Are Cocker Spaniels Good for First-Time Dog Owners

Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Is a dog the next addition to your family? What type of dog is right for your household?

In this guide to “are Cocker Spaniels good for first-time dog owners”, we will help you discover whether they are the right fit for you and your family:

  • We will identify the character traits of a Cocker Spaniel
  • We will tell you if they are good for living with children and cats
  • We will help you identify what you need to prepare
  • We will give you some pointers on where to get your dog from
  • And lots more…

Quick Summary

All spaniels and particularly Cocker Spaniels are wonderful dogs for first-time owners. They are great family pets and will be a wonderful addition to your household

With a bit of planning and preparation, they will integrate fantastically well into your family and will be great companions for many years to come

They are fantastic with children and live happily with other pets, including cats

All things considered, it’s no surprise that Cocker Spaniels are the third most popular dog breed for new owners in the UK.

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics and Traits

Cocker Spaniels come in many different sizes, colours and types but there are some major characteristics which are inherent in the breed.

Cocker Spaniel size

Cocker Spaniels are small to medium size dogs, ranging from 14 to 19 inches in height and 12 to 16 kg in weight, obviously depending on whether they are male or female.

Life expectancy

Cocker Spaniels will normally live between 12 and 15 years Life expectancy, Cocker Spaniels will normally live between 12 and 15 years.

Cocker Spaniel Health

Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy dogs however, they are susceptible to some health conditions, most notably ear and eye conditions. 

Cocker Spaniels and Exercise

Working Cocker Spaniels require a fair amount of exercise with a minimum of one hour per day being the recommended amount. They are keen runners and will happily be outside for a number of hours a day. Show Cocker Spaniels are less energetic but can susceptible to over-eating.

Cocker Spaniels and Other Dogs

Cocker Spaniels are generally friendly dogs, and this is certainly the case when they meet other dog breeds. It’s always best to try and socialise them with other dogs as early as possible and certainly within the first few months.

Cocker Spaniels and Humans

Spaniels and particularly, Cocker Spaniels are real people pleasers. They were bred to be around humans and you will find them by your side most of the time. They will do all they can to keep their important humans happy and content. Spaniels are known to be good and suitable dogs for families.

What to consider when thinking about getting a Cocker Spaniel

There are many things to consider when thinking about adding a new Cocker Spaniel into your family, including:

  • How much time you will be able to dedicate to your Cocker Spaniel? 
  • You’re working environment i.e. how much time will you be at home or do you commute? Spaniels aren’t great at being left alone for long periods.
  • Are there any other pets in the home? cats for example.
  • Do you have children in the home and what are their ages?
  • Do you have a large enough garden to be able to exercise your Cocker Spaniel?
  • Do you have somewhere in your house where you can put a dog bed or dog crate so the spaniel can have their own safe place

What To Prepare Before Your Cocker Spaniel Arrives Home?

Preparing for the arrival of your new Cocker Spaniel will involve a lot of research and planning to make sure you have everything in place before they get home. However, be rest assured that this prior planning and preparation will make you and your dog's initial few weeks much easier.

Bringing a new dog into your home can be a big upheaval for your family, and for the new Cocker Spaniel.

One of the first things you need to make sure you have in place is a carry case or safe environment for them to be transported home in. 

You will need to make sure that they feel comfortable in your car as it will likely be the first time they’ve ever been in a vehicle.  It’s probably worth either purchasing a carry case or providing them with a blanket or bed for them to rest in.

There is a chance that the breeder might already have a blanket which the dog is comfortable with and which will have the scent of their mother on it. If they do make sure you take it with you as it will make the dog feel more comfortable in transit.

Prior to your new Spaniel’s arrival at home make sure you have a bed or a crate for them to utilise. Providing them with a safe place is super important and will make your dog feel more comfortable more quickly. We used a crate for the first few months with our new Spaniel, and within just a few minutes, she realised that that was her home and safe place and was super comfortable in it.

Cocker Spaniel Puppy in Bed

Make sure that you have purchased some toys for your dog to play with when they first arrive. It will be the first time that they are without their mother and brothers and sisters and giving them some soft toys or truck toys or things like that for them to interact with is a great way of making sure that they feel comfortable in their new home.

