Tips and advice

Working Cocker Spaniel or Show Cocker Spaniel – What’s The Difference?

If you are thinking of welcoming a cocker spaniel into your lives it doesn’t really matter which type you choose, a worker or a show type, a puppy or a rescue dog, rest assured your cocker will take a firm grip of your heart, claim their spot on your lap or sofa and life will never be quite the same again. As you may know I am the proud dog mother of two gorgeous cockers and as Lucia, my working cocker is turning 9 months old in a couple of days I thought I would celebrate this by blogging about the differences I’ve noticed between her and Maya, my show cocker so far.

My first cocker, Maya is a blue roan show type, as is typical of her breed she is compact and balanced with a square muzzle. low set long (and beautiful) ears and a slightly rounded skull (although I think Maya’s skull could be a little rounder to perfectly conform to the breed standard). Her fur is thick and plentiful and I only wish my hair grew as fast! Sadly on her second ever visit to the groomer Maya was clipped against my wishes and because of this her fur is somewhat ruined. So, If you want your show cocker spaniel to have a classic cocker sleek coat never allow anyone to go near them with the clippers! Still she is a real beauty and I think her bad fur days add to her character! But, yeah, a show cocker is definitely higher maintenance in terms of grooming.

Maya is a blue roan show cocker

 Lucia. my worker is much leggier with less angulation and has a longer and narrower muzzle. Her ears are set higher on her skull, which is much flatter. Lucia also has much finer fur which is infinitely more manageable. Some people are curious as to why Lucia has a full tail, whereas most working cockers have had their tail docked. The answer is really prosaic – I bought Lucia as fun dog, not to work as a gun dog so I actively sought a pedigree litter which were undocked. Morally I have no objections to working dogs having their tails docked, indeed it is much safer for them as there is a big risk of their tail splitting whilst working in the undergrowth and bushes, but, personally I think a full waggy rudder is much more aesthetically pleasing.

Lucia is a high energy working cocker spaniel

In terms of personality indoors there’s not much to choose between them.  Maya is loving, clever and a bit of a clown, adores her training and settles down on the sofa for a nap, plays with Lucia or destroys her toys! Lucia is a lover of training too, but being a little more agile than Maya has decided that laps are much more comfortable than sofas or dog beds! She is also extremely affectionate and just as sensitive as Maya, something I didn’t expect. Lucia has also recently shown us that she can jump up and grab things from the kitchen worktop, something that to Maya’s disappointment she has never managed to do! Both girls love human company, and although of course I can’t speak for all cockers I think both really thrive in an environment where someone is around most of the time. Personally I send my girls to day care if I am going to be out for more than a couple of hours. If I’m honest Lucia is also a little more willing to please and Maya can sometimes be a bit stubborn, but of course working cockers are bred with an aptitude for work in mind. When Lucia is a little older I will definitely need to take her to agility or some other type of training to keep her from causing mischief!*

It’s out and about that the real difference between them becomes much more apparent. Although Maya has bags of energy when out on walks and enjoys a game of fetch or “find it” she does spend a lot of time scenting with her nose to the ground, stopping often to sniff things out and often moves at a slow trot. Lucia on the other hand runs everywhere! She is always alert and wanting to engage in an activity, in fact we call her the “ginger ninja” as she is so athletic and speedy. Lucia also needs and demands a lot more stimulation then Maya ever has, and I think this is one thing you need to consider if you are undecided between the two strains.

If you are thinking of buying a cocker spaniel puppy I strongly advise you to purchase a KC registered one, preferably from a KC approved breeder. This is because you can check if the parents have had their health checks (BVA/ PRA/AMS) and also using this link find out the inbreeding coefficient of the litter.  As both types of cocker spaniels are one breed it’s important to ask and check that the puppy you are interested in is of the type of your choice. Show cockers usually have some “Sh.Ch.” (Show Champions) in their pedigree, whilst working cockers usually have some “FTCH” ( Field Champions) in theirs.  Remember to make sure you see the puppies  mother too. I do think that we should all be responsible buyers and do our bit to maintain the health of the breed as a whole where we can. Of course buying a KC registered puppy costs a few pounds more, but it helps to eliminate puppy farms and irresponsible breeding, as well as potentially saving you from lots of heartache further down the line.  If on the other hand you are one of those special people thinking of welcoming a rescue cocker into your heart I’m sure you will be rewarded with love and loyalty no matter what his or her breeding is.

