Why do Cocker Spaniels Have Long Ears?

May 15, 2022

If you asked someone to describe a cocker spaniel you can all but guarantee they would say long floppy ears. It is a clear and defining trait associated with this breed.

But why do cocker spaniels have long ears?

You'll be interested to learn that it has nothing to do with their hearing. In fact, they were originally bred to hunt. And the long ears help a cocker spaniel keep that scent and track their prey or recover game.

Do a Cocker Spaniels Ears Help with Tracking Scents?

Yes. Cocker spaniels were specifically bred for hunting in the past due to this.

Those big ears that get soaked when your cocker spaniel drinks water and just appear to get in the way guide scents into their nose augmenting your dog's scenting abilities.

While they run their ear flaps which guide the particles towards a cocker spaniels nose. This helps focus the scent increasing the odds of a successful hunt. A crucial consideration for any dog considered for hunting.

Also, the thick hair on their ears helps stop them from getting cut up when running after the game/prey in forests or bushes.

When we look at other dog breeds which have been used as hunting dogs we can see this trait is shared.

A few examples of this include:

  • Springer Spaniel
  • Beagle
  • Vizsla
  • Brittany
  • American Foxhound
  • Bloodhound
  • Weimaraner

And there are plenty more examples of hunting dogs with long ears.

We will never really understand how a smell works for dogs. However, this genetic

Does this differ from Working Cocker Spaniel to Show Cocker Spaniels?

Working cocker spaniels have a few differences from their show counterparts. One key area here is the length of their ears. The working variation has much shorter ears.

These days working cocker spaniels are bred for practicality, however, the show cocker spaniels are all about looks. Long ears can be an obstruction for working cockers.


Nowadays a cocker spaniel is less associated with being a hunting dog and their image is more of a loving companion with a gentle soul.

When chasing a scent with their head down those floppy ears will help focus the scent particles towards a cocker's nose. This makes it easier to locate their prey.

If your cocker spaniel is anything like my one that incredible nose only gets used for finding knowing food is available or locating toys.

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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