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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Sprocker
Average Cost to keep/care for a Sprocker
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Sprockers were created by crossing two pure breed spaniels, namely the Springer Spaniel and the Cocker Spaniel, but sometimes an American Cocker was used too. However, Sprockers are not "designer dogs" having bred as working dogs. Nor are they a "cross breed" because both parent breeds are spaniels. With this said, they make wonderful family pets and companions and over the years have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people throughout the world.
Sprockers often inherit much wanted traits from both parent breeds which as a result means that today, the Sprocker is one of the most popular dogs in the field as a working dog. For the moment, the Sprocker is not recognised as breed by The Kennel Club (September 2017), but several breed clubs have been founded to ensure that good breeding practices are maintained and inbreeding avoided to ensure the continued wellbeing of Sprockers. They should never be thought of as “designer” dogs nor should Sprockers be considered as being a “cross” breed because both parent breeds are spaniels.
It is possible to trace the origins of all spaniels to dogs that were native to Spain and right up to the 1600's, they were thought of a one unique type although many sizes existed with puppies in a single litter being quite different in appearance and size. The larger spaniels that existed at the time are thought to be the ancestors of the English Springer Spaniel we see today.
Over time both Cocker and Springer spaniels were carefully and selectively bred by gamekeepers who used Land Spaniels although it would be safe to presume that accidental matings also occurred too. With this said, Sprocker Spaniels have been around for about 20 years or so and since they first appeared on the scene these handsome, hardworking dogs have earned themselves an excellent reputation both in the field and in a home environment. Although the exact origins of the Sprocker Spaniel are a little unclear, as previously mentioned, it is thought that gamekeepers either accidentally or purposefully crossed Springers with Cocker Spaniels with an end goal being to produce a hardworking gundog capable of working in more challenging conditions and over harsher terrains. It was only in recent times that the name "Sprocker" was given to them.
There are some who believe it was Scottish gamekeepers who first crossed the two spaniels because they needed a robust dog capable of working the larger estates found north of the border. Their endeavours produced a spaniel that inherited many of the better traits from both the parent breeds. It was in 1892, that the Kennel Club started to see that the Cocker and the Springer Spaniel were two separate breeds even though occasionally very different puppies would be found in a same litter. This led to a breed standard being set by both breed clubs for both the Cocker and the Springer and this finally led to the Kennel Club awarded both breeds recognition in 1902. The Cocker and the Springer Spaniel are the oldest gundog native to the UK.
Over the years, Sprocker Spaniels have proved themselves to be excellent gundogs, but they have also earned the reputation of being extremely good family pets and companions, being just at ease and relaxed in the home environment as they are in the field. They are neither "designer dogs" nor are they a cross breed with many recognised spaniel breeds having been created by using land spaniels as foundation dogs throughout time. As such, it could be argued that a Sprocker shares the same ancestry as other native spaniels that today, are Kennel Club recognised breeds.
The popularity of these dogs has seen both reputable Cocker and Springer Spaniel breeders using their stud dogs to produce healthy Sprockers that boast a typical look. The end result of their selective breeding is a reliable, loyal and active family pet very much like many other of their Spaniel cousins. Although it would be hard to establish just how many Sprocker Spaniels are kept as family pets in the UK today, it would be fair to say that these charming, intelligent and energetic dogs are among the most popular in the land and remain firm favourites in the field where they are highly prized at finding, flushing and retrieving game for hunters.
Sprockers were developed on purpose and accidentally by gamekeepers who crossed Cockers with Springers to produce a robust, reliable and loyal gundog
Sprocker Spaniels should never be thought of as "designer" dogs because they were developed to be working gundogs with both parent breeds being Kennel Club registered spaniels
When it comes to "parentage" in Sprockers, the firm favourite is a Cocker Spaniel Sire and a Springer Spaniel Dam both being Working Types. The reason being that when Show Type Cockers are used to sire Sprockers, the result is heavier, stockier puppies.
