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Cocker Spaniel Life Span, Temperament, Health Problems and More

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Raymond Umpa

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Cocker Spaniel Life Span

Whether you already have an adorable Cocker Spaniel, or you’re still planning to get one, at some point you’ll want to know the Cocker Spaniel life span, its common health issues, as well as the typical challenges met by pet owners of having this cute, and playful dog at home.

So, read on to find out more about this popular dog breed, including its history, physical appearance, grooming, temperament, price, and just how long Cocker Spaniels live.

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Breed at a Glance:

Size: 14 to 15 inches
Weight: 24 to 28 pounds
Energy Level: High Energy
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Breed Overview

The Cocker Spaniels are among the most popular dog breeds according to the American Kennel Club.  They are known for their huge floppy ears and doe eyes, as well as their affectionate personality. Standing at 14 to 15 inches and weighing around 24 to 28 pounds, this medium-sized dog is the smallest Spaniel breed and it’s also the smallest dog in the Sporting Group.

The English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel are the two major breeds of Cocker Spaniels. But depending on where you are right now, the distinction between the two is mostly only in names.

To distinguish it from its older English cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel is typically referred to as a Cocker Spaniel in the United States and an American Cocker Spaniel in other countries. Similarly, in the UK, the English Cocker Spaniels are only referred to as Cocker Spaniels.

History and Origin

The Spaniel is a breed type with a long history that is thought to have originated in Spain (the words “Spain” and “spaniel” are closely connected). Before the invention of the rifle, when hunting dogs were used in conjunction with nets, Spaniels have been a helper for bird hunters.

For many years, the European and British Spaniels were collectively known as just “land spaniels” and “water spaniels.” However, during the 19th century, when codified breed standards, dog exhibitions, and field trials, as well as the idea of purebred dogs in general, started to gain popularity in England, numerous Spaniels were categorized as distinct breeds.

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The Cocker, so named because they focused on woodcock, was one of them. These canines were the forerunners of the current Cocker Spaniel; they were larger than English Toy Spaniels but smaller than English Springer Spaniels.

The Cocker Spaniel split into American and English variants in America. The English was described as having a less voluminous coat, being taller, and having longer heads than their American cousins. Beginning in 1940, the English and Canadian kennel associations recognized the variants as distinct breeds, and the AKC did the same in 1946.

The Cocker Spaniel (for the American variety) and the English Cocker Spaniel (for the British type) are the breed names used by the AKC.

The Cocker Spaniel is the darling of many pet owners in the US. And it’s no accident that the affectionate and pampered star of the movie Lady of the Trump was a Cocker Spaniel.

The Cocker was recognized by the AKC in 1878, and it was the top breed registered with the AKC from the late 1930s to the 1950s. He then saw an almost 30-year decrease in popularity before regaining the top spot in the middle of the 1980s. It wasn't until 1992 that Labrador and Golden Retrievers overtook him as the most popular dog in the US.

cocker spaniel lifespan

Cocker Spaniel Life span

How long do Cocker Spaniels live? A healthy Cocker Spaniel typically lives 10 to 15 years. To be more specific, the American Cocker Spaniels have a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years, compared to 12 to 15 years for the English Cocker Spaniels.

English or American Cocker Spaniel lifespan can be impacted by a variety of conditions, including major and small health problems. Cocker Spaniels are prone to several diseases that might harm their health as a breed. It's crucial to keep an eye out for these ailments if you own a Cocker Spaniel so you can address them as soon as possible.

Uno, a Cocker Spaniel from Sherman Oaks, California, is believed to be the longest living Cocker Spaniel. He was 22 years old when he was featured in a Los Angeles Daily News article in 2010. However, there are no official records to support this.


As mentioned earlier, a healthy Cocker Spaniel's weight is around 24 to 28 pounds, and it stands anywhere between 14 to 15 inches.

The Cocker Spaniel has a large, square nose and an elegant, round head. It has long, feathery ears and a back that slopes toward the tail, giving it a regal appearance. The Cocker Spaniel's long, silky coat with feathering on the legs, chest, and bottom may be most noteworthy, though. And most often, its tail is docked.

Apart from their floppy ears, they are also known for their dark round eyes and sweet expression; no wonder they spent many years as the most popular dog breed in the US. These swift, tough gundogs have a balanced body that is sturdy and solid, and they walk with an easy gait.

A Cocker Spaniel's coat comes in a range of colors. Others are completely black, crimson, or tan, while others have two or three colors. Black and tan, black and white, or black and white with tan flecks are a few possible combinations. For display purposes, the AKC separates them into three varieties: black, parti-color, and ASCOB (which stands for Any Solid Color Other than Black).

Cocker Spaniel Grooming

Cocker Spaniels need frequent, meticulous grooming. Missed sessions are difficult to make up and may cause mats or tangles in the Cocker's coat. A metal dog comb with fine and medium tooth spacing that is of professional grade is essential.

