The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest of the spaniels and the sporting group itself. It was AKC recognized in 1878, and is a popular choice for families as well as hunters for its cheerful and energetic demeanor. Like any breed, it has both pros and cons in regard to personality and care. Before adopting your pet, certain considerations need to be made how the dog will adapt to your family and your environment.
The Cocker Spaniel is typically a sweet animal that is obedient and friendly. It doesn't bark excessively, which makes it a suitable pet for those living in close-knit communities such as apartments. It has a gentle demeanor, so it adapts well to the elderly as well as families. As part of the sporting group, it also makes a fine hunting dog; its tail was traditionally docked to prevent injury while it pursued game.
Because the dog is so energetic, it requires regular walks and exercise to ward off any negative behavior or dangerous weight gain. If you live in an apartment, you will need to be especially diligent in your dog's daily exercise. It is respectful to its owner's authority, and should be aware of its place in the home from day one. This dog needs your leadership to feel secure, and should not be allowed to indulge in negative behavior.
Cocker Spaniels generally do well with children, although smaller children may be a little too rambunctious with the animal and thus stress or injury the dog unintentionally. This could lead to your dog becoming shyer or even biting in self-defense. Always supervise these situations. Older children will find an enthusiastic playmate in the Cocker Spaniel, which is devoted and gentle -- so gentle, in fact, that it doesn't necessarily make the best guard dog because of its lack of aggressiveness.
You need to train your Cocker Spaniel from the day it enters your home. Though it can be stubborn, the Cocker responds well to training that relies on positive reinforcement rather than aggression. If you are too aggressive with the dog and use negative or forceful training, it may lash out at you. If you ignore the dog, it can develop negative traits such as chewing or other destructive behavior.
Health and Hygiene
Overall, your Cocker Spaniel will likely enjoy a long life with minimal health problems. If your dog's tail is docked, there are some considerations. This can affect the dog's gait, but can also lead to aggressive attacks from other dogs, which misinterpret the Cocker's body language through the docked tail. Its coat is longer for a house dog, shorter for a hunting dog. but either length coat will need regular grooming. You will also need to wipe the dog's eyes due to its tendency to tear, and be diligent about maintaining the dog's eyes and ears to ward off potential infections.
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