The English Cocker Spaniel is a favourite of the Spaniel type. Originally bred to flush game birds, the breed may be divided into two types: those who work and those bred for showing. Type varies considerably in terms of colour and size A Cocker is generally an energetic breed and should have at least an hour of exercise every day, including plenty of opportunity to run free. His fine coat and long ears need regular grooming.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 9.6% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPS49.10
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- The Cocker’s longish hair can easily become tangled and matted, so should be tended to and groomed daily.
- His long ears and hairy feet invite seeds, insects and other debris and should be cleaned and checked every day.
- Otitis Externa and Media (ear infection) (long droopy ears, excessive hair growth and wax production, causes inflammation, irritation and pain)
- Eye disease due to eyelid conformation
- Lip-fold dermatitis
- Hip Dysplasia (malformation of the hip joints causing pain and lameness): breed mean score 10.8 (parents should be lower)
- Eye Scheme: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing) (gradual loss of vision); Goniodysgenesis/primary glaucoma (G) (annual testing) (predisposes the dog to painful and sight threatening disease) – a gonioscopy test should be carried out at over 6 months old or before breeding and repeated every three years.
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
- Progressive retinal atrophy (prcd-PRA)
- Familial Nephropathy (FN)
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK)
- Gallbladder Mucoid Formation
- Iron Refractory Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IRIDA)
- Merle gene
- Acral Mutilation Syndome (AMS)
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles, causing intense itching)
- Cancer: anal sac adenocarcinoma; mammary carcinoma; perianal gland tumors; histiocytoma; oral melanoma; plasmacytoma (cutaneous)
- Otitis externa and media (ear disease)
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Distichiasis (double row of eyelashes, causing irritation and damage to the eye)
- Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets causing spontaneous bleeding – can cause chronic malaise and severe pain)
- Immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia
- Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism)
- Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) (ranging from minor back pain to severe spinal cord damage and paralysis)
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry eye)
- Heart disease: Patent ductus arteriosus, Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap)
- Hepatitis (liver disease)
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Acral mutilation syndrome (AMS) (alters the sensation in the legs and paws and leads young dogs to chew themselves)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: