Pantops Pet Salon
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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

The American Cocker Spaniel

Thursday, August 17th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Country of origin: England
Group: Sporting
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Height: 13-15 inches
Weight: 24-28 lbs

AKC Rank 2006: 16

Most of us are familiar with the cocker spaniel from the Disney movie, “Lady and the Tramp.”  Because of this movie, the cocker spaniel’s popularity skyrocketed.  Everyone wanted a dog like “Lady” (many of our cockers were even given that same name).  Unfortunately, this high demand led to indiscriminate “backyard” breeding that took a typically happy dog breed and created genetic lines of snappy dogs that tend to squat and pee at any new situation or distraction. Ask any veterinarian, groomer, or boarder and we all agree that improper over-breeding has made the task of finding a good cocker very difficult. Along with a possible sour disposition, they often have chronic ear problems and skin disease. That doesn’t mean you should discount the breed as a possible pet, but it does mean that you need to be vigilant in your search for a reputable breeder who will give you several references as well as allow you to examine the parents of your potential puppy.

I had a cocker spaniel named Sugar and she was a wonderful family pet for our four children. Sugar was exceptionally friendly, never snapped, was easy to groom, and well house-trained. I can’t find anything negative about her or some of the many that come in for grooming. If you do your homework and are willing to spend some money ($500-1000) you can get the perfect family pet from a litter of cockers. Think that’s too much to spend on a dog? With an average lifespan of 12 years you’re only spending 17 cents a day for a $750 dog. Spend a lot less and you run the risk of getting the worst. Is it worth it when you then end up being unhappy for a potential 12 years instead of spending that 17 cents a day for a dog that thoroughly enriches your life?

Outside of breeding, grooming is a very important area to consider when choosing a dog. The amount of time, effort, and money you’re willing to spend on your dog should reflect in your breed selection so that both you and your dog can be comfortable and happy. The coat of the cocker spaniel is long and silky with lots of feathering on the chest and legs. This coat requires light brushing at least twice a week and serious brushing followed with a comb every two weeks. If you’re not willing to spend the time, stay away from the breed because they matt very easily. Professional grooming should take place every 4 weeks for show coat dogs and every 6 weeks for coats kept shorter.

We offer four basic haircuts for our Cocker customers.

Breed Groom

The first clip is what we call our Breed Groom–what the breed standard calls for. Here we cut the muzzle and head very short–to about 1/8 of an inch. We also clip 1/3 of the top half of the ear leather. The back is taken down to between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch at about shoulder height and blended into the skirt. The chest is lightly trimmed to remove dead ends and the pads are rounded. The groin area is closely clipped (maintains cleanliness when they relieve themselves). Remember, this style requires a lot of grooming at home as well as professional visits about every four weeks.

Summer Cut

The Summer Cut. Here we maintain the Cocker pattern and style but shorten the feathers, chest, and legs to about half of the original length. This reduces the brushing required at home and can delay your need for professional visits to between 6 and 8 weeks.

Benji Cut

The Benji Cut. For a Cocker that has plenty of chest, this is a nice cut. We continue the short clip down the back and also clip out between the legs and do the chest and stomach. We leave the legs long and scissor them round into cylinders blending in at the shoulders. If you are having trouble keeping the chest from matting, this may be the clip for you. You still need to brush the ears and legs well at least weekly and professional visits should be 8 weeks apart.

Utility Cut

Utility Cut. With this groom, we turn your Cocker into a Beagle with long ears. Basically a maintenance-free cut except for the ears which can be maintained with occasional brushing. Don’t forget to come back to us every 8-12 weeks to maintain the short length of the coat!

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