Are Cocker Spaniels High Maintenance?

May 15, 2022

Cocker spaniels are kind-natured, loving dogs who make brilliant family dogs. It is really easy to understand why they are such a popular dog breed.

But are they high maintenance? This is what we are going to discuss in this article.

I'll begin by pointing out that all dogs need time and attention. If this makes you hesitate on if you should get one it's possible you would be better off with a different pet.

That said, while all dogs need attention, exercise, grooming, health care, and love it is true that cocker spaniels do need a bit more than the average breed.

So, what makes cocker spaniels different? In very broad strokes it comes down to three things.

  • Cocker spaniels commonly have long delicate coats that require a lot of upkeep.
  • This breed needs a bit more attention than some others. Very sensitive souls.
  • Prone to a wide range of health problems. Particularly relating to their ears and eyes.

If potential owners don't have a problem with these traits you will struggle to find a more loving companion. In fairness, none of the above aspects is unique to this dog breed.

Keep reading as we dive deep into what makes a cocker spaniel high maintenance.

What Do We Mean by High Maintenance Dogs?

What makes a dog high maintenance?

I define this as a dog who needs more than the average amount of support in grooming, is susceptible to health issues more on average or is more acutely affected by separation anxiety or needs a lot of attention.

What Makes a Cocker Spaniel High Maintenance?

What makes a cocker spaniel higher maintenance can be broken down into a few categories. This covers their emotional needs, grooming, and potential health issues.

As previously mentioned much of this applies to most dogs but let me explain how a cocker spaniel stands apart.

Emotional Needs

One of the best traits a cocker spaniel has is a very affectionate, kind nature. However, this loving disposition can manifest itself in the form of nervousness or anxiety.

Cocker spaniels are also very connected to their family. Also, Cockers have a very hard time dealing with being alone. They crave attention. If you are getting a puppy you should try to allocate small amounts of 'alone time' to allow your dog to become more accustomed to it.

This is not to say you leave your dog alone all day but a few hours can be okay if built up over time. Try to use the same behaviour when going or coming home to create a structured environment for your dog.

If your cocker spaniel is having a difficult time with this you will want to consult a professional dog trainer or vet to get a better understanding of how to best move forward.


Grooming is the main area that earned cocker spaniels the reputation of being a high maintenance dog. This can be expected of any breed that commonly has a long soft coat.

A Cocker Spaniels Coat Needs Daily Brushing

Their lush thick hair and long silky ears demand daily brushing to ensure it remains free of mats and tangles. Matted coats are a pain to fix. You might even end up cutting that section out of their coats.

This can help with shedding which cocker spaniels do. Keeping up on this will make cleaning the house much easier too.

Your dog will enjoy a good brush and regularly doing it makes it a very quick task. An added benefit of the regular brushing is that it stimulates oils in a cocker spaniels skin which contribute to keeping to coat maintenance.

That Coat Can Get Messy Very Easily

As they are always getting into trouble a long cocker spaniel coat also finds ways to collect everything. leaves, grass, or even twigs. All stuck in that beautiful coat.

And that is hoping they do not enjoy jumping into streams, puddles, or even rolling around in the mud. Our cocker spaniel just wants to stand still in a local stream every time we pass it on a walk. One messy spaniel who is straight into the bath when we get home.

Even if you avoid those more messy situations above that coat accumulates dirt if out in the forest and will act like a sponge when in the rain. This can add extra time getting your dog sorted out after a long walk. You don't want them rolling on your sofa to dry off.

Maybe it is just my cocker who does that.

Regular Groomer Appointments

Along with day-to-day upkeep, your cocker spaniels thick fur will need attention from a professional groomer. Trimming of the nails will also be done at this time.

We tend to book a groom around every eight weeks. How often you need one will depend on how you want your dog's hair kept.

Some owners choose to keep their cocker's hair shaved short. If you are happy to do that your cocker spaniel is much easier to keep looking good.

On the other side if your cocker spaniel is on a show circuit the time between grooms will be far shorter and upkeep will be more time-consuming.

This really just comes down to your own personal preferences.

Grooming appointments usually last around two hours. You'll be able to run some errands during this time or grab lunch if you prefer. Generally, this will cost around $60 - $80.

If you are feeling particularly motivated you can learn how to groom your dog at home yourself. Depending on where you sit on grooming your dog this could be very straightforward or quite time-consuming. A great way to save some money though in the long run.

Health issues

Cocker spaniels can develop health issues as they age. While this is true of all dogs there are specific aspects areas where a cocker is particularly susceptible.

The main areas that crop up here are ears, eyes, skin and joints or bones.


Cocker spaniels are prone to ear infections. This is in part due to the design of their ears. Those long cute ears do need to have the ear canal cleaned on a daily basis to cut down the probability of infection.


Cocker spaniels can also get eye infections. There are even cases of blindness, particularly as they age.

There is a wide range of eye conditions which can impact cocker spaniels more than other dog breeds. These include cataracts, cherry eye, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, and distichiasis.


It is also common to see a cocker spaniel with sensitive skin.

Ensuring your dog is on a high-quality diet can help with this by making sure they are getting all of the nutrients they need for a happy and healthy life.

They are also more likely to get more lumps and bumps than other breeds as they have quite a lot of sebaceous oil in their skin.

Some of the main skin conditions associated with a cocker spaniel include sebaceous cysts, warts, dermatitis, hypothyroidism, and skin tumours.

Joints and Bones

The last area that we will cover health is joint and bone conditions which disproportionately impact cocker spaniels.

Old age definitely plays a role here with your dog's hip joint being a bit worn or their ability to exercise reduced and lower energy levels. Some issues here can be also due to weight gain and increased stress on joints.

The best thing to do here is to ensure your dog stays active even as they age.

The main ones to be aware of include hip dysplasia, arthritis, and ACL problems.


So, are cocker spaniels high maintenance? Yes. They can be quite a needy dog breed.

There are ways in which you can cut down the amount of work a cocker spaniel takes. This includes choosing to have a short coat that will require less upkeep, and ensuring you keep your cocker healthy and active which can reduce the chance of any negative side effects.

Cocker spaniels require quite a bit of effort when it comes to grooming, attention, and preventative health care. However, given what great family pets they become all of this work is more than worthwhile.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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