Grooming & Haircuts for a Cocker Spaniel

It's hard work looking this beautiful.
i Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

With a happy demeanor and a wavy coat that may be any of several colors, the cocker spaniel has a good personality and good looks. But this loving pooch has some pretty big grooming needs. It takes time, dedication and money to keep him looking his best.

Traditional Show Cut

The traditional haircut you see on cockers as they trot around the show ring is distinctive, but it's not really a do-it-yourself type of style. The upper portion of his body, from his sides to the top of his back, is clipped short, while his ears and the lower part of his body is left long, called the skirt. Knowing where to clip and how to taper the hair can be a challenge. Leave it to a professional groomer. Home upkeep involves daily brushing sessions with a pin brush or slicker brush to remove tangles and prevent mats.

Short and Sweet

Owners who aren't interested in dealing with the nuances of the show cut opt for an allover shorter cut, which offers convenience and grooming ease. Typically known as the puppy cut, this involves having a groomer trim all his hair down to the same length, usually a few inches. This drastically cuts down on the amount of home grooming necessary, and makes future trips to the groomer easier by allowing a quick allover buzz with the clipper for trimming as opposed to the time-consuming careful feathering and shaping the more complicated show cut requires.

Hair Care

You might not guess from looking at him, but the cocker spaniel is considered a high-maintenance pooch. Regardless of whether you keep his hair long or short, he'll need regular trims to look neat, usually every month and a half to two months or so. Long-haired cockers need brushing every day, while those with shorter cuts can go longer between dates with the brush. You can wash your pooch whenever he gets stinky or especially dirty, as long as you make sure to rinse out all the shampoo to leave no residue that will irritate his skin. Usually a bath every couple or few months, or every time he visits the groomer for a trim, will suffice.


Your cocker spaniel's distinctive long, floppy ears can cause problems if neglected. The heavy hanging flaps trap moisture and dirt inside his ear, causing infections and irritation. Check inside his ears once a week to make sure they're clean and dry, with no redness or odor that indicate infection. Use a damp cotton ball to clean them if necessary. Wipe eye goop away with a damp washcloth to prevent tear stains from forming down his cheeks. Have your groomer clip your pup's toenails at every visit to keep them from getting too long. Brush his teeth regularly to promote fresh breath and healthy gums.

the nest