If you want a social, loyal, exuberant pet, it is hard to do better than a Cocker Spaniel. To top it off, these dogs have gorgeous coats! But do those beautiful coats shed? If so, how much? How do you keep up with grooming a Cocker Spaniel?
In this article, we’re going to tell you all about what you can expect in terms of shedding and allergies if you own a Cocker Spaniel. We’re also going to provide you with some recommendations which can help you minimize shedding and keep your pup well-groomed.
But first, let's talk a little bit more about the different breeds of Cocker Spaniels. There are important differences between them when it comes to shedding and grooming.
Cocker Shedding Overview
cOAT: Medium To Long Flat Or Slightly Wavy Coat With Silky Texture.
Color: Solid colors including black, liver/brown and red/golden. Parti Color (two or more solid colors) are white with red, black or liver.
Grooming needs: High
English Cocker Spaniels vs. American Cocker Spaniels
The two types of Cocker Spaniels are English and American. In terms of personality, the two breeds are much alike. But in terms of physical build and coat, they are different in several regards.
English Cocker Spaniels:
American Cocker Spaniels:
Did you know there are two types of English Cocker Spaniels? Field lines have shorter coats and are working dogs. Show lines have longer coats.
We will discuss both types of Cockers in detail with respect to grooming. But wait—we need to answer an important question first.
Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic?
If you are concerned about shedding, one of your top questions is probably whether Cocker Spaniels are hypoallergenic dogs or not.
The answer to that question is “no.”
But here’s the thing— the same is true of any other type of dog, even breeds considered low shedders.
Why is that the case? Because there is no such thing as a dog that doesn't produce allergens. What you are allergic to (if you have a pet allergy) isn't a dog's fur or dander (dry skin). You are actually allergic to proteins which dogs secrete from their skin glands and salivary glands. Being as these proteins get into your dog’s fur and dander, it is true that heavier shedders may be more likely to trigger allergy symptoms.
Nevertheless, it also means that how much or little your symptoms flare depends on your grooming habits and how good a job you do preventing excess fur and dander from ending up scattered around your home.
With that in mind, let's talk about the coats both of these breeds share.
What Type of Coat Does a Cocker Spaniel Have?
Your Cocker Spaniel has a double coat. The undercoat is dense, providing protection from water, wind and cold. The topcoat can have a smooth texture or a rough one and is longer than the undercoat. Whether the texture is smooth or rough makes no difference in the amount of shedding. Sometimes, the coat's texture may also be described as "feathery" or "silky."
It is useful to know that twice a year, they blow their coats. These heavy shedding periods are during spring and autumn. The increase or decrease in daylight hours results in a hormonal shift in your dog, leading to increased shedding.
Dogs shed in the spring to get ready for the hot months of summer (their summer coats keep them cool, despite looking warm). They shed in the fall so that thicker fur can grow in for winter warmth. Cocker Spaniels that spend a lot of time outdoors are most prone to high shedding.
Managing Cocker Spaniel Shedding
Owning a Cocker Spaniel is a commitment to frequent upkeep in the form of combing and clipping. This is especially important during spring and autumn, but it is a continuous job throughout the year. Grooming can help control shedding, but you can still expect to find plenty of hairs around the house.
The occasional bath can be helpful, especially with an anti-shed shampoo, but not too many of them. Regular brushing this long haired breed is most important (we’ll discuss the frequency shortly).
Something else you can do to help keep shedding under control is to feed your dog a healthy diet rich in fatty acids, vitamins, linoleic acid and zinc.
Finally, don’t forget to check regularly for ticks and fleas, both of which can increase shedding.
How to Groom English Cocker Spaniels
Between the two types of Cocker Spaniels, English Cockers generally require less maintenance because they have shorter coats than their American relatives. Their overall classification is “medium” among all dog breed coats.
How frequently do they shed? You can characterize it as more or less “average.” They are neither the heaviest nor the lightest shedders.
The American Kennel Club suggests grooming your English Cocker Spaniel with 2 to 3 brushings a week. These frequent brushings will help to prevent your dog's coat from tangling or matting. Coats that have a more wavy consistency will be more prone to matting and may require more care than those which are flatter.
The AKC also recommends:
In addition the dog is usually trimmed every month or so in certain areas—around the feet, on the face, under the neck, on the underside of the ears, and under the tail. The owner can learn to use scissors, thinning shears or a stripping tool, and clippers to do an overall trim and help keep up the English Cocker’s neat appearance. The ears should be checked weekly for debris and excess wax, and the nails should be trimmed at least monthly.”
