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Opinions on working Cockers invited

(31 Posts)
dangirl Thu 25-Jun-09 15:42:05

Very keen on the idea of getting a dog to join our family :-)
I grew up with dogs and I would very much like to give my children - 3 and 7 - the same opportunity.
DH is in on the idea. He has never lived with a dog and therefore probably doesn't quite understand the commitment/work involved.

I have met and fallen in love with the working cocker. Am aware that they need lots of exercise and contact. They seem such lovely dogs though and full of life!

We live in London with a small garden - but close to a number of large parks. I am not working and if I do go back in a couple of years time, it will not be full time.

Has anyone got any advise to give re this breed? the amount of work involved/how they interact with the family and others/ with children etc.


EugeneHCrabs Thu 25-Jun-09 15:42:32

LOl at title

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Jun-09 15:45:32

I don't know anything about them but, having met one for the first time last year I can see why you fell in love. Gorgeous. Completly different from 'idle' cockers grin but I suspect harder work.

ahundredtimes Thu 25-Jun-09 15:51:43

I have an idle lay-about, sponging off the state cocker. The working ones I know are usually a bit smaller, more sprightly, more intelligent and as a rule, just a tad more neurotic.

I suspect the others are too idle to be neurotic.

General characteristics of breed - great with children, very sociable, very friendly, just really SO VERY nice, biddable and unaggressive and sweet and characterful.

Suspect your working variety might require more stimulation than the idle yet amiable variety though, but you'll cover that in the park with a ball.

My other feeling is that as a breed they do like company v. much indeed, and not best suited to be living left alone all day. Whenever I say this though, someone always disagrees with me.

dangirl Thu 25-Jun-09 17:02:43

thank you for comments - please keep them coming.
I have been thinking/talking/dreaming about a dog for a while now ;-)

DisturbinglySexuallyInactive Thu 25-Jun-09 17:10:07

springers are so much nicer

ReneRusso Thu 25-Jun-09 18:49:39

I have a working cocker. She is absolutely gorgeous. Gentle with children, intelligent, fairly easy to train. They are fabulous dogs. Yes she does need lots of exercise but you will manage in London if you live near the park. She loves water and will take any oppotunity for a swim. DH takes her running and she can run for miles.

As a puppy, I had to teach the children to be firm with her to show that they are above her in the pecking order. She particularly used to play fight with my youngest DD, as they do fight for their place in the hierarchy with the next one up. But once DD learnt to assert herself it was fine. She settled down into a very gentle well behaved dog. The only things I do have problems with are : she jumps up at people, she thinks everyone loves her. And also she pulls on the lead which I know good training can prevent, but I've given up a bit on that. She is much happier off the lead.

She is a good guard dog and barks like crazy when she hears someone coming towards the front door. But she is friendly once they come in. She doesn't really bark at all at any other time.

Hope this helps, and hope you get a lovely working cocker smile

dangirl Thu 25-Jun-09 18:51:19

Why do you think the springers are nicer?

I also think they are beautiful looking lively dogs, but I am concerned re the amount of exercise and activities you will need to do with them. I am told... that the working cocker needs a bit less. Of course dogs are individual, though.

floaty Thu 25-Jun-09 19:01:13

Bonkers ,mad,great fun if you want some really good information then look at which is a forum for people who own cockers of both types,there is lots of really good info.

We have a 14 week old show type cocker ,he is pretty full on but will I think fit in pretty well in the end!!

For what its worth I would nver have a working cocker in a town enviroment,they have a very high working drive and do need shed loads of excercise.Likewise springers ,I would definately look at a show type cocker though,I work and Otto has ben great about being left and so far he has trained rally easily and also loves people

FiveGoMadInDorset Thu 25-Jun-09 19:05:57

Love them, leaning towards getting one when aour beloved Irish pointer goes, I have friends with 2 and know others with springers and I find them calmer than springers.

othersideofthefence Thu 25-Jun-09 20:12:08

When I went to dog training classes there was a beautiful choclate brown working cocker.

