Cocker Spaniels are often irresistible to people because of their constant puppy eyes and lengthy ears. They are also good family dogs because they are loyal and affectionate to everyone in their household.
However, there are some minute details that make the males and females of the breed different, and these differences are important if you are looking for your perfect companion.
Although one thing worth noting is that you must always keep in mind that you’re not looking for a perfect pet, you are looking for the best one that would suit you and your lifestyle because no pet, regardless of gender, is perfect.
So, which one is best for you, a male or a female Cocker Spaniel? If you want an affectionate and clingy Cocker Spaniel that is always energetic, then it’s best to get a male one. If you prefer one that will give you some alone time while still giving affection in their own way, then it’s best to get a female one.
Keep in mind that this is only a summary, and you will find in this article that there are many things that differentiate males from females. Read on below to look at them!
Male Cocker Spaniels
Height: 14.5 – 15.5 inches (36 – 39 cm)
Weight: 25 – 30 lbs (11.3 – 13.6 kg)
Puppy Price: $800 – $1,200
Lifespan: 10 – 14 Years
Build: Bigger built with more muscle mass.
- Gentle, smart, and happy.
- Easily get distracted and harder to train.
- Less suspicious of strangers.
- More attention seeking.
- Harder to train him to walk off leash and stay close to you.
- More playful and energetic.
- More stubborn.
- Tends to protect a territory or whole family.
- Clumsy around kids.
- A bit messier.
- Matures slower.
- Less likely to get along with other dogs or animals.
- More likely to bond with all family members.
- Easier to socialize with people.
- Loves to please his owner.
Female Cocker Spaniels
Height: 13.5 – 14.5 inches (34 – 36 cm)
Weight: 20 – 25 lbs (9 – 11.3 kg)
Puppy Price: $800 – $1,200
Lifespan: 10 – 14 Years
Build: Slimmer built with less muscle mass.
- Gentle, smart, and happy.
- More focused and easier to train.
- More suspicious of strangers.
- Less attention seeking.
- Easier to train her to walk off leash and stay close to you.
- Can be slightly less playful.
- Less stubborn.
- Tends to protect an individual (her owner).
- More cautious around kids.
- Matures quicker.
- More likely to get along with other dogs or animals.
- Tends to bond with one person in the family.
- A bit harder to socialize with people.
- Slightly less desire to please her owner.
Male Cocker Spaniels tend to be larger than their female counterparts by about 1-2 inches. They also tend to be 3-5 pounds heavier. Most owners agree that males really have a larger appetite and always eat the most, with pregnant females the only ones beating their appetite.
Female Cocker Spaniels are smaller both in height and weight. Some of them weigh lighter than the average male by 5 pounds and are smaller by an inch or two.
Because their height is practically the same and their averages weights overlap, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish males from females unless you examine their sexual organs.
Male Cocker Spaniels tend to be more dominant in nature. They have the tendency to get into fights with other dogs, and they’re also more prone to being defiant. However, these guys tend to be less moody than their female counterparts and experience fewer mood swings. They are also more loving and affectionate and loving compared to the female Cockers.
Cocker Spaniels like to explore their areas, but males have a tendency to roam, especially if there is a female in heat near them. These guys also find the need to please their owners, making them the most loyal breeds out there.
The males tend to be quite the delinquents messing with objects around the house and will be grumpy and vocal if scolded, but they can detect when their owner is in distress and will immediately rush to comfort them.
When it comes to attitude, female Cocker Spaniels tend to be homebodies, meaning they’re not very dominant in nature. They are also not very aggressive, meaning fights aren’t their forte.
This doesn’t mean that they’re just at the corner and moping around, as these girls tend to be moody and emotional, making them sulk when they don’t get their way.
However, if they do engage in fights, female dog fights are usually deadlier as they won’t stop until they’ve proven they’re dominant, whatever that takes.
Females tend to be playful as a puppy, but they will eventually calm down as they reach their first-year mark. They enjoy being in the center of attention, but they also value their alone time.
They tend to get sulky when they don’t get their way, and this is one of their ways to manipulate you into doing what they want. So, if you catch your pup doing this, it’s better to train her to be more obedient.
