Cocker spaniel vs labrador?

(40 Posts)
Ouch44 Sat 15-Jun-19 17:33:12

We are hoping to get a dog as a family pet. We keep going backwards and forwards between these 2 breeds. We like the working type of both these breeds. We used to have a flat coated retriever so used to active, slightly mad dogs!
Any thoughts?

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BiteyShark Sat 15-Jun-19 17:46:30

I think it comes down to what traits you prefer.

Cockers are obviously smaller which is a plus point for me. As they are smaller they typically grow up more quickly than bigger breeds.

My cocker is a typical loon and pulls on the lead zig zagging about with his nose. The labs at gun dog training looked a lot calmer than the mad spaniels.

Food is not a motivator for my dog whereas he will do anything for a ball. Labs are notorious food thieves but food can be good motivator for training.

Ouch44 Sat 15-Jun-19 17:52:11

Biteyshark do you know whether cockers tend to be less food motivated? Our dog used to drive us nuts jumping up to steal food off the worktop and table!

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BiteyShark Sat 15-Jun-19 18:07:03

I am trying to think if any of the other cockers I have seen have been highly motivated for food. I think it was more toys e.g. balls but hopefully some other owners will be along soon with their opinion.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Sat 15-Jun-19 21:09:20

Both cockers and labradors come in field (working) and show lines.

Field line cockers are great, but completely hyperactive. Show line cockers, not so much.

Field line labs are slighter and more active than show line ones.

But less manic than field-line cockers.

Of course, you might know this already.

OnlineAlienator Sat 15-Jun-19 21:15:25

Working cockers NEVER stop, which can be oppressive in the house. They like to please, but if you dont ask them to do stuff and tell them not to do stuff firmly (firm does not mean angrily or aggressively btw) they will follow their own agenda because they just gotta be doin'!

They want to search for game as their job is to flush rather than just retrieve. They are also prone to posession aggression because obviously, they have that desire to pick things up and hold them, if they didnt want to 'posess' things they wouldnt be much use for retrieving...

I havent owned labs but they do seem calmer.

thenightsky Sat 15-Jun-19 21:17:58

I love labs myself.

How much work will dog be doing?


adaline Sat 15-Jun-19 21:38:18

Well, you have to think about quite a few things.

Size - labs are bigger and therefore more expensive to feed and insure. They are also prone to joint problems such as dysplasia. How much time do you have to walk the dog? How long will it be left alone? Do you have small children? Will they be able to cope with a big, bouncy teenage Labrador?

Personally, I don't get the Labrador obsession. I prefer spaniels but that's personal opinion more than anything else - I have neither!

Phillipa12 Sat 15-Jun-19 21:58:09

I have owned 2 working labs and 2 working cockers and yes i worked them.from my 4 i will give you the pros and cons, obviously not all will be like this.
Labs; large, food orientated, easily trained, drop loads of hair, expensive at vets as drugs go on weight, very heavy to pick up, great with dc.
Cockers; light enough to pick up and chuck over a fence, more fizzy, easily trained, take longer to dry, need brushing, feet attract grass seeds, great with dc, still have carboot space, less hair deposits but omg the dust.
In all honesty i would struggle to pick between a lab or a cocker again, all 4 dogs have been superb both whilst working and as a family pet, i put it down to good breeding.

Norfolkenchancemate Sat 15-Jun-19 22:01:34

We've had both, and worked both, as a pet you can't beat a lab, not as much work to train, not as much work to keep in line, will literally sell your soul for a treat! Cockers are way more energetic and seem to remain in the 'overly excited about everything' doggler stage longer. I wouldn't be able to choose either, our lab at the minute must weigh 6st, he's a big dog, he gets on the 5yo knee like a chihuahua for cuddles!

Girlintheframe Sun 16-Jun-19 04:34:36

We've had both.

Cocker was hyper. Even with hours of exercise she would still want to keep going. She was a nightmare at recall once she got a smell of something. She was however very sweet and cuddly and great with the kids.

Lab was very easy to train. Fab recall. Not as cuddly though but brilliant with all 4 children. Highly motivated by food which is fab for training but used to drive me mad at home with the stealing. Casting used to drive me a bit crazy too.

If I had to pick again it would most definitely be the lab. Though we are walkers and walk hills etc we just couldn't tire the cocker out! Though they were both sweet natured the lab definitely caused us less stress.

BiteyShark Sun 16-Jun-19 06:11:27

I agree with the cocker's ability to keep going and going if you think walking is going to tire him out. A gundog trainer warned me not to do that as he would just get fitter and fitter and you would have to walk all day to tire him so instead use mental stimulation. In fact we have found scent training to be great for him as he loves it as he gets to use his nose and it fits well into a 'pet' household.