More 2nd and 3rd generation Sprockers are being bred than ever before which sees both the sires and dams being Sprockers
Height at the withers: Males 43.18 - 50.80 cm, Females 40.64 - 50.80 cm
Average weight: Males 16.7 - 20.0 kg, Females 14.0 - 20.0 kg
Sprockers are handsome dogs that have inherited the good looks and proud appearance of both their parent breeds. However, with such a huge gene pool to draw from, puppies in a single litter can often be quite different both in looks and temperament. With this said, there are more common traits and colours thanks to the fact that reputable breeders tend to use Cocker sires from the working group which they put to working Springer Spaniel dams. When breeders use a show type Cocker sire, the puppies tend to be heavier and stockier. But since these charming dogs first appeared on the scene, more 2nd and 3rd generation Sprocker Spaniels are being bred with their sires and dams being Sprockers too.
Sprockers have inherited many physical traits of both parent breeds. They have nicely proportioned heads with well-defined stops and occipital points. Their eyes are set wide with dogs always having a keen, alert and intelligent look in them. Ears are long and pendulous much like both parent breeds and nicely covered in hair. Muzzles are wide and a Sprocker's nose matches their coat colour with dogs having wide open nostrils.
They have an athletic look about their bodies with well laid back shoulders and a nice width to their chests. Ribs are well sprung and front legs strong and well-muscled. Their backs are strong and level with Sprockers having nicely developed loins. Their hindquarters are powerful with dogs having strong, well-muscled back legs. Feet are compact being quite broad, nicely padded with dogs having strong nails that match their coat colour.
When it comes to their coat, Sprocker Spaniels com in just about any colour and colour combination that’s commonly seen in either a Cocker or Springer Spaniel. The texture and length of their coat can also vary quite a bit, but they usually have smooth coats with the hair on their heads and ears being rather longer than on the rest of their body. There is a slight amount of feathering on the back of a dog's legs too. The most commonly seen colours include the following:
With this said, the most commonly seen colour found in Sprockers is Black with some dogs being mostly black with some white in their coats or a solid chocolate although some dogs can also have some white throughout their coats. Another commonly seen colour in Sprockers is black and white.
When a Sprocker moves, they do so with a fluid action and purpose showing a lot of power both in their forequarters and their hindquarters. Sprockers are quick on their feet and cover a lot of ground with the minimum amount of effort and always with an alert attitude.
Reputable breeds clubs frown on any exaggerations that are bred into Sprockers deliberately that would affect their overall conformation and ability to perform.
Male Sprockers should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and some dogs can be a little taller or shorter, they can be a little heavier or lighter depending on their parent dog's size without showing any sort of exaggeration.
Sprockers are known to be wonderful family pets because like their other spaniel cousins they thrive on being around people and form strong ties with their families. In a working environment, the Sprocker is an outstanding gundog being highly adaptable in the field. However, because they are not a Kennel Club recognised breed, they cannot compete in official Field Trials, but they can still be used for beating, as gundogs and they are excellent when it comes to other activities like agility proving the adaptability of the Sprocker.
Sprocker Spaniels are known to be active, alert, affectionate and extremely loyal dogs by nature, all of which are traits they have inherited from both parent breeds. These are just some of the reasons why they have earned themselves such a good reputation as working dogs and family pets. With this said, Sprockers have a great sense of humour which means they can often get up to all sorts of mischief, but this is part of their charm.
However, it should never be forgotten they are high energy dogs and like nothing more than to be kept busy. They revel in an environment where they can spend as much time in the great outdoors as they can which makes them the perfect canine companion for anyone who lives in the country or who boasts having a very large back garden and who likes to spend as much time in the great outdoors as possible.
They are highly intelligent dogs and they like to please, so in the right hands with the correct amount of early socialisation, Sprockers are easy to train with the one proviso being that their training has to be consistent and always fair. These dogs are never happier than when they know what their owners expect of them. They also need to know who they can look to for direction and guidance which helps a dog establish who is the alpha dog in a household.
They are a good choice for first time owners providing they have enough time to dedicate to socialising and training an active, high energy canine companion. Over the years, these kind natured dogs have also become a popular choice with the armed forces and emergency services thanks to their intelligence, adaptability and trustworthy natures.
Sprockers thrive on being given something to do and love human company as such they are good choice for families where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. They do not do well if they are left to their own devices for too long which could see a dog developing some behavioural issues especially if it happens too often.
Sprockers are not the best choice for first time dog owners because they are better suited to people who are familiar with their high energy needs. Being so intelligent, Sprockers need to be handled and trained with a firm yet gentle hand so they understand their place in the pack and what their owners expect of them.