If you do not want to handle those monthly trims, you can get a professional to do it for you. If you do not have (or are not willing to develop) professional-level skills and invest in supplies, it is best to do this.
Why do you need to check your dog's ears regularly? Ear infections are common with this breed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
What to Know About Grooming American Cocker Spaniels
Now you know all about English Cocker Spaniels and their grooming needs. But what about American Cocker Spaniels? Like the English Cocker Spaniel, the American Cocker are moderate shedders. But since the hairs are longer, it can take more maintenance to prevent them from tangling and matting.
For that reason, the AKC says that you should be brushing your American Cocker Spaniel every day. If you skip so much as a single day, you could find yourself needing to put in extra time the next day to remove additional tangles and mats.
Take as much time as you need when you encounter tangles. You’ll get the best results if you carefully separate the hairs, working from the ends back toward the roots and doing so by hand if necessary.
The AKC suggests that you use a metal comb with the teeth fairly close together. We’ll offer some more detailed advice on grooming supplies for Cocker Spaniels shortly.
How long or short you keep your dog's hair is entirely up to you. Shorter hair may be more manageable, but many people enjoy the look and feel of a long, luxurious American Cocker Spaniel coat.
Once again, it is essential to be on the lookout for debris in your pet's ears. Removing debris helps to prevent ear infections.
Tips for Grooming Your Cocker Spaniel and Reducing Shedding
You now know some of the differences between shedding and grooming requirements for American vs. English Cocker Spaniels. Here are some additional tips and tricks for success grooming any type of Cocker Spaniel.
1. How often you need to brush your dog will depend in part on the time of year. As mentioned previously, these dogs tend to shed more voluminously in the spring and autumn as temperatures change.
2. Bathe your pooch regularly. Invest in dog shampoo, which will not irritate your pet's skin.
3. Rinse and dry your Cocker Spaniel thoroughly following baths. Even when using a gentle shampoo for dogs, skin irritation can develop if a residue is left behind after your pet's bath is over. For that reason, you should be extra thorough when rinsing your dog's coat. Make sure you have gotten underneath all the long fur. Afterward, you can blow-dry your dog's coat. Don't turn the heat up too high. Doing so may not only cause discomfort, but it could also dry out your dog's skin.
4. While grooming, check your pet’s skin. This is the perfect time to be on the lookout for any form of irritation you might need to treat. As you examine your pet's skin, you can also look for deep mats and tangles you might miss if you were making a more cursory examination of the topcoat.
5. Get the right supplies to effectively and safely detangle your dog’s fur and prevent excess shedding.
Ideally, you will invest in a few different brushes, each of which has its purpose.
First of all, you will need some help removing some of the tough tangles that can form in your Cocker Spaniel's coat. To take care of those, you’ll want to pick up a slicker. This is a large, flat, rectangular brush that features dense wire bristles.
As you pull the slicker through your Cocker Spaniel’s fur, the bristles lift away loose hairs and massage your pet's skin. This gives blood circulation a boost, providing your pet with an additional health benefit. Also, many Cocker Spaniels enjoy the sensation of being brushed using a slicker.
Even though a slicker can help you get rid of some of your dog's loose hairs, you will probably need some extra help in that department.
So what can you do about it? Consider getting a specialized product called a FURminator. This brush is designed to reach your dog's undercoat through the topcoat. Doing so can pick up loose hairs that are hard to reach with other types of brushes. Its design protects the topcoat and is gentle on your pet's skin.
After you use the slicker and the FURminator (in that order), you’re going to need to use a bristle brush. This brush aims to make your Cockers coat smooth and silky after you have completed the tangling and removed loose hairs. The linked bristle brush includes a pin brush on the other side.
Similar to a slicker, a pin brush has plastic tips on its wire pins. If your dog has a longer coat, you’ll find the pin brush helpful.
Make sure that with all the dog brushes you purchase, you choose products which feature comfortable, ergonomic handles. You will be spending plenty of time using them.
You're going to want to make sure you aren't straining your wrist and having a comfortable, enjoyable time brushing and bonding with your pet
That wraps it up! All told, Cocker Spaniels are not the heaviest shedders, but they do shed significantly. For that reason and so that your dog's coat remains clean, un-matted and comfortable, they require frequent grooming.
Depending on whether you have a European or American Cocker Spaniel, and whether you have a field or show line dog, you might need to brush your dog every few days or every single day.
With the right grooming supplies, practiced techniques, and ongoing care and dedication, you can prevent excess shedding and keep your Cocker Spaniel’s coat healthy, shiny and beautiful.