When many people think of a Cocker Spaniel, the image of Lady from the beloved Disney movie Lady and the Tramp comes to mind. In a lot of ways, real-life Cocker Spaniels are similar to the cartoon rendition. Their long ears are covered in wavy hair, they have dreamy eyes, and they are extremely intelligent, kind-natured, and gentle. Originally bred as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels have become one of the most beloved companion dogs in the world. They’ve even been First Dogs, as President Truman’s Cocker, Feller; and President Nixon’s Cocker, Checkers, both lived in the White House.
Cocker Spaniels are excellent playmates for children, wonderful companions for adults, and they’re obedient hunting dogs, too! If you’re thinking about adopting a Cocker Spaniel, keep reading to learn more about caring for this incredible breed.
Cocker Spaniel Food and Health
Like all dogs, Cocker Spaniels require a diet that is rich in healthy animal proteins and fats, as well as carbohydrates and fiber. Proteins help to build strong bones and can offset issues that this breed is prone to, such as elbow and hip dysplasia. Healthy fats, such as vegetable oil and cod liver oil, help to support the health of their internal organs and promote a healthy skin and a lustrous coat. They’re also important for the health of their eyes, as this breed is also prone to various conditions that affect their eyes. As high-energy dogs, Cockers need plenty of carbohydrates, and fiber aids in digestion and can help prevent digestive issues.
Keep tabs on caloric intake. Cocker puppies have more energy, and therefore require more calories on a daily basis; however, as your dog ages, he should consume fewer calories because reduced energy levels could lead to weight gain and health complications. The recommended caloric intake for an adult Cocker is 780 kcal, but always take your dog’s activity level into consideration when determining calorie content.
There are plenty of commercial dog foods that are ideal for Cockers. For puppies, some great options include this grain free small breed recipe or this protein dry dog food. For adults, consider Wilderness high protein grain free food and Primal freeze dried food. Make sure to choose foods that feature real animal proteins as the first ingredient, and stay away from animal by-products, as they can cause health issues. Also, consider foods that contain vitamins, such as Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, as they provide valuable nutrition for Cockers.
It’s important to note that Cocker Spaniels are prone to a variety of health issues, such as elbow and hip dysplasia, drooping eyelids, and retinal atrophy. These issues can affect a dog of any age and require medical care. To offset the cost of necessary treatments, investing in pet insurance is a wise idea. Pet insurance works like health insurance for humans and can save you a substantial amount of money. There are several reputable companies that offer this type of insurance including Geico, Nationwide, and Embrace.
Leashes and Collars for your Cocker Spaniel
Exercise is important for all dogs, but it’s particularly important for Cocker Spaniels. Since this breed is predisposed to various issues that can affect their musculoskeletal system, it’s important to walk them on a regular basis to maintain joint and bone health.
Instead of using a leash with your Cocker, you might want to consider using a harness. If your Cocker Spaniel pulls hard enough on the leash while being walked, a collar can lead to neck injuries, especially since these dogs are prone to musculoskeletal problems. A harness does not attach around the neck, which means no neck problems. Furthermore, they evenly distribute the weight of the dog, further reducing the risk of injuries. Plus, you’ll find that it’s easier to control your pup.
There are two types of harnesses: front- and back-attaching. For small dogs, like the Cocker, back-attaching harnesses are recommended. Make sure the harness fits your dog properly; opting for an adjustable one is a great idea, as it will ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. Also, a harness that features soft padding on the inside will provide even more comfort and protection. The material is important, too. Consider one that is made of sturdy, yet lightweight materials and that features sturdy stitching. Some great harnesses for Cocker Spaniels include the PetSafe Gentle leader head collar, this no-pull vest harness, and this Adventure Dog Harness.
For the leash, consider the personality of your dog, as well as how you will be walking with him. If you’re only going to be taking leisurely walks for exercise and he’s well trained, a leash like this leather dog leash might be a good choice for you and your pooch, as you will be able to determine the length of his lead. However, do keep in mind that retractable leashes aren’t as sturdy as standard leashes. If you’re going to participate in more intense activities or your pup isn’t well-trained, a standard leash made of leather or nylon might work better. However, keep in mind the length of the leash; if it’s too long, it might be difficult to control. Good leash options for Cockers include this solid color dog leash or this shock absorbing dog leash.
Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Cocker Spaniels
Crates can be used to safely transport your dog, for training, and to offer them a secure “den”-like environment. When choosing a crate for your Cocker, make sure you take the size of your dog into consideration. There should be enough room for the dog to stand and turn around without hitting the sides. You don’t want there to be too much room, though, as this can impede training efforts and minimize the “den”-like feeling a crate is supposed to offer. If you have a puppy, you can either purchase new crates as he grows; but a better idea is to invest in a crate that features a separating device that can be used to adjust the size, such as pets dog crate. With this device, you can easily adjust the amount of space your pup has for each age. Also, if the crate will be placed in a visible location, such as a living room, consider purchasing one that is made to resemble furniture, such as crate indoor and outdoor or metal dog crate.
For bedding, a donut-shaped bed is a great choice for a Cocker, as they offer a feeling of security. Also, consider the material; you’ll want something that hair can easily be removed from, as Cocker Spaniels tend to shed.
Cocker Spaniel Toys
Cockers have a lot of energy and they are extremely intelligent. Offering your dog toys will keep him entertained and prevent him from getting into mischief.
Since these pups are so intelligent, puzzle toys are a great choice. Treats can be hidden inside different compartments and your pup has to use his wits to figure out where it’s located. Some fun puzzle toys for Cockers include interactive treat dispensing dog, dura chew ring bone, and KONG extreme dog toy. Toys that dispense treats are also great for these dogs. You fill them up with small treats and your pup has to work to release the treats. Cocker Spaniels also enjoy playing with squeak toys.
Offering a variety of toys will keep your Cocker happy. When selecting toys, construction is an important factor to keep in mind. As mentioned, these dogs have surprisingly strong jaws and can easily tear through certain materials, such as fleece. Toys made of nylon, rubber, and robe will be able to withstand the power of those jaws.
Grooming Insights for Cocker Spaniel owners
Grooming is important for all dogs, but it’s particularly important for Cocker Spaniels because of their long ears and coats.
Make sure to comb Cocker at least once a week to prevent matting and to remove dead hair. If you use a harness with your dog, you might want to comb him more frequently. When bathing, use a gentle shampoo that’s formulated with nutrients to promote a healthy coat. Pay close attention to the ears. Flip each year over and use a cotton ball to remove any dirt and debris. You’ll want to run a comb through his hair after bathing, too.
How frequently you bathe your Cocker depends on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle. For instance, if your dog has access to a heavily wooded area where he can come into contact with burrs, you’ll need to bathe him more often.
There are tons of accessories available for Cocker Spaniels. Since they have such long coats, you might want to consider dressing your pup up with some cute dog bows or hair clips. For your own use, lint brushes that are specifically designed to remove pet hair is a wise investment.
If you live in an area that where with rough terrain, or where the temperature is extremely hot or cold, paw protectors, can prevent your pup’s feet from being injured.
With the right care, your Cocker Spaniel will live a long, healthy, and happy life.