The comb should be used with caution to remove any loose hairs, and you should always be able to see through to the skin.

Avoid pulling through snarls; instead, pluck them apart starting at the tips of the coat and then comb through. When combing your dog's ears, be careful because the skin around the edges is thin and can become perforated.

A thorough bathing with top-notch dog shampoo is necessary for the Cocker. It is essential to thoroughly rinse after using soap since soap residue might irritate the skin. Dry carefully using a blow dryer set at low heat. Learn how to properly clean and dry your dog's ear canals to prevent ear infections.

Look for any inflamed areas on the Cocker's skin during bathing, and treat them. It's important to get knowledgeable about grooming techniques and/or hire a professional groomer who enjoys and has experience with the breed.

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Personality & Temperament

The well-bred Cocker Spaniel is a gentle dog. He is warm and cuddly and enjoys taking part in family activities. Cocker Spaniels are friendly, and they can form close relationships fast. They also take pleasure in being around other people and animals.

The Cocker enjoys all forms of exercise, including vigorous walks and field hunts, and is playful, attentive, and active. He is renowned for being a sensitive dog on the inside and out. He has a “soft” personality and does not take harsh treatment very well. When he is in pain or terrified, he may growl or snap.

Common Health Issues

The Cocker Spaniel can have several health issues that, if left unchecked or untreated, could shorten its lifespan. Some of the diseases are endemic to the breed, while other factors that can affect Cocker Spaniels include insufficient screening or improper breeding, inadequate diet, insufficient activity, or any of these factors.

Eye Problems

The Cocker is susceptible to a variety of eye conditions, including cataracts, a cloudy film that forms over the eye; glaucoma, a condition in which pressure builds up inside the eyeball, and abnormalities of the eye. Progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative disease of the retinal cells that progresses to blindness, and glaucoma are among the other eye problems that can affect the Cocker.

Ear Disorders

Cocker Spaniels can develop a number of common ear conditions. These can affect the ear canal (otitis), middle or inner ear (e.g. vestibular illness), or the external ear flap (such as hematoma).

While grass seeds, parasites, allergies, or diseases might irritate the ear canal, a hematoma is a blood-filled swelling that develops in the ear flap. Otitis, or “inflammation of the ear canal,” is a disorder that can result from irritation.

Otitis can cause the dog to shake its head, flaps its ears, and scratches them with its back paws because of too much itchiness. If an allergy is the cause of the otitis, the dog will need medication for the rest of its life.

Blood Disorders

Immune-based illnesses that target the red blood cells are common in Cocker Spaniels. This may result in the abrupt onset of a condition called hemolytic anemia, which can produce a number of symptoms such as weakness and lethargy.

It is frequently impossible to pinpoint the precise cause of why this condition occurs. To stop the immune system from attacking the body's own tissues, the treatment includes a variety of diagnostic tests, blood transfusions, and ongoing medical therapy.


The pancreas is a delicate organ located between the liver and the small intestine. Pancreatitis, which is defined as “inflammation of the pancreas,” can occur in Cocker Spaniels. It happens when the pancreas's digestive enzymes begin to destroy itself.

The illness comes in mild and severe versions. The mainstays of treatment for the mild variety include long-term avoidance of extremely fatty meals and supportive care. To restore health, the severe form may need more rigorous therapy, such as IV drips and different medications.

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Heart Problems

The most vital organ in your Cocker Spaniel's body is the heart, yet it can develop various ailments that can make life more challenging for him. Although these conditions don't cause heart attacks in dogs, they can experience heart failure due to an underlying condition that affects the organ.

Dogs can acquire heart disease (e.g. Mitral Valve Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Dilated Cardiomyopathy) for a variety of causes, and as a result, there is little an owner can do to avoid it. However, feeding your dog the appropriate food, cleaning your Cocker Spaniel's teeth regularly, and giving him enough exercise may help.

Hip Dysplasia

Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to hip dysplasia, a genetic condition in which the ball and socket of the dog's hip do not fit properly, causing the bone to deteriorate and the joint to stop working. It's crucial to detect the disease as early as possible in order to control or prevent discomfort for the dog because this damage results in swelling, soreness, and arthritis.

Patellar Luxation

When a dog's kneecap shifts out of position, it experiences patellar luxation. This illness, which frequently affects both knees and may have genetic roots, can sometimes present symptoms as early as four months of age. Although patellar luxation may not be preventable, weight management and early intervention can help lessen the severity of the illness.

Skin Problems

Cocker Spaniels are one of the breeds most frequently afflicted by skin disorders and allergies as a result of their environment. Seborrhea and dermatitis, two conditions that can cause an unpleasant odor and itchy, oily, flaky skin, are more common in them.