Happily Maya and Lucia have much more in common than differences and are thick as thieves, plotting together to trick me or my partner into an extra treat or walk!

What are your thoughts and or experiences of cocker spaniels and other types of spaniel such as sprockers, springers etc ? Why not let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear.


Love Sal, Maya and Lucia xxx




Carolyn Copeland
April 3, 2018 at 9:09 am

Hi…I’ve followed you for a while and find your blogs really interesting. I have a beautiful springer…male…Buddy…my world. But we bought him from a farm. Saw both parents but they weren’t with Bud. Both dogs shown to me were ESS. He has no papers altho clearly has no cross breeding. It’s only as he’s grown older that we’ve experience health problems. He’s had to have both ACL’ S done. It’s been a struggle and I wondered what your thoughts are on this bring a breeding flaw. I’ve had all sorts of points of view. Some really not helpful or wanted. I’m really near you u and it’s lovely to see your dog’s in an areas I’m familiar with. Think u do a fab job x

    April 6, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks so much for your kind words Carolyn. I haven’t really got any experience of ACL so haven’t researched it enough to have an opinion wither way. Sorry. xxx

April 3, 2018 at 9:22 am

Great blog! We have a show cocker. She suits our family perfectly and we wouldnt change her for the world. So in love with our girl💖 @delightful_delilahcocker

Michelle and Barney
April 3, 2018 at 9:56 am

We are thinking of getting a brother for Barney soon and this blog is an immense help. Thanks so much for writing it Sal Xxx

April 3, 2018 at 10:11 am

So informative as always, Sal. I have often wondered what the difference is between the two breeds 👍 you had me giggling at ginger ninja 😆 and I sooooo get where you’re coming from when you describe Maya as being stubborn at times…. just like Gemma! Wouldn’t have it any other way though they sure are loving little characters ❤️

April 3, 2018 at 10:29 am

This was such an interesting read! And totally agree about finding an assured breeder 👌🏼🐶 love these spaniels! X

    April 6, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks so much for stopping by Amy. It really is important to support responsible breeders as the good ones put so much time, effort, and money in producing healthy and sound pups. We love poodles too! xxx

Izzy & Brie 🐾🐾
April 3, 2018 at 3:23 pm

A great blog Sal. Really enjoyed reading about the differences in Maya & Lucia. I don’t know if I could cope with the high energy level of a working cocker! I’m sure Lucia keeps you busy!! And yes, so important to ensure you buy responsibly when purchasing a pup. As you know, it’s also a great option to go through the cocker rescue scheme if you are happy to offer a new home to a dog rather than a pup.

    April 6, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Oh yes Lucia is definitely high energy. I agree Amanda, it’s important to go through a cocker rescue scheme such as Spaniel Aid or Caessr as they are best placed to put the dogs with the right owners. Thanks so much for stopping by. xxx

April 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm

We loved reading your blog (I read it to Archie and Dexter!)
I did a lot of research into the breed before getting Dexter (our first cocker) and he is perfect for our family – as is Archie! Both show cockers and both quite different in their own ways!! Dexter is much like Maya, clever but stubborn and enjoys trotting round sniffing everything! Archie is more energetic- he thinks he’s a working cocker sometimes! He’s a clever little dog and wants to please the whole time (much less stubborn than Dexter!!)
I just love ALL Spanieks though!!!

    April 6, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Aww it’s true all have their own unique characters! Maya can be super charged too but is never in too much hurry to sniff something unsavoury if the opportunity presents!! Thanks so much for reading Jane. xxx

Dave Wilding
April 3, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Fascinating read…really interesting as it was only at Crufts that I really discovered the differences between Field Spaniels and Cockers…lots to learn!

    April 6, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks so much for reading Dave. I’m sure you will get a spaniel of your own one day and find out first hand!!!

