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Cocker Spaniel - breed information and advice

Cocker Spaniels are very happy dogs, always keen to learn and please their owners, which makes them easy to train. Their flat, silky coats come in a variety of colours: black, red, orange or brown, or a mix of any of these. They are very active dogs and love to swim.

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Breed information


Size: Medium

Coat: Needs daily grooming and regular trips to professional groomers

Exercise: Up to an hour a day for adult dogs

Life span: 12+ years

Breed group: Gundogs were bred to flush out, locate or retrieve game shot down by hunters. They are usually highly trainable, keen to please and have a balanced, pleasant temperament.

Click on the hotspots illnesses seen in a Cocker Spaniel

Eye conditions

Eye disorders are very common in dogs. Dry eye, for example, occurs when a dog isn’t producing sufficient tears, and results in a chronic inflammation of the surface structures of the eye. Another common, painful eye irritation is corneal ulceration, which happens when the surface of the cornea is grazed as a result of scratches from other animals or vegetation, or because of foreign material in the eye, chemicals, heat or smoke, or infection. Treatment depends on the type and severity of eye problem and may be required for life to keep the dog’s vision in good health. Corneal ulcers, for example, can be treated using eye drops and sometimes surgery.


In our experience, Cocker Spaniels are twice as likely to need treatment for eye disorders than all dogs we insure

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Ear conditions

Dogs are susceptible to various common ear diseases. These can affect the external ear flap (such as haematoma), the middle/inner ear (vestibular disease, for example) or the ear canal (otitis). A haematoma is a blood-filled swelling that occurs in the ear flap, while the ear canal can become irritated by grass seeds, parasites, allergies or infections. Irritation can lead to a condition called otitis, which simply means ‘inflammation of the ear canal’. It causes an intense itch, leading the dog to shake its head, flap its ears and scratch them using its back paws. If the otitis is due to an allergy, treatment is required for the lifetime of the dog.


Otitis is the most common illness we see in Cocker Spaniels

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Slipped discs

Like several other breeds, Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to slipped discs, also known as ‘intervertebral disc disease’. This occurs when the discs between the vertebrae (backbones) become damaged and brittle with age or general wear and tear. This makes the discs prone to rupturing, moving (‘slipping’) and pressing against the spinal cord itself. Treatment depends on the cause and location of the problem but may include medication, rest and possibly even surgery to help the dog live a comfortable life.


We paid £3,991 to treat Mungo the Cocker Spaniel for disc problems in 2016

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Heart disease

Heart disease in dogs is classified as either congenital heart disease (which means ʻborn with itʼ) or acquired heart disease (which means the disease develops later in life). Both of these defects can lead to a state called ʻheart failureʼ, wherein the heart struggles to pump blood around the body. Cocker Spaniels are particularly prone to a disease of the heart muscle known as cardiomyopathy, which often leads to heart failure. Early diagnosis of heart problems is key, because if they progress to the ʻheart failureʼ stage, treatment will then be needed for the rest of the dogʼs life.


We paid £2,965 to treat Molly the Cocker Spaniel for heart disorders in 2016

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The pancreas is a fragile organ that lies between the liver and the small intestine. Cocker Spaniels can be prone to a condition called pancreatitis, which means ‘inflammation of the pancreas’. It occurs when the digestive enzymes within the pancreas start attacking it. There are mild and severe forms of the condition. Treatment for the mild form revolves around supportive care and avoiding highly fatty foods in the longer term. The severe form can require more intensive treatment, such as IV drips and various medicines, to restore good health.


In our experience, pancreatitis is the most common gastrointestinal problem in Cocker Spaniels

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