How to Care for a Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels make happy, enthusiastic companion dogs.
crazy cocker spaniel image by Aleksander from

The American cocker spaniel is derived from the English cocker spaniel, which has similar physical characteristics. Cockers are medium-sized dogs with long, feathered ears, silky coats and docked tails. Colors are black, tan, red and mixed in a variety of ways. American cocker spaniels are known for their happy-go-lucky personalities and affectionate nature. This breed is good with children and makes a good family dog. A cocker spaniel is also at home helping his master to flush out game in the field. The long, feathery coat and long ears of a cocker spaniel require frequent grooming and cleaning attention.

Step 1

Buy your puppy from a responsible breed rather than a pet store. The cocker spaniel is a popular breed. Many pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills that allow random breeding which can produce dogs with health problems. Buying from a responsible breeder ensures that the bloodline of the dog is free from common genetic diseases. You can also adopt a cocker spaniel from a shelter or breed rescue.

Step 2

Feed your puppy a high-quality dry puppy food until he is 1 year old. Then switch to an adult version of the food.

Step 3

Leash train your cocker spaniel, and keep him on a leash whenever he is outdoors. This breed is very friendly and a cocker spaniel will follow people if not confined or kept on a leash. To leash-train a puppy, encourage him with treats until he understands that he must follow his master and not pull ahead on the lead. Reduce the amount of treats and increase praising for good behavior as your dog catches on to the correct behavior.

Step 4

Bathe and brush your cocker spaniel every week or two to remove dirt and mats from the coat. The cocker spaniel's long coat mats and picks up burs easily. You may have to cut into the mats with small scissors in order to get the brush or comb to remove the hair.

Step 5

Take your cocker spaniel to the groomer every four to eight weeks to trim his coat and nails.

Step 6

Clean your cocker spaniel's ears weekly with a canine ear cleanser and cotton balls. Because the ears of this breed are long and not open to the air, your cocker spaniel can develop ear infections easily. Cleaning the ears helps to remove dirt and oils that can lead to infection. These ear products are available at pet stores or from your veterinarian. Dip a cotton ball in the ear cleanser and gently wipe the inside surface of the ears. Squeeze the cotton ball to remove excess liquid. Avoid dripping liquid into the ear canal. Do not reach deeply into the ear canal with the cotton ball.

Step 7

Remove tear stains under your dogs eyes with a canine anti-stain eye cleaner available at most pet stores. The cocker spaniel's shallow eyes sockets, as well as long hair on the face, cause tearing that creates the unsightly stains.

Step 8

Administer flea and tick medications to prevent pests from making their home in your dog’s thick coat.


  • When walking in the woods, your cocker spaniel will love running into thickets and brush. Remember to clean out burs that can stick in the hair between toes, causing pain and infection.


  • Trim your cocker spaniel yourself between visits to the groomer to save on grooming costs. Lightly trim the hair on the hindquarters to prevent feces from sticking to the area. Trim the fur on the bottoms of the feet. Lightly cut the hairs on the edges of the dog's long ears to keep them from hanging into the food dish.

Items You Will Need

  • High-quality dog food
  • Dog shampoo
  • Brush or comb
  • Scissors
  • Ear cleaner
  • Eye stain cleaner
  • Cotton balls
  • Leash
  • Flea and tick repellent


Photo Credits

  • crazy cocker spaniel image by Aleksander from