When properly bred, the American Cocker Spaniel is a delightful addition to the family, friendly, playful and easy to train. Unfortunately, some American cocker spaniels are bred carelessly, which results in an aggressive nature, difficult to train and intolerant of children. It’s important to choose a cocker spaniel from a reputable breeder.
Every dog breed carries a distinct set of genetic advantages and health risk factors. The following are the most common diseases found in the American Cocker Spaniel breed. Hopefully, your American cocker spaniel will not face these problems. However, early detection and preventive healthcare can make all the difference in helping your dog live a longer, happier life (see breed-related disease descriptions below).
Puppy (birth to 1 year)
Adult (1 to 6 years)
Senior (7 years and older)
Listed in alphabetical order
Allergic dermatitis. Skin inflammation due to an allergic reaction to something in contact with the skin, inhaled dust or pollen, food, or fleas. Itchiness, scratching, rubbing, excessive grooming and licking are the main signs. Other signs may include head shaking, red skin, hair loss, smelly skin, skin thickening and skin darkening.
Cataracts. Opacity (loss of clearness) of the lens of the eyeball. Signs may include cloudiness in the inside in the center of one or both eyes, poor vision or blindness.
Corneal disease. The cornea is the front, clear window of the eye. A variety of diseases can affect the clearness of the cornea and also cause eye pain. Signs may include squinting or frequent blinking, rubbing eyes, excessive tearing or discharge from the eyes or bloodshot eye.
Fear-induced aggression. A pet that growls and snaps when afraid thinks he is fighting for his life. Because of a combination of genetic tendencies, lack of socialization, early experience and sometimes abuse, the dog that cannot escape will attack. During the growling, snapping or attack, the dog shows fear postures such as crouching with his tail between his legs.
Hypothyroidism. Insufficient thyroid hormone production caused by disease of the thyroid glands. Symptoms include hair loss, obesity, lethargy, cold intolerance and skin infections.
Obesity.American cocker spaniels have a tendency to want to eat everything in sight. This leads to the pet being overweight and the extra weight can lead to several health problems.
Ear infections (Otitis externa). Infection or inflammation of the ear canal. May be due to bacterial, yeast or ear mite infection, foreign bodies, allergies or hormonal disorders. Signs may include head shaking, smelly ears, scratching and rubbing of ears, reddening of the ear flap, discharge from ears, and pain on touching around the ears.
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). A disease of light sensitive cells in the back of the eye (retina) that causes progressive visual impairment leading to blindness. Signs may include night blindness, bumping into objects, dilated pupils, a shining appearance to the eyes, reluctance to exercise or play, or “clinginess.”
von Willebrand’s Disease. An inherited disorder causing delayed blood clotting, which can result in excessive bleeding. May be first noticed during teething, or spay or neuter surgery.
*Please note that these common diseases can occur earlier or later in the dog’s life. Help your dog live a longer, healthier life. Ask your veterinarian about a breed-related preventive health plan.