April 3, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Sooooo interesting!!Spaniels are so unique!Funny thing is although Fenty is a working cocker and can behave like a garritty thing he is that chilled indoors its unreal!So temperament also plays a part!Love and hugs always!xx

    April 6, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    Fenty is one of a kind Fran!! But yeah, I think temperament comes in to it too. Thanks so much for stopping by, I really appreciate it. xxx

April 3, 2018 at 9:24 pm

Love this! Birdie and Lucia sound so alike! Does Lucia do a running jump up the front of your body and expect you to catch her before she falls 🤦🏻‍♀️ or is that just my mental bird?! She can jump sooo high now, don’t know how she’s managed not to steal from the kitchen worktops yet or scale her babygate! 😬
For us, we always wanted a dog that we could walk for hours as we wanted to spend more time outdoors which we do every day now! And she never seems to tire! 🙈 And I wanted a clever dog that is eager to learn, which again she is great at! I’d only ever had border terriers growing up and they’re such yappy dogs which put me off getting a terrier. Birdie hardly ever makes a sound luckily! And border terriers have wirey fur so I wanted a soft dog to stroke which again these gorgeous velvety spaniels are perfect for!
Birdie is so affectionate and loving, towards us and every one she meets! She’s surrounded by people throughout the day at Jacks work and seems to have all the staff wrapped around her paws 🙄 and she’s amazing with kids (our nieces and nephews are all quite young). Has so much patience with them and is so much more gentle when playing with them which I love about her!
Love reading these blogs, like to see how much Birdie & Lucia are alike!
Thank you!
Imogen, Jack & Birdie xxx

    April 6, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Birdie does seem really similar to Lucia – they could be sisters lol!! Lucia is not a barker either thankfully and loves people and other dogs too. However when a ball is in sight she has a one track mind, so now I have to make sure to snap her picture before she catches sight of the ball or she won’t look me in the eye! Thanks so much for reading Imogen. xxx

Samantha Wright
April 4, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Great blog Sal, Cassie is my first dog so was very interested to understand any differences between show and working types. Totally agree with you you about reputable breeders, puppy farms and general bad breeders bring tears to my eyes, and how prolific it is.
I rehomed Cassie when she was 18 months old, so I do support adoptation!
Regarding agility… honestly it’s the best thing… ever! I started when Cass was about 3.5 years… as a complete novice, and now a bit more experienced the one piece of advice I would give is to start Foundation work at this age… it will put you at such an advantage… there are some fab videos on you tube.
Samantha and Cassie xxx

    April 6, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Cassie is such a beauty Samantha. I am definitely going to take your advice and try and do some foundation agility with Lucia. I think it will be great to tire her out mentally as well. Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. xxx

April 4, 2018 at 10:06 pm

This was a good read! Would love a spaniel as my next dog as a little brother or sister for Neville. I was looking at a working cocker or a cross. It wont be for a while yet but this has given me something to think about!
Beth & Neville xx

    April 6, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Aww workers are such characters – I bet Neville will love having a sibling around. Thanks so much for reading Beth. xxx

January 7, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Thank you, I enjoyed reading this. Yesterday I rehomed a 30 month old male show-type Cocker who I was told was destructive and strong on lead. Not a bit of it, he was just unstimulated and unwalked. I’ve never had a Cocker or any other pedigree dog among my many rescues over my life, but this chap has already shown me that he’s a bit special, loves dogs, loves being in the car, quite likes visitors, and already loves lying behind my legs in the evening after a good, energetic day.

    January 16, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    How wonderful, cockers are such great characters, just need a bit of understanding and attention! Best of luck with your new fur baby xxxx

May 24, 2019 at 12:08 am

Hello Sal, I really enjoyed reading your blog and the differences between your two beautiful cockers.
Having had several Cavaliers over the years we got a working cocker 14 years ago. We were hooked. What a fabulous dog Jack the Lad was. Clever, courageous and faithful to the end. He carried out no end of tasks around the house and garden, carrying the peg basket, the recycling bin,, the watering can, trowel and fork. I could go on. Sadly he lost his right foreleg and shoulder following an elbow break at the age of 11. We worried that his busy life up on the braes was finished but we couldn’t be more wrong. Not only did he get back to the braes, he got back to swimming most days in the sea and then in the burn to wash off the salt. When his left foreleg broke due to the same fault fourteen months later, we had to let him go.
Now, 15 months later we’ve got another pup called Joe Cocker. He’s such a joy and with his busy inquisitive nature I’m sure that we’ll see another dog who will enjoy ‘working’ on home soil. Kind regards, Iris

Dianne Preston
June 24, 2019 at 10:38 pm

Hi your blog was great to read. I wish my husband did more research when he got me my gorgeous tan show cocker Aggie. I have to have her groomed a lot. I agree are very social dogs and cries if I’m gone for even a short time. She loves walks and jumping in the canal for a swim??? Crazy dog, she puts her paws around my neck to ask for another walk…but I’m so glad shes mine x

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