Sprockers were bred to flush out and retrieve which is a trait deeply embedded in a dog's psyche, they are always keen to track down an animal. The good news is that Sprockers are intelligent and in the right hands they are easy to train to "leave" things when they are told to, but care should always be taken when they are around any smaller animals just to be on the safe side.
Sprockers have a great sense of humour which means they often get up to quite a bit of mischief. They adore playing interactive games and being so active and energetic, they need loads of mental stimulation to keep them happy and why they are better suited to people who lead active outdoor lives. They are also known to be extremely good around children of all ages and thoroughly enjoy playing with the kids whenever they can.
Sprockers are very adaptable, but they are better suited to living in homes with secure back gardens where a dog can romp and express themselves as they should as often as they can. They are very high energy dogs by nature and would not be happy being couped up in an apartment for any length of time.
Sprockers form strong ties with their owners and never like it when they find themselves being left on their own for too long which can lead to a dog suffering from separation anxiety. They are much happier spending time with their owners which is another reason why they are best suited to households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they usually always have company. With this said, having the company of another dog or a cat often helps too.
Sprockers are not known to be "barkers" thanks to the fact that being spaniels and working dogs that throughout time were bred to work alongside hunters to flush out and retrieve game which they had to do as quietly. With this said, any dog that's left on their own for too long may start barking incessantly as a way of showing how unhappy they are at the situation.
Sprockers being spaniels have a natural affinity with water and will happily leap in whenever they can. As such, care should always be taken when walking a Sprocker off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses, just in case they decide to jump in and need rescuing.
A Sprocker is not a natural watchdog because they are just too friendly by nature. With this said, a dog would bark to let their owner know if there are strangers around or when something they don't like is going on in their environment but only to let them know rather than to act as a guard dog.
Sprockers like most spaniels are extremely food oriented and this together with the fact they are highly intelligent means in the right hands and environment they are highly trainable especially when they know there is a high value reward waiting for them when they get things right. With this said, another typical "spaniel" trait is the fact the Sprockers can on the odd occasion choose to have selective hearing and they are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak in them as well. The good news is that because Sprockers thrive on being given things to do, their training can be fun and entertaining.
The downside to their intelligence is that Sprockers are just as quick to pick up the bad habits as they are the good which means they need to be handled and trained with a firm yet gentle hand or they might get the better of their owners and why they are not the best choice for first time dog owners.
Their training must start early and why it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. They love the one-to-one attention they get during a training session and it helps reinforce the bond they have with their owners. The key to keeping a younger Sprocker focused is to make their training as interesting as possible and to keep them short. It’s best to train them more often rather than put them through their paces for longer periods of time, especially when they are young.
Sprocker puppies should be taught the ground rules as early as possible although they will always test the limits of how far they can go just for fun. The first commands a puppy needs to be taught are as follows:
Sprockers thrive in a home environment and love being included in everything that goes on around them. This includes playing interactive games with the children. However, any playtime between younger children and their dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things don't get too rough or boisterous.
They are social dogs by nature and providing they have been well socialised from a young enough age, Sprockers generally get on with other dogs they meet. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household they usually get on well together, but a Sprocker would not think twice about chasing off the neighour's cat whenever they got the chance to. As with other working dogs, care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets, just in case their prey drive gets the better of them.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Sprocker is between 10 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Sprockers are robust dogs, but like both their parent breeds they are known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these handsome, active dogs. The conditions that seem to affect them the most include the following:
Working and other Spaniels have traditionally had their tails docked, a practice that has been going on throughout time. The reason spaniel's tails were docked was to prevent them from being damaged when dogs were flushing out and retrieving game in undergrowth. It was only in 1993, that a law was passed preventing anyone other than a vet from carrying out the procedure, but this was further changed when The Animal Health and Welfare Act (Scotland) came into effect in 2006 which invoked a total ban on tail docking unless for medical reasons.
In other parts of the UK, the Animal Welfare Act came into effect in April 2007 which meant that dog's tails could no longer be docked unless they fell into the category of a specific "working" dog or for medical reasons.
Sprocker puppies would have been given their first vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to new owners to ensure their puppies get their follow-up shots. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
Many vets like to wait until a dog is a little older when it comes to spaying or neutering them because they are that much more mature. As such, vets recommend dogs undergo the procedures when they are anything between the age of 6 to 9 months old. With this said, some vets like to spay or neuter a dog when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless there is a medical reason for doing so.
