Does a Cocker Spaniel Shed?

In a word: yes. But the amount of shedding varies from one Cocker to the next and depends on the Cocker Spaniel type.

Cocker Spaniels have so many beautiful qualities. They are eager to please, which means they are easier to train than some other breeds. They're adaptable and fit in with many different lifestyles. They’re generally a happy dog, love being with people and can make excellent therapy dogs. Best of all, they love a cuddle.

The downside to this wonderful breed is the amount of grooming needed. So, let's talk about the different aspects of the Cocker Spaniel's coat and what this means for you.

The Cocker Spaniel Coat

The two main Cocker Spaniel breeds are the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker Spaniel has two varieties, a working Cocker and a show Cocker. All of these have different coat characteristics.

Spaniel Type

Coat Type

 

English Cocker Spaniel – Show

  • Long, thick, dense coat
  • Considered to have a double coat (which means they have an undercoat that is typically shorter than the outer coat, and has a dense, woolly texture)
  • Ears kept long
  • Shedding likely
Wild Heart Pets English cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel – Working

  • Single, silky coat
  • Considered to have a smooth single coat
  • Ears kept shorter than for Show dogs
  • Shedding possible but less likely than a Show or American variety

Wild Heart Pets Working Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel

  • Very long, thick coat
  • Short undercoat topped with longer, silky hairs 
  • Ears kept long
  • Shedding highly likely

Wild Heart Pets American Cocker Spaniel gold

 Within each type of Cocker Spaniel, the amount of shedding and grooming needed depends on the breeding bloodline. Some varieties shed a lot, whereas others may not shed at all. Factors like age, allergies, nutrition and temperature changes also affect the degree of shedding.

How much maintenance does a Cocker Spaniel coat need?

In most cases, your Cocker’s coat will need some level of regular maintenance to keep them comfortable and healthy. Cockers love to be active, so they'll adore getting wet and dirty in the outdoors. Which, of course, means a regular bath and brush.

As a rule of thumb, brush their coat every 2-3 days. Daily is even better. There are two reasons for that. Many dogs don’t enjoy being brushed, particularly if they weren’t introduced to it as a puppy. When brushing is part of their regular routine, dogs are more likely to accept it without a fuss and even enjoy it. And believe me, a Spaniel who doesn’t like being brushed is hard to keep still!

You also want to brush regularly to prevent matting. Matting means that their coat starts clumping together, which happens when it gets snagged on branches on their walks, when they get wet and/or dirty, when they chew on their coat. These mats can be annoying and even painful for your dog. When you leave them for more than a few days, brushing can become uncomfortable for your Cocker because the brush will pull on their coat. Left for weeks or longer, mats can become dreadlocks and may need to be shorn off. Neither you nor your beloved Spaniel would enjoy that!

If you brush regularly, your Cocker Spaniel may only need a bath once a month, unless they got wet and dirty for a few days in a row. Or if they got absolutely filthy exploring something they shouldn’t have.

How to keep your Cocker Spaniel’s coat dazzling

Here are some tips to keep them looking their best:

  • Feed them a high-quality diet to keep their coat shiny and silky.
  • Brush them regularly to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Mats can be painful for your dog, so it's best to avoid this happening.
  • If you get a Spaniel puppy, start grooming them as soon as possible to get them used to the routine.
  • Get them professionally groomed periodically by someone who understands how to groom a Cocker. Not every groomer does! Or learn to do it yourself, but take it from me: grooming a Cocker yourself is not that easy. A good groomer is worth their weight in gold!
  • Use a good quality dog shampoo, conditioner and detangler.
  • A Cocker with a thick coat will need to be “stripped” periodically when their coat gets too thick and heavy. You need a special comb to do that. A Mars Coat King stripping comb is perfect for this.
  • If your Cocker has a thick coat, it can take forever to dry. A groomer’s pet dryer is a worthwhile investment and may be a bargain if you can get it in good condition second hand.
  • Invest in a clipper to tidy up inner ears to maintain airflow and minimise the chance of infection. Also, clip around the mouth if your Cocker has jowls to reduce a smelly mouth and infection.

Tools for Cocker Spaniel maintenance at home

The right tools will make the grooming process much easier. Here's a suggested list of grooming tools that will help you keep your Spaniel's coat looking its best in between grooms.

Create a foundation with an excellent quality dog shampoo and conditioner, comb and a slicker brush. Add tools as your budget allows.

Must haves:

  • Good quality dog shampoo. Ben enjoys this one.
  • Good quality dog conditioner. Only use a leave-in conditioner if your Cocker doesn't have sensitive skin. Otherwise, rinse off the conditioner.
  • Comb
  • Slicker brush
  • A large absorbent towel, but ideally 2-3
  • A chamois. Yes, you read correctly. You’ll be amazed how much water you’ll get off your dripping Spaniel before you towel-dry them.

 

Add these when you can:

  • Deodoriser/detangler spray for dogs – use in between baths
  • Mars Coat King comb #20 (for the “feathering” i.e. the longer hair on their legs)
  • Mars Coat King comb #10 (for the shorter back and sides)
  • Lice comb (yep – handy for getting off dirt around the eyes and removing mats gently)
  • Pet blow dryer like this one

Grooming time = bonding time

Grooming your dog can be a relaxing time for gentle bonding. You can even add a massage as a special treat. So, look at this as quality time with your pup and enjoy the process. Start your puppy early with a soft brush to get them used to the grooming routine, and you'll find your Cocker more willing to stay still as they get older.

A well-groomed Cocker is “a joy to behold”. Spending time to look after their lovely coat will keep them healthy and more comfortable, and they will love the extra attention from you. Plus, you'll be guaranteed admiration from other dog lovers and extra cuddles and pats for your pup.

 

Image credits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocker_Spaniel and https://justusdogs.com.au/american-cocker-spaniel/

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