Cocker Spaniel vs Springer Spaniel: What Makes Them Different

August 2, 2022

The Spaniel breed of dogs is well known for their cute long ears and loving natures, albeit if a bit hyper at times.

If you are interested in adding one to your family you might be struggling to decide which one is best for you. After all, there are 15 types of Spaniel to choose from!

You would be readily forgiven for not being able to recognise the differences between the Springer and Cocker at a glance. While both of these breeds share the name Spaniel they are actually very different dogs.

In this article, we are going to take a look at what makes Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels different. From their personality traits to their physical features and the level of care each breed needs.

By the time you finish reading this article, you will have a clear idea of which of these breeds best suit you.

Let's get started!


Cocker and Springer Spaniels have a shared heritage with roots in Spain. This will make a lot of sense explaining the 'Spaniel' name.

Another common part of these dogs history is that they were both originally bred and used for hunting birds. This is still a purpose this breeds are used for to this day.

In fact, being working dogs is such a large part of their history that it is even the reason for both of their names. Cocker Spaniels got their name from their ability to catch Woodcocks and Springers for their skill in making prey 'spring' out of the bushes.

It's quite interesting to think they did exactly the same job historically as gun dogs, though the English Springer Spaniel was a bit better at carrying larger prey such as a geese or cock pheasants.

While many Cockers and Springers are still used as hunting dogs they are both more commonly seen as companion animals and spend more time cuddling their owners than using that high prey drive.

Physical Differences

At a glance, it is easy to see commonalities between these two Spaniel breeds. This includes. long floppy ears, long tails, and that general Spaniel appearance which allow us to instantly recognise this family of dogs from a distance.

Though quite subtle, there are a few differences which can help you identify if you are looking at a Cocker or Springer Spaniel.

Firstly, Springer Spaniels have shorter ears than Cocker Spaniels. And their ears sit higher on their head. You will also notice that Springers have a longer muzzle, especially American Cocker Spaniels.

Size and Weight

Their size and weight are other areas where the Cocker Spaniel and Springer differ.

The Springer Spaniel is the larger of the two breeds measuring between 25 and 31 inches when fully grown and weighing between 18 and 25kg. Cockers are a lot smaller measuring between 14 and 17 inches high and only weighing 12 to 16kg on average.

These numbers include both the male and females of each breed within the range.

Coat Colours

Both Springer and Cocker Spaniels come in a wide array of colours.

Going by the American Kennel Club's breed pages there are far more Cocker Spaniel coat colours than there are Springer Spaniel ones.

This works out to 15 breed standard colours for the Cocker Spaniel and only six for the Springer Spaniel. There are a few non-standard colours but even with counting these it still does not sway the count in Springers favour.

Cocker Spaniels are the only ones who comes in solid colours such as golden, or solid black.


Cocker and Springer Spaniels share some personal qualities, but do have their own unique traits that you would want to know before choosing which one is best for you.

First, let's start with the qualities that both Spaniels share.

Both breeds have cheerful and pleasant temperaments and love being close to their families. They are both also very affection breeds. If you bring a Springer or Cocker into your home you will struggle to get any peace. They always want to play or come up for a cuddle.

Another trait that both Spaniels share is intelligence. They are smart dogs who can easily pick up new skills. They are also both highly motivated by food. It doesn't matter if you are preparing your dinner, or it's approaching dinner time, a Spaniel won't let it slip past unmentioned.

Now the traits that are different between Cocker Spaniels and Springers. The first is energy level. I don't only mean the amount of exercise they need, but also their general vibe. From my experience Springers are far more hyper while Cockers are a bit more relaxed, generally.

Another trait that can differentiate Cockers and Springers is the level of the bond they build with their owners. While both dog breeds love spending time with their families Cocker Spaniels are known for being even more connected to dog owners.


Both Springer and Cocker Spaniels are smart dogs.

There was a study that measured the intelligence level of all dogs by a researcher named Stanely Coren. He placed English Springer Spaniels at #13 and English Cocker Spaniels at #21.

Both of these positions are very impressive and are a reason these breeds are so easy to train and excelled at being hunting dogs.

Other variations of these Spaniel breeds did not fair quite as well with the Welsh Springer Spaniel ranking 41st and American Cocker Spaniel coming in at 24th.


