The Healthy Dog

Contents (links on this page)


The topics below are written from the perspective of the American Cocker Spaniel. While the ECS has similar problems, they are not seen quite so often as in the ACS. Perhaps this is because ECS breeding is more controlled, or perhaps it's because there are so many more ACS pups born each year.

Whatever the reason, these topics hold true for ACS, ECS and many other breeds.

Picking a new pet

No discussion of Cocker Spaniels would be complete without a section on selecting a new pet. How do I know this? Well, I have a dozen books, and this is a topic covered in all of them. There's a problem in this approach, however. Most of us see that adorable little puppy, then buy the book to see what we've brought home. Hopefully, you will take greater care than most of us in selecting your puppy.

Thoughts on multiplication

A year ago, you fell in love with a wonder little Cocker. Since then, she's become a member of the family. Recently, a friend suggested you breed your pet to their Cocker. If you plan it right, it could bring in some extra cash for the holidays.

When his dog had nine puppies, our rector put an announcement in the church newsletter: "We can offer a wide choice of color, style and size. The mother is a German shepherd, and the father is a `traveling man.' The asking price is $ 20. Monies will go into a fund for a good purpose. Curious, I asked the rector, "What is the good purpose?" "To ensure that this is the last time we can make this unique opportunity available to you," he replied. --Contributed to "Life In These United States" by Barbara B Wallace

Troubles in the Cocker Spaniel

I've listed some of the more common problems in Cockers that have lived with me. Some of these problems could have been avoided in choosing a better puppy. If your pet has health problems, proper care can help maintain your pet's health and eliminate many unnecessary vet expenses.. See the section Grooming for health for further suggestions.

Grooming for health

Cockers are usually groomed with a long flowing coat, bushy feet, heavy ears, and heavy feathering on the legs. This type of grooming is beautiful in a show dog but is not practical for the average pet. Maintenance of a this type of coat requires a thorough brushing every few days, and bathing is a chore requiring several hours. This type of coat might be suitable for show dogs but is impossible in the field. It will also be more expensive when taking your pet into the groomers. Worse yet, the dog may not be as happy or healthy.

When I brought Buddy home, I assumed this was the "proper" grooming of an ACS, because this is the way the groomers clipped him. He was beautiful, but the extra fur weighed him down. He would snag on plants, and even around the house, he was not as active. When we took him to the lake, he couldn't swim due to the heavy feathering on his legs. While he started out strong, he'd slowly begin sinking, until he was paddling just to keep his head above water. In summer he was always hot, and in winter his feet were always damp (not to mention all the mud tracked into the house). Later, skin and feet problems developed due to damp fur and heavy oils in the coat.

I later came up with a modified clip, which maintained the "Cocker look", but was far healthier for the dog. Later I began to clip him in field clip, which made us both happier.

Dealing with fleas

Some dogs aren't bothered by fleas, others are. Unfortunately, Cockers seem to be especially tasty to fleas. Here are some tips that can help keep your house and pet relatively free of these nasty pests.


For your pet to be happy, he must fit into the family, which brings us to the topic of training. Cocker pups are energetic, inquisitive little creatures that love to chew. The novelty of the puppy wears off when you find your new shoes chewed up. Training starts the day you bring your pet home and continues through his entire life. Cockers want nothing more than to please their people, and proper training makes all the difference between a good pet and a problematic dog.

AT A WORKSHOP on dog temperament, the instructor noted that a test for a canine's disposition was for an owner to fall down and act hurt. A dog with poor temperament would try to bite the person, whereas a good dog would lick his owner's face or show concern. Once, while eating pizza in the living room, I decided to try out this theory on my two dogs. I stood up, clutched my heart, let out a scream and collapsed on the floor. The dogs looked at me, glanced at each other and raced to the coffee table for my pizza. --Contributed to "Life In These United States" by Susan Mottice