How to groom an English cocker spaniel

How to groom an English cocker spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel was originally bred to be a working gundog, but their happy, patient and kind natures have made them an ideal family pet. There are two strains of Cocker Spaniel: Field and Show. The field strain tends to have a leaner build and the show dogs have a more heavy & sturdy build.  


The Cocker Spaniel has long ears which lay close to the head. Their top-line should gently slope from shoulders to tail. The tail is held level to the body. Their coat should be silky and flat against the body and should never be wavy or wiry. The front and rear legs should be well feathered.


Some pet owners may prefer to keep feathering shorter as this area requires the most maintenance. Check with the owner how long/short to trim the feathering before grooming

Coat Type

Combination / Silky

Grooming Requirement

Card & Hand-Strip

Pet Grooming Option

Clipper Trim & Card


Grooming Notes

The body and head of a Cocker Spaniel can be carded and/or hand-stripped to encourage the coat to lay tight to the body. Many pet owners prefer for the coat to be clipped, but it is a good idea to card (remove dead undercoat) after clipping as this promotes better skin health and can help preserve the brilliant colours of the coat.

  • Cocker Spaniels do tend to shed a little, but not as much as breeds with thick double coats. It can be worthwhile providing a de-shedding treatment in Spring and Autumn when they tend to shed more profusely
  • Cocker Spaniels require daily grooming due to the length of their coats. It is recommended to do a thorough groom at least once a week

Grooming Guide

Cocker Spaniel (English) grooming lines/patterns

Cocker Spaniel (English) grooming lines/patterns

Prior To Bathing

  • Pluck hair from the ear canal as necessary
  • Use a blaster to loosen any skin dander, dirt, debris and loose/shedding coat
  • Use a rubber curry, undercoat rake, carding tool or bristle brush to remove loose coat
  • Brush out any tangles and/or matts from the longer coat or apply intensive conditioner
  • Hand-strip/Card the body so the coat lays flat against the body, always working in the direction of coat growth
  • Pluck or trim any long downy hair from the head and around the ears so the coat lays flat


After Bathing

Standard blade lengths for pet grooming include: #7F, #5F, #4F or Short Comb Guides (anything up to ¾ inch). Remember to card coat after clipping to promote skin and coat health.

  • Use a damp cloth to go over the muzzle after bathing, wiping away tear stains
  • Line brush using a firm slicker, when finished the coat should be tangle free and little/no hair should be being removed. Double check work with a wide-toothed comb
  • If the dog has a heavier coat, it is acceptable to clip the top skull and cheeks with a #4F – #7F blade
  • Clip the top ⅓ of the ear – or to the jawline – with a #10 or #15 blade, blend into longer hair
  • Neaten edges and the bottom of the ear with thinning/safety scissors
  • Clip the muzzle with a #10 or #15 blade if necessary
  • Clip edges of lips with a #15 blade
  • Trim the throat area with a #7F – #15 blade, skip this step if working on a light coated dog. Stop about 2-3 finger widths above the breastbone
  • Use thinning scissors to trim the cowlick to blend into the shorter areas of the throat
  • The front of the front legs should be separate from the chest area. The front of the front legs should be saddled out to be short and smooth, while the back side of the front legs are well feathered
  • The undercarriage should be well feathered, with only minor trimming to neaten the line
  • Thin the thigh area to accentuate muscle
  • The feathering on the back of the thighs/rear legs should be left long
  • The upper side of the tail should be groomed in the same manner as the body of the coat. The underside of the tail should be trimmed with thinning scissors or clipper trimmed
  • Shave paw pads with a #15 – #40 blade
  • Back brush any excess hair between toes and trim with thinning/safety scissors
  • Trim feet and hocks to appear neat with thinning/safety shears

Grooming Tool Recommendations

Other Health Recommendations

Clipper Blade Recommendations

Shampoo Recommendations

For everyday use, mild/hypoallergenic shampoos are recommended.

Conditioner Recommendations

A conditioner is always useful in the longer areas of the coat, to weigh it down and add strength and shine. It can also help protect the coat while brushing.

Coat Care Recommendations