The Best Dog Food for an English Cocker Spaniel
The Ultimate English Cocker Spaniel Food Buyer’s Guide
Here in the United States when people talk about Cocker Spaniels they are referring to the adorable little dogs that have been one of the most popular breeds in the country for decades. However, in Great Britain and the rest of the world, when you mention “Cocker Spaniels,” the breed that comes to mind is the English Cocker Spaniel. The dogs we call Cocker Spaniels are actually known as American Cocker Spaniels. These dogs are two distinct breeds today, although they were the same breed until the 1940s when the kennel clubs in both the United Kingdom and the United States decided the dogs had diverged so much that they should become separate breeds.
Cockers in general (English and American) have a long history dating back hundreds of years. With their small size they have historically been used for hunting woodcock and other small game. Today there are still people who enjoy hunting with English Cockers. Along with show breeders, some people breed them for hunting and field work. In Britain, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate) have a black English Cocker from working bloodlines named Lupo who has been included in family photos.
Like other Sporting breeds, English Cockers make excellent family dogs. They are known for being gentle, sweet, determined, intelligent, alert, and athletic. They develop strong bonds with their owners and they do not like being alone. They are very loyal, affectionate dogs. They are often referred to as “merry” dogs because of their cheerful disposition and constantly wagging tail. They do have a soft, sensitive nature so it’s important to use positive training methods with them. Early socialization is important so they won’t be shy as adults. With proper socialization and good training they get along well with other dogs, cats, and strangers. They are usually very good with children.
The English Cocker’s small size can make them a good choice for living in the city or in an apartment but they do require regular daily exercise. As a Sporting breed they enjoy romps and a chance to run – with supervision. Sporting dogs should never be allowed to run unsupervised since they may keep running until they are lost.
English Cockers come in a wide variety of colors though about 60 percent of them are blue roans. They come in solid colors such as black, liver, and shades of red. They come in parti-colors – white with solid colors, ticking, or roaning. They can have tan markings with black, liver, or parti-colors. They can be black and liver or black and tan. Many dogs are roan (white hair mixed throughout an otherwise solid-colored coat).
The coat is medium-long and silky. It requires regularly brushing. The breed’s tail is docked in the U.S. In the UK the tail is docked in working English Cockers but it is illegal to dock the tail in other dogs.
The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America has excellent information about the breed on their club web site, including an article (with photos) about the differences between English Cockers and American Cocker Spaniels.
Quick Look : Top 4 Best Dog Foods for English Cocker Spaniels
|*New Formula* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food||$3.08/lb|
Male English Cockers are 16-17 inches tall at the shoulders. Females are 15-16 inches tall. Males typically weigh 28 to 34 pounds and females usually weigh 26-32 pounds. They are compact, solid dogs. They are a little taller and weigh a little more than American Cockers. If you see the two breeds side by side, there is no mistaking their differences.
Some people still hunt with English Cockers. If you do, you should take your dog’s activity level into consideration when figuring how many calories your dog will need in his diet, especially if your dog is very active. The same is true if your dog is competing in other events. Many owners enjoy participating with their dogs in agility, obedience, rally, and tracking. Any kind of competition or stressful activity means your dog may need more calories or a change in diet.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult English Cocker weighing 30 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 894 kcal. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. For example, if you hunt with your English Cocker doing light field work, you might need to feed him somewhere around 993 kcal. Growing puppies consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young English Cocker Spaniel puppy (4-12 months) weighing 20 pounds needs an estimated 733 kcal per day. You always need to adjust your dog’s food intake based on his activity level and other factors.
Since English Cocker Spaniels are a medium-sized dog, it’s not hard to find many good foods that are appropriate for their size. You also have many choices for English Cocker puppies since they don’t normally have any special food requirements.
You can choose a puppy food that is made for all puppies. Most breeders recommend feeding this food until your puppy reaches about 90 percent of his adult size which is usually around 10 months of age for this breed. Some breeders, instead, recommend a puppy food for the first few months and then suggest switching to an adult food by the time the puppy is about six months of age. You should talk to your breeder about the food they recommend for their puppies since they usually have experience with how their puppies grow and develop.
Feeding Your English Cocker Spaniel
As with any dog, you should feed your English Cocker a good quality dog food. Food that is high in animal protein is usually a good choice.
