Did you know…these dogs were originally called Cocking Spaniels and they gained their name from flushing out Woodcocks for hunters? Due to their small size they were ideal for chasing ground dwelling birds out of bushes and hedgerows.
The true origin of these dogs is not known even though they have appeared in paintings and books for hundreds of years. It is thought they may have originated from Spain in the 14th century. The Oxford English Dictionary described the word “Spaniel” as coming from the old French word “Espaigneul” which meant “Spanish (Dog)”.
There was a time when all Spaniels were separated into two categories, land or water Spaniels. They were then put into sub-categories dependant on their size. Larger dogs were used to spring game (later to be known as Springer Spaniels) and the smaller dogs were used to flush out Woodcocks.
Nowadays they are known as the Cocker Spaniel (or English Cocker Spaniel) and also have a lovely nickname, the “Merry Cocker”. This is due to their happy nature, a constantly wagging tail and they are eager to please.
These dogs are happy and friendly, playful and extremely loyal and gentle. They love to be around people and due to their happy and loving disposition, this makes them an ideal family pet. They tend to get on well with children and other animals. Also, they make an excellent companion pet for the elderly thanks to their gentle nature and willingness to please.
Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy, but as with all dogs they are prone to certain problems. Due to their floppy ears they are more at risk of ear infections as the flap can trap moisture and dirt. It is important to regularly check a Cocker’s ears to make sure everything looks ok. If you are in any doubt, make sure you take your dog to a vet
An issue which can affect a Cocker Spaniel is Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This is a disease that affects the retina which, over time, gradually deteriorates and can lead to blindness. The first sign is night blindness or trouble seeing in low light. If you notice your dog walking into things or you believe there is a problem with their vision, take them to the vet to check.
Another issue with the eye is Entropion. This is a medical condition found in many dog breeds. It results in the eyelids folding inwards and causing discomfort when the eyelashes constantly rub against the cornea. If it is noticed early enough the issue can be solved with a simple operation and with no permanent damage to the cornea.
Other possible health issue include:
Kidney or heart disease
Generally a healthy Cocker Spaniel will not suffer with any of these and will live a long and happy life. However, it’s worth knowing about what could happen and what to look out for so any problems can be caught early.
One more thing to remember, these dogs have long coats so will need regular grooming as it can become tangled and matted. Also, check their ears and feet for trapped grass seeds, insects and other bits.
If you have any questions about this subject please call us at the clinic and someone will be able to help and advise you. Alternatively you can leave a comment on our Facebook page.