A well-groomed Cocker Spaniel is perfect show material. No doggie-parade is ever without a couple of competing pooches from this breed making their appearance. One can’t help but admire these Canine Celebrities when out at an extravaganza. Believe you me, it takes a fair share of professional dolling up to get those wagging tails and tassels so beautifully styled!
But Cocker Spaniels aren’t just handsomely gift-wrapped. To keep them neat and looking good, every spaniel needs some occasional priming. If you are going to adopt a Cocker Spaniel, grooming comes as part of the package.
You could take your pet to a professional groomer, or you can delight in the warmth and care of giving your Cocker the tender loving grooming it needs at home. The basic grooming can be learned and can be done with minimal equipment.
Here is how to groom a Cocker Spaniel at home, from his furry coat and choppers, down to his paws:
Tips on How to Groom a Cocker Spaniel at Home
Cocker Spaniels are gentle, sometimes squirmy spirits. They need to grow up with grooming. If not taught from an early age to put up with the touchy-feely, brushing, the whizzing of electric clippers, snipping of scissors, the ear fuss, and the splish-splash at washup, it will be hard to get them to get a feel for it later on. Better sooner than later.
They have a reputation with groomers (and vets) as sometimes being stubborn on the tabletop. This finicky behavior usually comes from a lack of early training.
1. Cocker Spaniel Coat Care
The Cocker Spaniel’s coat is elegant, dense and thick with heavy fluff around the legs and belly. It is velvety, dangling, sometimes wavy, and pretty long on the ears, chest, belly, and legs.
A thick undercoat keeps them snug against the cold and damp.
Their head hair is shorter and finer. And despite the Cocker’s fluffy ears, chest, belly and legs they are very agile. The smooth, even texture makes the coat easy to care for.
Cocker Spaniels are average shedders (all year round). As a result, they need a great deal of regular brushing and combing. A regular brushing routine is necessary to loosen matted hair and avoid your canine companion from getting all up in knots.
If you are uncertain about getting a breed that needs plenty of grooming, the Cocker might not be an option for you. Having said that, some owners manage by choosing to keep the coat short to make it easier on themselves. Even so, brushing and combing and trimming ever so often is necessary to keep the Cocker shipshape.
Brushing & De-Matting – Cocker Spaniel Grooming Brushes
A Regular Brushing Routine will help keep your dog’s coat in fine fettle. Daily brushing gets rid of old flakes of skin, undercoat, and loose hair (which would otherwise end up on your couches). It also spreads the natural doggy-oils (sebum) all over your dog’s coat. This fetches a healthy shine and protects and moisturizes your doggy’s fluff.
Tools You Will Need
- Detangling Solution– A spray-on (or smearable) concoction meant to relax hair for easier brushing and dematting.
- Steel Comb (Collie Brush) – A Wide Tooth Comb to tease dense undercoating. Also called a “Collie comb”. A de-matting tool can be used instead of a Steel Comb.
- Slicker brush – A rectangular or squareish metal brush-head with small metal pins. It has a short handle. These brushes are better and gentler with Coated ball tips. Used for the back hairs and sides.
- A Pin Brush – These can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Pin brushes are especially suitable for medium to long hair and work best on fine feathery hair.
- Grooming shears (Optional) – Here is a top-rated brand.
- Table (optional) – You can read our dog grooming table reviews here.
When brushing your Spaniel, brush so as to do away with matting – at the same time, being thorough going enough to confiscate all the other free radicals (loose hair, skin & undercoat).
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Dematting & brushing is a skill that can only be developed with practice, much like clipping and styling. The more you test your tools and the more time you spend at brush up, the better you’ll get at it.
Matting is not just a muddle of hair – but infections and sores can hatch in the clammy spots that often turn up in the humid spaces underneath mats.
Brush before bathing your dog. Wet matting will only get tougher and tighter as it becomes dry.
