What Is The Temperament Of A Cocker Spaniel

What Is The Temperament Of A Cocker Spaniel

If you are thinking of getting a Cocker Spaniel as a family pet then no doubt you will have googled what their temperament is like.

The temperament of a well trained Cocker Spaniel is loving, well natured and friendly towards everyone including other dogs. A devoted dog with a sweet nature, a well trained Cocker is very gentle, especially with young children and loves being part of the family.

The Temperament Of A Well Trained Cocker Spaniel

Here is a video we made about the temperament of a Cocker Spaniel. It’s taken from our official Cocker Spaniel World Youtube channel.

Go check it out and subscribe, it helps the channel a lot.

I briefly touched on what you can expect from a well trained Cocker Spaniel. As an owner of a Cocker, you may say I’m biased but fear not, this article is going to cover all aspects of a Cocker temperament.

Yes, I’m talking about not only the good but certainly the bad and unfortunately, the ugly.

Firstly though let’s have a look at the points of a well trained Cocker Spaniels temperament.


This is one of the very best features of a well trained Cocker Spaniel. I’m yet to find a Cocker who is well trained as a pet, that is not the friendliest dog towards everybody.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve met Cockers as well as other breeds of Spaniels that are very well trained but they are trained as gun/hunting dogs and these types of trained dogs do not show the same friendly manner towards people.

I cannot stress enough that I’m solely talking about Cocker Spaniels who are family pets.

The general nature of a house-trained Cocker is very friendly. Any person can approach a Cocker Spaniel that is well trained and expects to be greeted with tail wagging and general playfulness.

It’s worth noting though that a Cocker Spaniel will probably approach you before you get the chance to approach him. It’s in their nature to mix with people and other dogs as they are pack animals.

Cockers are renowned for also being brilliant with young children and are very gentle but can get over-excited easily. They also get on very well with other dogs and even other animals such as cats.

All of the above only applies when a Cocker has been properly trained and socialized from a very young age.

Cocker Spaniels Are Playful

Cocker Spaniels are notoriously playful but in a very good way.

They just want to have fun, that’s what life’s all about, isn’t it? Well for dogs anyway.

A Cocker Spaniel will play all day if you let him. Yeah, you can tire them out to the point where they may even lie down but I guarantee that if you simulate playtime with them again they will jump straight back up and be ready to go again non stop.

My Cocker, Guinness, still behaves like this despite being over 12 years old. He’s also the same after a long walk. He would go straight back out if given half the chance.

Cocker Spaniels are generally very playful with young children as well as adults and will play fetch until the sun comes down as long as there’s somebody willing to play with them.

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Cocker Spaniels also show a high level of playfulness with other dogs and even cats although in most cases with cats, once they get past the kitten stage, cats generally show no interest in playing with a boisterous Cocker.

Cocker Spaniels Are Affectionate

I have a great relationship with my boy Guinness but I would say my wife has even more of a bond with him.

He will often just sit next to my wife, staring at her. As soon as she looks at him he starts trying to lick her and climb on her for some cuddle and kisses.

Cocker Spaniels really are the most affectionate of dogs. They love being petted and stroked and will easily fall asleep on the lap or half on the lap on any human.

Not only are they very affectionate, but they are very good at showing their affection towards people, especially their family members.

In general, it’s very rare not to see a Cocker Spaniels tail wagging from side to side.

Cocker Spaniels Are Faithful

Renowned for being a faithful and loving companion, Cockers will stick by your side for their entire life.

They love being part of their pack and you are their leader and they will spend all their days trying to please you.

Even if you are having a little trouble training your pooch, remember that your dog isn’t behaving this way to try and upset you. All it wants to do is please you which can make training very frustrating for both dog and owner.

Ther is one thing I should point out about Cocker Spaniels. Despite the fact they love being part of a family and will respond and react with all family members, there will be one member who your dog is more loyal and faithful to.

In my Cockers case, it’s my wife. He’s not overly more faithful to her than me but enough to make me appreciate that my wife is his favorite.

Despite mixing very very well with all members of the family, Cockers are well known for being ‘one-person’ dogs and as I say, my wife has that honor.

Cocker Spaniels Have A Trainable Temperament

A young Cocker Spaniel put loves the mental stimulation that training brings. They are keen as mustard and want to learn and play non stop.

Not only are Cockers willing to learn, but they are also very fast learners and super intelligent. Why do you think various breeds of Spaniels are used by police etc worldwide? They are trainable and super intelligent.

A young Cocker is always up for trying new things to keep them stimulated which is another reason they usually respond to training so well and quickly

The Downsides Of Cocker Temperament (The Bad)

OK, so you may be thinking that I have waxed lyrical about how good the temperament of a Cocker Spaniel is.

