The Cocker Spaniel Club




Breeders: As a result of the continuing Covid 19 pandemic, many reputable breeders postponed their plans to breed for a while - this means that we are currently advising all would-be new puppy owners of the need to be extremely patient and to be prepared for their search to take some time (litter availability may not improve for quite some time despite the current easing of restrictions). Also be aware that visiting breeders' homes to view litters might still be somewhat difficult (particularly in areas where travelling to other parts of the country is not recommended) and it is not advisable to buy any puppy on the basis of emails and videos/photos alone - there are far too many scammers out there only to willing to take advantage of people. We are also aware that due to the scarcity of available litters, some unscrupulous breeders are continuing to ask ridiculously high prices for puppies (up to £3000 and above) and even engaging in bidding wars, selling puppies to the highest bidder. Such breeders generally lack specialist knowledge of the breed and rarely carry out the recommended health tests on their dogs - they are only interested in financial gain, nothing else. Remember reputable breeders will NOT inflate their prices, will NOT sell puppies to the highest bidder and will ensure they do all the recommended health tests before planning a litter - BUYER BEWARE!

1 Who do I contact if I want to find a reputable Cocker breeder?

Contact your nearest regional Breed Club (contact details for all these Clubs can be found here) for further information.

The Kennel Club has an online Puppy Sales List listing breeders who have litters available. Please note: the Kennel Club cannot guarantee that breeders appearing on this list are reputable so would-be buyers should bear this in mind & be prepared to check breeders out for themselves. This advice also applies to Kennel Club Accredited Breeders who agree to abide by certain basic good breeding practices but are not vetted in advance of acceptance onto the scheme.

NB We regret we are unable to supply a list of recommended breeders at present.

2 Can you give me some guidance on buying a puppy, how to tell if a breeder is reputable, what questions should I ask etc?

Cocker Spaniels are a very popular breed and as a result, there are many breeders producing puppies for profit without any real interest in the breed & without paying much attention to the health & temperament of the puppies they produce. It is therefore important that would-be buyers look for reputable breeders & never purchase from the sort of retail outlet that has numerous popular breeds on sale or from a commercial breeder who produces large quantities of puppies throughout the year purely to supply the pet market.

  • Never buy a puppy unless the breeder is willing to show you the mother of the litter & preferably other relatives too
  • Good breeders do not have puppies available all the time so be prepared to be patient in your search for a puppy
  • Check that the litter is Kennel Club registered. Kennel Club registration is not a guarantee that a litter comes from a reputable breeder but be wary of those breeders who do not register their pups or who register with alternative registration clubs (these are mainly used by puppy farmers)
  • Check that the breeder is willing to provide after-sales help & advice and is happy to answer any questions you may have. Most responsible breeders will also offer to take back any puppy they have bred for rehoming should the need ever arise.
  • Good breeders will almost always be members of at least one breed club such as The Cocker Spaniel Club and will usually be involved in some activities with their dogs besides breeding eg showing, working, agility etc.
  • Good breeders will ask you questions to make sure your situation is suitable for owning a Cocker puppy. Be wary of any breeder who asks no questions but is only interested in making a sale.
  • Good breeders will be knowledgable about the hereditary conditions which are occasionally seen in Cockers & will be happy to advise on what steps they have taken to reduce the likelihood of their puppies developing problems in the future eg annual eye-testing of breeding stock, DNA testing for prcd-PRA and FN and/or hip-scoring

Here are a few useful sites which offer further advice on buying a puppy :-

3 What are the differences between a show strain and a working strain Cocker?

If you are buying a pet Cocker puppy, it is important to know that there are two distinct strains within the breed, the show strain (or show type) and the working strain (often referred to as Working Cockers), each bred for different purposes with different attributes.

Working Cockers, as the name implies, are bred as working gundogs, capable of staying out all day in the shooting field. However many are now being increasingly sold to pet homes where, in the right hands, they can make very good family dogs for the active home. They are also becoming popular in canine sports such as agility and flyball.

Show-strain dogs are the type seen in the show rings (such as at Crufts). Their appealing looks and compact size have made show-type Cockers popular as family pets for many years. If you see a photo of a Cocker on a calendar or in a book, it will be a show-type dog more often than not, although this may be slowly changing with the growing number of Working Cockers in pet homes.

Physically, Working Cockers can look quite different to the show-type Cocker. Whereas show breeders are trying to breed dogs which closely resemble the Cocker Spaniel Breed Standard as laid down by the Kennel Club, Working Cocker breeders consider working ability to be their top priority and are less interested in what their dogs look like. Working Cockers tend to have flatter skulls and higher set, shorter ears compared to the show type dog with his more domed skull and long, lower set ears. Another big physical difference is in the coat. Although some working type dogs do carry a heavier coat, as a general rule, they have finer coats and far less feathering than the show-type dog. Their general body shape tends to be rangier and less compact than that of show Cockers.

Moving on to personality and temperament, all Cockers (whatever the strain) are busy, active little dogs with minds of their own. However a Working Cocker may be considerably more active than some show Cockers and have enormous reserves of stamina. He can be on the go all day and still be ready for more. A show-type dog can also be energetic and will happily go for long country walks but will probably be easier to tire out. A Working Cocker that has been bred for an active life as a gundog needs an outlet for all that energy and something to “do” to keep that busy brain occupied and stimulated. Such a dog won’t usually thrive in a home which can only offer limited exercise opportunities and where owners don’t have the time or inclination to get involved in training/activities which provide mental stimulation. The same is true of show-type Cockers to some extent but as a generalisation, many working strain dogs will need more mental stimulation/exercise than many show-type dogs. Unfortunately this means that some owners buy a Working Cocker (not realising what they have bought) and find they cannot cope with their dog’s needs.

Anyone looking for a Cocker puppy should ensure that the breeders they contact can tell them which strain their puppies are so they can make the right choice for their home and lifestyle.





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