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Talk to me about cocker spaniels as a first family dog

(98 Posts)
NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 09:54:42

DH in fairness grew up with dogs (Labs) so he knows his way round a dog but this would be our first as a family.

There are 3 of us, me, DH and DD aged 7 (dog mad BUT not a big fan of the outdoors/exercise; part of the plan in getting a dog WHEN THIS COVID HELL IS OVER) is to encourage her to walk a bit more!!

I am home all day every day, not just thanks to Covid sad but I work from home.

Access to big commons etc and we have a garden but it is small.

Terraced house so we cannot have much barking.

Prepared to train indeed NEED to train as we have family who dislike dogs and won’t visit if we have a jumping-up dog (hmm, might be an advantage...!!)

I realistically couldn’t commit to walking more than 1 hour in the morning, Maybe 45 mins in the afternoon. Is 1h45 average per day enough for a cocker or would they be going crazy/destroying the house!?

We all adore spaniels in general. They are DH’s ‘compromise’ dog because he really wants a Lab but I feel we don’t have the space or lifestyle/time to walk a larger dog.

Do they shed A LOT??!

Good with kids? DD is very good, adores dogs and desperately wants one (only child) but isn’t ever going to be that child tirelessly throwing a ball for hours for DDog in the garden (DH will be doing that grin instead) DD likes idea of sitting and reading with snuggled-up dog!!

We love Cavvies but fear health issues.

Cockerpoos seem a bit crazy? But are Cockers too?

Any Cocker opinions welcomed!

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FranAndFern Sat 04-Apr-20 10:00:10

I got one last year as a first dog. I probably wouldn't if I had the choice again. She hasn't encouraged my DD (now 8) to walk more, just means I have to listen to her complain when I have to force her out with the dog.

She also pulls my DDs clothes when she gets overexcited, and my DD being upset or excited herself can make that happen We can't leave anything around where she can reach it.

I became a single mum out of the blue after getting her, and she needs a lot of exercise or she is AWFUL at home. She also chews to bits, including door frames and skirting boards if she doesn't get a good couple of hours walk a day.

I do love her though and wouldn't be rid of her. I think it would have been a better idea to get a chilled out family dog.

ineedaholidaynow Sat 04-Apr-20 10:00:38

Get a show one rather than a working one.

They are a very lively and intelligent dog so will need indoor exercise (brain games) as well as outdoor exercise.

FranAndFern Sat 04-Apr-20 10:02:02

Mine is a show cocker. She does shed a fair bit, but I keep her hair very short because she hates being groomed and loves jumping in stinking black ditch water etc.

Cuddling57 Sat 04-Apr-20 10:04:53

It's great you are thinking about this lots.
I would say one thing though - this will only encourage your daughter to go for walks in the first 6months to a year. The novelty of that will soon wear off! So don't get one for that reason alone.
We have a cockerpoo. He doesn't have any of the craziness that others talk about. We haven't been able to train him not to jump up at people when they come to visit though. I partly blame our visitors because they excite him too much (half joking). In everything else though he is really good and easily trained. If you want a cockerpoo do lots of research on breeders and put your name down on one of their waiting lists. The best thing you can do is get one that is bred from good parents and good breeders.

NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 10:06:13

Hmm interesting thank you everyone.

Fran your experience sounds a lot like what I am trying to avoid... nice to know you still love the dog tho!

Yep I had gathered show and working a v different but hadn’t twigged that show might still need a lot of ‘brain’ training... I had formed the impression that show cockers are not very bright (in the nicest poss way!!!) In fairness DH is the biggest dog-person on the planet so he will happily spend any spare minute he has coming up with games for the dog...

Any better breed suggestions for us??!

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NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 10:08:20

Cuddling no I get that, you’re quite right about walks and it absolutely isn’t the only (even the main) reason we all want a dog... it’s just we are dog people and think it would be a lovely addition to our family. Companionship, and just having a dog around. DH grew up with a lab who was honestly his best friend so if we could replicate that for all of us it would be the ideal!

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BadgertheBodger Sat 04-Apr-20 10:08:23

They’re not easy dogs as a general rule, although with the right training and a lot of exercise and mental stimulation they can be fabulous. I personally wouldn’t say they’re a great breed for inexperienced owners so don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort you’ll need to put in to ensure your house isn’t destroyed from boredom! They’re also notoriously bitey fuckers as puppies. Love them though. MIL has one and he’s gorgeous, we’d love one but out too much for a dog right now (usually!)

My mum had a Cav and it was lovely, she researched v v carefully to avoid health issues. My sis has a cavapoo and it’s the most insane dog I’ve ever met with guarding issues up to it’s eyeballs. Any breed can end up a bit crackers!

TeenTraumaTrials Sat 04-Apr-20 10:10:19

We have show cocker and she is our first. Like FranandFern we keep her short just because it's easier to keep her clean. She get walked about 1h a day in the week (always off the lead for about 30 mins) and longer at the weekend. Well that was before CV. She chews a bit but never touched the furniture - loads of toys out all of the time on the floor. Training was difficult but she does sit, stay, lie down and come. Walkiing her on the lead is a pain but we use a figure 8 halter. But she is barky and that's a pain. She is very loving though and will sit on any lap going.

