6 Facts About Cocker Spaniels

cocker spaniel puppy sitting in the grass

Cocker Spaniels are a smart and happy breed! Well-known for their soft eyes and floppy ears, Cocker Spaniels are easy to love. If you’re considering bringing one home, here are a few facts about Cocker Spaniels.

1. They May Have Arrived on the Mayflower

The famous Mayflower ship recorded two dogs as passengers. One of those dogs was a Mastiff and the other one a Spaniel. Because this was before they distinguished between different types of Spaniels, it is possible this specific passenger was a Cocker Spaniel.

2. Cocker Spaniels Were the First Cancer-Detecting Dogs

Scientists now know dogs can identify cancer through scent, even though they are unsure what the dogs are actually detecting. An English study in 2004 with six dogs confirmed the theory.

A Cocker Spaniel named Tangle had the most success in detecting cancerous samples. She detected these samples with 56 percent accuracy.

3. They Can be Prone to Affectionate Nipping

Spaniels are prone to nipping with their teeth when they are being affectionate or playful. Most puppies are prone to doing this, especially when they are feeling playful, are learning, or are teething. But, Cocker Spaniels are known for this behavior.

This doesn’t mean that they are aggressive, as they are notoriously gentle about it and use it as a sign of affection, particularly during play. But, it is still not a behavior you want to encourage.

A good way to mitigate this is to redirect their nipping from your skin to a dog-friendly toy and reward a successful redirection with treats or activities. Another simple way to help train your puppy to stop biting is to let out a high-pitched “ouch” that resembles a dog’s painful squeal.

4. Cocker Spaniels Are the Smallest Sporting Breed

Classified as the smallest breed in the AKC sporting group, Cocker Spaniels typically only grow up to 14 inches in height. They are small, but sturdy and athletic.

Cocker Spaniels are quick and move with a graceful and easy gait. This breed was bred to hunt birds. They became exceptionally skilled at hunting the woodcock bird, which is how they earned their name.

5. They’re Popular With Celebrities

Cocker Spaniels make great, loving companions, and many celebrities own these dogs. George Cooney has a Cocker Spaniel named Einstein, and Oprah Winfrey had two named Solomon and Sadie. There was even a Cocker Spaniel in the White House that quickly became one of the most popular presidential pups!

Richard Nixon’s dog, Checkers, is perhaps the most famous First Dog. Nixon famously mentioned Checkers in an hour-long speech as he defended himself against allegations of corruption. This later became known as “the Checkers speech”.

6. Cocker Spaniels Are Sensitive

Cocker Spaniels typically are obedient and aim to please people any chance they get. This is due to their sensitive, social nature. Because of this disposition, note that a harsh tone will work against you in obedience training.

These dogs are sensitive to the tones their owners use. If a harsh tone is used, they may become suspicious and wary of your attempts to help them if they have perceived a hostile demeanor towards them. Instead, use a friendly, rewarding attitude, and your puppy will take to you.

If you are constantly at work, or away from the house, then this breed may not be right for you. They require a lot of love, and attention, and may develop separation anxiety and become panicky and destructive if left alone for too long. If you can take your pup to work, or with you on your activities, then this is the best course of action.

These are just some facts about Cocker Spaniels. If you think this could be the right breed for you, check out the available Cocker Spaniel puppies. You could end up finding your new best friend!