Cocker Spaniels: Beauty, Grace & At Risk for Arthritis

February 8, 2021

Every month, we will highlight a popular breed at risk for arthritis. We will talk about what we love about them, as well as reflect on how to keep them healthy. This month, we are focusing on the Cocker Spaniel. This post has been updated because the news a Royal family has added a lovely English Cocker Spaniel to their family. According to the article, "they are besotted!" Read on for the details, plus learn all you need to know about these adorable sporting dogs! 

How can you not love a Cocker Spaniel? They are one of the cutest dog breeds out there. You probably remember seeing the classic dog love story of Walt Disney’s Lady and the Tramp and wanted a Cocker Spaniel like Lady ever since. I know I did. If you remember how Lady lived her life, I would say it’s a fair assessment of the pampered lives of most of the Cocker Spaniels out there. Even if you don’t have a Cocker Spaniel and have a female dog, “Lady” is still a top 10 name for a female dog. We all fell in love with Lady when we saw that movie.

Read on for all the reasons we love Cocker Spaniels, the difference between the American and English Cockers, how to keep them healthy and youthful as they age. 

4 Reasons we love Cocker Spaniels

Adorable Cocker Spaniel Puppies

  1. Cocker Spaniel puppies! Just look at that photo. How can you not LOVE them?
  2. Oh, to have hair like a Cocker. Yes, look at those glorious locks of fur. The hair on Cockers is beautiful with thick, wavy locks. It doesn’t even look like fur.
  3. Their outgoing Cocker personality. Cocker Spaniels have big personalities and are loveable, outgoing and extroverted. They are known to be good with children, which makes them great family dogs. They love all children. 
  4. Cocker Spaniel love. Cockers are so loveable that you learn to live with this love and embrace it whole-heartedly. It’s hard to go back to life before your Cocker Spaniel was in it. They are your personal electric blanket as they love to snuggle and keep you warm. They are your personal alert dog, so you know if anyone is coming to the door. They give you so much love and kisses you learn to dodge their tongues.

Cocker Spaniels are Sporting dogs

English Cockers have gorgeous hair

When you think of Cocker Spaniels, do you think of dogs such as the Labrador Retriever, Irish Setter or the Weimaraner? Probably not. These dogs are all part of the Sporting Group in the American Kennel Club (AKC). The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest dog in the Sporting Group. 

Cocker Spaniels received their name after what they were born to do: flushing woodcock birds out of low brush for hunters. It is this innate hunting ability that put them in the Sporting group, just like the Labrador, Irish Setter and Pointer. It’s amazing to think of these dogs as hunters because they are known for being the best family do out there. Their ability to hunt, as well as how great they are as family dogs are just a few of the many reasons to love these adorable dogs!

English Cocker Spaniels, Large and LOVABLE

English Cocker Spaniel

There are two main types of Cocker Spaniels: the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. These dogs look somewhat similar. They both have:

  • Thick, wavy fur
  • Long, floppy ears
  • Almond-shaped dark eyes

The main difference in the two breeds is their size. The English Cocker Spaniel is a larger breed with a longer head. Their hair is longer than that of an American Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker is:

  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 52 of 193
  • Height: 16-17 inches (male), 15-16 inches (female)
  • Weight: 28-34 pounds (male), 26-32 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Sporting Group 

English have a variety of colors, more so than the American:

  • Black
  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Lemon
  • Tan
  • White
  • Ash
  • Silver
  • Golden
  • Red
  • Sable


American Cocker Spaniels, Smaller and Smart

American Cocker Spaniels are smaller than the English Cocker. The American Cocker is:

  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 30 of 193
  • Height: 14.5-15.5 inches (male), 13.5-14.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 25-30 pounds (male), 20-25 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
  • Group: Sporting Group 

American Cocker Spaniels, called usually just Cocker Spaniels, have slightly softer hair with a smaller group of colors:

  • Black
  • Silver
  • Red
  • Tri-Color
  • Brown
  • Tan
  • White and Buff

Top Health Problems of Cockers

Cocker Spaniel

All dog breeds will have health issues, Cocker Spaniels are no different. Here are the breed-specific issues to look for:  

