The cocker spaniel is by far the most popular spaniel breed in the UK, and is our sixth most popular dog breed overall. This is no mean feat when you consider that Pets4Homes showcases adverts for dogs for sale across a total of 239 different breeds and types!
There are a total of 23 different recognised spaniel breeds worldwide, and a significant amount of variance across the type that includes large, lively working dogs, dainty toy dogs, and everything in between. Not all of these breeds are widely known within the UK, but the cocker spaniel, which originated in England, is by far the most common – and most dog owners will see at least one cocker out and about on a regular basis when walking with their own dogs.
If you’re considering buying or adopting a cocker spaniel or are wondering why this is the most popular spaniel breed in the country, we’ll examine this in more detail and provide some answers within this article.
Read on to learn more about why the cocker spaniel is the UK’s most popular spaniel breed.
The cocker spaniel is a medium-sized dog from the gundog grouping, which was historically used for working gundog roles including flushing out game birds are retrieving prey. The cocker spaniel is a lively and very intelligent dog that thrives on having a job to do, and they aren’t afraid of a bit of bad weather either, being quite happy to splash through all of the puddles they pass on a wet day!
They also love to swim, and can often be seen taking part in canine sports too.
The cocker spaniel originated in the UK, and they are one of our most recognisable and long-established dog breeds. Their personable natures and adaptability meant that the breed continues to thrive today, even though large numbers of them are no longer kept for working roles. They make for excellent pets for active, outdoorsy families, and are very personable with both people and other dogs. They are loving and gentle, and tend to be very good with children too.
The cocker spaniel is friendly, outgoing, reasonably easy to train and able to learn lots of skills, but they are quite high maintenance in some respects too. They need a lot of exercise and are very lively dogs that won’t thrive if they only receive one short walk a day, and they need plenty of mental stimulation as well to stave off boredom and keep them happy.
Their coats also require daily brushing and they need bathing fairly regularly too, in order to keep their coats in good condition and to keep them clean, as they are certainly not averse to getting covered in mud or rolling in foul substances that they might find out and about on walks!
Many cocker spaniel owners have their dogs clipped and trimmed regularly to help to keep them clean and comfortable, as their coats grow quite long and wavy, which makes them prone to knotting, matting, and getting full of burs and seeds in the summer months!
Despite all of these factors – which for many dog owners, would be a deal breaker – the cocker has an enduring popularity, for a variety of reasons.
Their temperaments are perhaps the best recommendation for the breed, as they are loving, loyal and very kind dogs, and they also tend to be calm and inquisitive about meeting strangers, without being defensive or overly protective.
Their intelligence means that they can learn a wide range of commands and turn their paws to skills such as agility and obedience too – but they are not one of the dog breeds whose intelligence can make them hard to manage, or apt to continually cause trouble! Whilst the cocker is very playful and as keen to get into mischief as any other lively, inquisitive dog, these traits can be managed and turned into a positive with good training and management.
The medium size of the breed makes them versatile enough to suit all but the smallest of homes – they are by no means a delicate little lapdog, but they are not so large as to have to perform a three-point turn to get round the coffee table, or apt to knock everything off it as they go!
They are also very cheery dogs to have around, and their lust for life and enthusiasm for everything makes them very rewarding to own.
The cocker spaniel is the UK’s most popular spaniel breed, and the sixth most popular breed overall. Their nearest competing spaniel relative is the English springer spaniel, which is the UK’s fifteenth most popular breed overall. After the springer comes the Cavalier King Charles spaniel in nineteenth place.
It is also interesting to note that the Cockapoo – a hybrid dog type comprised of the crossing of a cocker spaniel with a poodle – actually beats all of the pedigree spaniel breeds in the popularity rankings, being the UK’s fourth most popular dog type overall.
Many other hybrid dog types with a cocker spaniel ancestor are also hugely popular, to the point that like the poodle, there are more dogs with one cocker ancestor around today than there are pedigree dogs of the founding parent breed itself!