Well, now let’s have a look at some of the negatives and what you can expect from a young Cocker Spaniel.

I would like to add that all the things I talk about below are perfectly natural but can be corrected with proper and persistent training.

Separation Anxiety

Oooh, this is a biggie that will affect every single Cocker Spaniel to some degree, at some point in their lives although usually, it’s very early on in their lives.

Yes, the dreaded separation anxiety. I have touched on this in other posts on this website. Because Cocker Spaniels are pack animals, their natural instinct is to be around people,

When you go out to work or even just put them in another room for bedtime, do not expect any peace and quiet until your Cocker is fully and properly trained.

They will simply not understand why you have left them and they will certainly let you know about it.

Potential To bark And Howl

Cockers can be very vocal dogs and certainly love a good bark as well as a long loud howl.

Barking most often occurs when your dog hears strange noises or sees people or other dogs. The barking is often caused by poor social skills but can easily be put right from a very early age.

If you get a Cocker Spaniel puppy, the best thing you can do is socialize him with other people aside from his family members and make sure you get him mixed with other dogs as soon as possible.

As for the howling, this is usually I direct result of the separation anxiety I mentioned above.

Cocker Spaniels are notorious for howling when they cannot see their family. The howl travels further than a bark and because your pooch can’t see you, he feels he needs to howl rather than bark.

Again, with proper training, this can be corrected fairly quickly.

Potential For Destructive Behavior

I know that this applies to most breeds of dog but a poorly trained Cocker Spaniel can and will do some serious damage, especially to your property.

If a Cocker Spaniel is not properly trained or stimulated, they can go on a chewing rampage. Scrap that, they WILL DEFINITELY go on a chewing rampage.

Expect carpets or rugs to be chewed and pulled up. Don’t leave any shoes lying around where your Cocker can get them because there won’t be much left of them.

My Springer Spaniel went through a spell of destructive behavior when he was a few months old. We used to keep him in the kitchen when we were out.

The most he was ever left was 2 hours but as a young dog, this can be more than enough time for him to do some damage.

I came home one day to find he had chewed half the front of the bottom drawer off, completely ruined it.

On another occasion, he ripped a huge hole in the kitchen lino.

It was my fault, the training methods I was using weren’t working quickly enough. I didn’t give him wrong though. I never use punishment as a way of training.

Punishment has been proven to have a negative impact on the quality of training and behavior of all dogs.

Because Cocker Spaniels have a lot, and I do mean a lot of energy, if they aren’t properly trained and are showing signs of destructive behavior, you should fully expect them to go digging.

They especially like digging in the garden so if you care for your lawn or flower beds, you best whip your young Cocker into shape pretty darn quick.

Excitable / Submissive Urination (The Ugly)

You know, I feel kinda bad for saying this last part is the ‘Ugly’ side of a Cocker Spaniels temperament.

The reason I say that is because usually, they urinate when they are excited, perhaps from meeting somebody new or another dog for the first time.

Sometimes this can happen when they are simply playing and having fun.

This falls under the ‘Excitable Urination’ category.

The other reason I feel bad for calling this behavior ‘ugly’ is that often a Cocker will urinate in submission.

It’s easy to tell when a Cocker is having a submissive urination episode by the dog’s demeanor.

This usually involves some sort of cowering or a slump of the posture. Often the dog’s ears will flatten backward if that makes sense and their tail will tuck right under…..even if it’s docked.

Like most types of poor behavior from any dog, they are more of an occurrence during the puppy years than adult although this behavior is very very common in adult Cockers who have been insufficiently trained.

If you are thinking about getting a Cocker Spaniel, I hope this article has helped you to somewhat understand the temperament of a Cocker Spaniel and what to expect from a young puppy.

If you are getting a fully grown adult Cocker Spaniel, depending on its training, you can still fully expect to experience at least some of the good and bad I have outlined above.

Regardless of the age of Cocker, you are getting, any behavioral issues can be ironed out with proper efficient training.

By that, I mean no punishment tactics or harsh corrections.

You must speak softly to you Cocker and encourage them, not bully them into doing what you want. All that will achieve is resentment and you Cocker will not show any of the good sings I mentioned earlier.

He may end up not being a loving family member and you may even end up not trusting him around kids. Now, who would want that?

Just remember, A Cocker Spaniel that is well trained and socialized is the perfect family pet.

A wonderfully versatile and intelligent companion who just wants to be part of the family and be cherished.

They will adapt to most living conditions but unless you are training them for hunting, then having them live outside is not a good idea in my opinion.

If you have a young family, Cocker Spaniels are generally accepted as being a wonderful breed to bring into the family home.

Just remember, there’s no such thing as a bad dog but there is such as thing as a bad owner…..you’ll do well to remember that.

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