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Cocker Spaniel Grooming & Haircut Styles

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A well-groomed Cocker Spaniel is perfect show material. No doggie-parade is ever without a couple of competing pooches showing off their Cocker Spaniel haircut styles. One can’t help but admire these canine celebrities when out at an extravaganza.

Believe you me, it takes a fair share of professional dolling up to get those wagging tails and tassels so beautifully styled!

However, Cocker Spaniels aren’t just handsomely gift-wrapped. To keep them neat and looking good, every spaniel needs some occasional priming. That is why grooming a Cocker Spaniel on a regular basis is so important. So, let’s see what it takes to keep that coat healthy and styled accordingly.

A Basic Cocker Spaniel Grooming Routine

If you are going to adopt a Cocker Spaniel, then grooming will come as part of the package.

You could take your pet to a professional groomer, or you could delight in the warmth and care of giving your Cocker the tender loving grooming he needs at home. Their basic grooming can be learned and it can be done with minimal equipment.

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Regardless of whether you have an adult Cocker Spaniel or a couple of very cute Cocker Spaniel puppies, it pays to put in place a manageable grooming routine.

Cocker Spaniels have gentle, sometimes squirmy spirits. They need to grow up with grooming so that they can become quite used to it.

If not taught from an early age to put up with the touchy-feely brushing, the whizzing of electric clippers, the snipping of scissors, the ear fuss, and the splish-splash at washup, it will be hard to get your Cocker used to it later on. Better sooner than later.

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This breed has a reputation with groomers (and vets) as sometimes being stubborn on the tabletop. Such finicky behavior usually comes from a lack of early training.

To sculpt your Spaniel’s haircut the right way, you might want to study a couple of photographs and have a look at what a well-trimmed Cocker Spaniel should look like as well as viewing the videos in this article.

Grooming the Cocker Spaniel properly is a challenge even for professionals. But throughout this article, there are numerous ideas to get you started.

A Cocker Spaniel Grooming Video

I have lots of tips in this article related to DIY grooming of your Cocker Spaniel at home. However, just in case you want to cut to the chase and get stuck into clipping your pooch right now, then you might like to jump right into this demo video first. It provides some excellent tips and visual guidance.

Watch a champion groomer at work in this video. She has great tips on how to care for and manage the fine hair of a Cocker Spaniel.

How to groom a Cocker Spaniel – and other silky haired dogs

Cocker Spaniel Coat Care

The Cocker Spaniel’s coat is elegant, dense and thick with heavy fluff around the legs and belly. It is velvety, dangling, sometimes wavy, and pretty long on the ears, chest, belly, and legs.

A thick undercoat keeps them snug against the cold and damp.

Their head hair is shorter and finer. The smooth, even texture makes the coat easy to care for.

If you are uncertain about getting a breed that needs plenty of grooming, the Cocker might not be an option for you. Having said that, some owners manage by choosing to keep the coat short to make it easier on themselves.

Even with a Cocker Spaniel cut short, periodic brushing, combing and trimming is necessary to keep the Cocker Spaniel shipshape.

Brushing the Spaniel Coat

Cocker Spaniels are average shedders (all year round). As a result, they need a great deal of regular brushing and combing. A regular brushing routine is necessary to loosen matted hair and to prevent your canine companion from ending up in knots. Daily brushing gets rid of old flakes of skin, undercoat, and loose hair (which would otherwise end up on your couches).

Try to brush softly, carefully, and thoroughly. Brush against the grain and down to the skin, making sure to use a lighter touch when you are close to the skin.

Brushing also spreads the natural doggy-oils (sebum) all over your dog’s coat. This fetches a healthy shine and protects and moisturizes your doggy’s fluff.

Brush before bathing your dog. Wet matting will only get tougher and tighter as it dries.

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After a good long brushing, your Cocker might become less than cooperative. If he is teeming with mats, just be happy to straighten out as many tangles as he allows you to. And when he gets fidgety – Give a dog a Break! Cockers hardly ever have the patience to sit still for long – unless they are being mollycoddled and spoiled in the process!

The brushing routine can be done anywhere comfortably. Depending on what suits you, you can either hoist your dog onto a table or hold him hostage on your lap. It really depends on what you find easier. Catch him when he is lazy – either after a long walk or at night when he is drowsy and easier to control.

  • Start by using the slicker brush to thoroughly brush tangles and mats from your Spaniel’s back and sides. Remove all tangles and mats. Small mats of hair are a piece of cake for the Slicker. You can get them to come loose by gently slotting the wires into the matting and jiggling the brush from side to side.
  • Next, use the pin brush on your Spaniel’s fluffy parts such as legs, tummy, chest and tail.