After a good long brush, your cocker might become less than cooperative. If your Spaniel is teeming with mats, just be happy to straighten out as many tangles as he allows you to. And when he gets fidgety – Give a dog a Break! Cockers hardly ever have the patience to sit still for long – unless they are being mollycoddled and spoiled in the process!
Do as much brushing up at a time as your pet agrees to. Brush softly, carefully, and thoroughly. Brush against the grain and down to the skin, making sure to use a lighter touch when you are close to the skin.
There are spray-on (or smearable) de-tanglers that are specially made for dogs. These are supposed to relax the hair and loosen mats. Your local vet might have a solution in stock that actually works. If there is a detangling solution involved, it is best to put it on before brushing commences. Apply it directly to the matting that has caught your attention and leave it on a bit before teasing it out with a de-matting tool or Collie comb.
Brushing up can be done anywhere comfortably. Depending on what suits you, you can either hoist your dog onto a table or hold him hostage on your lap. It really depends on what you find easier. Catch him when he is lazy – either after a long walk or at night time when he is drowsy and easier to control.
Start by using the slicker brush to thoroughly brush tangles and mats from your Spaniel’s back and sides. Remove all tangles and mats. Small mats are a piece of cake for the Slicker. You can get them to come loose by gently slotting the wires into the matting and jiggling the brush from side to side.
Next, use the pin brush on your Spaniel’s fluffy parts such as legs, tummy, chest and tail.
After brushing, use the Collie comb all over to straighten the coat and to remove left-behind loose hairs.
Give special attention to your cocker spaniel’s ears! Those characteristic long, floppy ears can cause problems if unkept. Besides trailing across the ground and into the food bowl, they also get matted and fur-clogged. Hair stopping up the ear-openings can prevent ventilation, creating a moist place where bacteria can thrive. Take care to comb away any tangles or matting from under and behind your Spaniel’s ears.
- To keep yourself from hurting your pet, hold the locks of matting firmly between your fingers, so that you don’t tug at the skin.
- De-tangle small strands of hair at a time.
- As a last resort, difficult mats can be cut away with a pair of grooming shears or scissors.
- If you are not confident with snipping away at your Cocker Spaniel, consider driving him to a professional groomer. Your dog could easily be injured, even by the slightest slip of the hand.
- Do not use shears or scissors around the eyes or other sensitive areas.
- Adapt yourself and your Cocker to a daily brushing routine. This will help keep matting and tangles out of the way. The less tricky your brushing sessions are with your pet, the more comfortable you will both be during brushing-up sessions
Maybe you want to take your pooch for a bath right after a good and thorough brush…
2. How To Bath A Cocker Spaniel
The natural doggy-oils (sebum) that make her shine, are also what shelters your Spaniel’s fur and skin from the weather.
You shouldn’t bath your Cocker Spaniel day in and day out – but you shouldn’t not bath her at all. Every two to four months is all your pet needs to see of the bath tub, unless she’s dirty and you can’t help it. They are adventurous animals, and they can often turn their tails home with all sorts of scandal clinging to them. Then it’s time for a plunge bath:
Tools you will need
- Shampoo – you can read advice on which shampoo to go for here.
- Blow dryer – this article can assist groomers when selecting a pet dryer.
- Cotton ball(s)
To avoid loose hairs floating around in the tub, you might want to brush your Cocker Spaniel beforehand. Make sure the water temperature is just right for your dog. Prepare the bath by placing a non-slip bath mat or towel inside.
Give your Cocker a facial wipe. If your doggie has the traces of tears that have been shed, (as these types of dog often do), wipe underneath the eyes with a tough cotton ball. Don’t soak it with anything except water. Soap will only end up in more tears.
You can get a dog tear stain remover in most every pet store to help you clean tricky tear stains.
Plomp! Into the tub with pooch. Soak your Spaniel’s coat with water. Use a quality and tear-free shampoo that is especially made for Cocker Spaniels. Rub-a-dub-dub to work up a full-bodied foam all over your spaniel’s, ears, neck, tail and legs, feet and bums.
