English Cocker Spaniel dog breed

Buying or Adopting an English Cocker Spaniel

By Michele Welton

Is a DOG really the right pet for you?

I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.

Pros AND Cons of Owning a Dog

Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?

Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:

The Truth About Purebred Dogs

The Truth About Crossbred Dogs

The Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs

Is an English Cocker Spaniel the right breed for you?

English Cocker Spaniels: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

English Cocker Spaniel Health Problems

Are YOU right for an English Cocker Spaniel?

Can you provide what this breed needs?

  • Someone home most of the day
  • Fenced yard (not an electronic/underground fence)
  • Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your English Cocker Spaniel stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
  • "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, flyball, field trials); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Musical Toys and Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
  • Brushing – a lot
  • Trimming/clipping – every few months
  • An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
  • A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
  • An owner with enough money to treat the health problems English Cocker Spaniels are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
  • An owner who is okay with heavy shedding
  • Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your English Cocker Spaniel to lots of people and other animals
  • Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your English Cocker Spaniel, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say

Should you get a male or female English Cocker Spaniel?

Symbols for male and female Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?

Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?

Girl hugging a dog Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new English Cocker Spaniel be?

Where can you buy or adopt an English Cocker Spaniel?

English Cocker Spaniels are pretty common in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, English Cocker Spaniels rank 56th. Their cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel, is even more common, ranking 29th.

Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
English Cocker Spaniels are available from Dog Rescue groups. English Cockers may be turned over to Rescue because they shed too much, or need more grooming, more exercise, or more companionship than the owner can provide. There may be barking issues. You would need to provide these dogs with the exercise, training, and socialization they require.

Other Cockers are given up simply because of changed family circumstances, and these dogs may have no behavior problems at all.

Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
English Cocker Spaniels are rarely found here, but it's possible. An English Cocker could be there, but not be recognized by shelter personnel, so might be mislabeled as an "American Cocker" or just simply "Cocker Spaniel".

Cocker rescue groups do keep their eyes peeled on shelters and humane societies across the country, and if an English Cocker Spaniel turns up at a shelter, the rescue group does try to move the dog into their rescue network.

Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy an English Cocker Spaniel from a show breeder, who breeds English Cockers to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring.

Or you can buy an English Cocker Spaniel from a performance breeder, who emphasizes an energetic temperament and strong working drives for hunting.

You can also buy an English Cocker Spaniel from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.

Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of an English Cocker Spaniel puppy should have:

  • a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
  • a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal knees

Also, at least ONE PARENT of an English Cocker Spaniel puppy should have:

  • a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a severe hereditary eye disease called prcd-PRA.

If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your English Cocker Spaniel ends up with cataracts and hip dysplasia.

Puppy in a pet shop window Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
English Cockers are sometimes found in pet shops, though much less commonly than their American cousins. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!

Related Articles

Girl holding up a puppy and looking at him How To Choose a Good English Cocker Spaniel Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of English Cocker Spaniel puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.

Pedigree parchment AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered English Cocker Spaniel puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book cover My puppy training book is Respect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old, this highly-acclaimed training program is based on respect. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all great family dogs need to know.

If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.

book cover Do the 11 Things in my dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, and your dog will live a longer, healthier life and seldom need to visit the vet.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy family companion.