Bringing your new dog into your home is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming for the dog. Make sure that you give them some space so that they can explore and sniff around their new environment. Try not to be over exuberant with them and also make sure that your children give them some space and some time.

Choosing Your Cocker Spaniel

There are lots of options to consider when selecting a Cocker Spaniel. Firstly, there is the question of why did you go for a show or a working Cocker Spaniel. Whilst the two types are the same breed there are some physical differences between the two which you should consider carefully working, Cocker Spaniels require significantly more exercise than their show counterparts.

Cocker Spaniels also come in numerous coat types and colours, ranging from golden to black Rowan. There are many different types available. Just make sure you research which type is going to suit you and your family.

Where Should You Get Your Cocker Spaniel From?

Making sure your spaniel has the right temperament and personality is vitally important if you are looking to bring a new dog into your family and household. It needs to fin in with your lifestyle.

Your Cocker Spaniel’s breeding and lineage have a vitally important role to play in the formation of its personality and character traits. It is therefore recommended that you make sure that you obtain your new Cocker Spaniel from a reputable breeder. It’s also wise to obtain a record of its parents and their breeding line from the breeder. This should hopefully ensure that the dog you are getting won’t have any major character flaws.

If you are getting your dog from a domestic breeder, be sure to spend time with the breeder and ideally meet the puppies, and mother and make sure you see the puppy and the mother together. They should have a bond and a solid relationship. 

By meeting another, you will take many boxes to ensure that the breeding lines of your Cocker Spaniel are correct.

When meeting the breeder and young potential new spaniel for the first time, go ahead and ask as many questions of the breeder as you wish. They should have nothing to hide and should welcome the interest. Reticence to answer questions should be a big red flag! Bringing a new spaniel into your family is a significant commitment and you should get as much history about your new addition as possible.

There’s also a chance that your breeder might ask you questions. This was certainly the case with us and something which we were very pleased about. We felt that the breeder asking us about our household, our living environment and our thoughts around the new dog gave us comfort that he cared about his puppies and the homes that they were going into.

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and for your breeder to ask questions of you, bringing a new dog into your house is a big commitment and you need to make sure you are comfortable with everything.

Are Cocker Spaniels Good with Children?

One of the biggest considerations is whether a new Cocker Spaniel is good for your family and whether they will get on with your children. 

The great thing about Cocker Spaniels is that they have an exuberant but friendly nature, and as a result are good to have around children. In fact, Cocker Spaniels with their caring nature will actually take it upon themselves to look after your children. 

As with all dogs, you need to make sure that both the dog and ideally your children are trained to live and be together. Remember to ensure your children know how to act around your dog to not get too excited to not be too exuberant and to not use sudden moves and  sudden noises around them.

At a very basic level, dogs are pack animals and are likely to resort to hierarchical pack behaviour.  In some circumstances, they can get somewhat aggressive with the youngest member of your family. When we introduced our Cocker Spaniel into our family, there were occasions when she got a little bit aggressive and slightly snappy with our youngest child who was 111 at the time.

 We took this as simply being the positioning of her within the family and indeed over time they learned to get on very very well, and I’m now the best of friends. One of the main things we did was to make sure our youngest was respectful of her space was respectful of noise and how they acted around her.

Can Cocker Spaniels Live with Other Pets?

Cocker Spaniels are inquisitive friendly dogs and don’t really have an aggressive bone in their body. So, when it comes to pets in your household, Cocker Spaniels are a fantastic option. More specifically, they are wonderful at living with cats.

However, one of the things you should seriously consider is making sure that you are integrating your new dog with existing cats. By having the cat or cat, first, you will more easily be able to integrate a young dog as the cat will feel that they have the upper hand in the relationship. And after all, that’s what cats are all about.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on whether Cocker Spaniels are good for first-time dog owners. Bringing a new dog into your home takes a lot of consideration, thought, time and planning, but ultimately it will be a wonderfully invigorating and rewarding experience for your family and your new dog.

Cocker Spaniels are wonderfully exuberant, energetic and friendly dogs. They make great family pets and will be wonderful companions for you and your family for many years to come.

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