Is a Cocker the breed for you?
I love Cocker Spaniels. They're like chips, you can't just have one. I've had Cockers for 30 years and while I've had other breeds as well during that time, I have always had a Cocker as well, except for 6 months after my beloved Corey passed away until I got my sweet Lachlan. I will always have a Cocker, my family can't imagine me without one. Cockers suit my personality - I'm a sook, sensitive, and love cuddles. Cockers are smooshy. You can smother them, lavish them with love, smooshes and cuddles and they'll always want more. We're perfect for each other. My name is Cathy and I'm a Cockerholic.
But is the Cocker the breed for YOU?
The breed standard notes their temperament as "Gentle and affectionate, yet full of life and exuberance". It says a "Merry nature with ever-wagging tail shows a typical bustling movement, particularly when following scent, fearless of heavy cover" is typical of a Cocker.
Why then are they SO misunderstood? Cockers ARE merry, happy, funny, rascally, gentle, and playful. They are also VERY lively, active, exuberant, mischievous, excitable, sensitive, intelligent, naughty little rascals with a flair for the dramatic. They can't just lie down. Oh no, they've got to collapse in a graceful heap and then give a loud, dramatic sigh for all to hear, to ensure that everyone around them knows just how much they're suffering. Lol.
Many years ago a CSRA supporter put it perfectly when he described Cockers as "needy, line-crossing, emotional blackmailing little rogues, the lot of 'em". Spoken like a Cocker expert, lol.
The books don't tell you that.
For the life of me, I can't understand why so many people purchase a Cocker pup and then dump them later, claiming not to know what they were in for with a Cocker's energy level. They are GUNDOGS. Bred to work. Just because we keep them as our furry little companions doesn't change what they were bred for. People know Border Collies or Cattle Dogs need lots of exercise because they're "working dogs". Why don't they make the same connection with Cockers? You just have to look at them to know they're high-maintenance breed, the ears give it away or at least they should.
To anyone thinking about acquiring a Cocker, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I want a dog that NEEDS to be inside and a part of the family?
Do I want an active, excitable dog?
Do I want a 'perennial puppy'?
Am I prepared to pay for grooms every 8 weeks minimum (6 in Summer) if I'm not able to groom the dog myself, knowing that it will cost between $50-$90 per groom? (grooming dogs properly is hard work, the groomers earn EVERY dollar they make)
Am I willing to pay extra attention to my dogs' ears and eyes, knowing that because of their breed extra care is required in these areas?
If you answer no to ANY of these questions, you might want to think twice about a Cocker Spaniel. The above questions need to be asked in addition to the questions that all owners should ask themselves before they get any dog, about things such as willingness to train the dog, walk the dog, invest time in the dog-every day. The above question are simply specific to Cockers.
Cockers are beautiful dogs. I love them for their loyalty, their merry natures, their ever wagging tails, especially when the wagging tail is accompanied by the typical Cocker bustle as they nosily make their way around the house. I love that when I'm feeling energetic I have a dog(s) that will leap around barking and whining, waiting for a game or a walk, and I love that when I'm feeling unwell, sad, or tired I have little furkids who will stay at my side, unmoving until I'm ok. And the long silky ears make great hankies to wipe tears away :)
I chose them. They didn't choose me. They had no say or choice over where they went to live or who their mummy was to be. I owe it to them to give them the very best life I can and to understand them as much as I can. Cockers have brought immeasurable joy to my life and I owe it to them to be there to catch the little ones who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in need of a soft place to land.