an early age to curb excessive barking.

Consistency in positive reinforcement helps diminish their tendency to bark while building better behavior.


Are cocker spaniels high maintenance?

Well, with their extensive grooming requirements, inclination towards health issues, need for regular exercise, tendency to be challenging to train and bark, and the expenses and time commitment involved, owning one of these dogs certainly won’t be a walk in the park.

But if you have the dedication and resources to properly care for a cocker spaniel, the unwavering affection of these charming pups makes them worth the effort for the right owner.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.