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Cocker Spaniel

In a nutshell: All ears 'n' enthusiasm!

Also known as: Working cocker, though don’t know why. These pedigree dogs are registered by the Kennel Club as cocker spaniels, regardless of whether they come from show (breed) or working (field trials or hunting) lines.

Description: A thoroughly busy dog with a bustling way of moving. Come in a variety of colours all with their own specialist description. Can be whole colours or parti. Any dog under nine years old should not have a docked tail unless they work or show and the docking must be done by a vet. Most cockers from breed lines have very short tails whereas those from working lines have longer but still usually docked tails. Coats vary. Breed lines often have longer coats which take more looking after. Those from working strains have more practical coats that will not get caught in undergrowth. Bitches often come in mini height. Dogs almost invariably are midis. Ears are long and flap when running and jumping.

Temperament: The breed standard describes them as happy or merry – and they will be if they can indulge their partiality for alcohol. They are busy dogs that have no problem in keeping themselves amused. Usually fond of feather and fur but will ignore anything larger than themselves. Some can be quite nervous.

Advantages as an agility dog

  • They have a sense of humour.

  • Once they have learnt a task they will continue to do it with enthusiasm.

  • You can fit more in your household - they only weigh about 11 kilos (useful for tipping the see saw in a mini) and they can be kept to a strict diet.

  • They do not care about getting wet/muddy.

Disadvantages as an agility dog

  • Darker colours feel the heat.

  • They can get into bad habits that can be very difficult to break – see next point.

  • They cannot run their contacts reliably.

Rating out of 10: 8/10 – they are not a dog for someone who is not obsessed with spaniels. There is a real sense of achievement when they finally get it together.

Examples of dogs that have done well in agility: The following have made it to advanced status: Nancarrow Ruffel, Noble Nell, Nancarrow Dawes Delight, Nancarrow Fenella

What is it like to live with? It is a challenge as an agility dog – there is always something waiting to catch you out. Gets into a routine easily. Welcome most places because they look appealing. Each has its own endearing characteristics.

Would you buy another one for agility? Yes, I like the challenge. Everyone is very different to train. I am on cocker no.4 (my third agility cocker). I prefer cockers from working lines but the gene pool is a bit small.

Source: Diane Raper and Jackie Fairclough

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