Training a male Cocker Spaniel is somewhat a difficult task as they tend to be easily distracted. They like to investigate almost everything around them, and you will often catch them focusing on you for five seconds before they see something else and wander around.
Their need for dominance also makes them prone to fighting for dominance with their owners, which makes them more defiant. The good thing about male Cocker Spaniels is that they are always very eager to please their owner, and they will do practically anything. With a lot of time and patience, a male Cocker Spaniel can be just as good as a female.
Female Cocker Spaniels are easier to train than male ones because they mature faster and are more intelligent. They aren’t easily distracted, nor do they feel the need to investigate every little thing around them unless it really catches their eye.
It is also worth noting that females of this breed are very good hunters compared to their male counterparts.
Male Cocker Spaniels are usually more susceptible to Entropion than females. Entropion is an abnormality in the eye where the eyelid rotates inward in a way that the haired skin is in contact with the corneal surface of the eye.
It is primarily due to a faulty eyelid conformation that typically presents itself in young adult dogs. It is also associated with trauma, skin diseases, and other painful eye conditions. One common manifestation is the affected eye being partially held shut or there is excessive tearing in the eye.
Another disease is Phosphofructokinase deficiency, or glycogenosis type VII. It’s a disorder in dogs that causes a mutation and affects the ability of their muscles to use carbohydrates.
Symptoms include having muscle pain during exercise, muscle weakness, cramps, dark urine, and exercise intolerance. This disease has been seen mostly in English Springer Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels, and more males have been reported to have the disease than females.
Cardiomyopathy, a degeneration of the heart muscle where it becomes thinner, is also a disease that is seen more in male Cocker Spaniels than in females. When the blood pressure inside the heart causes the already thin walls to expand, the condition is then described as a Dilated Cardiomyopathy, the most common cause of heart failure.
Canine liver disease affects more female dogs than male dogs, especially if their diet is really high in fat. It has a lot of causes, including a number of traumas like a diaphragm hernia, a bruise, or even heatstroke.
One common symptom is jaundice, an orange or yellow tint that can be easily seen in the whites of their eyes, skin, and gums.
Other symptoms include bright yellow or orange urine and feces, an unquenchable thirst, lack of appetite, chronic weight loss, and bloody vomit. Their abdomen might also feel uncomfortable to feel.
Their attitude will also change, and if you see symptoms of lethargy, circling, depression, or sudden disinterestedness, then have your dog checked for canine liver disease.
Another disease that is common in females, especially intact ones, is the mammary tumor. This is a result of an abnormal replication of breast tissue cells. These tumors can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). The risk of mammary cancer is often linked with the duration of exposure to ovarian hormones.
The risk is significantly low when you spay your puppy before her first cycle. The risk increases after every cycle has passed without spaying. However, a lean body condition is associated with a decreased risk of mammary tumors in dogs aged 9 to 12 months.
Other health issues that are linked to the breed are Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), cataracts, patellar luxation, glaucoma, elbow dysplasia, and epilepsy.
Cocker Spaniels are wonderful with children, and a male Cocker Spaniel is a good choice especially if you want your children to grow older with a dog that’s still very energetic.
Although they’ll keep your children company, male Cocker Spaniels tend to view kids as their playmates. This makes them a bit rougher with their play and a bit less cautious, so do keep this in mind if you have very young children at home.
If you’re expecting children soon but have none when you get your Cocker Spaniel, be sure to train your dog slowly as it might take them some time to get used to sharing their owner’s attention.
Another piece of advice is to always tell your children not to handle their dogs roughly, as Cocker Spaniels can grow up to be very aggressive because of rough handling, especially the more defiant males.
If you like a Cocker Spaniel that is calmer and gentler especially around your children, then choose a female one. Female Cocker Spaniels have that maternal instinct that makes them take care of children and play with them more cautiously, which is a good thing especially if you have very young children that might be injured by a dog’s rough play.
Females also tend to grow and mature into a calmer version of themselves as they reach the one-year mark.
As females like being the “queen” or “boss” and value their alone time more, be sure to make it clear to your children that if they feel that their dogs are enjoying their alone time, leave them alone or give them space.
