Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your English Cocker Spaniel puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in English Cocker Spaniels, the best dog food diet for feeding English Cocker Spaniel puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

English Cocker Spaniel dog breed

English Cocker Spaniel Health Problems and Raising an English Cocker Spaniel Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in English Cocker Spaniels:

The English Cocker Spaniel Club conducted a health survey that included almost 2500 dogs. The average lifespan was reported as 12 years old – not a very long lifespan for a smallish dog.

Eye diseases are the major concern in English Cockers, especially progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can appear at 3-7 years old, and cataracts, which can appear between 1.5 and 8 years old and often progress to blindness. Fortunately, a simple DNA test is available for PRA in English Cocker Spaniels, so you can find out at any time whether your dog has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear of it.

Other eye diseases in English Cockers include cherry eye, persistent pupillary membranes, eyelash abnormalities, eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion), glaucoma, dry eye, and retinal dysplasia.

Skin diseases such as allergies (which cause itchy skin and often lead to pyoderma) and seborrhea are common in the breed, along with ear infections due to the narrow ear canals and profuse hair inside the ear canals.

Epilepsy is unfortunately common in English Cocker Spaniels, and heart disease (cardiomyopathy and patent ductus arteriosus) is becoming a concern.

Hormonal/endocrine system diseases are fairly common, especially hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, and Cushing's disease. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 17% of English Cockers have low thyroid levels.

A severe kidney disease claims the lives of many young English Cocker Spaniels.

Several blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's, factor II deficiency, and thrombocytopenia) occur in English Cockers.

The most common orthopedic diseases in English Cocker Spaniels are luxating patella (very common), hip dysplasia (less common), and intervertebral disk disease. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 5400 English Cockers and found about 6% dysplastic.

A bizarre neurological/behavioral syndrome known as Rage Syndrome can occur in English Cocker Spaniels, where an affected dog suddenly becomes violently aggressive. In many Cockers, it appears to be related to extreme dominance, where the dog believes that he is in charge of the household and somebody in the family does something that "challenges" his leadership and causes him to explode. However, other affected Cockers are good-natured and well-behaved right up until the moment they flare out of control. Some affected Cockers have abnormally low amounts of serotonin (a calming brain chemical). Whatever the cause, drugs and behavioral modification seldom work and euthanasia is often the only thing you can do.

Note that Cockers who are poorly bred, poorly socialized, or poorly trained can display dominance or aggression without it being Rage Syndrome. In these cases, behavior modification CAN often bring the dog under control. Also note that epilepsy can cause behavioral abnormalities, and since epilepsy can be controlled with medication, it's important to consider epilepsy as a possible cause whenever an English Cocker Spaniel displays sudden aggression.

Other health issues in English Cockers include autoimmune hemolytic anemia, lupus, lysosomal storage disease, deafness (inherited deafness in particolored puppies with a lot of white on their head), and liver disease.

Short toe anomaly is an odd defect where the outside toe of an English Cocker Spaniel's front foot stops growing at about 3 months old, so that the other three toes end up longer.


Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR English Cocker Spaniel?

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in English Cocker Spaniels today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find an English Cocker Spaniel puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your English Cocker Spaniel puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy English Cocker Spaniel puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your English Cocker Spaniel lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your English Cocker Spaniel
The best diet for feeding your English Cocker Spaniel is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your English Cocker Spaniel. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your English Cocker Spaniel
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your English Cocker Spaniel. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your English Cocker Spaniel puppy really need? Does your adult Cocker Spaniel need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.


Information on choosing the best vet for your English Cocker Spaniel. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your English Cocker Spaniel. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female English Cocker Spaniel.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.