Grooming the Cocker Spaniel

By : Andrea Dolphin

A Few Handy Hints

There is nothing nicer than seeing a well groomed Cocker Spaniel.

The first step to keeping your Cocker in coat that looks tidy and which is easy to look after is to keep it clean. This reduces the chance of the coat getting knots and matting, and makes brushing and combing effortless.

NOTE : The difference between a knot and a matt is that a knot can be brushed out whereas a mat is stuck to the skin and often needs removing with clippers .

I recommend washing your dog every 1-2 weeks, especially if the feathers are long. If you use a good quality product and rinse it out carefully there is no chance of damaging the coat or skin.

NOTE : Do not use human shampoo as our skin has a different PH level to dogs.



Your Cocker Spaniel should be brushed three or four times a week; everyday is even better. After brushing you should go over the whole coat with a comb as this will ensure you haven’t missed any small tangles which later can turn into knots.

Always use a good quality brush.

Brush the hair in the same direction as the coat is growing paying special attention to between and under the armpits, between and down back legs and ears, as these areas matt easily if left unattended.

Get your puppy accustomed to lying down on a non-slip surface. Always elevate your dog on a table or the top of a washing machine *see picture below* Teaching him to lie down for grooming needs patience and you need to start teaching the pup about 4 months. Follow these tips to teach your puppy to lie down – lie the puppy on its side and gently place some of your body weight on him, gently stroking him repeating “good puppy”. Start with a few seconds at a time so as not to frighten him and build up slowly to longer times. This makes grooming the whole dog so much easier to manage and makes it a lot easier to groom problem areas such as under arm pits.

NOTE: Too many owners do not start brushing early enough and later to find it a struggle for both themselves and their dog. Remember cockers have a lifespan of 12-15 years so brushing should be a pleasure not a chore.


Stripping V’s Clipping

This is a puppy which is groomed very regularly, hand stripped and scissored for showing. This can also be done on your pet by using a Coat King and regular brushing. However, it is only for the keenest of pet owners who want to learn to groom their own dog as it takes dedication and time especially in the first 12 months. You must start your puppy young as to get him used to the feeling.


This is an adult pet clip using clippers and scissors. This dog is well brushed between visits to the groomers and visits are at 10 weekly intervals. This clip also looks fabulous and is easily maintained by owners .Most pet owners opt for this type of clip.


There is no wrong or right way if your dog is a pet (not used for showing) The coat must be easy for you to manage so your dog can fit into your lifestyle. I would much prefer to see a dog who is clipped regularly than one that is long and all matted as this is unfair and neglectful.


Your dog’s coat and feet can be easily maintained in-between grooms by brushing regularly and trimming feet when hair grows too long. NOTE: Feet can be a problem with Cockers if neglected as in summer they attract grass seeds which find their way into the skin and can travel up the leg and in winter long feet pick up the mud and moisture causing matting and impacted hair under the foot.



Cockers ears are long and often heavy which can prevent fresh air getting into the ear canal which can cause problems. The easiest way to look after ears is to regularly check by looking in the ear and seeing that there is no discharge (dark brown or yellow in color). The smell of an ear is also important. The ear should smell sweet or neutral and if there is an offensive smell you should have your dog ears checked by your veterinarian.

The ear should only be cleaned if it looks dirty as over cleaning can cause the ear some trouble and irritation. I would be inclined to clean the ear out with some ear cleaner from your veterinarian every month using cotton wool balls NOTE : Never use cotton sticks as this can be dangerous if put too deep in the ear. See your groomer or veterinarian for correct ear cleaning technique. Ears should be clipped and trimmed at the top and around ear opening to allow air to get into ears see photo below.

Recommended tools

· Slicker brush - I recommend Lawrence brand, (long lasting)

· Mars or Oster coat king stripping tool size 20

· Thinners, I recommend to buy double sided teeth approx 26-32 teeth are good 7 inch blade

· Straight scissors 7” inch

· Small straight scissors 5”inch for feet

· Clippers brand Whal, Oster and Andis are all good.

· Nail clippers, larger cat nail trimmers are best, as seen in picture below


Grooming the head, ears and throat


Grooming these areas can be done with a #10 blade. Always go with the direction of the growth of hair not against it as this can cause clipper burn and irritation. Scissors can be used around the opening of ear to keep it free of hair so the ear can breathe. NOTE :Be very careful around this area as to not cut the skin. The head may be clipped with a #10 blade. If the dog is clipped this looks fine. If the dog is stripped and scissored the head maybe thinned out with thinners for a more natural look. 



Grooming the tail

Some older cockers have a docked tail which is easy managed. All new pups now have long tails which can be trimmed in different ways. The coat length of the tail needs to blend with the coat. For example, if you get your dog’s coat clipped off then the tail should also be short. If you are grooming the tail yourself and your dog has feathering hold it out by the tip while the dog is standing and shape it in a slight curve from tip to under the bottom. You will need to make under the bottom nice and short to ensure it stays clean when toileting.








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