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Matted Cocker Spaniel Ears

Give special attention to your cocker spaniel’s ears! Those characteristic long, floppy ears can cause problems if unkept. Besides trailing across the ground and into the food bowl, they also get matted and fur-clogged. Hair stopping up the ear-openings can prevent ventilation, creating a moist place where bacteria can thrive. Take care to comb away any tangles or matting from under and behind your Spaniel’s ears.

4 Cocker Spaniel Haircut Styles

Let’s look at some easy DIY Cocker Spaniel cut styles. Learning how to do one or two will prove to be a great money saver in the long run. A stylishly clipped Cocker Spaniel can be a delight to see.

Easy DIY Spaniel Haircuts

Cocker hair grows very quickly. There is no reason not to change Cocker grooming styles with the seasons or when you want your Spaniel to wear a different look. No matter which style you choose for your Cocker Spaniel, a regular haircut is essential.

There is no telling how skilled you could become by regularly trimming your Spaniel at home.

1. The Cocker Spaniel Puppy Cut

Spaniel-Parents who loath having to deal with the nuisances of grooming are fond of an allover shorter cut. A shorter cut is unfussy and low maintenance. So these dog owners usually opt for a short hair Cocker Spaniel style in order to stretch out the time between salon visits. Do you also prefer your Cocker Spaniel with short hair?

The Puppy Cut is a close cut. All the hair is cut down to the same length to leave an inch or two behind. But it doesn’t have to be all that dull – the hair can also be cut in different lengths of ‘short’ to bring out that genuine Spaniel look.

This cut is a great way to go to keep your Spaniel fresh and full of beans in warm weather. It is also the easiest to care for. Keeping up a Puppy Cut needs little more than a quick whirr with shears to trim.

A Spaniel with a Puppy Cut will need some brushing every now-and-then.

2. The Cocker Cut

This style is a short version of a show cut, but less cramping of your Cocker’s style. At a show, a Cocker Spaniel would typically get to wear a full coat with a low-dangling skirt. The Cocker Cut lops off most of the body hair, and the length of the skirt is left up to you.

The ear-fuzz can also be trimmed to your liking – or left alone. The head hair is neatly trimmed to keep the schnozzle and face open.

To keep that authentic Cocker look, the feet and legs get to keep their thick cotton fluff.

The Cocker Cut gets rid of a lot of tangles, but daily brushing is still needed.

In this video, the groomer describes what she is doing as she works her way through a Cocker trim.

Cocker Spaniel Grooming – Part 2 of 7

As you would have seen, the Cocker Spaniel in the video above had a fairly thick coat to start off with. Therefore the clipping challenge probably more closely resembles what you are faced with at home.

The groomer is using Wahl clippers (affiliate link). There are many popular clippers in this range.

3. The Pet Cut for Cocker Spaniels

Pet trims are pretty easy to do and can be finished off with fairly good results.

The Pet Cut is more of a dress-fitting than a standard cut. You have the opportunity to cherry-pick your Spaniel’s look by selecting bits of the regular Cocker Cuts to style his appearance according to what you fancy.

As a result, this cut reduces maintenance to match as little or as much as you want.

You can have the coat clipped and the skirt stripped off, the ears fleecy or nude and the legs fluffy or show-worthy.

4. A Traditional Cocker Spaniel Haircut – The Show Cut

This Cocker Spaniel breed clip is really not so much a matter of glamming up as it is bringing out the authentic Spaniel in your dog. The Traditional Show Cut that Cockers parade, as they model around the show ring, is mostly all natural. This cut brings out the unique characteristic traits of a polished pooch. It’s not an easy do-it-yourself style. Knowing where to trim and thin to make a show-worthy Spaniel can be a challenge.

Check out this video to see how to groom a Cocker Spaniel show cut:

Dog Show Grooming: How to Groom an American Cocker Spaniel

A Show Cut rounds off the genuine hair-flow of the Spaniel with just a touch of flair.

The upper body, from his sides to the top of his back, is clipped short, while his ears and the lower part of his body (the skirt) are left long.

Home upkeep of a Show Cut will require daily brushing and removing mats and tangles.

A Clipping Routine

Steps When Preparing to Clip Your Cocker Spaniel

Before we go shearing away, it is important to get the knots out of your Spaniel’s coat first.

  1. Gently brush with a slicker brush (affiliate link). You have probably got your hands on one of these gizmo’s for your brushing sessions already, and have gotten the hang of using it to detangle and straighten your dog’s hair. You might want to use a detangling potion to make brushing easier.
  2. Use your Comb or dematting tool (affiliate link) to tease out matting. If you are positively fighting a losing battle with those knots, you may want to cut them loose with your brand-new shears.
  3. Using the right table (affiliate link) might help to curb your Pet’s twitchiness or it might stir him up. If he gets too excited to hold still (or aims to take a jump off the table), you can find some tips on how to gently restrain your dog in this article.

