Cocker Spaniel vs King Charles Spaniel

September 11, 2022

Cocker Spaniel and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are both very popular breeds, well known for their playfulness, loyal nature and floppy ears.

While both Spaniels, they belong to different breed groups. Cocker Spaniel is a sporting group dog bred for hunting, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are companion dogs from the toy group.

These dog breeds are similar in many ways. However, they do have some distinct differences. Keep reading to find out which one is perfect for you!

Overview of The Dog Breeds

Below is a quick snapshot of some key information regarding Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as well as Cocker Spaniel to help in comparing these two wonderful breeds. Cocker and Cavalier can be perfect family dogs.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a very affectionate and gentle dog that has been recognised by the American Kennel Club since 1995.

  • Average Height: 12 to 13 inches
  • Weight: 13 to 18 pounds
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Grooming Needs: Medium
  • Shedding: Medium
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Barking: Average
  • Guarding dog: Not suitable
  • Apartment living: Yes
  • Suitable for first-time owners: Yes

Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker spaniel is a very affectionate and intelligent dog who loves pleasing its owner. Cocker Spaniel has varieties like English Cocker Spaniel and American Cocker Spaniel. It was first recognised by American Kennel Club in 1878.

  • Height: 15 to 17 inches
  • Average Weight: 26 to 34 pounds
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years
  • Grooming Needs: High
  • Shedding: High
  • Trainability: Easy to train
  • Barking: Average
  • Guard dog: Not suitable
  • Apartment living: Yes
  • Suitable for first-time owners: Yes


The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a toy dog of British origin. This can already be noticeable from the name. The 17th-century kings Charles I and Charles II liked to own toy spaniels, and the breed was named in their honour.

The breed became a favourite for many royals throughout the centuries. Many Spaniels were bred with pugs to reduce the size of the nose and change the shape of the skull.

While King Charles Spaniels were bred with hunting dogs, they were too small to be suitable for hunting and were better as lapdogs.

Cocker Spaniels were bred for hunting game. Originally, spaniels were just divided between land and water varieties. However, in the 19th-century, breed standards were created.

Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular dog breeds and is known as the smallest member of the sporting dog family.

They are still used as working dogs. However, there is also show variety. Both can make great family pets.

Physical Differences

King Charles Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel are easy to set apart based on their physical differences.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is smaller than Cocker Spaniel. While Cocker Spaniel's height can be up to 17 inches, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's average shoulder height is only about 12 to 13 inches.

Another difference is their weight, with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel being lighter and weighing up to 18 pounds. Cocker Spaniel can weigh between 20 to 34 pounds on average.

In terms of coat, they both can have nice silky long hair in a variety of colours and feathering is allowed. Cocker Spaniel coats are shorter.

English Cocker Spaniel has a dome-shaped head and low set of ears, and expressive oval eyes. The muzzle is softly shaped. However, the American Cocker cousin has a more rounded skull with a broad and deep-set muzzle.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a distinctive face with large round eyes, rounded skull and a full, mildly tapered muzzle.

Overall, both breeds are beautiful and require grooming to keep their coat in good condition.

Coat Colours

Some of the colours for both breeds can be similar, however, there are some differences.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Coat Colours

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has four standard colours: black & tan, black & white, Blenheim and ruby. Tan markings are allowed. Other colours will not be breed standard.

Cocker Spaniel Coat Colours

Cocker Spaniel has more breed standard colours, some of them being black, black & tan, black & white, blue roan, brown, brown & white and many others.


Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniel as well as Cocker Spaniel have an even temper and are generally happy dogs who make perfect four-legged friends.

Both dogs have an easygoing personality and are gentle dogs who can be great with other dogs.

Cocker Spaniel Temperament

Cocker Spaniels make great dogs as they are loving and enjoy the company of their human. They can be a great family member and have good temperaments and high energy levels.

They will be happy to snuggle on the sofa next to their owners, however, they are bred as hunting dogs and are keen on playtime, exercise and family activities. They are great with children.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Temperament

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also generally happy most times with a good temperament. They are gentle, love spending time with family and are good with children.

While they require daily exercise and have a good energy level, they are also keen to follow whatever their owners are up to.

Both breeds are very social and love to get to know everyone. They will not make good guard dogs as they will just want to lick everyone and show and receive affection.

