Overweight Cocker Spaniel: Get your Dogs Weight Under Control

July 2, 2022

Dog obesity is a common problem.

Left unchecked a few extra pounds lead to a wide range of health complications and even take a few years off your Cocker Spaniel's life expectancy.

Not something any pet owner wants to hear!

Thankfully there are many ways you can ensure that your dog remains in good shape, or to help your Cocker Spaniel lose weight.

From improving their diet with fewer dog treats or better portion control to ensuring they get regular exercise and many more options.

In this article, we will discuss what causes Cocker Spaniels to become overweight, the risks it poses, and what you can do about it.

Let's get started!

Image Credit: First Vet
Image Credit: First Vet

How Do you Know if your Cocker Spaniel is Overweight?

Luckily, there are many ways you can identify your dog has become overweight.


Changes in your Cocker Spaniels behaviour can signal that they have become more out of shape.

If you notice your Cocker has become more lethargic, is sleeping more, or has started to look a little uncomfortable when moving then you will want to take action.

Once your dog exhibits these traits it can become a vicious cycle which just becomes worse over time.


Using your Cocker Spaniels weight is a reliable way to gauge if they are becoming fat.

If you have a set of scales at home you can monitor your dog's weight as often as you like. Hold your dog while carrying your Cocker and then just subtract your weight.

As for how much they should weigh you should aim for the breed standard. This is between 20lbs to 30lbs (9kg - 13.6kg). Try to keep in mind that this is their adult weight which they won't reach until around 12-18 months old.

Also, while this range will cover the majority of cases feel free to discard it and use your own judgement if your dog appears to be quite lean. They may just be a bit bigger.

You can't rely solely on this number though as it can vary due to several factors such as age and gender. If you have weighed your Cocker Spaniel and you are not sure if they are at a healthy weight just check with your vet.

If you don't have a scale at home you could just swing past your vet to use theirs. Our local vet has one in the hall.

Physical Signs

There are also physical signs which can indicate you have an overweight dog.

First, run your hand down your dog's side and feel for their ribs. You should be able to feel their ribs clearly. There should only be a small layer of fat there. The same applies to their spine.

If you can feel your Cocker Spaniels ribs and spine to clearly feel or see them your Cocker is clearly underweight. This can be as dangerous as being obese.

And if you can't feel these parts of your dog clearly then it is time to address your dog's weight.

Depending on the Cocker Spaniel grooming style you opt for your dog could look a bit bigger and give a false impression of its size. This is when a hands-on approach wins and why a visual inspection is just now enough.

How Much Should a Cocker Spaniel Weigh?

According to the American Kennel Club, an adult Cocker Spaniel should weigh between 20lbs and 30lbs. This depends on the dog's gender with males naturally being a little heavier.

Average weight:

  • Male Cocker Spaniel: 25-30 pounds
  • Female Cocker Spaniel: 20-25 pounds

Reasons a Cocker Spaniel can Become Overweight

There is a wide range of reasons your Cocker Spaniel could become an overweight dog. If your dog has a few extra pounds just now here are the main reasons which can cause your dog's weight to increase.

The causes include overfeeding, a lack of exercise, ageing, underlying health conditions, or even spaying or neutering. Most of the time diet and exercise will be the main culprits.

Let's explore each factor and its impact on your dog's weight.


Too much food intake is one of the biggest reasons for canine obesity.

When humans consume more calories than they can burn off we gain body weight. The same applies to dogs. This means that if you feed your Cocker between meals they will be taking in extra calories which will just lead to becoming overweight.

These extra calories come in many forms. It could be as treats, scraps of food while you prepare your meals, or even poorly measured portions at meal times.

No matter the reason it will likely lead to health complications long term.

Treats can be quite bad as it's easy to forget that they should count as part of their daily allowance. Getting in a habit of this could add quite a bit to their caloric intake.

Here are a few examples of the number of calories some treats we give our dog.

  • Dentastick: 78 calories
  • Pig ear: 79 calories
  • A chunk of cheese: 80 calories

To put this in context a Cocker Spaniel can only have 600-750 calories if a female or 750-900 calories if your dog is male depending on their size.

These numbers are based on a few figures on Woofs that suggest that a dog needs 30 calories per pound of body weight. If you take this number and multiply it by the average weights suggested by AKC these numbers are fairly reliable.

The article also suggested that very active dogs could need 40 calories per pound of body weight, so if your Cocker Spaniel is very active or a working dog you may want to opt for that number.

This is also where not effectively controlling how much food your Cocker eats can lead to your dog quickly becoming overweight.

Check the dog food label for guidance on how much you should be feeding your companion. It will likely vary by their weight.

Table scraps are unlikely to be lower-calorie treats either and can quickly wipe out your dog's allowance for the day. Human food isn't designed for your little friend.

To give you a few examples:

  • 1 sausage: 346 calories
  • 1 scrambled egg: 91 calories
  • 20g cheddar cheese: 80 calories

We've all had our dog at our feet looking cute while we are preparing food and if you are anything like me you've caved and saved a little for them. This isn't good for them though. Let your dog stick to their food.

If you are struggling with this you can keep a food diary to track their intake.

Not all treats are bad though and we will get on to this shortly.

Spoiler alert, they are far better for your dog than the options in this section.

Not Enough Exercise

All dogs need exercise. A lack of this is a key reason why your Cocker Spaniel could be gaining weight.

An adult Cocker Spaniels needs at least 45 minutes of exercise per day. There are many factors which influence this number.

If your dog isn't getting their time outside weight gain is all but guaranteed. Plus, Cockers love to be outside in the park.