According to various sources, some English Cocker Spaniels can have skin and coat problems as well as ear infections. All of these issues can be affected by diet in some cases.
Whether you feed your dog a food with or without grains is a personal choice. Many people choose grain free dog foods because their dogs have digestive problems, food allergies or sensitivities, or skin problems. You may want to avoid the most common grains, such as corn and wheat which are often over-used in dog foods, but there are many good dog foods that use alternative grains/cereals such as oats and barley. You can try a couple of foods, with and without grains, and see how your dog does on the foods so you can make your decision.
Keep in mind that food allergies are based on the proteins in foods and not carbohydrates. The most common dog food allergens are: beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, fish, corn, wheat, and soy. In the case of ingredients such as corn and wheat, dogs are allergic to the proteins in these cereals/grains and not the carbohydrates. If your English Cocker does have skin and coat problems due to allergies, it’s a good idea to work with your veterinarian so you can identify exactly which allergens trigger reactions in your dog. This makes it much easier to avoid problematic foods.
Ear infections are not uncommon in dogs with long ears. Any moisture in the ears can become trapped and bacteria can grow in an ordinary ear infection. However, if your dog is prone to food allergies it can keep the intestines inflamed which leads to an overgrowth of bacteria and/or yeast which can spread to the ears. Many dogs with food allergies have recurring ear infections. If your English Cocker has this problem talk to your veterinarian for treatment and to identify the allergen(s) causing the problem. This kind of ear infection can be particularly hard to eliminate.
Adult English Cockers usually do well eating two meals per day. You can feed English Cocker Spaniel puppies 3-4 meals when they are very young, then move to three meals per day as they get older. By the time they are about a year old they should be eating two meals per day.
English Cocker Spaniel Health Problems
English Cocker Spaniels are generally considered to be a healthy breed but, like most breeds, they can have some health issues.
Hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are found in the breed. You should talk to breeders about these health issues. There are health tests for adult dogs so find out the status of dogs used for breeding. You can view the health statistics for the breed here.
Other health issues found in the breed include bite problems (teeth issues), skin allergies, shyness, cataracts, deafness (affecting about 6.3 percent of English Cockers), aggression aimed at other dogs, and benign tumors.
Rage Syndrome has occurred in English Cockers but it is considered rare. This condition is characterized by a sudden onset attack without warning. The dog appears to have a glassy-eyed look and is unaware of his surroundings. It has cropped up in many breeds and some people have speculated that it is associated with epilepsy or other seizure-like activity in the brain.
According to the AKC, the English Cocker Spaniel has a lifespan of 13-15 years. According to various health surveys, old age and cancer are the leading causes of death.
Ingredients to Look for and Some to Avoid
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your English Cocker you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your English Cocker Spaniel may still be able to eat an alternative grain such as barley or oats. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs that is low glycemic. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your English Cocker has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with alternative meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult English Cocker Spaniel
English Cocker Spaniels should be able to eat most good quality dog foods. If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity you will need to try to avoid foods with ingredients that are triggers for your dog. We have listed some foods we recommend for dogs with food allergies and food sensitivities below.
We have suggested a variety of foods here for English Cockers. Most of the foods we have selected do not contain corn, wheat, or soy, unless noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s dietary needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to suit him.
Best Dog Foods for English Cocker Spaniel Adults
Quick Look : Top 4 Best Dog Foods for English Cocker Spaniels
|*New Formula* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food||$3.08/lb|
Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food
The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, and Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 460 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, wheat, or soy. No gluten. No ingredients from China. It has 38 percent crude protein and 17 percent crude fat, with 3.5 percent crude fiber. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin added, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Merrick uses local growers from Texas, where the food is made. We think this food has good quality protein and other ingredients for dogs that need good nutrition for an active lifestyle. Not everyone will like a protein percentage this high but if you do, give this food a try. If your English Cocker can’t eat chicken, Merrick has quite a few other recipes, including Merrick Limited Ingredient Diets and their Backcountry line of foods that include freeze-dried raw pieces in the kibble.
