Cocker Spaniel with her puppies
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Cocker Spaniel Shedding: How To Manage It

Many dogs shed to some degree, but Cocker Spaniel shedding is something to consider if you are interested in this beautiful sporting breed. One look at the Cocker Spaniel’s coat and you see luxurious, flowing locks of hair. I’ve owned Cockers for 30 years, so know all about if Cockers shed, how much, and how often.

Cocker Spaniel shedding does happen, but the amount they shed depends on the dog’s coat, how often they are brushed and bathed, and sometimes their overall health. It also depends if you have an English Cocker Spaniel or an American Cocker Spaniel. Cocker Spaniels have a single coat, unlike some other dog breeds that are double-coated. This goes for both the English and American Cocker Spaniel breeds.

Although they may shed, there are other things to consider with the Cocker coat. Her coat is extremely thick, full, and requires diligent care. Cockers require frequent grooming visits and coat maintenance because the breed is very hairy.

Here’s everything you need to know about Cocker Spaniel shedding and how to manage it along with coat care, and some bonus tips and products for keeping a Cocker Spaniel’s coat in tip-top shape year-round.

Do Cocker Spaniels Shed a Lot?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associate or other programs we participate in). As an affiliate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

What Is The Cocker Spaniel Shedding Level?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being least and 10 being most, Cocker Spaniels are around a 3 to 4. Yes, Cocker Spaniels shed, but the amount they shed depends on the individual dog. Long-time Cocker groomer Kim Vavolo says Cockers shed more in the spring and fall seasons.

“We are not a shedding breed like a Siberian Husky nor do we shed like a Labrador Retriever,” Cocker Spaniel groomer and breeder Marlene Ness shares. “Dogs lose hair like people, so Cockers require regular brushing to get the dead hair out.”

My first Cocker Spaniel, a red and white, wasn’t much of a shedder. My second Cocker Spaniel, a male parti-color, sheds lightly a few times a year. I know his hair sheds because I find his white fluffy hairs all over my lap when wearing black pants.

What Kind Of Coat Does The Cocker Spaniel Have?

“Cocker Spaniels are not a double-coated breed,” according to Patricia Elkins, a long-time Cocker breeder/owner/handler/groomer. She says a Cocker’s coat is not to be likened to a typical “double coat” such as a heavy shedding breed like Labrador Retrievers or Siberian Huskies.

She reminds pet parents that different hair texture over the dog’s body does not constitute a double coat. An easy way to remember this is a double coat would be a cottony coat underneath the topcoat such as Collies, Huskies, and Corgis.

The texture of the American Cocker Spaniel coat is important. The coat is silky, flat, or slightly wavy and of a texture that permits easy care. According to the official American Cocker Spaniel Club “Blue Book,” which discusses breed standard and coat assessment, she is a “moderately coated sporting dog.”

Nowhere in the official “blue book” from the American Spaniel Club is it mentioned that the Cocker Spaniel is double coated. She is not.

The Cocker Spaniel has become increasingly more heavily coated, and excessive or cottony coats are discouraged.

With all that thick hair, some of it is going to fall off and “shed.” There are two types of Cocker Spaniels: The American Cocker and the English Cocker Spaniel. Both breeds shed pretty comparatively, but not to the degree a heavy shedding breed, such as the German Shepherd (sometimes called “German Shedders” by their owners.)

Are Cocker Spaniels Hypoallergenic?

No, Cocker Spaniels are not hypoallergenic. There is no breed nor dog that is 100 percent hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) to their owners. All dogs must shed some of their fur at some point.

Hypoallergenic dogs are considered to be those who shed less or very little. Some people confuse less shedding with being hypoallergenic, which is untrue.

The proteins in a dog’s saliva, dander, and urine cause people to have an allergic reaction, not their fur. No dog breed is totally 100 percent hypoallergenic.

How Are English Cockers and American Cockers Different?

