Cocker Spaniel Health Issues

The Cocker Spaniel is a breed of lovable, good-looking, affectionate, cuddly, little dogs that originate from Spain. The breed was recognized in England in 1892, and in America in 1936, which led to the stratification of this breed into the English and the American Cocker Spaniels.

Spaniels have been used in the past as gun and hunting dogs and therefore require a daily dose of physical activity and training. If they are locked up indoors all day, or if they are separated from the family, they can develop separation anxiety and destructive behaviors such as excessive barking, whining, biting, and chewing things.

The average life expectancy of Cocker Spaniels is 12 to 15 years.

Do Cocker Spaniels Have Health Issues?

Cockers are generally healthy dogs, but they’re prone to certain health problems. Both American and English Cocker Spaniels suffer from predominantly the same health issues.

The most common health issues that have been reported in Cocker Spaniels over the years are the following:

  • Skin problems: demodectic mange, seborrhea
  • Orthopedic issues: hip dysplasia, arthritis, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation
  • Eye problems: cataracts, glaucoma, eye ulcers, distichiasis, ectopic cilia/abnormal growth of the eyelashes, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), ectropion, entropion, cherry eye
  • Ear problems: ear infections (otitis externa), ear mites, deafness
  • Heart problems (disease): canine dilated cardiomyopathy, heart murmurs, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia
  • Urinary problems: bladder and kidney stones, urinary infections
  • Digestive disorders: gastric torsion
  • Dental issues: malocclusion (overbite or underbite), oligodontia, misaligned teeth
  • Hereditary conditions: familial nephropathy, adult-onset neuropathy, acral mutilation syndrome
  • Portosystemic shunt/PSS (liver disease)
  • Phosphofructokinase deficiency
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)
  • Rage syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy
  • Allergies

The purpose of this list is to inform Cocker Spaniel owners about the health problems that can potentially occur in their pets. Although Cocker Spaniels are prone to developing the aforementioned diseases, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will certainly occur in your pet, but it’s good to be aware of them.

Please keep in mind that the list is not arranged in any particular order; it doesn’t mean that the health issues from the top of the list occur more often than the health issues from the bottom of the list and vice versa.

Cocker Spaniels are more prone to developing rage syndrome compared to other dog breeds. Rage syndrome or intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is a serious behavioral issue manifested by sudden and savage attacks that cannot be predicted. That is why they require early socialization and a careful way of handling and training.

This breed is demanding in terms of coat maintenance and requires daily brushing since puppy age. Visits to a professional groomer should also be included.

Dropped ears that Cocker Spaniels have can cause them problems due to moisture retention and grass entanglement in the hair. Also, they can often get into food while eating, so you should check and clean your Cocker Spaniel’s ears regularly to prevent infections.

It’s impossible to predict whether and when a dog will get ill, but by purchasing Cocker Spaniel puppies from responsible breeders, it’s possible to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Responsible breeders will provide you with DNA tests for hereditary diseases that affect Cocker Spaniels.