Advice & Tips
how to groom a cocker spaniel

How to Groom a Cocker Spaniel - Grooming a Cocker Spaniel

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Cocker spaniels are known for being one of the most popular dog breeds. They are also known for being one of the most high-maintenance dog breeds when it comes to grooming. If you own a cocker spaniel, or are thinking about owning one, here are a few tips on how to groom your furry friend.
A woman drying a cocker spaniel


Asking a Cocker Spaniel to keep still is a bit like asking a lion to go veggie. It's just not going to happen. So you can imagine how daunting the idea of grooming an excitable Cocker Spaniel can be to some dog owners, especially if they're not familiar with some of the basics.

Grooming your fidgety Cocker Spaniel is both important for their health and hygiene, and it's a fantastic opportunity to bond with your pup while you're making them look wonderfully fabulous. After all, there's nothing quite as magnificent as a well-groomed Cocker Spaniel.

However, if you're not sure where to start, don't worry; we've got you covered with our easy-to-follow guide on how to groom a Cocker Spaniel.

We'll hold your hand and guide you through the basics of brushing and bathing, trimming nails, and cleaning your dog's super-sensitive ears.

At the end of this article, you'll have everything you need to be the Vidal Sassoon of the dog world.

Basics of grooming a Cocker Spaniel

When it comes to Cocker Spaniel grooming, understanding the fundamentals is key to getting a great haircut.

Let's look at the essential grooming tools you'll need to get started:

  • Favourite squeaky toy or plush

  • Yummy treats

  • Clippers

  • Scissors

  • Nail clippers (Dog specific ones, not human ones)

  • Slicker brush

  • Comb

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Towel

Once you've got all the essential items you need for your toolbox, you're ready for the main event, grooming your Cocker Spaniel.


Cocker Spaniel being Brushed

If you talk to any professional dog groomer, they will tell you how it's vitally important to regularly brush your Cocker Spaniel's coat to prevent matted hair and tangles. But before we start all that malarkey, we need to distract your overly excitable pup.

This is where the two most essential items in your toolbox come into play, the favourite toy and the yummy treats.

These key items act as a distraction and will hopefully keep your energetic Cocker in one place long enough to complete the whole grooming process.

Start at the base of your dog's neck and brush down towards the tail, following the direction in which the hair naturally grows. This is just to remove as much loose hair as possible.

Daily brushing is recommended for this breed in order to keep their coat in tip-top shape. Cocker Spaniels have an abundance of hair but luckily they are only moderate shedders.

Remember to brush the fur on your dog's ears and around their eyes as well.

A Cocker's skin can be incredibly sensitive, so be gentle and avoid brushing too hard. Use a slicker brush to get into the coat and remove any mats or tangles.

Carefully use scissors to cut out mats that can't be combed out.

Brush the entire coat, but pay special attention to the areas around the ears, eyes, and muzzle.

When you brush, try to reach the root of the hair. Thorough brushing can keep your pup's coat in great condition.


A Cocker Spaniel Having a Bath

The next process is bathing your Cocker Spaniel, and it's really essential to use a shampoo and conditioner that's specifically meant for their coat type.

The Cocker Spaniel's skin is also very sensitive, so you should consider this when selecting your shampoo and conditioner. You want to avoid dry skin and any skin conditions which could be inflamed by poor quality or inappropriate shampoo for your Cocker's wavy coat.

Be sure to rinse off all the soap from their body thoroughly, as any residue can dry out the skin and cause irritation.

At this point, you're in very real danger of suddenly becoming very, very wet.

Unless you're wearing protective clothing, rapidly back away from your dog.

They will likely be gearing up for a full-on body shake.

After a thorough soaking courtesy of your furry friend, towel dry your soggy dog. If they'll tolerate it, use a hairdryer on a low setting to help them dry off properly.

Now, it's time for your pup's pedicure.

Nail Trimming

Trimming your Cocker Spaniel's nails is a vital part of their grooming routine, as overgrown nails can be quite uncomfortable.

Squeaky toys and treats at the ready!

Gently press on the nail to see where the quick (the vein that runs through the nail) ends.