The owners had previously had several springers and they did say that compared to them she was a bit of a handful.

However, that could have been the puppy shellshock! I know that I had forgotton what it was like to have a young dog.

mrsgamp Thu 25-Jun-09 20:21:39

We have two working cocker spaniels and they are the most delightful dogs ever! I have no experience of the breed as young pups as ours were about a year when we got them - our bitch was a failed gundog and our boy was 'sacked' as a sniffer dog by the police as he ran off after rabbits every time they went outside. Both had lived in kennels before coming to us but adapted to home life easily. They can be really hard work in that they do need lots of exercise and stimulation, but with a young family you should easily be able to provide them with that. They never stop wagging their tails and are excellent with children - equally, children seem to love them, too.

There is no doubt that they have a keen instinct to use their nose and can be easily trained to sniff things out - can be a great party-piece! They love the mental stimulation that goes with using their nose. There are lots of good books around with ideas of activities to enjoy with your dog (although in my experience you probably won't need these as working cockers are so bright they'll be guiding you in games before you know it!)

They are a fantastic size and hardy little dogs who don't have the many problems with inbreeding that some breeds have. They are often attracted to water and there is something gorgeous about the sight of a spaniel covered in mud!

On the down side they are perpetual puppies. My bitch is eight now and frequently mistaken for a pup. My girl is also really sensitive and intuitive (when I was in labour there were times when she was the only 'person' I could tolerate around me!)

Definitely, definitely get a working long as you are prepared to tolerate them constantly running off with your shoes and socks!! has lots of interesting information about working cockers.

Let us know if/when you get one!!

ABetaDad Thu 25-Jun-09 20:27:13

Endorse what everyone says about their sweet gentle nature. They have HUGE needs for excercise though and also have high intelligence and need 'work' to occupy that mind and the nose attached to it.

They can be a nuisance chewing etc if they are not 'worked'.

pointydog Thu 25-Jun-09 20:34:45

working cockers - har

dangirl Thu 25-Jun-09 20:37:13

Thank you so very much for all your replies. I have already looked up lots of information on the net and had come across Felstedgundogs as well as Good sites for information.

With regards to finding a puppy, I was thinking of calling around a few breeders on the Kennel Club site. I know not all breeders want to sell to familys, where they won't be "worked".
We are looking for the new member of the family to join us ca sep/oct, after the summer holidays when kids go back to school, and I will have lots of time on my hands.

A bit concerned if I can stimulate the dog enough but am very much up for the challenge!

Please keep the good advice coming :-)

pointydog Thu 25-Jun-09 20:47:43


pointydog Thu 25-Jun-09 20:49:38

my neighbour's dog is a springer and she is lovely, so well trained, so good-natured. Springers are tops

scienceteacher Thu 25-Jun-09 21:07:15

We have a pet cocker spaniel.

She is lovely and very sweet. She is too stupid to train to work though. She is very well behaved and puts up with whatever the children put in her way.

She is at home all day on her own, but has no sense of time. She greets you the same way whether you have been gone for 10 minutes or 9 hours.

I think a cocker spaniel is an ideal breed. I can't really think of any downsides.

MaybeAfterBreakfast Thu 25-Jun-09 21:20:02

If you're getting one from a breeder ask lots of questions about cocker rage, and be sure that there is no hint of it in the genetic line of the puppy.

Anecdotally, I'm told (by friend who is a very well regarded dog trainer and behaviorist etc) that sprockers have much better temperaments than cockers or springers.

I'm a devoted springer fan myself.

