Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

8 useful tips for grooming your cocker spaniel

When it comes to cocker spaniel care, grooming is one of the most complex pieces. With their long coats and predisposition to skin issues, this breed requires more bathing, brushing, and trimming than others. It’s no wonder dog-show spaniels always look so neat and elegant!

Grooming your cocker spaniel at home might sound daunting, but it can be done. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get started, but with the right tools and a positive outlook, you and your pup will figure it out. Having a few treats on hand doesn’t hurt, either!

a white and brown cocker spaniel stands, tongue out, in the grass in the sunshine

Comb your spaniel’s fur daily (yes, daily)

The key to keeping your cocker spaniel’s fur soft and tangle-free is consistent combing and brushing. Although every three days is the minimum frequency for effective brushing, daily care is the only guaranteed way to keep your pup’s long coat nice and neat. If your cocker spaniel has a “traditional” or “best in show” haircut, their extra-lengthy “skirt” will pick up dust, dirt, and anything else they walk over throughout the day.

Invest in both a comb and a brush

While a slicker brush feels lovely on the skin and coat, it won’t really help untangle mats and knots. Consequently, you should invest in a high-quality metal-pin dog comb with fine or medium-spaced teeth. Some dog grooming tools have bristles on one side and pins on the other, so you’ll need only one brush for every step of grooming.

Don’t comb through mats and tangles

While brushing, you’re bound to run into a few knots that need to be coaxed out of your pup’s coat, and although you may be tempted to, it’s best not to brush right through tangles. Instead, use your metal-pin comb to gently pick through mats beginning at the ends of the fur and working your way up toward the skin.


A high-quality shampoo will help

Because cocker spaniels are at high risk for skin sensitivity (thanks to their thick coats), a shampoo with gentle ingredients might help avoid any itching or discomfort. Shampoos with colloidal oatmeal are known for their skin-protecting properties, though a moisturizing conditioner will make a world of difference in your cocker spaniel’s coat health.

Don’t be afraid to try a few different formulas to see what works best for your dog. Since you’ll be bathing him so frequently, your soap options really do make a difference.

When you think you’re done rinsing, rinse again

If you have thick hair, you’ll be familiar with this struggle. For the same reason you should carefully select your cocker spaniel’s shampoo and conditioner, you should also be sure to rinse off the soap as thoroughly as you can. Any residue, even from gentle ingredients, can irritate the skin as it sits beneath a thick coat of fur, probably gathering dirt along with it.

While combs can also help remove dirt, dry skin, and shampoo residue, your dog will be much comfier if you nip the problem in the bud by rinsing thoroughly in the first place. Not only does it help wash out all soapy particles, but it also removes any excess oil that your cocker spaniel’s skin may be carrying (via Rau Animal Hospital).

Wash and groom your cocker’s ears with extra care

Because of their predisposition toward skin sensitivities, cockers are also prone to ear infections. Your best chance to keep this in line is to learn how to properly wash your dog’s ears, both inside and outside, though you should check the status of each ear during bathing at a minimum. You can always leave this step to a professional cocker spaniel groomer if you prefer.

The skin of your pup’s ears is delicate and thin, so even combing can cause injury if done carelessly. Use your metal-pin comb to gently pick apart any knots, tangles, and mats, though you shouldn’t do anything to an ear that looks like it may be infected.

a blonde cocker spaniel with curly ears and red plaid pajamas looks up and past the camera
RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Find a professional for your cocker’s haircuts

Since cocker spaniels require such frequent, high-quality grooming (including bathing, brushing, and haircuts), it will be worth your time to find a professional groomer who meets your needs. Look for someone with experience grooming cocker spaniels, since this breed has so many specific needs, especially if you want a more traditional haircut for your pup. Not just anyone can do it!

Have a consistent grooming schedule

Most importantly, whatever you do for your cocker spaniel’s grooming, make sure to do it regularly. Skipping a day of brushing can result in multiple mats and tangles, so you can imagine what might happen if your pup misses his coveted grooming appointment. Plus, bathing and brushing your dog is a great way to bond, so why not make a routine of it?