Over a long period, this lack of activity will lead to your Cocker Spaniel being very out of shape. Smaller activities like even chasing a toy could become a chore. If you do find yourself in this case don't fret, it's not too late to make a change and help your dog lose weight.

Start gentle and build up. You don't want to overdo it here as it could easily cause injury. Relaxing walks in the park or even a little swimming are great options.

And remember dog owners, consistency is key here.

Underlying Health Problems

While far less common than the previous two reasons health conditions can be the reason for excess weight. A few examples of this include Cushing's disease and hypothyroidism.

There are also age-related conditions such as hip dysplasia which can inhibit mobility which in turn reduces activity and leads to weight gain.

Please do keep an eye out for any more serious conditions such as vomiting, refusing food, or diarrhoea. These are not to be ignored or self diagnose. Book an appointment with your vet right away.

Always better to be safe.

Neutering or Spaying

It is not the act of sterilising your dog which can lead to weight gain, but actually the fact it reduces their metabolism. This reduces their ability to burn fat.

Think of it a bit like trying to get that beach body at 30. Much harder than a 20-year-old has to work.


As your dog gets older its body and its systems begin to change. In a Cocker Spaniel, this means a less effective digestive system, lower hormone production, and potentially joint or muscle problems as touched on earlier.

All of this together means your dog will be more susceptible to weight gain.

How can I Help my Cocker Spaniel Lose Weight?

As with many problems the first big step is to be honest with yourself. Accept that your Cocker Spaniel needs to lose weight and that you are responsible for improving their situation before it leads to long-term damage.

If your Cocker is a bit on the chubby side all is not lost. There are many ways back.

So what options do you have at your disposal to help your dog lose weight?

Maintain a Good Exercise Routine

It won't come as a shock to anyone that ensuring your Cocker Spaniel has had the right level of exercise is the best way to keep your dog in good shape.

Staying on top of this is the best way to mitigate the odds your dog has problems relating to their weight in the future.

We have a guide on how much exercise a Cocker Spaniel needs as it does vary depending on a few factors. That would be a great article to read if you would like a more in-depth overview.

If your Cocker Spaniel is a bit overweight you will want out slow and build as time goes on. Try to keep activity continuous to ensure your dog is getting a good workout. You could also gamify it a bit with fun activities like hide and seek or fetch.

Over time you will find your Cocker becomes in excellent physical condition. You can even consider running with a Cocker Spaniel at this point.

Be Strict with your Cocker Spaniels Diet

For both humans and dogs diet is a critical area that has to be addressed to manage excess weight.

The easiest way to address diet is to feed your dog food which says complete or balanced on the packaging. This means that nutritionally this food has everything you need to ensure you have a healthy dog.

Basic food tips would be ensuring their portions are measured out and keeping a food diary to record activity.

We do have a deep dive into what a healthy Cocker Spaniel diet should contain on the site too if you would like to learn more.

Don't give your Cocker too many treats. while these can be great rewards for positive behaviour they do add to your dog's caloric intake. If you are going to give your dog some treats make sure they are healthy ones. Healthy treats cut down quite a lot on extra calories.

Healthier treats:

  • Carrot baton: 15 calories
  • Cucumber: 1 calorie per slice
  • Half a banana: 27 calories

These options are far better for your dog. They also offer the added benefit of being packed with nutrients.

An excellent choice if you are looking for something to help with training. You can even snap things like a carrot baton into smaller pieces to stretch it out a bit.

Just make sure your whole family is on the same page here as it will take consistent effort.

Low-calorie food is another great option if you want to give your Cocker a decent meal but want to try to limit their calories.

What are the Risks of my Cocker Spaniel Being Overweight?

The downside of your dog being a little overweight isn't only aesthetics. That extra fat can also lead to a wide range of health complications.

Some of the main conditions associated with obese dogs are:

  • Bone and joint damage over time with the extra strain
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cancers
  • Immune system dysfunction

Nothing on this list is something you would want your dog to be diagnosed with. It really makes you think twice when feeding table scraps or high-calorie dog treats next time.

Many owners have been guilty of this, myself included!

Keep your pets at their best weight and you can sidestep a lot of this, or at least reduce the odds.

Which Stage of a Cocker Spaniels Life are they Most Likely to be Fat?

When a Cocker Spaniel becomes a senior dog they are more susceptible to obesity or becoming overweight.

There are a few reasons for this. Older dogs are more likely to have mobility inhibiting joint problems, especially if they have been on the chubby side for a lot of their life.

Seniors are also far less capable of lots of exercise than they were as adults which means fewer calories being burned off and more weight kept on.

Also, as dogs age their metabolism slows which contributes to weight gain. This is why you see senior dog food in the shops, it has reduced carbs to match their dietary requirements.


So, now you know everything you need to ensure your canine companion remains at its ideal weight.

Not taking care of this will lead to years being taken off your dog's lifespan. And they will become more likely to be afflicted by many serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or joint problems to name a few.

Luckily, it doesn't take too much to keep your Cocker healthy. The most impactful factors are getting a dog's diet right and ensuring regular exercise. Get these two points down and you are well on your way.

If you do find you have a fat Cocker Spaniel then don't fret, everything can be solved. Start slow and build up. Cut down those dog treats, they really can quickly give your dog an extra 30% of their daily caloric intake without much thought.

The best part is that you and your dog will both be happier for it.

And as with anything relating to your dog's health if in any doubt speak with your vet. If your Cocker is an overweight dog they can offer feeding and exercise recommendations to help reduce their weight.

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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