  1. Eye Problems. Cocker’s eyes are large and almond-shaped. Because of the hair they have and their active tear glands, sometimes they can get infections. If you notice a cloudy film over your dog's eyes or lots of redness, be sure to get it checked by a veterinarian. 
  2. Ear infections. Your Cocker’s ears are long and covered with their trademark beautiful thick, curly hair. But this traps heat inside their ears and they can often pick up dirt and debris, which can make a breeding ground of bacteria that can cause ear infections. Cleaning your Cocker’s ears is part of living with these beauties and should be done at least as often as they are groomed. If your Cocker has a propensity for ear infections, ask your dog groomer to trim more of the fur around and in their ears to keep it from getting too heavy and warm.
  3. Canine Hip Dysplasia. Cockers are natural athletes and their joints can get overused and therefore problems become more prevalent. Joint problems arise especially in the hip joints. This causes pain and impacts their mobility. Usually by age 5, you might see your Cocker move a little slower. 
  4. Loose Knees or Luxating Patella. Cockers inherited kneecaps (patella) that could become dislocated or move out of place as they age. If your dog seems weak or slows down, consider checking their knees as the first point of deterioration in their cartridge.
  5. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis. Because of the joint problems already mentioned, Cocker Spaniels are at high risk for osteoarthritis. Arthritis is as painful for dogs as it is for humans. And just like humans, there is something you can do about it. Learn more about arthritis in dogs and check out all the risk factors.

Take the Quiz

Protect Joints in the Future

Keep the athlete of the the Cocker Spaniel going now and, in the future, when you plan ahead and protect their joints. Help relieve these signs safely and naturally by adding a joint supplement to their diet.

  1. The best way to prevent signs of arthritis is to begin joint protection earlier. Joint supplements can promote joint health and cartilage development which keep dogs active and youthful, longer. Learn what to look for in joint supplements for your dog.
  2. If your Cocker Spaniel is over age 5, consider starting them a joint supplement as cartilage improvement can be seen in most Cocker Spaniels with a daily dose. 
  3.  Of course, make sure your dog stays active to help their joints work better. This includes regular walking and playing with your dog. A great opportunity to go to the dog park!

Glyde™ Mobility Chews

Parnell Living Science are the experts on osteoarthritis (OA) or arthritis in dogs. We created a unique formula with key ingredients to combat the signs of aging. Glyde uses natural, gluten-free ingredients to promote healthy joints to let your dog do everything he or she loves to do!  Glyde is the only joint supplement that contains proven levels of three key components that work together to relieve the painful signs of arthritis.

Glyde's proven formula has all-natural ingredients and high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, plus Green Lipped Mussel (GLM). The proven levels of these key ingredients are what makes the formula unique:

Keep your Cocker Spaniel healthy with Glyde Mobility Chews for flexible joints and a more active lifestyle. 

A Cocker Resurgence? 

Cocker Spaniel fans will rejoice at this fall’s release of the live-action remake of the 1955 classic Walt Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, scheduled to hit small screens on the Disney streaming channel. What was also amazing is he entire cast of dogs is made up of rescue animals. All were adopted after the film wrapped! 


The original movie helped make Cocker Spaniels one of the most sought-after dogs for many years. The Cocker Spaniel was the #1 AKC-registered dog for many years, from 1930-1950. Then it had a resurgence in the 1980s until it lost its #1 spot to the Labrador Retriever and Golden Retrievers in 1992. Maybe this live-action remake of the classic will help move the Cocker Spaniel breed back up the charts.

Royal Family Loves Cockers

Update: The recent news with English Cocker Spaniels came when Prince William and Kate Middleton recently had to say goodbye to their Cocker Spaniel in November 2020. While it was very sad for their family, they decided life was more fun with a dog. We learned in January 2021, they surprised their children with a new Cocker Spaniel puppy in January 2021. They selected a new Cocker Spaniel from a liter bred by Kate's brother. Here's a photo of the adorable litter of Cockers!

To read more about the new royal puppy, check out this article.  

Those lucky enough to have a Cocker Spaniel in their lives have a great dog full of love, personality and beauty. They are always willing to be your favorite snuggle partner and offer unending love and laughter. Are you besotted with love for your Cocker Spaniel? Tell us all about it on our social media. And enjoy those beautiful, soft floppy ears for as long as you can and be sure to keep them happy and healthy!


Get Your Arthritis in Dogs eBook