Using a Pet Clipper for Cocker Spaniels

For a finer trim, and to master some of the clipping styles in this article, you will want to use a professional dog clipper.  There are hundreds of teach-yourself videos that can show you how to groom various dog breeds. Some of them are not as helpful as others. But, if you want to know all the basics of clipping your Spaniel, the following video provides a great visual guide. It demonstrates the technique nicely for you.

Step by step on how to groom a cocker spaniel tutorial

A Collection of Cocker Spaniel Grooming Tools

This section includes affiliate links:

  • Detangling Solution– A spray-on (or smearable) concoction meant to relax hair for easier brushing and dematting.
    Your local vet might have a solution in stock that actually works. If there is a detangling solution involved, it is advisable to put it on before brushing commences. Apply it directly to the matting that has caught your attention and leave it on for a while before teasing it out with a de-matting tool or comb.
  • Slicker brush – A rectangular or square-ish metal brush-head with small metal pins. It has a short handle. These brushes are better and gentler with Coated ball tips. Used for the back hairs and sides.
  • A Pin Brush – These can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Pin brushes are especially suitable for medium to long hair and work best on fine feathery hair.
  • Steel Comb – A Wide Tooth Comb to tease dense undercoating. Also called a “Collie comb”. A de-matting tool can be used instead of a Steel Comb.
  • Dog Grooming Clippers
  • Grooming shears (Optional)
  • Grooming Table (optional) – You can read our dog grooming table reviews here.
  • Bathing Tub for Dogs

More Grooming Tasks for a Cocker Spaniel

How To Bath A Cocker Spaniel

The natural doggy-oils (sebum) that make her shine, are also what shelters your Spaniel’s fur and skin from the weather.

You shouldn’t bath your Cocker Spaniel day in and day out – but you shouldn’t not bath her at all. Every two to four months is all your pet needs to see of the bath tub, unless she’s dirty and you can’t help it. They are adventurous animals, and they can often turn their tails home with all sorts of scandal clinging to them. Then it’s time for a plunge bath.

Tools you will need:

Step 1

To avoid loose hairs floating around in the tub, you might want to brush your Cocker Spaniel beforehand. Make sure the water temperature is just right for your dog. Prepare the bath by placing a non-slip bath mat or towel inside.

Step 2

Give your Cocker a facial wipe. If your doggie has the traces of tears that have been shed, (as these types of dog often do), wipe underneath the eyes with a tough cotton ball. Don’t soak it with anything except water. Soap will only end up in more tears.

You can get a dog tear stain remover in most every pet store to help you clean tricky tear stains.

Step 3

Plomp! Into the tub with pooch. Soak your Spaniel’s coat with water. Use a quality and tear-free shampoo that is especially made for Cocker Spaniels. Rub-a-dub-dub to work up a full-bodied foam all over your spaniel’s, ears, neck, tail and legs, feet and bums.

Step 4

Rinse out the soapiness from your dog’s coat until the water runs clear off him. It is optional, but now you can smooth a light dog conditioner onto your cocker’s back and downwards. Now Rinse off the conditioner. Be careful not to leave any shampoo or conditioner residue behind – It will make your Spaniel’s coat look strangely dull and irritate his skin.

Step 5

Towel dry rapidly and let your pet hop or pick him out of the tub (if you can manage). Holding the lower part of the hairs, brush from the tips of the fur toward the skin. This is to strip off any tangles. Now you can blast the blow dryer. And, just to make sure all the tangles are loose, brush the fur one more time like you did before.

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Hygiene for Cocker Spaniel Ears

Your Spaniel might have always been in the pink and never had as much as a jelly bean in his ear, but you need to check and clean under his ear-flops at least once a week. Cleaning them more often won’t be going over the top at all. Those furry flops house a very sensitive and moist place where dirt and grime quickly piles up. It also is important to keep your Spaniel’s ears clean to prevent infection.  Germs and other mentionable nasties can easily settle there.

  • Q-Tips? We’ve been taught that it is not safe to put anything smaller than our elbows into our ears. The same counts for your Spaniel. Cotton tipped earbuds can be used, but you can clean with them only as far into your dog’s ear as your finger-tip is allowed. Don’t be as brave as to lunge anything down your dog’s ear canal! You can easily puncture your dog’s ear drums. You need to check with your vet or groomer here.
  • A safe ear cleaning solution can be recommended over the counter by your veterinarian, but there are a couple of natural cleaning products for dog ears, products that can just as safely and effectively be used to clean and sooth:

Natural Ear Cleaners

[Disclaimer: before using any natural products, please check with your vet and/or groomer.]

