Although Cocker Spaniels don’t shed as much as other hairy breeds, there are still essential tips, tricks, and good practices that all spaniel owners ought to know.
Keeping dead hair off your floors and clothes is actually easier than many owners think. And in this article, I’ll walk you through exactly what you need to do to keep on top of shedding. Starting today!
Coat & Shedding Differences: English vs American Cocker Spaniel
While personality and temperament are often considered similar between the two cocker spaniel breeds, their physical build is quite different.
- English cocker spaniels are shorter/smaller than American cocker spaniels
- English cocker spaniels have shorter coats than American cocker spaniels
In general, American cocker spaniel shedding is more significant due to their longer coat. While both breeds shed, American cocker spaniels need greater coat maintenance.
Do Cocker Spaniels Actually Shed?
Yes, cocker spaniels do shed, but not as much as they look like they do! Shedding is mostly light or moderate, depending on climate, grooming habits, and general health.
As spaniels look like hairy dogs, most new owners assume that this breed will shed a lot, but they would be pleasantly surprised.
How Much Do Cocker Spaniels Shed?
Cocker spaniels are considered “moderate” shedders at worst. Simply put, shedding is still something you’ll need to think about, but it’s easily managed.
When it comes to shedding quantity, other breeds like Golden retrievers, Huskies, or German Shepherds are in another universe compared to cocker spaniels!
So, if you’re someone who really isn’t fond of dog hair but can handle a little, then a cocker spaniel will be fine.
As mentioned above, American cocker spaniel shedding is usually more noticeable than English cocker spaniel shedding, due to their longer coat.
When Do Cocker Spaniels Shed
Cocker spaniels shed moderately throughout the entire year with a slight increase during spring as the weather warms up.
Owners might be aware of “shedding seasons” whereby shedding gets particularly crazy during certain times of the year.
When it comes to cocker spaniels, this “shedding season” isn’t as severe as it is in other breeds, but you certainly might notice an increase during spring.
Changes in weather and temperature often affect the coats of double-coated breeds. Either retaining or shedding hair is an effective way of regulating their body temperature.
How To Deal With Cocker Spaniel Shedding
Whether you have an English or American cocker spaniel, the following tips will help you keep on top of shedding.
1. Avoid overbathing
From chitchat in dog parks to spaniel forums online, I see many owners stating how often they bathe their cocker spaniel, and it’s far too often!
Cocker spaniels are best bathed once every 6-8 weeks. If your cocker spaniel seems to still be clean and odor-free at 8 weeks, keep going!
Overbathing will strip the coat of its natural oils which will have rippling effects. Before it eventually turns greasy, the hair will become dry and brittle, increasing shedding significantly.
In addition to getting the frequency right, always only use a natural ingredient dog shampoo! This will keep their coat and skin moisturized and clean, without stripping it from their natural oils. We have a recommended option below!
2. Use the correct brushes
There are many types of brushes on the market and using the right ones can make or break your grooming efforts.
After grooming double-coated breeds for over a decade, the absolute go-to brushes for me are:
- Undercoat rake
- Slicker brush
The undercoat rake goes deeper into the undercoat to pull out dead hair, while the slicker brush finishes off the topcoat to perfection. I use these two brushes as part of one routine.
Fancy de-shedding tools are simply not needed!
3. Have the correct brushing routine
Alongside using the correct brushes, having the correct kind of brushing routine is the next most essential thing to get right!
Brushing little and often is the secret to managing shedding (for all breeds). This makes the world of difference!
Aim to give your cocker spaniel 10-15 minutes every other day (3-4 times a week). For American cocker spaniels, you can even increase this to daily.
Start with the undercoat for 10 minutes, followed by the slicker brush for the remaining 5 minutes. Less hair will be on your floors from the first day.
4. Omega 3s and Fish oil supplements
Omega 3 is a fatty acid that contributes significantly to keeping your cocker spaniel’s skin and coat healthy and strong.
While most dog food manufacturers add in some omega 3, it’s quite often not enough. Of course, this does depend on the kibble you are using, as some are naturally high (those that use salmon as the main protein source).