Sprockers are known to like their food a little too much and as such care should be taken when it comes to how much a dog is given to eat every day. Food treats should be kept to a minimum too. If a dog looks like they are gaining weight, it's important to up their daily exercise and to rethink their diet. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years because carrying too much weight puts a lot of pressure on the heart and other vital internal organs.
Some Sprockers are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important to have them checked out by a vet sooner rather than later because allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers is often challenging. The typical triggers for a lot of allergies seen in dogs are as follows:
Parent breeds should be tested for known hereditary disorders before being used in a breeding programme as this is the only way of reducing the risks of their offspring inheriting any of the conditions. Below is a list of schemes and tests available for both the Cocker and the Springer Spaniel:
Cocker Spaniels (working)
Springer Spaniels (working)
Because the Sprocker is not a recognised Kennel Club breed, there are no breed specific breeding restrictions in place. However, prospective buyers should discuss the health issues associated with parent dogs with breeders before purchasing a puppy from them to ensure they have been tested clear of any known health issues.
There are no Kennel Club Assured Breeders for Sprockers as they are not a recognised KC breed.
As with any other breed, Sprockers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Sprocker puppies are full of life and providing they are well enough socialised when they were still with their mothers and litter mates, they are generally confident, outgoing dogs in a home environment. However, for the first few days after arriving in a new home, a puppy may seem a little reserved which is understandable because everything is so new to them.
A reputable breeder would never allow a new owner to take a Sprocker puppy away from their mother or litter mates until they are old enough to leave them. This is typically when a puppy is anything from 8 to 15 weeks old. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
Making sure there is always going to be someone around when a puppy first arrives home is essential because it would not be fair if they found themselves alone in a strange environment. It takes a while for a puppy to settle in and it's best they have company through what can be a worrying and stressful time for a young dog.
It's important to puppy-proof the home and garden well in advance of their arrival to prevent any accidents and injuries. Electric wires and cables need to be put away because all puppies like to chew on things which could have disastrous results. Garden tools and other implements also need to be put away to avoid a boisterous puppy injuring themselves. Any toxic plants must be removed from flower beds and fencing needs to be checked to make sure it is ultra-secure.
Puppies sleep a lot which they need to do so they grow and develop as they should. As such it's important for them to have a quiet corner they can retreat to when they need to nap, bearing in mind that puppies can sleep up to 21 hours a day. The area should not be too out of the way though, because puppies need to know they are not alone and that someone is around. Having them close by also means that owners can keep an eye and an ear on their pets just in case they get themselves into trouble and need rescuing.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
Needless to say, there are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a Sprocker puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Sprocker puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out.
As previously mentioned, puppies are vaccinated before they are sold, but new owners need to make sure they are given their second inoculation at the right time. The vaccination schedule of puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
Older Sprockers need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a Sprocker will start to have a greying muzzle, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Sprocker in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Sprockers need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older Sprockers is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Sprockers don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Sprockers need grooming on a daily basis, and they love the one-to-one attention they get when they are being brushed. Particular attention has to be paid to the hair on their ears, bellies, legs and paws because the hair is often that much longer which means knots and tangles form that more easily. Daily grooming also helps remove any debris a dog picks up in their coats, which Sprockers often do because they cannot resist rummaging around in the undergrowth.
It's important for puppies to be introduced to all the grooming tools from a young enough age and to make grooming sessions enjoyable experiences so they look forward to them. If they have a bad experience, they could resent being groomed as they get older. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Sprockers are intelligent, high energy dogs and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-balanced and obedient dogs. They need to be given a minimum of 60 to 80 minutes vigorous exercise a day with as much "off the lead" as possible. However, the more exercise a Sprocker is given, the happier they are with the added bonus being that when these charming dogs are tired, they are quite happy to chill out with their owners at home.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Sprocker puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Sprocker puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Sprocker puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Sprocker must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Sprocker can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Sprocker, you would need to pay anything from £250 to over £500 for a well-bred puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Sprocker in northern England would be £21.00 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £40.36 a month (quote as of September 2017). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Sprocker and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Sprocker would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred Sprocker puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Sprockers are an extremely popular breed both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Sprockers there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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