  • Witch Hazel
    Witch hazel comes from the bark and leaves and of the witch hazel shrub. It makes small skin fissures heal quicker, and it is anti-inflammatory.
  • Olive Oil or Cod Liver Oil
    Olive Oil or Cod Liver Oil are both good as nutritional supplements and safe for cleaning dirt or ear wax. Just a tidbit dripped on the outer ear can keep ear mites away.
  •  Apple Cider Vinegar
    This little tonic has been celebrated for decades in folk medicine. It effectively kills germs and urges natural healing. Be sure to thin this out with equal share of sterilized water in case of deep cleaning.
  • Tea Tree Oil
    Tea Tree Oil is a potent germicide. It also helps soothe the sore itch and swelling that often comes with an upsetting inner ear infection.
    Tea Tree Oil comes in different intensities, so it might be wise to ask your vet what brand comes recommended and how to apply it safely.

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How To Clean Cocker Spaniel Ears In 3 Steps

  1. Carefully Trim the stray and excess hair blocking the ear canal.
    Remove the loose hairs with the help of a pair of tweezers.
  2. Use a cotton ball or swab to remove wax from the outer rim of the ear canal.
    Wipe the outskirts of the ear with a cotton ball dipped in a natural remedy or solution. Use fresh cotton balls for each step and for each ear.
  3. Clean the outer part of the canal with the same solution and a fresh cotton ball.

Deep Cleaning Your Spaniel’s Ears In 4 Steps

The kinds of cleaners that come vet-recommended are usually suitable for deep cleaning. Whatever you are going to use, make sure your vet approves. And if you are unsure about your method, it might be a good idea to have your vet demonstrate the right way to clean the inner parts of your dog’s ears. Your Spaniel’s inner ear is very touchy, so with this and any other method or remedy, you might want to ask your vet to demonstrate the right way to go about cleaning your pet’s ears. It is always better to see how it needs to be done before trying it yourself.

  1. Use an applicator bottle (safest) to fill the ear with a safe solution that has been recommended and approved by your veterinarian.
  2. Gently rub the base of the ear. You might hear a squishing sound inside, but that is okay. Do this for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Let your pet shake it’s head – It won’t be able to help wanting to.
  4. Finally wipe the ear out with a soft tissue, cotton round or a paper towel.

Take care to notice any eerie odors while cleaning out your pooch’s ear – it could possibly be an indication of bacterial or yeast infection that you will need to see your vet for.

Caring For Your Cocker Spaniel’s Teary Eyes

What would a Cocker Spaniel be without those drooping eyelids? Cleaning under your cocker’s eyes daily can help to stop the ‘tears’ (affiliate link) that they so often shed from hardening and settling on that adorable furry face.

Items you will need

• Two clean, soft washcloths

  1. Wet one of the (clean) washcloths with lukewarm tap water. Make sure to squeeze it till it’s just damp and not dripping with water. You don’t want water to drip into your pet’s eyes.
  2. With the clean corner(s) of the dampened washcloth, wipe off the seepage under the eyes. If the stuff underneath the eyes are a little hardened, soften it by gently pressing the damp washcloth over it for about 10 seconds or so.


Using a fresh washcloth for each eye prevents bacteria possibly spreading from one eye to the other.

Cocker Spaniel Nail Care

You should take special care when cutting your Spaniel’s nails. How often you will need to cut those nails will depend on how you keep him. If he’s mainly a house dog that occasional gets taken for a walk about, then he will need his nails clipped more often than a pet that plays outside and at his own discretion.

You will need to check that your nail clippers are kept sharp so as to avoid tugging or pulling on the nail itself.

Be careful not to cut into the quick. The quick is the most sensitive part of the nail (around the center). There are fine blood vessels and nerve endings that come together in the toenail here. It is easier to see where the quick ends in white nails than in black nails. But, when in doubt, cut the smallest bit of nail down to a comfortable length. The quick tends to stick out further if the nails are allowed to grow out. Luckily it will also shrink back into the nails if they are clipped short regularly. It is better to avoid the trouble by giving your Spaniel a regular pedicure.

How To Cut Your Spaniel’s Nails

As with all these grooming hobbies, you should get your Spaniel used to having his paws handled and shaved while still a puppy. Start out by going slowly, patiently and steadily. Slowly familiarize him with your grooming tools and grooming occasions. If you snip his nails, show him the clippers or the nail-file and reward him with a treat if he sniffs to welcome it, then touch his paws with it and give him another treat. Pretty soon, you and your Spaniel and your grooming tools will become best friends.