Rinse out the soapiness from your dog’s coat until the water runs clear off him. It is optional, but now you can smooth a light dog conditioner onto your cocker’s back and downwards. Now Rinse off the conditioner. Be careful not to leave any shampoo or conditioner residue behind – It will make your Spaniel’s coat look strangely dull and irritate his skin.
Towel dry rapidly and let your pet hop or pick him out of the tub (if you can manage). Holding the lower part of the hairs, brush from the tips of the fur toward the skin. This is to strip off any tangles. Now you can blast the blow dryer. And, just to make sure all the tangles are loose, brush the fur one more time like you did before.
3. Cocker Spaniel Clip Styles
Cocker hair grows very quickly. There is no reason why not to change styles with the seasons or when you want your Spaniel to wear a different look. No matter what look you choose for your Cocker Spaniel, a regular haircut is essential.
How To Give Your Cocker Spaniel A Buzz (Hair)-Cut
Pet trims are pretty easy to do and can be finished off with fairly good results. There is no telling how skilled you could become by regularly trimming your Spaniel at home.
To sculpt your Spaniel the right way, you might want to scour a couple of photographs and have a look at what a well-trimmed Cocker Spaniel should look like as well as viewing the video below.
Grooming the Cocker Spaniel properly is a challenge even for professionals. But following is a six-step trimming routine that anyone can master safely at home:
Grooming Tools for Cocker Spaniels
- Slicker brush
- Collie Comb
- Detangling solution
- Dematting tool
- Grooming shears
We’ve already used these tools under the brushing section – If you’ve forgotten what they look like, you can recap under ‘Brushing & De-Matting’ above.
Before we go shearing away, it is important to get the knots out of your Spaniel’s coat.
- Gently brush with slicker brush. You have probably got your hands on one of these gizmo’s for your brushing sessions already, and have gotten the hang of using it to detangle and straighten your dog’s hair. You might want to use a detangling potion to make it easier to brush Fluffy.
- Use your Collie Comb or dematting tool to tease matting out. If you are positively fighting a losing battle with those knots, you may want to cut them loose with your brand new shears.
- Drawing up a table might help to curb your Pet’s twitchiness or it might stir him up. If he gets too excited to hold still (or aims to take a jump off the table), you could trim while you are both taking a pew on the floorboards. As with any salon treatment, the beautician does her thing best by standing up straight.
Cut and Blow Steps
Remember not to risk your dog getting injured by doing any shearing close to the eyes or other uncomfortable areas.
- Head first! Start by trimming the hair on your pet’s head with the shears. Just like at the hairdresser – you can use a comb to pick up the hair to shear it. It is safer this way. By keeping a comb between your shears and your dog, they won’t be tempted to scuffle with each other, and you have a better chance of keeping the trim even.
- Next, trim the hair on your pet’s back, then his legs and feet. Things can get tricky if it is your first time around. Your shears also have the artistic talent to shape the dangling side-hairs. Feel free to test it.
- Wrap things up by trimming the stray hairs from allover your dog’s body. After a total work-over, you may want to take your cocker for a nice indulging bath to wash away any loose threads and end her beauty-session.
Using a Pet Clipper for Cocker Spaniel Haircut Styles
For a finer trim, and to master some of the clipping styles listed below, you will want to use a professional dog clipper. There are hundreds of teach-yourself videos that can show you how to groom various dog breeds. Some of them are not as helpful as others. But, if you want to know all the basics of clipping your Spaniel, the following video provides a great visual guide. It demonstrates the technique nicely for you:
Dog Clippers for Cocker Spaniels
Here is one of the best clippers for Cocker Spaniel if popularity is anything to go by:
Cocker Spaniel Grooming Cuts
Spaniel-Parents who loath having to deal with the nuisances of grooming are fond of an allover shorter cut. A shorter cut is unfussy and low maintenance.