ElspethFlashman Sat 04-Apr-20 10:11:15

You'd be much better off getting a lurcher type.

Cos what you and your DD really seem to need is a dog shaped cat, and your DH needs a medium sized dog.

Lurchers are placid, quiet, cuddlers who are happy to go for a walk and then spend most of the rest of the day snoozing.

Spaniels are high energy by definition and seems bonkers to get one when you are not a high energy family. I've never met a chilled out cocker (though in fairness Ive never owned one, just lots of my neighbours have over the years). I think you need to rethink that one.

NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 10:15:21

Dog shaped cat grin you’re not wrong there Elspeth!!

I’ve considered lurchers actually for this very reason... DH ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT COUNTENANCE ONE!! They are almost literally the only dog type he can’t get on board with.

I don’t disagree re spaniels in general though as I recognise they aren’t for the faint of heart...

DH will countenance a Cav but I’m worried about the difficulty of finding a healthy one.

Thanks so much everyone!!

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Wrongdissection Sat 04-Apr-20 10:18:00

We have a show cocker and he is our first, he’s also kept short as he’s a fucker for a swamp.

He is the biggest pain in the arse going as he is so loving and cuddly that you can’t do anything without him trying to snuggle and wedge himself in next to you.

Pre corona he’d be more than happy with one walk per day of anywhere between 30 mins to one hour, longer at weekends. He sleeps a lot and was always happy to be left alone. I work from home anyway and he’d often just take himself off to wherever the sunny part in the house was and sleep for Hours, only getting up if he thought he heard food wrappers rustling.

We’d not be without him and I’d say he is a perfect first dog.

Oh and he very rarely barks. Maybe once or twice if someone he doesn’t recognise comes to the front door but beyond that hardly ever - think that’s just him rather than anything special we did though.

reasonswhyimdifferent Sat 04-Apr-20 10:19:03

You definitely need to be massively, hugely committed to training with a WCS. Yes they need a lot of walking but more than that they need a lot of stimulation and the chance to use their amazing brains.

There are some fantastic WCS groups on Facebook you should join if you’re on there.

Balonder Sat 04-Apr-20 10:19:39

We have had a cocker spaniel and a labrador. The spaniel was out first dog, pre children. She was a lovely dog. Very high energy. I used to drop her to day care every day while I was at work. When we had children we got a black lab. We were looking for another cocker but my father knew the trainer and they were looking for a home for a 6 month old dog. She is the quietest, friendliest dog. She needs walks but is nowhere near as high energy as the cocker. She has watched my children grow up from babies to 8 and 10 year olds and she has always been gentle with them. She is the perfect family dog and until we moved we had a small garden. I vote labrador (though I love cockers)

ChateauMyself Sat 04-Apr-20 10:23:52

What’s wrong with a lurcher? They come in all shapes, sizes, colours, exercise levels... the world is your pointy shaped lurcher.

Pinkarsedfly Sat 04-Apr-20 10:27:24

Why not get a lab if you want to replicate your DH’s childhood experiences?

They’re lovely dogs.

woollylizard Sat 04-Apr-20 10:27:46

Do not, I repeat, do not get a working type. Not good first dogs.

Pinkarsedfly Sat 04-Apr-20 10:28:04

Sorry, just re-read your OP.

Still, retrievers aren’t huge.

NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 10:28:26

Pink arsed fly, do you think labs are ok though in small house/small garden?

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NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 10:28:49

Ah, cross post!!

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DontBuyLangClegCashmere Sat 04-Apr-20 10:29:36

I have a staffie X rescue. She is mental with small animals and will chase cats squirrels etc but very gentle with humans, never bitten or done anything untoward with me or my DCs, 5 and baby.
She does stealth licks but I can't do much about that. Awful puller too so that's not great.
She has one or two walks a day, we have a big garden so she runs after balls a lot there too, but is happy to sleep the rest of the day and loves cuddles.

Don't write off Staffies - they're wonderful when well trained (and mine isn't even well trained) and there are always plenty of rescues needed sad

Pinkarsedfly Sat 04-Apr-20 10:30:49

Well, they were my childhood dogs, and there were six of us in a council house!

They’re such lovely family dogs, and in my experience, a chilled-out lab seems to take up less space than a smaller dog that is full of energy and constantly wanting attention.

MairzyDoats Sat 04-Apr-20 10:31:06

I'd say a lab would actually be less work? Granted they're bigger, but they're less bouncy, badly, frenetic, easier to train...

NarniaBanarnia Sat 04-Apr-20 10:34:46

That’s a good point about chilled-out labs...

Hugely appreciating all the advice and getting twitchy just thinking about it!! We had been planning on adding DDog this summer but I think realistically we have to wait. Nice to focus on though.

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Pinkarsedfly Sat 04-Apr-20 10:35:33

Staffies are lovely, yes. I’ve never had one, but I will one day.

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