Whatever you do, you don't want to cut the quick as this can be pretty painful for your dog and can lead to bleeding.

Trim the nails just before the quick, being careful not to go too far. If you're unsure how much to trim, err on the side of caution and trim less rather than more.

Trimming your Cocker Spaniel's hair

A cocker spaniel having their hair trimmed

Puppy cuts are a popular style for Cocker Spaniels because they are easy to maintain and keep your dog lovely and cool in the summer.

Begin with some yummy treats and squeaky toy action for maximum distraction.

To give your Cocker Spaniel a puppy cut, carefully trim the hair around the eyes, ears, and muzzle with scissors.

Then it's time to use the clipper to give them a short all-over haircut, but take care not to freak your dog out during the process.

Begin the cut at the base of the neck and carefully work your way down the body, angling the clipper blade slightly upward as you go.

Trim the hair on the back of your dog's legs and around his tail, being careful not to cut off too much.

Leave the hair on the tail long and trim it only if it is matted or tangled.

Lastly, use scissors to carefully trim around your pup's toes, being wary not to cut into the skin.

How to clean a Cocker Spaniel's ears

As Cockers have long hair around the ears, it's easy for muck and grit to accumulate and cause an infection.

Start by wetting a cotton ball with warm water and gently wiping the inside of the ear.

Do this until the cotton ball comes out clean.

Then, use a dry cotton ball to wipe the inside of the ear to remove any moisture.

Repeat this process until both ears are clean.

How long does it take to groom a Cocker Spaniel?

A cocker spaniel getting a haircut

Pampering your pooch can take a little while.

Typically, if your Cocker's coat is on the shorter side, it may only take about 30 minutes.

However, bathing, drying, and trimming could take an hour or two if they have long luscious locks.

Don't forget about the nails!

If they need a good clipping, that could tack on another 10-15 minutes. So give yourself plenty of time when you set out to groom your Cocker Spaniel!

How often to groom a Cocker Spaniel

Now that you've nailed the basics of grooming your pooch, you're probably wondering how often you need to do it.

Bathing - Some dog owners argue that you should bathe your Cocker Spaniel every three months, while others recommend bathing them as often as once a week.

The truth is, how often you bathe your dog will depend on their lifestyle and coat type.

If they're the outdoorsy type and get dirty often, you'll probably need to bathe them more often.

On the other hand, if they're not a fan of getting covered in mucky stuff and stay relatively clean, you could get away with only bathing them every few months.

Ears – Your pup's ears should be cleaned weekly to avoid any build-up of wax and dirt, which can cause infections.

Nails - You should trim your pup's nails every two to three weeks. If you hear them click-clacking on the floor, they're too long.

Clipping - If your pup has a puppy cut, you will only need to clip them every 6-8 weeks. If they have a longer coat, you will need to clip them every 4-6 weeks as the hair will become matted and tangled over time.


Cocker Spaniels are known for their long and silky coats. While they may require a bit more maintenance than other breeds, their coats can be kept healthy and looking good with regular grooming sessions.

Grooming a Cocker Spaniel includes brushing their fur, cutting nails, bathing and cleaning their huge ears.

How often you need to do these things will depend on your dog's coat type and lifestyle. So, set aside time to properly groom your furry friend each week (or month)!

While grooming your Cocker Spaniel may seem daunting, with a little patience, plenty of distractions, and by following these easy-to-follow tips, your cocker spaniel will be looking fabulous in no time!

If it's just not possible to get your Cocker Spaniel’s energy to be calm enough to groom, then it's probably best to take them to a professional groomer who has the experience (and patience) to do this for you.

They can also recommend the best high-quality shampoo and give tips on regular brushing, how to brush with the direction of hair growth, and removing dead hair and excess hair.

Not near a professional groomer? Need further expert advice and grooming tips? If you're in the UK, you can become a Waggel Pet Insurance member and enjoy perks such as 24/7 access to online veterinary care, where you can ask all these grooming-related questions and more.

Oh, and the rewards for you and your best furry friend are pretty great too. Interested? You know you are, just get a quote here today!

We also have a handy guide to Spaniel breeds which covers all aspects of Spaniels and their history.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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