The Puppy Cut is a close cut. All the hair is cut down to the same length to leave an inch or two behind. But it doesn’t have to be all that dull – the hair can also be cut in different lengths of ‘short’ to bring out that genuine Spaniel look.
This cut is a great way to go to keep your Spaniel fresh and full of beans in warm weather. It is also the easiest to care for. Keeping up a Puppy Cut needs little more than a quick whirr with shears to trim. A Spaniel with a Puppy Cut will need some brushing every now-and-then.
The Cocker Cut is short of a show cut, but less cramping your Cocker’s style. At a show, a Cocker Spaniel would typically get to wear a full coat with a low-dangling skirt. The Cocker Cut lops off most of the body hair, and the length of the skirt is left up to you.
The ear-fuzz can also be trimmed to your liking – or left alone. The head hair is neatly trimmed to keep the schnozzle and face open.
To keep that authentic Cocker look, the Feet and Legs get to keep their thick cotton fluff.
The Cocker Cut axes off a lot of tangles, but daily brushing is still needed.
The Pet Cut is more of a dress-fitting than a standard cut. You have the opportunity to cherry-pick your Spaniel’s look by selecting bits of the regular Cocker Cuts to style his appearance according to what you fancy. As a result, this cut reduces maintenance only as much as you want. You can have the coat clipped and the skirt stripped off, the ears fleecy or nude and the legs fluffy or show-worthy. If you are not completely happy with your pet project – just send it back into the dressing room.
Traditional Show Cut
It is really not all that much glamming up as it is bringing out the authentic Spaniel in your dog. The Traditional Show Cut that cockers parade, as they model around the show ring, is mostly all natural. This cut brings out the unique characteristic traits of a polished pooch. It’s not an easy do-it-yourself style. Knowing where to trim and thin to make a show-worthy Spaniel can be a challenge.
The Show Cut rounds off the genuine hair-flow of the Spaniel with just a touch of flair.
The upper body, from his sides to the top of his back, is clipped short, while his ears and the lower part of his body (the skirt) are left long.
The home upkeep of a Show Cut will ask daily brushing and removing mats and tangles.
4. Cocker Spaniel Ear Hygiene
Your Spaniel might have always been in the pink and never had as much as a jelly bean in his ear, but you need to check and clean under his ear-flops at least once a week. Cleaning them more often won’t be going over the top at all. Those furry flops house a very sensitive and moist place where dirt and grime quickly piles up. It also is important to keep your Spaniel’s ears clean to prevent infection. Germs and other mentionable nasties can easily settle there.
What To Use And What Not To Use
- Q-Tips? We’ve been taught that it is not safe to put anything smaller than our elbows into our ears. The same counts for your Spaniel. Cotton tipped earbuds can be used, but you can clean with them only as far into your dog’s ear as your finger-tip is allowed. Don’t be as brave as to lunge anything down your dog’s ear canal! You can easily puncture your dog’s ear drums. You need to check with your vet or groomer here.
- A safe ear cleaning solution can be recommended over the counter by your veterinarian, but there are a couple of natural cleaning remedies that can just as safely and effectively be used to clean and sooth:
Natural Ear Cleaners
[Disclaimer: before using any natural products, please check with our vet and/or groomer.]
- Witch Hazel
Witch hazel comes from the bark and leaves and of the witch hazel shrub. It makes small skin fissures heal quicker, and it is anti-inflammatory.
- Olive Oil or Cod Liver Oil
Olive Oil or Cod Liver Oil are both good as nutritional supplements and safe for cleaning dirt or ear wax. Just a tidbit dripped on the outer ear can keep ear mites away.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
This little tonic has been celebrated for decades in folk medicine. It effectively kills germs and urges natural healing. Be sure to thin this out with equal share of sterilized water in case of deep cleaning.
- Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil is a potent germicide. It also helps soothe the sore itch and swelling that often comes with an upsetting inner ear infection.
Tea Tree Oil comes in different intensities, so it might be wise to ask your vet what brand comes recommended and how to apply it safely.
