- Up to 1 hour per day
- Size of home
- Small house
- Every day
- Coat length
- Over 10 years
- Vulnerable native breed
- Town or country
- Size of garden
- Small/ medium garden
The breed's name comes from its original function, as he was used to hunt woodcock. The breed was not recognised as a separate variety until 1893 and until that time all the spaniels, collectively known as Land Spaniels, were bred together and later classified depending on size and colour. They were selectively bred for suitability for their work and for the terrain. It was a requirement that a Cocker Spaniel should simply be under 25 lbs in weight. Whilst blacks dominated the rings in the early shows, Welsh Springer outcross was used to establish parti-coloured lines.
The Cocker Spaniel earns the epithet 'the merry cocker' for his ever-wagging tail denoting his happy temperament. In the early 20th century the breed was at its height of popularity and it remains hugely popular as a family pet.
Images for this breed
The Gundog breed group
Dogs that were originally trained to find live game and/or to retrieve game that had been shot and wounded. This group is divided into four categories - Retrievers, Spaniels, Hunt/Point/Retrieve, Pointers and Setters - although many of the breeds are capable of doing the same work as the other sub-groups. They make good companions, their temperament making them ideal all-round family dogs.
Breed standard colours
Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.
Breed standard colours in this breed include:
- Black & Tan
- Black & White
- Black & White Ticked
- Black White & Tan
- Blue Roan
- Blue Roan & Tan
- Chocolate & Tan
- Chocolate & White
- Chocolate Roan
- Chocolate Roan & Tan
- Chocolate White & Tan
- Lemon & White
- Lemon Roan
- Liver & Tan
- Liver & White
- Liver & White Ticked
- Liver Roan
- Liver Roan & Tan
- Liver White & Tan
- Orange & White
- Orange & White Ticked
- Orange Roan
Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour, it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.
Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog. Health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.
Non-breed-standard colours in this breed include:
- (NBS) Sable
- (NBS) Black Sable
- (NBS) Blue Roan Sable
- (NBS) Chocolate Sable
- (NBS) Chocolate Sable Roan
- (NBS) Dark Sable
- (NBS) Gold Sable
- (NBS) Red Sable
- (NBS) Sable Roan
'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed-standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registration process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.
More about health
Priority health schemes and tests
The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.
- Eye screening scheme (BVA/KC/ISDS)
- DNA test - prcd-PRA (part of The Kennel Club’s DNA Testing Services* - see below) (find a list of tested dogs or find a list of dogs tested with the prcd-PRA linkage test that is no longer available)
- DNA test - FN (part of The Kennel Club’s DNA Testing Services* - see below) (find a list of tested dogs)
- DNA test - AMS (part of The Kennel Club’s DNA Testing Services* - see below) (find a list of tested dogs)
- Eye testing - PLA (Gonioscopy) (BVA/KC/ISDS)
Important health schemes and tests
We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following (or equivalent) schemes, tests and advice.
- DNA test - AON (find a list of tested dogs)
- Hip dysplasia screening scheme (BVA/KC)
- Check inbreeding calculators
*The Kennel Club’s DNA Testing Services - simple to use and easy to organise all-in-one DNA tests
The DNA tests listed above marked with an * are included in our DNA Testing Services. This includes:
- AMS (Acral mutilation syndrome)
- FN (Familial nephropathy) (partner lab)
- prcd-PRA (Progressive retinal atrophy)
- DNA profile (SNP ISAG 2020)
Kennel Club Assured breeders and Kennel Club Accredited Instructors receive a 10% discount.
Find out more about our DNA Testing Services.
Find out about a particular dog's results
Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.
You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.
Have any questions about health in your breed?
If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.
Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.
To contact your breed health co-ordinator please email
The Breed Health and Conservation Plans
Our breed health and conservation plans (BHCPs) use evidence and data to help us understand the health issues found in each pedigree dog breed. These plans help breeders and owners identify health and welfare problems and use information, health tests and health schemes to avoid passing on those problems to future puppies. They also support and provide breeders with tools and specialist expertise to help manage genetic diversity, understand the impacts of close breeding, and find the best ways to preserve the population of their breed.
Working together for the breed
We’ve worked with breed clubs and breed representatives to gather all available evidence to help us determine the priority concerns for the breed and decide how we can work together to manage and reduce these problems.
The current key priorities for the breed are:
- Immune mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA)
- Thyroid conditions
How we plan to make improvements
We’ve agreed the following list of actions with the breed clubs to improve the health of the breed. Both parties are committed to working on these areas and will review these on a regular basis to ensure the actions remain focussed and relevant to the breed’s health.
Breed Club actions include:
- The Health Committee to consider appointing a member to represent the working population of the breed – COMPLETE (this action was completed in 2019)
- The breed clubs and the Kennel Club to continue to monitor any research with regard to the breed – IN PROGRESS
Our actions include:
- To keep the breed updated on any progress made with the spinal scheme – IN PROGRESS (We work with a group of specialists that form a neurology development group, who are looking at the feasibility of expanding the Dachshund IVDD scheme to other breeds. As well as this, the Kennel Club Genetics Centre has recently run an IVDD survey for Cocker Spaniel breeds to analyse the prevalence and possible influencing factors within the population)
- To investigate whether any population analysis can be undertaken on the working and show populations individually – IN PROGRESS (We are revising every breed’s population analysis throughout 2023, and will be releasing the findings from these once available)
- To share the findings of the Roslin Institute’s population analysis study
- To raise the feasibility of the Cocker Spaniel being involved in any thyroid research at the Royal Veterinary College – COMPLETE (this action was completed in 2019. Unfortunately at the time the Royal Veterinary College were unable to undertake a thyroid specific study, but have recently produced a breed-specific VetCompass paper for the Cocker Spaniel)
The full evidence base is available at the discretion of the breed clubs, however if you would like to seek access to the full report, please contact our health team here.Health (The Kennel Club)
How do I use this information?
Breeders should be mindful of the top priorities in their breed and ensure they are working to reduce and eliminate the presence of these diseases when choosing to breed their dogs.
Puppy buyers should also be aware of these issues and be sure to ask their breeder how they are contributing towards the above actions, and whether any of these problems have been seen in their breeding lines.
Currently no points of concern specific to this breed have been identified for special attention by judges, other than those covered routinely by The Kennel Club's breed standard.
There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.
More about breeding
There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.
Need to find out more about a breed?
Use our Find a Club service where you can locate breed clubs that can offer support and advice.
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