LittleB Thu 25-Jun-09 21:35:59

My SIL has a working cocker, he's 20mths now and still mad and very naughty. They need loads of training and excercise. Hers is always running off after smells and then won't come back for ages. Always disappearing into brambles ad long grass, rolling in smelly things and jumping in mud and streams. He also still runs away with dd's toys whenever he can (my MIL has dd and the cocker 2 days per week). He jumps up and all over the furniture and all over people. I don't think my SIL spends enough time with him, but they do need alot of work, according to the forums she tells me about, much more excercise than a springer. He is a lovely looking affectionate dog though, but you might be better off with a non-working strain.
And if you get one with white on check for deafness, a friend of mine had a deaf cocker, he almost went blind from an eye infection too but luckily recovered, worth watching for though.

floaty Thu 25-Jun-09 22:01:58

Many people new to Cockers don’t realise there are two distinct strains which have evolved over many years. These are the working strain and the show-type strain, each bred for different purposes with different attributes. If you are considering either buying or rescuing a Cocker, it’s important you know the differences between the strains so you can make an informed decision about which type will suit you and your home the best.

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 increasing number of Working Cockers in pet homes.

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 great family dogs for the active home.

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 longer, 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 also tends to be rangier and less compact than that of show Cockers. They may vary considerably in size from the quite small to the very tall (although size variation is also seen in the show-type dogs).

Moving on to personality and temperament, all Cockers (whatever the strain) are busy, active little dogs with minds of their own (as any Cocker owner will testify!) so nobody should expect a lazy, couch potato if they opt for a Cocker. 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 up for more. A show-type dog can also be very energetic and will happily go for long walks but will probably be easier to tire out. A dog that has been bred for an active life as a working dog 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, working strain dogs will often need more mental stimulation/exercise than most show-type dogs. Many will enjoy and excel at activities like agility or flyball if they are not to be worked in the traditional way.

At the end of this article are a few photos showing a Working Cocker pup and show-type pup of roughly the same colour and two group photos featuring adult show-type Cockers and Working Cockers respectively (thanks to JaspersMum, Jean and Colin for allowing their lovely photos to be used here)

How do I find out what type my Cocker is?
If you have bought a Cocker pup and are not sure whether you have a Working Cocker or a show-type dog, then contact your breeder and ask him/her. A responsible breeder should be happy to answer any questions about their dogs but unfortunately not all breeders are responsible and some (especially if inexperienced) may not even be aware themselves that there are two different strains of Cocker Spaniel. If your breeder cannot help but has given you a pedigree for your puppy, check to see if any dogs have “FT CH” or “FTW” before their names. These initials stand for “Field Trial Champion” and “Field Trial Winner” meaning dogs with those awards are Working Cockers. If any dogs have “SH CH” before the name or “JW” after the name, these are show titles (SH CH standing for Show Champion) indicating the dog concerned is a show-type Cocker. If there are no dogs with titles on your pup’s pedigree, try posting the details on the COL Pedigree Board as other members may recognise the kennel names and be able to tell you whether pedigree is working or show-type or perhaps (as is not that uncommon) a combination of both types.

floaty Thu 25-Jun-09 22:05:06

Sorry meant to put the above in speech marks as quote but I found it quite useful in making our choice.

Our cocker so far sems pretty bright and has taken to housetraining and other basic training quite well.

I grew up with a cocker and then a springer,I would definately say they are harder work but have great temprements as full of fun.

Madmentalbint Sat 27-Jun-09 09:38:22

My uncle has a working cocker and she is absolutely gorgeous. Very loving, friendly, easy to train and loyal to her master I'd love one!

dangirl Sat 27-Jun-09 10:13:09

Thank you all for your many messages. I can think of nothing else these days ;-)

Will be phoning around the kennels soon.

mrsgamp Sat 27-Jun-09 12:30:37

Don't know if you've come across The people who run it are really helpful and extremely down to earth.

Oh, just thought of a terrible down side to spaniels in general, especially at this time of year - grass seeds in the ears (or nose, paws, can get them anywhere). One of my dogs gets them all the time and has to have them removed by the vet under anasthetic.

So excited for you getting one of these delightful dogs!! Good luck and do keep us informed!

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