The Cocker and Springer Spaniel are quite similar in this category as they are both easy to train.

As they are intelligent dogs who love to please their owners you will find that they pick up new skills easily. The high trainability is a key reason that this breed has been popular as a shooting dog in the past.

One note to remember when it comes to training either of these Spaniel breeds is that they do not respond well to harsh treatment. Both dogs have a delicate nature and need to be treated in a kind manner.

Positive reinforcement is the only path forward. They are very sensitive dogs. And a few treats won't hurt either. Food is a fast way to get any Spaniel to learn something new.


Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniel both need to be groomed professionally around every six to eight weeks to keep their coats looking great.

You will also need to keep up with more regular brushing and potentially timing depending on the style of coat you choose. Other maintenance includes the odd bath, nail trimming, and cleaning their ears.

Ensuring a Cocker or Springer Spaniels coat is brushed will help reduce the amount of dead hair that can end up in your house or on your clothes. Both breeds are considered moderate shedders with a 3/5 rating for it from AKC.

Having a Cocker Spaniel will be a bit more work than the Springer as their fluffier hair can be more prone to knots or matting. This extra work can be mitigated if you opted for the puppy cut though.


The American Kennel Club have created a list of all 197 recognised dog breeds ranking them out of popularity for 2021 in America.

The results saw English Springers were the most popular in America in the 26th position, while the American Cocker Spaniel was quite close behind in 29th. This was followed by English Cocker Spaniels in 43rd and Welsh Springer Spaniels in 126th.

Now looking at the UK the results are quite a bit different. In an article published by Rover that listed the top 20 dog breeds in 2021 English Cocker Spaniels ranked 5th in the UK while English Springer Spaniels came in 19th.

The differences between these stats in the UK and America shows how differently dog popularity can be from one country to another.


This is an area where these Spaniel breeds differ as the Springer Spaniel needs quite a bit more exercise than the Cocker Spaniel does.

Adult Springers need to have around two hours per day of exercise. It can take quite a lot of work to tire out this breed. Throwing a ball in the park and letting them run at full speed after it for a while can be a great way to wear them down a little.

By contrast, a Cocker Spaniel only needs around an hour a day. This can even be a nice casual walk. But they do also enjoy chasing a ball across the park and will take it back to go again for as long as you are willing.

This will be a big factor for anyone looking to become a pup parent and choosing between these breeds.


Both Spaniels are prone to a variety of health problems. Generally, these affect their ears and eyes. Although Cocker Spaniels can also develop

Due to the design of their floppy ears both Cocker and Springer Spaniels are prone to ear infections. As those long ears cover their ear canals it creates a warm and humid environment which has the perfect conditions for bacteria.

Eye conditions such as Glaucoma or Cataracts are more predominantly seen in a Cocker Spaniel than in a Springer. Though they can be affected by it in later life.

Many health conditions these dogs can face can be hereditary. Doing your due diligence when getting your puppy can help you avoid it.

All of that said, both breeds are fairly healthy overall and I've personally never had any serious health problems after several years of owning a Spaniel.

Their lifespan is also fairly similar with a Springers life expectancy being 12-14 years and a Cocker being 10-14 years.

Do Cocker or Springer Spaniels Make Better Pets?

You will be pleased to learn that both Spaniel breeds make brilliant family pets. From their kind natures, and easy trainability, to their deep affection for their owners you can't go wrong adding either of these breeds to your family.

It is worth mentioning though that Springers are better suited to older children who already know how to act with a dog. They are larger and more powerful animals.

Cockers, however, can be great with younger children but you will want to monitor how they interact and never leave them unsupervised.

Dogs who are well socialised as puppies always do better in these situations.


After reading this you will have a firm grasp of the differences between Cocker and Springer Spaniels. From identifying the main physical differences between these Spaniel breeds, to personality traits, and their exercise needs.

No matter which of these dogs you pick you'll be adding a very affectionate, loyal dog to your family, or even a wonderful complement to your household if you have another cat or dog.

The running costs of one of these dogs is relatively low too.

I hope this article has helped you choose the right breed for you and best of luck in your search for a puppy!

I couldn't recommend adding pet Cockers or Springers to your family.

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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