  • Dog nail clippers
    Your own nail clippers or scissors are far from ideal for your Spaniel. There are nail clippers especially designed for dogs. This is the only advisable option. There are the “guillotine” type clippers and the type that look a lot like scissors.
  • A nail file for dogs
    In the case of a suitable file, you can use both a normal file or one that is made especially for dogs.
  • Styptic powder for dogs
    Always have this handy in case you accidentally cut your dog’s nails the wrong way. Styptic powder is there to immediately stop the bleeding of a nail cut into the quick.

Make sure you have a firm but trusting hold on your dog’s paws. And inspect each nail to recognize where the quick ends. If you are confident enough – you should cut more or less 2mm short of the quick. If you cut the quick by accident, the nail will bleed and your Cocker will be in a lot of pain. You can stem the bleeding with styptic powder, but if there is no end to the bleeding, you might want to get your pet to the vet.

Don’t be too put off by the warning. Cutting a dog’s nails is not as hard as it sounds.

Once your pooch is comfortable and quiet, and you can firmly hold his paw in one hand, cut with certainty. The nail should snip off without any extra elbow-grease or effort. The nail should not tear or split if your clipping tool is kept steady and in place.]

If the edge of the trimmed nail is dry and powdery, you might still be able to cut a little shorter. But if the dark grey/black verge of the quick begins to show, you can move along to the next nail.

When all the nails are pruned, you can use the file to smooth the nails and round the sharp edges.

Make sure the fun and rewards keep flowing throughout your pedicure session. Give a treat or two in between clipping and sweet-talking your pooch as you pamper him during a pedicure. When the nails are all round and dusted – you can give him another treat and go play razzle!

Care of Your Spaniel’s Teeth

As hunting dogs, nature used to take care of their teeth, but now it’s up to their parents to take the oral hygiene of Spaniels in their own hands.

Many spaniel parents don’t take the oral hygiene of their dogs too seriously.

But Cocker spaniels are susceptible to anything from gum disease, tooth decay, fractured teeth, and periodontal disease which may affect their heart, liver, or kidney. An annual dental health check can do no harm.

Include dry dog food in your Spaniel’s daily diet. The crunchiness of dry dog food helps clean their teeth and fights plaque which changes into harmful tartar when it gets mixed with their saliva.

If you want a kissable Spaniel, his teeth should be brushed at least three times a week – even better, daily.

Dog Tootpaste – Your own toothpaste, or any person’s toothpaste is no good! Doggy toothpaste tends to come in all sorts of tasty doggy food flavors – and it won’t disagree with his stomach in case he swallows it. The fluoride in toothpaste can cause problems.

Toothbrush for dogs – There is a special doggie toothbrush waiting at your local petstore with your pet’s name on it. Again, a ‘human’ toothbrush is not suitable. Ideally, a toothbrush with a leaning head and soft bristles is what you should shop for.

Your finger might come in useful, and there are thingies called finger toothbrushes that are worthwhile using before your dog can become comfortable with getting his teeth tampered with. A finger toothbrush is nothing more than a rubber finger-cap with a knobby outside.

To get your pet into the habit of brushing teeth, you can begin by simply rubbing your finger (or finger toothbrush) over his teeth and gums. Dip your finger in something meaty. Once he is used to having his teeth monkeyed with, you can give him the taste of tooth paste. He should get comfortable in no time. Introduce your pet to Mr. Toothbrush and take the liberty to clean his teeth from front to back and upper and lower teeth in the same circular pattern you would brush your own.

Clean all the teeth and don’t miss the gums. The gums are strengthened by rubbing them gently to begin with.

Remember to keep up your reward system and repay him every time he lets you brush his teeth as well. This could become one of the many grooming activities that you can both look forward to and turn into some of the best quality times and labors of love that you can spend on your pet.

Practice Makes Perfect When Grooming a Spaniel

If you are a professional groomer, we would love to hear of any other tips you can provide on Cocker Spaniel grooming.

On the other hand, if you are a Cocker Spaniel parent and want to take care of all of his grooming needs yourself, be assured that there are lots of tools and guides like this one to help you. With a little practice, you are sure to get bitten by the grooming bug – and you will be well on your way to becoming a talented groomer!

Which of the Cocker Spaniel grooming styles do you prefer?


2 thoughts on “Cocker Spaniel Grooming & Haircut Styles”

  1. Thanks for writing this article! It includes EVERYTHING I needed in order to properly groom my cocker spaniel!

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