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Working Cocker Spaniel Colours

A litter of parti coloured puppiesARE YOU THINKING OF BUYING A COCKER SPANIEL PUPPY?
It is a big family decision buying any puppy and you’re thinking of choosing a Cocker Spaniel puppy, one of the UK’s most popular breeds as a family pet. This commitment requires careful consideration as follows:

Do you

  • have the time to devote to a puppy/dog?
  • have the money and space for your puppy/dog?
  • know if the Cocker Spaniel is the right breed for you and your lifestyle?
  • know which breed strain of Cocker Spaniel you want – show or working type?
  • know what colour and sex of Cocker Spaniel you want?

If all of your answers to the above are YES, then you’re prepared and ready for your commitment to a life-long companion and/or family pet.

The next step, is to find the right breeder of Cocker Spaniels for you. There are many breeders throughout the country, and it is important that you approach a recognised accredited and/or a reputable Cocker Spaniel breeder. To seek this information, you could contact regional breed clubs’ secretaries (see HERE for a list) to enquire if they know of any litters which may be available when you want to buy your puppy or ask for contact details of a Cocker Spaniel breeder in or near to your region. The Kennel Club (KC) offers the facility of an online Find A Puppy Register which lists breeders that have registered litters with the KC and may be available for sale but the KC cannot guarantee the breeder is a reputable one. Unfortunately there are some breeders who breed excessively purely for the pet market without adhering to the health and temperament of the breed. Avoid buying a Cocker Spaniel puppy from internet sites advertising various breeds of dogs and/or other animal sales. If the breeder is a member of a Cocker Spaniel breed club/society and is actively involved in showing, working tests, field trials or agility, then this is a good place to start your search.

More importantly, you need to know and be able to recognise the two different strains of Cocker Spaniels:

  • the working type – bred purely for the shooting field or other active sporting pursuits
  • the show type – bred mainly for showing and are the most popular type as a family pet

If you are looking for a particular colour of Cocker Spaniel you may have to wait for some months, as some less popular colours may be hard to come by; be patient on your search for the right breeder of the colour you want.

Photo by Oakes

The above picture shows five different parti-coloured cocker spaniel puppies in one litter.
Left to right: Orange Roan, Blue Roan & Tan, Liver (Chocolate) Roan, Blue Roan,
Liver (Chocolate) Roan & Tan, and two Blue Roans

When contacting a breeder, have your information ready for any questions you may be asked by the breeder and do not hesitate to ask questions yourself as you should be provided with as much information on the puppy as possible and be able to gain some knowledge of the breeders’ experience; also be sure to enquire what type of cocker spaniel the breeder has to offer (show or working type).

The recommended age of a Cocker Spaniel puppy to be placed in to its new home is from the age of 8 weeks upwards; the breeder may have had the puppy innoculated with the first course of vaccinations before going to its new home but this is not imperative as long as the puppy is inoculated before 12-14 weeks of age.

It is important when viewing puppies that you see the dam (mother) with the puppies and if possible be shown the sire (father) and other close relations of the puppy. You should be able to see how the puppies interact with each other, with their mother, people and in the general surroundings of their environment.

At the time of sale, the breeder should provide you with a diet sheet and feeding instructions, some food which the puppy has been weaned and raised on, and most importantly the Kennel Club registration certificate signed by the breeder to enable the transfer of ownership, the puppy's pedigree (usually detailing four or five generations of the puppy’s breed lines), and an ‘after sales contract’ with the breeder. Advice (and assistance if required) should always be offered and if it unfortunately happens that your home situation changes and/or is not suited for a puppy, an accredited or reputable breeder should act responsibly and, in most cases, offer to take back the puppy/dog.

After you have bought your puppy, it is important that you are registered with a veterinary practice immediately and your puppy is booked in for its first examination and innoculation within several days. Arrange to take part in puppy socialising classes or dog training groups; these are good for introducing your new companion to other puppies/dogs, to meet people, and for your puppy/dog to gain confidence of the many strange items and goings-on the big world has to offer and that your puppy/dog has so much to find out about.

photo courtesy of Elizabeth Craig

Some people prefer to purchase an older Cocker Spaniel rather than having to give time to a regular feeding regime and training of a puppy. Occasionally, adolescent or older Cocker Spaniels are available for sale by reputable breeders, these are usually grown-up puppies which have been kept by the breeder for showing purposes but for one or another reason the puppy has not quite ‘made the grade’ or they may have an older cocker Spaniel which has been withdrawn or retired from the show ring or breeding programme. A breed club secretary may have names and contact details of such breeders who have for sale an adolescent or older cocker spaniel, please refer to the LIST of breed club secretaries or email your enquiry to

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