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Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive? Facts & Behavioral Tips

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

english cocker spaniel on bed

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cocker Spaniels are a smaller dog breed known for their friendly nature and range of colors, including black, cream, chocolate, golden, red, white, yellow, and blue. As a smaller hunting breed, Cocker Spaniels are energetic and robust enough to play outside with kids, but they love chilling anywhere you are, too.

Although mild-mannered and perfect for nearly any family, Cockers are generally not aggressive and rarely suffer from rage syndrome, the controversial disorder that causes uncontrollable bursts of extreme aggression, mostly in English Springer Spaniels1.

Let’s learn some more about the Cocker Spaniel and what you can expect from this beloved dog breed.

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About Cocker Spaniels

The beloved Cocker Spaniel was once America’s favorite dog breed, brought to the country by early pilgrims2. They have a distinctive silky coat and long, furry ears, and a lively, outgoing, and affectionate temperament. If you’d like to learn more, check out some info on their history, personality, and appearance down below.

Cocker Spaniel Temperament & Character

Cocker Spaniels are bright, merry pups that get along well with kids, dogs, and cats alike, but their birding history makes them poor for homes with birds as pets. Aside from that, Cocker Spaniels are easy to train, obedient, and overall people pleasers.

They like relaxing on the couch and frolicking outside, but they’re happiest with their family. Cockers are known as loyal dogs, and they bond easily. Even strangers are okay in their book, with Cockers showing wary politeness. They warm up fast, though!

Senior cocker spaniel dog on the grass
Image Credit: Angyalosi Beata, Shutterstock

Cocker Spaniel History

Cocker Spaniels are one of America’s oldest dog breeds, derived from Cocker English Spaniels bred for hunting woodcocks and other small game. Their lineage stretches back to English and Spanish hunting dogs, with mentions of them found as far back as the 14th century.

This new American Cocker Spaniel was still great at hunting but was mainly favored as a family companion because of its small size, charming attitude, and luxuriously silky coat.

Formally recognized by the AKC in 1878, Cockers became famous after numerous presidents and celebrities owned them3. Besides the aforementioned ex-presidents, American power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez owned Cocker Spaniels, too. Lastly, Cockers enjoyed a popularity boost after Disney’s classic animated film, The Lady and the Tramp, was released in 1955.

Even if they’re not America’s #1 favorite dog anymore, they’re still an awesome pick for nearly any household, and we don’t see their popularity waning any further. Because of this, you can expect them to be very mild-mannered.

Divider 2Avoiding Aggression in Dogs

The easiest way to prevent your Cocker Spaniel from becoming aggressive is to socialize and train them from an early age. This means getting them out of the house and around other dogs and humans so that they learn how to act appropriately with them. This also helps you keep any fits of jealousy in check.

Angry Cocker Spaniel
Image Credit: fabio spezia, Shutterstock

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Despite their friendly, gentle demeanor, some rare Cocker Spaniels can develop the violently insidious Rage syndrome, which causes bursts of aggression. Depending on the extent of their rage, the condition may require medication and extensive re-training by a professional. Other than that, you don’t usually have to worry about this breed being aggressive, especially with proper training and socialization.

Featured Image Credit: fabio spezia, Shutterstock

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