Difference Between Springer and Cocker Spaniels

Difference Between Springer and Cocker Spaniels

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The spaniel family is very diverse, with many different breeds originating from the variety. Two of these particular pure-breeds are springer and cocker spaniels, which can be split into English and Welsh varieties, and both are beautiful dogs. But what is the difference Between Springer and Cocker Spaniels? Read on to find out more!

Difference in Origin

Both springer and cocker spaniels were originally from a region of Spain (hence the name ‘spaniel’), so they have very similar heritages. All spaniel breeds used to be classed in two groups – the ‘land dogs’ and the ‘water dogs’ – and these two both fell into the land dog category. 

This is because cocker spaniels and springer spaniels are both working dog breeds and most of their work was on land.

It was only when owners and breeders started to want specific classifications that the two were separated into their own breed names.

Difference in Appearance

At a glance, both spaniel varieties appear relatively similar. Compared with how they look against other breeds, you can tell that they are part of the same family, as they have the same long ears and curly hair as each other, but if you take a closer look, there are actually quite a few differences in how the two dog breeds look. 

For example:

  • The cocker spaniel is smaller, with an average weight of 25 pounds and a height of 14 inches, while springer spaniels are much bigger, being an average of 40 pounds and 20 inches tall.
  • Springers have shorter hair on the portion of their bodies from the neck to the back and long, wispy fur on their underbelly, feet, chest, ears, and tail
  • Although they both come in various colors – liver, black, brown, and white being the most common – cocker spaniels are much more likely to be one solid color, whereas springer spaniels can have patches of multiple different colors in their fur.
  • Springers have longer noses and thinner faces, and cocker spaniels have longer ears with very curly hair.

Difference in Personality

Springer spaniels and cocker spaniels are both quite similar in terms of personality traits. Both breeds are very loyal to their families and eager to please their masters. 

As well as this, they are both intelligent breeds who are relatively easy to train, but this is where the similarity ends, as the breeds go their separate ways in terms of temperament.


Both cocker and springer spaniels will listen to their owners while training, but the difference lies in their level of focus.

Cocker spaniels are happy to do a simple task repeatedly without being distracted by their surroundings, whereas springer spaniels are a much more curious breed, so they will want to follow every new scent they smell and every sound they hear, meaning training can be more difficult.

Not only do cocker spaniels have more focus, but also better memory. Although it takes patience to get through training at first, once they have been taught a new trick, cocker spaniels can remember it for quite a while (if the trick is then performed regularly afterward.)

Springers’ while still a well-focused dog, can also easily distracted. 

It is important to keep motivating a springer spaniel and keep repeating the basics regularly so that not all the training is lost.

Difference in Health

The final difference between a springer spaniel and a cocker spaniel is their likeliness to contract certain diseases. 

One similarity in this situation is that both spaniel breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, as it is a hereditary ailment. 

It is magnified mainly by their high energy, as lots of exercise as a young puppy can put too much pressure on the hip and cause the hip ball to develop outside the socket. 

Another illness that both varieties of spaniel are likely to get is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), which is a viral infection that slowly causes a dog to lose his eyesight, and unfortunately, the disease cannot be treated.

Some of the differences in health problems and conditions in springer spaniels and cocker spaniels are:

  • Cocker spaniels can be high maintenance when it comes to grooming – they may need brushing almost every day, should be clipped more frequently than springers, and need their whole body trimming – this doesn’t mean to say that springer spaniels low maintenance – they will still need to be clipped, brushed and bathed regularly.
  • Both cockers and springers are susceptible to hip dysplasia, but springer spaniels are also known for having elbow dysplasia, and cocker spaniels are more vulnerable to dysplasia of the knee
  • Cocker spaniels also have shorter life expectancies – they can live for an average of 11-12 years, which is shorter compared to the springer spaniel, which can live for 12-16 years

So despite having different illnesses, neither one has ended up better off as both springer spaniels and cocker spaniels have a similar number of diseases to which they are prone.

Remember, if your dog seems to have symptoms of any condition, it is always best to check with a vet, and you should make regular appointments for your spaniel anyway.


When it comes down to it, springer spaniels and cocker spaniels are both very similar breeds of dog, originating from the same place, working throughout the 16 century, and having very similar health issues.

So what is the difference between a springer spaniel and a cocker spaniel? It would be in their appearance and size, how one has much curlier, thicker hair while the other has lighter wispy hair.
Springer spaniels are lower maintenance in terms of hair care, while cocker spaniels have much calmer personalities, but both breeds are excellent choices as pets and will love you no matter what.

Myspringerspaniel.com does not provide veterinary advice. We aim to provide you with information to enable you to make a good decision when making a purchase or to care for your dog.
All content is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned about the health of your pet, you should contact your vet for advice.

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