Whether you choose to DIY your cocker spaniel’s coat care, or you have a groomer you know and love, keeping these few things in mind will ensure your dog stays healthy, cool, and luxuriously soft. It takes a bit of time and patience, but your pup will surely thank you.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
Is your dog drinking Christmas tree water? It could be more dangerous for their health than you realize
What you should know about this not-so-good behavior
Jack Russell terrier in from of Christmas tree with presents

Bringing home a fresh-cut Christmas tree is only one way to get into the holiday spirit, but it could cause a problem for your pets. Not only will you need to make sure no one relieves themselves on the tree (in their defense, it is a tree), but you'll also need to keep them away from the water.
Dogs drinking Christmas tree water may seem completely logical, but it could also lead to a wide variety of unpleasant side effects for them and for you. Keep scrolling to learn why Christmas tree water could be dangerous for your pup and what you can do to keep your doggo from bothering the tree — all while keeping your Christmas tree healthy, of course!
Protecting your pets this holiday season will help you let go of your worries and enjoy every festive moment so you and your family can have a very merry Christmas!

Why is Christmas tree water bad for dogs?
Even though you may use plain water to keep your tree hydrated during the holiday season — which the National Christmas Tree Association recommends — it’s not a good idea for your dog to drink it. According to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), a small amount of tree water may not cause any issues, but it could become a real problem if your pup makes a habit of it. Granville Veterinary Clinic notes that lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and other behavioral changes can be some of the signs of poisoning from Christmas tree water.
Water that sits in a tree stand for even a day or two can gather lots of bacteria and other nasty particles, according to NCPC (not to mention the pine needles that will likely fall into the water — they can be sharp). It’s easy to see why this concoction could be dangerous when swallowed. Hartz notes that fir tree oil can also be mildly irritating to dogs, too, whether ingested or simply touched. It makes sense -- even some people experience allergies and irritation around these trees!
Sometimes, Christmas tree farms use preservatives to help their firs and spruces last. NCPC explains that commercial preservatives often contain "some kind of fertilizer, some type of sugar, and perhaps fungicides." This can seep into the water, which could cause mild to severe illness in pets.
Homemade fertilizers and pesticides can make an appearance, too. NCPC lists these common ingredients in DIY tree food:

Read more
Why won’t my dog bark? Here’s when pet parents should be concerned
Can't figure out why your dog won't bark or if it's a problem? Here's what we dug up
Dog barks outside in a lawn

A dog that doesn’t bark often, or at all, seems like a dream come true to pet parents (and their neighbors). In reality, a quiet dog can be cause for concern, especially if a previously noisy pup suddenly becomes quiet. If you have a quiet pet, you might wonder, why won't my dog bark?
Barking is both a normal dog behavior and an important communication tool for dogs, so it's natural to be a bit worried if your dog isn't barking. The good news is that there are plenty of reasons your dog may not be barking, and not all of them are cause for concern! However, if you're worried about your dog, it's important to remember that even if your dog’s lack of sound isn’t from a serious health issue, you can’t go wrong by asking your trusted veterinarian for advice.

When do puppies start barking? What does it sound like at first?
According to Certified Canine Behavior Consultant Mikkel Becker, puppies begin vocalizing around 2 or 3 weeks of age. At this early stage, you’re more likely to hear whines and grunts. When your puppy reaches 2 to 4 months, these vocalizations will start to turn into barks, though each dog reaches milestones at their own pace. If you’re worried about your pup’s vocal development, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian to rule out any potential issues.

Read more
Is your old dog not eating? It probably has nothing to do with hunger
Older dog not eating? Common explanations and what you should do
Overhead shot of dog paws and a bowl of kibble

Your dog is not only your best friend, but also a member of your family. That's why it can be so special to watch them grow up and grow old. Sharing your life with a senior dog is a joy and a privilege, especially when you've been through so much together. But caring for an older pet won't be without its challenges.

Just like the bump in health issues we see in human senior citizens, an increased risk of health problems is also common in senior dogs. Older dogs frequently experience changes in their eating and sleeping patterns, such as snoozing more often or a decrease in appetite. While small, gradual shifts are to be expected, sudden changes are worth looking into.

Read more