Canine Epilepsy

Dogs with epilepsy experience sudden, repeated bouts of sensory disruption, unconsciousness, or convulsions that are linked to aberrant electrical activity in the brain. If epilepsy is not adequately managed, the ensuing seizures can be dangerous for your dog.

Bloat or Gastric Torsion

Canine bloat, also known as gastric torsion, is a dangerous gastrointestinal ailment that, if left untreated, can be fatal. In most cases, excessive amounts of gas, food, or fluid cause the stomach to swell, distend, and become exceedingly hard. Twisting between the esophagus and the upper intestine can occasionally occur as the stomach expands.

In addition to the aforementioned conditions, Cocker Spaniels can also experience other health concerns such as ectropion, urinary stones, hypothyroidism, seborrhea, phosphofructokinase deficiency, “cherry eye,” liver disease, lip fold dermatitis, and allergies. These conditions, like more serious health issues, can be treated by your veterinarian, allowing your Cocker Spaniel to continue living a long and happy life for the rest of his life.

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How to Care For Cocker Spaniels

Exercise & Living Conditions

The Cocker Spaniel is a sporting breed and should keep its muscles toned, but it is not a breed that requires a lot of exercises to get rid of its excess energy. Cockers frequently take pleasure in walking with their owners or retrieving a ball or other toy as a way to exercise.

Walking is a fantastic kind of exercise for them because they like socializing with their friends and family so much. If the Cocker has a canine friend, they can play together to get some exercise. These are methods you can use to promote exercise because this active and fun-loving dog likes to play and loves to please people.

Because of his small size, the Cocker Spaniel is well-suited to living in an apartment or condo, though, of course, he will also enjoy playing in a yard or sharing a larger house with his owners and other household pets. Having said this, the Cocker Spaniel needs regular action even if he doesn't require a lot of areas to wander. He can stay healthy and happy by playing in the yard every day and taking a vigorous 30-minute stroll.

Diet & Nutrition

The optimum diet might vary depending on your dog and his specific needs. The secret is to read food labels carefully to identify high-quality ingredients. If the Cocker has any special needs or sensitivities, you might ask your veterinarian for help.

Select a nutritious food and give it a fair chance to impress you. Cocker food trials have traditionally been successful when based on chicken and rice, but take into account each individual's sensitivity levels, preferences, and nutritional requirements. Also, you should maintain your dog's healthy weight, but watch out for overeating to prevent obesity.


The good news is that the Cocker Spaniel breed generally gets along well with people, which is helpful when training them. In general, they are sensitive and receptive to the disapproving tone in their owner's voice, as well as to correction since they want to be “good” and they love to please their owners.

Harsh methods of discipline are typically unnecessary and ineffective with the Cocker. It is a good idea to try out the various activities and events to discover which ones your particular Cocker prefers and then continue with training if they do. The breed enjoys the challenge of performance activities. It is advised to take puppy training sessions as well as early socializing. Food rewards, play, and praise all work well to motivate Cockers.

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Buyer’s Guide

What to Look For

Being a responsible pet owner requires that you understand what you're getting into when purchasing, or adopting a Cocker Spaniel puppy. Prepare yourself for a lively and sociable addition to your family, whether you adopt or find a trustworthy breeder.

When finding a breeder, you should be mindful that a responsible breeder can provide documentation of the sire's and dam's health examinations, such as hip, patella, and eye exams. Breeders frequently have years' worth of information about tests conducted in these health areas.

Also, the purchase of a Cocker Spaniel puppy with its tail docked should be avoided at all costs, since there are severe consequences associated with doing this practice without the right authorization.

Due to the popularity of this breed, the breeder's reputation should be thoroughly investigated to make sure they have correctly bred their puppies and are not using shortcuts to make a quick profit.


If you are planning to purchase a Cocker Spaniel puppy from a breeder, you can expect to spend between $800 and $2000. Puppies with pedigrees can cost up to $3000. Depending on the dog's age, the cost to adopt a Cocker from a rescue might be anywhere from $200 and $350. Cocker puppies are frequently offered for as little as $300 in classified advertising.


Cocker Spaniels make excellent family pets, and because of their small size, they can live in apartments as long as they get lots of exercises. As a pet parent, you are expected to bring enthusiasm while engaging with this athletic breed because the Cocker appreciates lively companions and dog sports. 

While Cockers are prone to different health problems, there are also numerous things you can do to give your Cocker Spaniel a healthier life so that you can have him by your side for a very long time.

Aside from having regular check-ups at the vet and providing regular exercise and mental stimulation to your dog, you should also give him high-quality dog food, always brush his teeth, never spank or hit him, and keep chemicals away from your Cocker. You should also keep stress at a minimum, and avoid free feeding your dog to prevent him from being too fat.

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