Cocker Spaniel vs Springer Spaniel: What are the differences?

Spaniels are one of the most popular breeds. Their good nature, wonderful loyalty and ability to fit in with family life make them the go-to choice for many families.

There are many different types of Spaniel to choose from, including the Cocker Spaniel and Springer Spaniel. But, what are the main differences between the two and which type would suit your lifestyle?

In this guide Cocker Spaniel vs Springer Spaniel: What are the differences? We’ll help you learn:

  • The main differences in terms of appearance, health, personality and more.
  • What they need from you as an owner
  • The origins of the breed
  • And, much more…

What are the differences between a Cocker Spaniel and Springer Spaniel?

It’s worth highlighting at this point that whilst they are classed as the same breed there are two types of Cocker Spaniel, a show Cocker Spaniel and a working Cocker Spaniel. Both have subtle differences in their appearance, but for this comparison, we are basing the differences on working with a Cocker Spaniel simply due to the fact that in our view most families would be choosing between the two most active breed.

Cocker Spaniel
A Cocker Spaniel

Appearance and Size

There are some subtle and not-so-subtle differences between a Cocker Spaniel and Springer Spaniel.

Cocker Spaniels are the smallest of the Spaniel varieties and, indeed, the smallest working dog. They range in size from 12kg to 16kg and from 36cm to 48cm, depending on whether they are male or female. 

Springer Spaniels are a little larger than Cocker Spaniels with weights ranging from 18kg to 23kg and heights from 45cm to 50cm. Again, this is dependent on their sex, but males are normally larger than females. 

Springer Spaniel's ears are shorter and higher on their head and they have longer and pointier snouts than their Cocker Spaniel Counterparts. Springer’s bodies are longer and more muscular and they have larger paws. Springer Spaniels are, in virtually all cases, black and white in colour whereas Cocker Spaniels come in numerous colours and coat types.

Whilst both dogs have very active tails (to say the least) a Springer Spaniel’s tail rarely stops wagging.

Both Springers and Cocker Spaniels enjoy cuddling with their important human, so if you are tight for space, or have a small couch, opt for the smaller Cocker Spaniel. Springer Spaniels do love to lounge around after a long walk, so be prepared to not have any space for you to sit down!


Cocker Spaniels

Cocker Spaniels are naturally healthy dogs, but as with every breed are susceptible to some specific health conditions.

The most common health conditions that affect Cocker Spaniels relate to their ears and eyes, with Otitis, a yeast/bacterial-based ear infection being the most common. 

Otitis happens as a result of a Cocker Spaniel’s long ears and occurs when moisture gathers in the ear canal and becomes infected. It can be prevented by regular cleaning of the ears.

One of the most muscular-skeletal issues for Cocker Spaniels relates to Hip Dysplasia, which is a misalignment of the hip.

If not dealt with properly hip dysplasia can cause arthritis.

Springer Spaniels

Like Cocker Spaniels Springer Spaniels are generally healthy dogs but can be susceptible to ear and eye problems and hip and elbow dysplasia.

Spinger Spaniel
A Spinger Spaniel

Life Expectancy

Both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels are wonderful long-term companions with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.

Personality and Temperament

Both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels are wonderfully effervescent dogs who have a great enthusiasm for life. They love human companionship and are definite “people pleasers”, with both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels being high on the people pleaser scale when compared to other dog breeds.

They are both extremely loyal dogs and love nothing more than being by your side all day long. They thrive on human interaction and will benefit from any time your can spend being with or playing with them. They both love being busy and occupied with one-on-one games with you and plenty of toys.

The one downside of their need for human interactions is that they can both be susceptible to separation anxiety if left alone for any period of time. In some circumstances, this can lead to bad and disruptive behaviour, so it’s best to make sure you consider this when selecting a Spaniel.


Both types are good and eager learners and will thrive on experiencing new things. Cocker Spaniels can be easily distracted, so it’s best to make sure they learn in short, sharp bursts so as to maintain their attention.

Ultimately, both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels want to please their important humans and training will allow them to do just that.

Springer Spaniels, particularly respond to food as an incentive, so make sure to have plenty of training treats to hand when working with your Springer.


Whilst both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels need a lot of exercise, due to their breeding and slightly larger size Springer Spaniels do need to be kept more active. It’s very hard to wear out a Springer Spaniel and they are known to run and run and run with the strong chance that you will need to stop before them!

We try to give our Cocker Spaniel a minimum of an hour of exercise a day but would recommend giving a Springer Spaniel at least two hours of exercise a day.

Final Thoughts

Both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels are great family dogs. Their enthusiastic nature and need for human companionship and their ever-wagging tails endear them to people. 

From a very practical point of view, Springer Spaniels are larger and will require a significant amount of exercise, so there is a higher level of commitment required from the owner.

If you are looking for a middle ground between the two breeds you can consider a Sprocker which, as the name suggests is a cross between a Cocker and Springer Spaniel.

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