How To Clean Your Spaniel’s Ears In 3 Steps
- Carefully Trim the stray and excess hair blocking the ear canal.
Remove the loose hairs with the help of a pair of tweezers.
- Use a cotton ball or swab to remove wax from the outer rim of the ear canal.
Wipe the outskirts of the ear with a cotton ball dipped in a natural remedy or solution. Use fresh cotton balls for each step and for each ear.
- Clean the outer part of the canal with the same solution and a fresh cotton ball.
Deep Cleaning Your Spaniel’s Ears In 4 Steps
The kinds of cleaners that come vet-recommended are usually suitable for deep cleaning. Whatever you are going to use, make sure your vet approves. And if you are unsure about your method, it might be a good idea to have your vet demonstrate the right way to clean the inner parts of your dog’s ears. Your Spaniel’s inner ear is very touchy, so with this and any other method or remedy, you might want to ask your vet to demonstrate the right way to go about cleaning your pet’s ears. It is always better to see how it needs to be done before trying it yourself.
- Use an applicator bottle (safest) to fill the ear with a safe solution that has been recommended and approved by your veterinarian.
- Gently rub the base of the ear. You might hear a squishing sound inside, but that is okay. Do this for 1-2 minutes.
- Let your pet shake it’s head – It won’t be able to help wanting to.
- Finally wipe the ear out with a soft tissue, cotton round or a paper towel.
Take care to notice any eerie odors while cleaning out your pooch’s ear – it could possibly be an indication of bacterial or yeast infection that you will need to see your vet for.
5. Caring For Your Cocker Spaniel’s Teary Eyes
What would a Cocker Spaniel be without those drooping eyelids? Cleaning under your cocker’s eyes daily will stop the ‘tears’ that they so often shed from hardening and settling on that adorable furry face.Items you will need
• Two clean, soft washcloths
- Wet one of the (clean) washcloths with lukewarm tap water. Make sure to squeeze it till it’s just damp and not dripping with water. You don’t want water to drip into your pet’s eyes.
- With the clean corner(s) of the dampened washcloth, wipe off the seepage under the eyes. If the stuff underneath the eyes are a little hardened, soften it by gently pressing the damp washcloth over it for about 10 seconds or so.
Using a fresh washcloth for each eye prevents bacteria possibly spreading from one eye to the other.
6. Cocker Spaniel Nail Care
You should take special care when cutting your Spaniel’s nails. How often you will need to cut those nails will depend on how you keep him. If he’s mainly a house dog that occasional gets taken for a walk about, then he will need his nails clipped more often than a pet that plays outside and at his own discretion.
Be careful not to cut into the quick. The quick is the most sensitive part of the nail (around the center). There are fine blood vessels and nerve endings that come together in the toenail here. It is easier to see where the quick ends in white nails than in black nails. But, when in doubt, cut the smallest bit of nail down to a comfortable length. The quick tends to stick out further if the nails are allowed to grow out. Luckily it will also shrink back into the nails if they are clipped short regularly. It is better to avoid the trouble by giving your Spaniel a regular pedicure.
How To Cut Your Spaniel’s Nails
As with all these grooming hobbies, you should get your Spaniel used to having his paws handled and shaved while still a puppy. Start out by going slowly, patiently and steadily. Slowly familiarize him with your grooming tools and grooming occasions. If you snip his nails, show him the clippers or the nail-file and reward him with a treat if he sniffs to welcome it, then touch his paws with it and give him another treat. Pretty soon, you and your Spaniel and your grooming tools will become best friends.
Tools You Will Need
- Nail clippers
Your own nail clippers or scissors are far from ideal for your Spaniel. There are nail clippers especially designed for dogs. This is the only advisable option. There are the “guillotine” type clippers and the type that look a lot like scissors. Any one of these can be bought from almost any pet store for less than the price of a pizza.
- A nail file
In the case of a suitable file, you can use both a normal file or one that is made especially for dogs.