You can supplement omega 3 into your spaniel’s diet fairly easily. For a long time, I’ve used Zesty Paws Wild Alaskan Fish Oil. This comes in a handy pump bottle which you can squirt over the kibble (usually a single pump is ideal).
If your cocker spaniel’s diet is lacking Omega 3, then it’s certainly worth incorporating this essential fatty acid into their diet. This will benefit their overall health.
It’s recommended to consult your local veterinarian first.
5. Quality diet and nutrition
Your cocker spaniel’s diet and nutrition will play a huge role in their coat health. Many vets often say you can get a quick look into a dog’s health by the state of their skin and coat.
Cocker spaniels thrive on a diet tailored for working dogs, that’s high in protein, medium fat, and low carbohydrates. This macronutrient breakdown will digest the best, and provide the most usable nutrition.
Top tip: High carbohydrate ratios in kibble is a sign of low-quality food. Always ensure protein and fat are higher in terms of calories provided than carbohydrates.
Consider the kibble you are using and always ensure the manufacturer prioritizes “fresh and whole” ingredients, this is another sign that the kibble is of premium quality.
Ensure your cocker spaniel gets on well with her diet too! Sometimes, we get caught up in choosing the “most premium” kibble on the market, but this doesn’t make any difference if your dog isn’t digesting it well.
It’s true that this is bit of a juggling act, but it’s crucial to find a high-quality kibble that ALSO digests well.
6. Light haircuts (trimming only)
Trimming with scissors can also help maintain your cocker spaniels coat better. While this is more apt for American cocker spaniels, it can be done with English cocker spaniels too if their hair gets long in certain places.
While trimming off bits of the longer hair won’t necessarily stop shedding (contrary to belief), it will get rid of some hair, making your brushing sessions more effective.
A light trimming around the paws, ears, face, neck, and tail is recommended by the AKC “every month or so”.
7. Regular skin and coat inspections
Fortunately, if owners stick to the correct brushing frequency, inspecting the coat can be done at the same time you brush them.
A general inspection of their skin and coat throughout their body is a must.
Not only will you spot any kind of flea problem early on (which causes excess shedding), but you’ll also notice any changes from the norm…
Any problem with the skin, from rashes, yeast infections, and other issues can also contribute to greater shedding. Not to mention, could indicate an underlying issue.
If you spot anything unusual like rashes, redness, or notice your spaniel itching, be sure to consult your veterinarian sooner rather than later.
8. Increase water intake
The AKC highlights that increasing water intake can help with shedding.
In most cases, our dogs are dehydrated anyway, so it’s important to encourage more slurps at the bowl!
Dehydration can lead to dry skin, and dry skin results in weak brittle hair that falls out easily. This can have quite a big impact on the amount of dead hair your pooch drops on a daily basis.
Replace their bowl with fresh water, throw a few pieces of kibble in there, or even an icecube… Whatever you can do to get your cocker spaniel drinking more, start today.
How To Prevent Matting & Tangling
Something many cocker spaniel owners worry about is matting and tangling. And it’s true, cocker spaniels can get their coats in a tangles mess fairly easily.
Thankfully, there is a very simple solution to this…
Frequent brushing! Yep, that’s all an owner needs to do to prevent the coat from matting and tangling.
If you brush your cocker spaniel little and often, as I describe above, you’ll practically never have to deal with a tangled or matted coat.
Constant brushing like this always rectifies any would-be tangles before they get out of control.
Grooming Supplies For Cocker Spaniels
Let’s run through some of the supplies I’ve mentioned throughout the article:
- Natural ingredient dog shampoo. (The best option we’ve found that cleans but doesn’t irritate your dogs skin or coat)
- Undercoat rake (Simple, affordable, effective!)
- Slicker brush (You can get cheaper, but this one is awesome)
- Fish oil supplement (We love the ease of use and mess-free pump)
- Grooming wipes (For periodic coat wipe downs, keeps your spaniel cleaner for longer inbetween bathing)
Consider picking up some of the above supplies, or other alternatives if you know of them.
These, especially the brushes, will enable you deal with shedding without breaking a sweat!
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