Working Cocker Spaniel Dogs & Puppies For Sale In 2022

Working Cocker Spaniel

Working Cocker Spaniel Dogs & Puppies For Sale In 2022

Cocker Spaniels are one of the sweetest family dogs around, for good reason. They are playful, affectionate, and their friendly nature makes them excellent companions. Cockers are also highly intelligent and have been known to be loving and enthusiastic playmates with children and other pets. Bred to work, these dogs love nothing more than spending quality time with their owners.

However, if you are getting a new cocker spaniel puppy, it is vital to understand that there are two distinct strains of the breed: the working (or field) type and the show type, each with different qualities and bred for different purposes.

As the name suggests, working or field cockers are generally bred as working hunting dogs, which means they have a strong hunting drive and can stay comfortably all day at the shooting range.

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But most of them are currently being sold to non-hunting pet homes, where they also make great family dogs, especially if they land in the hands of an active dog parent. Working cockers are also becoming more popular in a wide range of dog sports, including agility and fly ball competitions.

Brief History Of The Cocker Spaniel

If we consult the Kennel Club breed standard, we will not find a distinction between the working and the show Cocker Spaniel: both varieties are officially recognized as the same breed. So how come breeders sell two different types?

As is often the case, Cocker Spaniels started out as a working breed. As breed standards became more strictly regulated and observed and show dog championships gained popularity, breeders focused on the aesthetic qualities of cocker spaniels.

However, show-bred cockers did not completely replace the servants for work purposes. Instead, the breed was divided into two strains: working dogs (or “field”) and show dogs (“conformation”).

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Working Origins

Although the history of Spaniels dates back to at least the 14th century, Cocker Spaniels as we know them became a recognized breed in the 19th century, and the Kennel Club established a dedicated Cocker studbook in 1893.

Originally, Cocker Spaniels were bred solely as working dogs, specifically to be useful companions for hunters. They were the ideal upland washing dogs, used to find birds perched in undergrowth. The dog would scare the birds into flight (“drive them out”) at the right time, to give the hunter a clear chance.

Over time, the responsibilities of cocker spaniels as hunting dogs came to include finding and retrieving the bird. Therefore, they were bred to have strong, muscular necks, allowing them to easily lift even larger prey and deliver it to the hunter.

Interestingly, cocker spaniels were often used to rinse woodcocks (popular game birds). This is where the “Cocker” part of the breed name originates.

Typical Working Cocker Spaniel Temperament

Working cocker spaniels are active, busy, lively, friendly, kind, faithful, adaptable, and can live happily in all types of homes. Bred as hunting dogs, working cocker spaniels have natural instincts for work, which means they are intelligent, friendly, and eager to please their owners.

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Working cockers have been known to stick to their owners like glue and their loyalty is touted to melt even the coldest of hearts. So if you decide to welcome a working cocker spaniel into your home, you will never feel lonely or bored again.

These dogs are also very sociable and enjoy being around children and pets. Although they are intelligent and easy to train, they can sometimes have a strong will, so patience and constant training from puppies is recommended, as is the case with any breed of dog.

Working Cocker Spaniels And Show Cocker Spaniels

Now that we have a general understanding of how the breed came to split into two distinct strains, let’s spend some time exploring the differences. These are all things you might want to take into account when deciding what kind of Cocker to get!


Working and show Cocker Spaniels differ in appearance for one simple reason: working dogs are bred for practicality, and show dogs are bred for looks.

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The focus on working ability with field Cockers means that they are typically stronger dogs, at the cost of breed standards. Furthermore, some of the defining features of show Cockers would simply be impractical in a working dog – such as the long ears.

Up until around 10 weeks of age, both strains appear more or less the same, with physical differences becoming gradually apparent by the 12th week. Here are some key differences in appearance to look out for in adults and older puppies.


Show Cockers have a compact, balanced body with a relatively big rib cage and short loins. Despite being bred mostly for their appearance, they need to be strong and muscular – even though they’re show dogs, they’re still considered a working breed, which is reflected in the Kennel Club breed standards.

The working Cocker Spaniel size is much the same as that of a show type Cocker Spaniel, though field-bred dogs typically have a longer body, with less focus on angulation. Of course, they too need to be strong and relatively muscular, but there’s no specific standards to meet.


Show-bred Cocker Spaniels have a very distinct shape of the head, characterised by a fairly short, square muzzle and a rounded skull. According to the Kennel Club, their ears must be long, set low on the skull (level with their eyes), with ‘fine leathers extending to nose tip’.

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Working Cocker Spaniels usually have longer and narrower muzzles, and the tops of their skulls are flatter than those of show Cockers. They also have significantly smaller ears, set higher than their eyes – as we’ve already touched upon, the long, low ears of the show Spaniel would be impractical during hunting and other field work.


In terms of length and texture, a show Cocker Spaniel will have a longer, more abundant coat. The coats of working Cockers are usually fine, shorter, with less noticeable feathering.

Breed standards require show Cocker Spaniels to have specific coat colours, with no white allowed apart from ‘a small amount on the chest’. For working Spaniels, this is not a priority, and they come in all colour varieties, including mostly white.

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Historically, tails of working Cockers were often docked (cut short). This was supposed to prevent their naturally long tails from getting in the way during hunting and from causing them injury while they explored the underbrush.

Tail docking is a controversial and less popular practice nowadays. If nothing else, there is a range of serious health risks that can arise as a result of docking and most experts discourage dog owners from shortening the dog’s tail – even in the case of working types.

Frequently Asked Questions: Working Cocker Spaniel Dogs

Can Working Cocker Spaniels Be Left Alone?

The short answer is: not recommended. Working cockers are not sedentary dogs, so they need additional mental stimulation to keep them busy. Left alone without sufficient physical and mental stimulation, a working cocker spaniel will become bored, may develop separation anxiety, and even become destructive.

We understand that due to busy work schedules, you may need to leave your puppy alone for longer than you would like. If you find yourself in such situations, here are some strategies you can take advantage of to make sure your working cocker is at least busy:

  • Take him for a long walk before you go. This will tire him out so that he sleeps satisfied when you are away.
  • Take him to a nearby dog ​​shelter or ask a neighbor or friend to blow up several times during the day to let him go outside for some fresh air, a bathroom break, and some time to play.
  • Leave him with his favorite toys and in a safe room with a comfortable bed.

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Do Working Cocker Spaniels Calm Down?

Working cockers rarely clam or slow down. Because they are active, high-energy dogs with natural instincts to work, cockers always display a hyperactive temperament.

Your working cocker spaniel will always be ready to play, give you lots of kisses, take a walk, run around the yard, and participate in some of the activities you like to do around him.

Do Working Cocker Spaniels Shed?

Yes. Working cockers are double-coated, which means they will need to shed the dead undercoat during shedding seasons. Expect some fur in your home, especially if you don’t brush your pup regularly. You may also notice an increase in shedding during the fall or spring for a few weeks.

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However, they shed moderately or less than many breeds of dogs. If you compare it to a labrador retriever, for example, you will quickly notice that it is not that noticeable.


If you are looking for a working dog that is energetic, lovable, and social, your search must end with a working cocker spaniel. And if you plan on using him as a hunting dog, assistant dog, sniffer dog, or in other sporting activities, this breed will never disappoint you. As long as you have socialized early and been exposed to proper training early enough, a working cocker spaniel will always be a good companion.

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