- Styptic pen or powder
Always have this handy in case you accidentally cut your dog’s nails the wrong way. Styptic powder is there to immediately stop the bleeding of a nail cut into the quick.
Make sure you have a firm but trusting hold on your dog’s paws. And inspect each nail to recognize where the quick ends. If you are confident enough – you should cut more or less 2mm short of the quick. If you cut the quick by accident, the nail will bleed and your Cocker will be in a lot of pain. You can stem the bleeding with styptic powder, but if there is no end to the bleeding, you might want to get your pet to the vet.
Don’t be too put off by the warning. Cutting a dog’s nails is not as hard as it sounds.
Once your pooch is comfortable and quiet, and you can firmly hold his paw in one hand, cut with certainty. The nail should snip off without any extra elbow-grease or effort. The nail should not tear or split if your clipping tool is kept steady and in place.
If the edge of the trimmed nail is dry and powdery, you might still be able to cut a little shorter. But if the dark grey/black verge of the quick begins to show, you can move along to the next nail.
When all the nails are pruned, you can use the file to smooth the nails and round the sharp edges.
Make sure the fun and rewards keep flowing throughout your pedicure session. Give a treat or two in between clipping and sweet-talking your pooch as you pamper him during a pedicure. When the nails are all round and dusted – you can give him another treat and go play razzle!
7. Taking Care Of And Brushing Your Spaniel’s Teeth
As hunting dogs, nature used to take care of their teeth, but now it’s up to their parents to take the oral hygiene of Spaniels in their own hands.
Many spaniel parents don’t take the oral hygiene of their dogs too seriously.
But Cocker spaniels are susceptible to anything from gum disease, tooth decay, fractured teeth, and periodontal disease which may affect their heart, liver, or kidney. An annual dental health check can do no harm.
Include dry dog food in your Spaniel’s daily diet. The crunchiness of dry dog food helps clean their teeth and fights plaque which changes into harmful tartar when it gets mixed with their saliva.
If you want a kissable Spaniel, his teeth should be brushed at least three times a week – even better, daily.
Items you will need:
Tootpaste – Your own toothpaste, or any person’s toothpaste is no good! Doggy toothpaste tends to come in all sorts of tasty doggy food flavors – and it won’t disagree with his stomach in case he swallows it. The fluoride in toothpaste can cause problems.
Toothbrush – There is a special doggie toothbrush waiting at your local petstore with your pet’s name on it. Again, a ‘human’ toothbrush is not suitable. Ideally, a toothbrush with a leaning head and soft bristles is what you should shop for.
Your finger might come in useful, and there are thingies called ‘finger toothbrushes‘ that are worthwhile using before your dog can become comfortable with getting his teeth tampered with. A finger toothbrush is nothing more than a rubber finger-cap with a knobby outside.
To get your pet into the habit of brushing teeth, you can begin by simply rubbing your finger (or finger toothbrush) over his teeth and gums. Dip your finger in something meaty. Once he is used to having his teeth monkeyed with, you can give him the taste of tooth paste. He should get comfortable in no time. Introduce your pet to Mr. Toothbrush and take the liberty to clean his teeth from front to back and upper and lower teeth in the same circular pattern you would brush your own.
Clean all the teeth and don’t miss the gums. The gums are strengthened by rubbing them gently to begin with.
Remember to keep up your reward system and repay him every time he lets you brush his teeth as well. This could become one of the many grooming activities that you can both look forward to and turn into some of the best quality times and labors of love that you can spend on your pet.
Enjoy Grooming Cocker Spaniels
If you are a professional groomer, we would love to hear of any other tips you can provide on grooming Cocker Spaniels.
If you are a Cocker Spaniel parent and want to take care of all of his grooming yourself, be assured that there are lots of tools and guides like this one to help you. With a little practice, you are sure to get bitten by the grooming bug – and you will be well on your way to becoming a talented groomer!
Cocker Spaniel Gifts
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