Both English Cocker Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels have a single coat, not a double coat. In terms of hair, the American Cocker has more hair on their coat and is much longer with more feathering than the English Cocker.

Both breeds shed equally, but here are a few distinct differences between the breeds:

American Cocker SpanielEnglish Cocker Spaniel
Longer coatShorter coat
Shorter snoutLonger snout
Taller than English CockersA bit shorter than American Cockers
Longer necksShorter necks than American Cockers

Cocker Spaniel Hair or Fur: What’s The Difference?

We know Cockers shed, but are they shedding fur or hair? Some breeds have hair instead of fur, but the Cocker Spaniel has hair. Fur tends to be shorter and denser. Hair feels finer and much smoother than fur.

Dog hair and dog fur are both composed of a strong protein called keratin. Though there is no chemical difference between hair and fur, it seems like people call it hair when it is long but fur when it is shorter. An example of a dog breed with fur is the Pomeranian.  

Dogs with hair need more regular brushing, and the Cocker Spaniel is no exception. A Cocker Spaniel in full coat will need her hair brushed for at least a half-hour three times a week. You’ll need to keep your Cocker’s hair free of debris and mats, especially if you plan to keep her in a fuller coat.

For those planning to show Cocker Spaniel in the show ring, the American Spaniel Club breed standard calls for a “sufficient but not excessive coat.” Over the years, they note that show Cockers seem to carry heavier coats.

When Will My Cocker Spaniel Puppy Lose His Puppy Coat?

“When a Cocker Spaniel puppy is between 8 and 12 months old, you might see a little more hair than normal come out when brushing,” states Marlene Ness. “You may notice the ‘fluffy’ puppy hair change, which is when people might notice their Cocker puppy’s coat changing.”

Generally speaking, Cocker puppies don’t suddenly “blow their coat” so the shedding factor is low. As they grow up and grow into their more-developed adult coat, they made begin to shed but not intensely. Again, Cocker Spaniel shedding overall is light, and no two dogs are alike.

Teach your Cocker puppy that grooming and brushing are fun. Use a soft brush on her coat to accustom her to being touched. Touch her paws, her face, her head, and do this on a regular basis. She’s going to experience touch throughout her life from the grooming table to the vet’s office, so start getting her used to touch early.

Why Is My Cocker Spaniel Shedding So Much?

There are many reasons why a Cocker sheds excessively, and one of them might be she needs more regular brushing. When you brush through her hair, you stimulate the oils of the skin and stimulate blood flow.

Regular brushing and grooming also keep mats away and is much more comfortable for Cockers. I am not a professional dog groomer, but I learned to groom my dog at home and will share my favorite grooming tools, brushes, and tips further down.

A Cocker Spaniel who sheds too much may have an issue with her thyroid, a common problem with the breed. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is underactive. One of the many symptoms of canine hypothyroidism is hair and skin changes.

According to Dr. Jean Dodds, author of The Canine Thyroid Epidemic, “Common skin and coat issues in hypothyroid dogs include excessive shedding, dry, dull, brittle coat, and hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the skin.

Take your Cocker for a thyroid check if she is shedding excessively. The thyroid is very important and is located in the upper third of the dog’s neck. We wrote about canine thyroid issues and you can click to read that article for more in-depth information.

Cockers need access to cool, clean water at all times. Dehydration leads to dry skin and dry skin leads to itching and shedding. If your Cocker isn’t the world’s best water drinker, there are easy ways to improve her drinking habits. Here’s how to get your dog to drink more water.

Cockers who shed a lot may need a dietary adjustment. Cockers are notorious for food sensitivities and allergies, which produce itching. If your Cocker eats a low-quality diet or is itching excessively, she might shed more.

Can Fish Oil Help My Cocker Spaniel Shedding?

Most dogs benefit from the addition of fish oils added to their diet. My Cocker Spaniel has a luxurious coat that everyone comments on when they meet him. “He’s so soft,” they say as I beam proudly from the other end of the leash.

