Grooming cocker spaniels can be a challenge, given their rich, luxurious coat combined with their active nature and sense of adventure. Keeping your dog’s coat clean and free of debris is essential to his overall health, as it can prevent skin irritation and infection. Begin grooming your cocker when he is a puppy so he becomes accustomed to the routine. Grooming your cocker spaniel not only benefits his health and appearance, it also strengthens the bond you have with your canine.
Bathe your cocker spaniel when needed. A cocker only needs bathing every three months, unless he accumulates dirt from outdoor activity. Lather your cocker with a shampoo designed for dogs, being careful not to get shampoo in your cocker's eyes, mouth or ear canal. Rinse him thoroughly and dry him with a fresh, clean towel.
Brush your cocker spaniel's coat to untangle any snarls or mats. Sweep a pin brush over your cocker's entire coat. A pin brush reaches through the coat down to the skin, distributing essential oils. Use a slicker brush on sensitive areas, such around his ears and under his tail. Brush your cocker weekly between baths to keep tangles and mats under control, as well as to remove any dirt caught in his coat.
Clip your cocker's body in a sporting clip to maintain the breed standard, if desired. Clip along his back in the direction of the hair growth with a pair of clippers with a No. 10 blade. Clip along his sides and chest until the hair appears to grow down toward the ground and stop there. If you prefer a full shave-down for easier grooming maintenance, clip his entire body, including his legs and belly. A shave-down is not show standard but is perfectly acceptable for a companion cocker spaniel. If you prefer a shave-down, be careful clipping around the paws and ears.
Trim or clip your cocker's head and ears, if desired. This adds shape and balance to your dog's appearance. Clip the muzzle and jaw, or use thinning shears if you have an unsteady hand. Clip away from the eyes and toward the mouth to avoid injury. Allow the hair on top of the head to grow, and keep it neat by occasionally trimming excess fur with thinning shears. Clip a small amount at a time, then stand back and inspect your work to ensure you don't trim too much fur.
Clean your cocker's ears to prevent infection, common in the breed due to its large earflap, which prevents air circulation. Inspect his inner ears; they should be pink with no signs of discharge. Apply a small amount of ear cleaning solution to a clean cotton swab and wipe in the folds of your cocker's ear. Do not push the cotton swab into his ear canal, as this can damage his eardrum. Remove any excess cleaning solution with a dry cotton ball.