Pushing a dog to play, especially if it’s a child who suddenly rough plays with them as initiation, can lead them to be aggressive. Likewise, be sure to train your dog and let them know that aggression in the household should not be normal.
With Other Dogs
Male Cocker Spaniels are more sociable than females. They are more accepting of other dogs, and they are more likely to play with strangers. However, male Cocker Spaniels have an issue with dominance, and they are more likely to get into fights for dominance with other dogs.
Their fights might be frequent, but they usually stop quickly. They also like roaming around, especially if they smell a female dog in heat somewhere near them, so be sure to keep them in a fenced yard or on a leash.
The males are also more likely to accept new additions to the household, even if it’s not a dog, but they get along best with females and neutered males. They can get along with other pets as long as they are properly integrated, so make sure to have them socialize even as a puppy.
Female Cocker Spaniels tend to be shyer than their male counterparts. They like spending their time alone most of the time, and they also have a tendency to be cautious around new people. Females are also intelligent, so they wouldn’t get into fights as easily as males because males don’t have the same need for dominance.
However, they can get into fights, and they’re typically more dangerous than male fights since they don’t stop that easily. This aggression can be remedied by letting them socialize at an early age as part of their training so that they’re used to encountering new dogs and strangers.
Which Is Better for a Family?
Cocker Spaniels are very gentle and friendly, and this makes them excellent family dogs. They love being outdoors as much as they like being inside which makes them perfect for every kind of family.
They’re a “go with the flow” kind of breed, and they’ll just be happy and content doing whatever you want as long as they feel like they’re involved with every aspect of family bonding.
These dogs are so attached to their family that when left alone for too long, they have a high risk of getting separation anxiety, so keep this in mind if your family is always out and about.
Of course, these are traits that are universal to the breed, and there are advantages that are associated with gender. Although not as important as temperament or history, choosing the right gender for your family’s specific wants and needs can help both you and your new puppy.
Advantages of Male Cocker Spaniels in a Family Environment:
- More accepting of other animals.
- Sociable and more trusting of other dogs.
- Energetic even after reaching the one-year mark.
- Very affectionate with people.
- Gets along the most with female dogs.
- Good for older children who can handle rough play.
Advantages of Female Cocker Spaniels in a Family Environment:
- More intelligent.
- Easier to train.
- Calmer after the one-year mark.
- More cautious of new people.
- Gets along the most with male dogs.
- Good for younger children who needs a more careful companion.
Which Is a Better Guard Dog?
A lot have said that a Cocker Spaniel’s gentle and friendly nature makes them a substandard guard dog, but they often forget that Cocker Spaniels are very intelligent and can be trained to be good watchdogs, but they’re mostly all bark and no bite.
Their love for their owners also increases their protectiveness, and they will make noise if they sense that their home is in danger. Although gender doesn’t matter that much when it comes to choosing a guard dog, they do matter if you have a specific kind of guard dog in mind.
Both male and female Cocker Spaniels have their small advantages, but they have significant impacts when choosing the best guard dog for your family.
Advantages of Male Cocker Spaniels as Guard Dogs:
- More territorial.
- Alert and energetic.
- Larger build.
- Very protective of its owner.
Advantages of Female Cocker Spaniels as Guard Dogs:
- More protective, especially when maternal instincts kick in.
- Faster acting than males.
- Noisier and barks more.
- More cautious of strangers.
Male Cocker Spaniels are more dominant than females which makes them assume the role of the protector more naturally. They are more territorial, and their fierce loyalty to their owners make them extremely protective. Males are also very energetic, and they are more alert than females.
Female Cocker Spaniels are also good watchdogs because they bark more and are generally noisier than males. They are also more cautious of strangers, so they won’t hesitate to let your whole household and neighborhood know that someone is on your property.
Known for their puppy eyes and long ears that Lady and The Tramp popularized, Cocker Spaniels are adorable sweethearts that will be your shadow for the rest of their lifetime. You can always count on them to have your back, and they will love you unconditionally.
This article summarized the differences between male and female Cocker Spaniels, but it is always worth noting that gender isn’t as important as your Cocker Spaniel’s temperament and history, so make sure that you’re getting your companion from a reputable breeder.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.