Cocker Spaniel: a joyful breed
Do you remember the popular mismatch couple in Walt Disney’s ‘Lady & the Tramp?’ The Tramp was a stray and the Lady was a sheltered pure-bred Cocker Spaniel. The most famous scene was when these larger-than-life canines slurped pasta and fell in love. The sensitive and demure Lady projects the true Cocker Spaniel.
Anyone who looks at a Cocker Spaniel will surely fall in love with her long ears and silky and shining coat. Her expressive face will sweep you off the floor. This ever-enthusiastic dog is always busy wagging her tail, giving a feeling of joy all around. Her expressive face and twinkling eyes lifts the spirit of the owners as well as the onlookers.
The name Cocker comes from the woodcock, a bird this spaniel was originally bred to hunt, though they can hunt other birds as well. They are excellent retrievers and are good for tracking, hunting, agility and obedience as well.
The general appearance:
Cocker Spaniels are compactly built with bundles of energy. They are medium-sized dogs with long ears, reaching at least to the nose when pulled forward. They have dark oval eyes, with a melting yet intelligent expression. The nose is either black or brown, depending on the colour of the coat. Their legs and underside of the body are well feathered. The feet of a Cocker Spaniel are round like a cat with tight, arched toes. Mahesh Chaudhary, a well-known hobby breeder of Cocker Spaniels in India, particularly admires their lobular ears and lovely expression of intelligence.
This is one breed, who comes in a variety of colours such as black, red, golden, liver, blue roan, orange roan, black & white, black & tan, etc. According to Chaudhary, “A Cocker Spaniel sets herself apart with good demeanor, outline, balance, size, sound, action and merry disposition.” The average height of male Cocker Spaniels is 16-17 inches while that of females is 15-16 inches. Their average weight is 13-16 and 12-15 kg, respectively. They have a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Perhaps the most typical and most wildly appreciated characteristic of this breed is their friendliness and willingness to please. Being a very gentle pet, they are even called the Merry Cockers. They are full of life and exuberance, says Chaudhary. Cocker Spaniels are alert, easy to train and are very playful.
They form good companion dogs as they are less destructive and are wonderful with children. They also get along well with other pets. They are sociable with strangers and are obedient.
Cocker Spaniels are easy to maintain. Simply brush and comb regularly to remove dead hair and keep their coat shiny. Chaudhary rules out the myth that long-haired dogs shed a lot of hair. According to him, they shed their coat several months before they reach the yearling stage and it is easier to maintain a long-haired dog.
They should be fed in deep, narrow bowls that allows them to eat and drink without getting their ears into the food or water.
Ears should be regularly checked for grass seeds and signs of infection. Excess wax should be cleaned regularly. Hair over the toes and base of feet should be brushed and trimmed, when necessary, says Chaudhary.
Cocker Spaniels love to exercise. Daily walks and free run should be part of routine as she is a sporting dog. According to Choudhary, a good walk for 20 minutes twice a day, is good enough for a Cocker Spaniel.
They are prone to eye diseases and ear infections. Sore ears, whether from trapped vegetative matter, mites, or infection, cause a dog to shake head frequently and violently. If the ears are dirty and smelly and the dog seems to be uncomfortable, contact your vet. An early treatment can avoid major problems.
Since they love to run in fields, they frequently pick up a variety of seed heads and bits of shrubs and weeds that can cause the coat to tangle and mat. Regular brushing will keep the coat free of tangles. Also, tangles can pull the skin and cause sores that make the dog uncomfortable and may result in major skin problems.
The way to a healthy Cocker Spaniel is through good nutrition. It is also essential to visit the veterinarian for checkups, which will keep your friend healthy.
All in all, you will love the company of a Cocker Spaniel as she brings a lot of joy in your life. Mahesh Chaudhary adds, “I have had lots of breeds since my childhood, but ever since I had a Cocker Spaniel, I can’t think of my house without one. A Cocker Spaniel is an ancient bred and has always been held high in esteem through the years,” He concludes with a mention from the ancient Welsh Laws codified by Howell the good in 914 AD:
“There are three kinds of animals:
A beast, a dog and a bird.
There are three higher species of dogs?:
A Tracker, a Grey Hound and a Spaniel.”
(Inputs from Mahesh Chaudhary, Mumbai, a well-known show enthusiast and experienced hobby breeder of Cocker Spaniels. Contact him at 09821345055.)