The benefits of a quality omega-3 fish oil as part of a dog’s diet include, but are not limited to:

  • Shinier coat
  • Less dry skin
  • Reduction in shedding
  • Allergy control
  • Prevention and treatment of autoimmune disorders
  • Helping dogs with idiopathic epilepsy when taken with regular medication
  • Cancer prevention

Here’s more about fish oil and dogs, what brand we use, and how it may help excessive shedding.

Grooming For Cocker Spaniels

Make friends with a groomer who knows how to do the Cocker cut you want. Some people like a sporty cut, others prefer the long, flowy locks. More hair = more hair that can shed. I do, however, know of many Cocker Spaniels with longer coats who shed minimally. A well-groomed Cocker means less shed to worry about.

If you want to try grooming your Cocker at home, start slowly. When I took on the task of learning to groom my Cocker Spaniel at home, I did it with a marathon mindset: slow and steady. Cocker moms and dads often ask me how to learn to clip their dog at home, and I usually ask why they want to learn. If it’s to save money, in the long run is a great reason, but it shouldn’t be the only one, at least not at first.

Here’s how I learned to groom my Cocker Spaniel at home.

Bathe your Cocker Spaniel regularly but not excessively because the skin can actually dry out. Not all shampoos are created equally, and it’s best to invest in something that conditions your dog’s coat. For the average Cocker owner, I always recommend what I use:

ZYMOX Shampoo

ZYMOX Leave-On Conditioner

Be careful about chemicals on and in your Cocker Spaniel. I am not a fan of anything chemical-based and won’t let my dog use it if I can’t (with the exception of heartworm prevention).

Chemicals in traditional flea and tick spot-ons can harm a dog but also dry out her skin and coat. I had an eye-opening experience when reading through a chemical spot-on many years ago. The instructions called for me, the pet owner, to wear gloves before touching the product.

Here’s our more natural flea and tick regimen without harmful chemicals.

Dog brushes for a Swiffer fanatic
Dexter shows off some of his grooming tools

Products To Control Cocker Spaniel Shedding

Here are some of our favorite products to help control Cocker Spaniel shedding:

BEST DESHEDDING DOG SHAMPOO

We Prefer: Furminator Ultra Premium Deshedding Shampoo – Gentle and enriched omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids that provides healthy skin and coat while helping reduce shedding.

BEST SHEDDING BLADE FOR DOGS

We Prefer: Safari Dual-Sided Shedding Blade – It quickly and easily removes loose, dead hair from your dog’s coat.

BEST SLICKER BRUSH FOR DOGS

We Prefer: Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush – Slicker brushes like this one are for medium- to long-coated breeds like the Cocker Spaniel. I use this brush several times a week.

BEST FISH OIL FOR DOGS

We Prefer: Dr. Harvey’s Health & Shine Omega 3 Fish Oil – Made in the USA from wild-caught mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines; caught from the clean and icy waters of Iceland.

BEST HAIR REMOVER ROLLER FOR SHEDDING DOGS

We Prefer: DELOMO Pet Hair Remover Roller – No more sticky sheets. Completely clean your furniture by rolling back and forth several times. Easy to use and empty.

The Bottom Line On Shedding Cockers

Yes, Cocker Spaniels shed but not excessively as a general rule of thumb. My dog, Dexter, is kept in a sporty cut, sometimes called the puppy cut, and it serves me well for coat maintenance and overall shed factor, which is minimal.

Do Cocker Spaniels Shed a Lot?
My Dexter in a “sporty puppy cut”

Bark back in the comments below and let me know about your Cocker Spaniel and how you control the shed.

Do Cocker Spaniels Shed a Lot?

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3 Comments

  1. Great site, I live in Australia and have lived with Cockers the last 40 years always with 2. One of the most informative and easy read sites, thank you for sharing your knowledge. Sandy

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