With a wagging tail and sparkling eyes, the Cocker Spaniel is known for his merry and exuberant personality. One of America's all-time favorite family dogs, the Cocker started life in Europe as a hunter.


In the 1300s various spaniels were used to find and then flush birds into nets. With time, they became specialized for hunting different types of birds. Those that hunted the woodcock were the smallest of them and were called Cocker Spaniels.

Cockers came to America very early. But Americans preferred a slightly different look for their Cockers, and they became smaller, longer-legged, longer-haired and rounder-headed than the original English Cockers. Cockers were such popular show dogs they had to split them up by color, so there are three official varieties: Black, ASCOB (which stands for Any Solid Color Other than Black), and Particolor.

Cockers were the most popular breed in America from 1936 to 1952, and from 1983 to 1990, and have shared the White House with three different presidents. But Cockers are not cocky dogs; they don't care for fame and fortune, as long as they have toys, fun and games.

Health and Upkeep

Some Cockers tend to overeat and pack on the pounds. You may need to ration his food, and very likely, feed a low calorie diet. When dieting a dog, you must make sure he gets enough vitamins. We suggest supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, probiotics and, if the coat is dry, a fatty-acid supplement.

Cockers are prone to ear problems. They tend to have a narrow ear canal, higher than normal sebum (ear wax) production, and a hanging ear with thick hair growing around the base, occluding air circulation. These factors combine to provide a warm moist environment perfect for yeast and bacterial infections to thrive. To increase air circulation you can shave the hair at the entrance to the ear canal, or you can fold the ears back so the canals are exposed and hold them in place by slipping a length of a nylon stocking around the dog's neck and over the ears. Apply a drying ear cleanser after swimming or any time the ears start to accumulate dark secretions. Some ear wax is healthy; a lot is not. If you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal. If your Cocker's ears are painful, don't put any cleansers or medications in the ear until first seeing your veterinarian, as the ear drum could be ruptured.

Brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a medium-duty dog nail clipper.

Cockers hate to slow down for anything, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, make it tough to keep going at full intensity. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.