As for recall we had about 6 months of pure hell with his nose taking him off into the forest but we kept at it and he now doesn't leave my side if I have a ball.

MustardScreams Sun 16-Jun-19 06:41:00

Working cocker all the way, but I am biased! They are totally mad, but biddable, especially if you find some gundog training near you. Or buy some training dummies and practice beating and picking up on walks. They definitely need mental exercise just as much as physical.

My girl isn’t hugely food driven - happy to lay down on her bed whilst we’re eating, never jumped up at dd to steal food etc. Balls/dummies are a different matter though! And she goes wild for a bit of cheese which proved very helpful in recall training.

The size difference is what swung it for me. I wasn’t sure to go with lab or cocker, but My dog’s size is very easy to handle. She’s easy on a lead with minimal pulling (if I gloss over the horrendous teenage years!) and I can pick her up out of the car/sofa etc if necessary. She’s too small to knock over dd even if playing with her. She’s the gentlest little thing with her.

Once she’s walked she’s definitely a lapdog, she’ll curl up in the crook of my knees on the sofa in the evening and stay that way till we go to bed. She is an utter joy. Obligatory photo!

Ouch44 Sun 16-Jun-19 08:30:31

Thanks for all the replies. It sounds like neither might be right for us. I'm hoping for a nice, calm cuddly dog after last one which was mad as a box of frogs! Shame as I think both are beautiful

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BiteyShark Sun 16-Jun-19 08:44:53

* I'm hoping for a nice, calm cuddly dog after last one which was mad as a box of frogs!*

I would definitely rule out the cocker spaniel in that case. He can be calm and cuddly but equally he can also be as mad as a box of frogs.

Lovemusic33 Sun 16-Jun-19 09:56:49

Both breeds can be quite crazy and hyperactive, if you want a quiet dog then you might want to look for something else unless your willing to put a lot of time in with training.

I had a lab x flatcoat and he was very high energy, not quiet at all.

I have just adopted a GSD x (possibly a bit of lab), went to view her yesterday and she’s surprisingly calm and gentle but she also has lots of energy for walking.

Hairyfairy01 Sun 16-Jun-19 10:14:48

If you want a calm dog don't look at working lines. What about a show cocker?

ContadoraExplorer Sun 16-Jun-19 10:27:05

Our cocker (father was from show lines but mother has working in her) can go all day but he can also just chill out when he needs to. He does love his food and pretty sure he would eat until he was sick then start all over again if we let him, but we don't leave anything sitting out that he could eat. Very easily trained and had been great with our friends kids of varying ages. He's a good size as well for our 3 bed semi, I don't think the house would be right for anything bigger!

FATEdestiny Sun 16-Jun-19 12:48:11

I'm hoping for a nice, calm cuddly dog after last one which was mad as a box of frogs!

Blimey, don't get a spaniel then!

My final two when we were looking was Cocker or Labrador. We got a cocker in the end, but I still think I'd love a Labrador.

TheSandgroper Sun 16-Jun-19 15:40:11

Border terrier? Likes to keep fit but works with the rhythm of the house. Amenable to a bit of training. Robust. Ours is a great dog.

Ouch44 Sun 16-Jun-19 19:14:05

We are also thinking of a whippet and do like the look of a border terrier. I follow Loraine Kelly on Instagram mostly because of her gorgeous border terrier.
Too many dogs to chose from!

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spiderlight Sun 16-Jun-19 20:11:41

We have a calm cuddly cocker. But he is also totally food obsessed and can be very busy if he's not had enough exercise.

WeeMadArthur Sun 16-Jun-19 20:46:00

My show lines lab is very cuddly, and loves nothing more than a good snooze across my lap. I think the difference is energy levels is that labs will take as much exercise as you can throw at them but are also happy with much less than a cocker, cocker spaniels are much more driven and will happily disappear into the undergrowth. Labs are lower energy in the house imo. I’ve also had a working line lab and although not such a sofa hog as my show lab, was also really calm at ho e, even though he would happily run for hours. I would definitely go for lab over cocker.

My neighbours have Border Terriers and they are so noisy, they bark constantly whenever anyone passes the house or anyone is out in their back gardens.

The KennelClub has an online questionnaire it might be worth doing to narrow down which breeds might suit. If you aren’t in a hurry to get one then Discover Dogs (in London in November I think, or at Crufts in Birmingham in March) is a great way of meeting lots of different breeds and talking to breeders about the realities of each breed.

rideawhiteswan Sun 16-Jun-19 20:50:38

Go for a lab from show lines, lovely with children, always up for a walk but then will sleep at home.
Easy to train as food motivated.

Ouch44 Sun 16-Jun-19 23:38:10

I think going to Discover dogs or Crufts will just make it worse. Even more dogs to add to the indecision! Also went before choosing the FCR and nobody told us they are pretty much the craziest dog you can get!!

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