While it can seem that Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel both have excellent temperaments, it is worth remembering that any individual dog can have their own characteristics.

It is important to ensure obedience training is started at a young age as well as mental stimulation offered to these highly intelligent breeds. Also, while they can be great with children and other animals, it is important to have them socialised early.

Both dog breeds are keen to learn and please their owner but are not fans of harsh treatment, so training needs to incorporate positive reinforcement that suits their temperament.

Which Breed is Better for First-Time Owners?

Both Cocker Spaniel and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are great dogs for first-time owners. They are both easygoing people pleasers who should be good companions for any future pet parent.


Both dog breeds are relatively easy to train.

Because of their easygoing temper, they are both eager to learn.

However, with any dog training schedule, it is worth remembering that more training is always better. The training schedule needs to be consistent to keep reinforcing the dogs to behave.

Both breeds can suffer from separation anxiety. However, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel can be more prone to separation anxiety. This can make training a bit harder.


Both breeds require regular grooming to keep their long coats beautiful. It is best to get the dogs used to grooming from a young age because they will then likely enjoy being brushed.

Cocker Spaniel can be a bit easier to groom. However, this will depend on how active the Cocker Spaniels are as if they spend a lot of time outdoors, debris can get stuck in the coat.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel needs daily grooming as their coats can easily tangle. To keep their ears and feet becoming matted, daily brushing is helpful.

Both breeds can also be prone to shedding that brushing will help with.


Both dog breeds are very popular, ranking highly in the American Kennel Club's top breed lists. However, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the more popular of the two.

  • King Charles Spaniel: 15th most popular breed
  • Cocker Spaniel: 29th most popular breed

However, it is important that you pick the dog breed that is right for you, not based on popularity.


Physical activity is required to keep your little dogs happy and avoid future health problems.

Both Cocker Spaniel, as well as Cavalier King Charles Spaniel require about 60 minutes of daily exercise.

Cocker Spaniel has bit higher energy levels and intensity needs for their physical activity.

However, both Cocker Spaniel and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are very playful and always up for a walk or a run.


Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Cocker Spaniel should not be bred more often than once a year.

The litter size is a bit smaller with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. While Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have an average litter size of 3 to 5 puppies, Cocker Spaniels can have had a litter of 6 to 8 puppies on average.

Buying a Spaniel

If you decide to purchase a dog, there are a few options. You can get a dog from a breeder or find a rescue dog.

Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels are extremely popular and can be expensive to purchase. It is also important that they are bought from reputable breeders.


Both dogs are generally healthy but can have some health conditions that they are prone to.

King Charles Spaniels are prone to eye conditions (retinal issues and cataracts) as well as patella luxation, hip dysplasia, ear infections, syringomyelia and mitral valve heart disease. A responsible breeder will get the dog health tested.

Similarly, Cocker Spaniel can be prone to ear issues and the breeder should get the dog health tested for hip, patellas and eyes as these can be genetic issues.

Both breeds, like many other dogs, can be prone to obesity. It is important that the dog has a good diet and is well exercised.

Overall, it seems Kind Charles Spaniel can have a bit more health problems.


Neither Cavalier King Charles Spaniels or Cocker Spaniels are prone to drooling. So, this is not an issue with these dog breeds,

Which Breed is a Better Family Dog?

If you are looking for a good family dog, both breeds are well suited.

They love pleasing their owner and are extremely loyal and social. They love making friends with everyone, even strangers. Having a family where they get attention from many people, is perfect for the Spaniels.

Cavaliers may be a bit more clingy to their owners, but their Cocker cousins are also known to follow their owners around at all times.


This article has given an overview of these two Spaniel breeds.

Both have good temperaments and are great family pets. They are loyal, playful and social animals.

Their main differences are related to their appearance. King Charles Spaniel is a smaller and more lightweight toy dog, while Cocker Spaniels are bigger and bred for hunting. King Charles Spaniels have a royal history and were the king's favourites once.

In terms of health, exercise and grooming, there are similarities. However, there are some differences.

While both can have health issues, it seems Cavaliers have a bit more health problems than their Cocker Spaniel relatives.

All things considered, both are great options for a pet. And any person would be lucky to have either of them!

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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