*New Formula* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Exciting news if you like Acana. Champion Pet Foods has completed their new kitchen in Kentucky and they are now reformulating some of their dog and cat foods to reflect what is now “regional” to the Kentucky area. So, it’s still the same award-winning company, but Acana will be made in Kentucky. We’ve had a chance to review the Acana dog and cat foods and there are some changes in the meat proteins but the foods still look good. If you visit the Acana web site you can view the old and new formulas to see the changes (we really like being able to compare the formulas). The current (old) Grasslands formula, for example, is heavy on lamb, duck, whitefish, and lentils. The new formula (due any time) will feature goat meal and catfish meal, in addition to the lamb and duck. The old formula has 31 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. The new formula has 33 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 6 percent crude fiber, and 12 percent moisture. The food has 60 percent animal protein ingredients and 40 percent vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. No grains, potatoes, or tapioca. If you’re looking for a good grain free dog food for your English Cocker that is low in carbohydrates, we think that the Acana foods are a good choice. Acana foods typically have slightly less meat protein than Orijen (made by the same company), but we think they’re a good choice for many dogs.
Victor Yukon River Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Victor dog food has something of a cult following. It’s made by Mid America Pet Food – a company that co-packs for some other well-known brands. Mid America is a family-owned and operated company located in east Texas. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the ingredients used in their foods come from a 200-mile radius of their facility. They currently have seventeen formulas available. They have foods that are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Their Yukon River formula is the most hypoallergenic formula they make. The first five ingredients are: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Sweet Potato, Peas, and Canola Oil. It has 33 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, 3.8 percent fiber, 9 percent moisture, and 398 kcal per cup. It has 34 percent carbohydrates in the guaranteed analysis. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from meat, poultry, and fish sources. Note that this formula was formerly the Salmon & Sweet Potato formula but it has been renamed and slightly reformulated. We still think think this is a very good food. Or you could check out one of Victor’s other foods. People who feed Victor are devoted to this brand. Considering the ingredients, their foods are very reasonably priced.
Fromm Adult Gold Dog Food
If you would like a food with a little less protein, we also like Fromm Adult Gold. This formula has duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. It has 24 percent crude protein, 16 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 408 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for growth and maintenance. The food includes salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat; probiotics, and prebiotics. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. The food includes brown rice and pearled barley in the first five ingredients. It does contain oatmeal and potatoes so if you are trying to keep the carbs very low you may not like this food. However, we think the ingredients are good quality and many dogs will do well on this food. You can see the technical analysis for the food, with the dry matter basis figures on the site. Fromm also makes their popular Four Star line of dog foods which feature favorites such as Chicken a la Veg and Hasen Duckenfeffer.
Best Dog Foods for English Cocker Spaniel Puppies
English Cocker Spaniel puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They usually have the most experience with raising English Cocker Spaniel puppies and can guide you.
Puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1.2 . It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth. If you are feeding your puppy a food that is properly formulated, you should not add any extra calcium, such as milk, cottage cheese, or other calcium supplements. Doing so can lead to serious health problems such as OCD (osteochondritis dessecans) – painful bone spurs that may require surgery – and other orthopedic problems.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for English Cocker Spaniel puppies. Note that an All Life Stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula
is a limited ingredient food with nine ingredients plus vitamins and minerals and probiotics. It’s grain free with probiotics to help digestion; antioxidants for a healthy immune system; and omega 3 and 6 to support healthy skin and a beautiful coat. The first five ingredients are Chicken, menhaden fish meal, lentils, peas, potatoes. The recipe is supposed to be especially good for puppies with sensitive digestion. The food has 30 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat, 4 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. This food checks in at 520 kcal/cup, so it’s high in calories but active, growing English Cocker puppies can usually burn them off. Just remember that you don’t need to feed a lot of food with these very nutrient-dense foods. If your English Cocker puppy does well on this puppy food, Canidae has some good adult foods – both grain free and foods with grains.
Wellness CORE Grain Free Puppy
This grain free, high protein food can be a good choice for puppies. No grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. No meat by-products or fillers. It has DHA for brain and eye development, antioxidants, and probiotics. And it has the proper calcium level for puppies. The first three ingredients are Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal. It has 417 kcal/cup. Lots of people with puppies really like .
Best Dog Foods for the Senior English Cocker Spaniel
It’s not unusual for many English Cocker Spaniels to live long lives. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your English Cocker as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, some very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior Dog
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older English Cocker Spaniel. This food features free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and nest-laid eggs. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 80 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your English Cocker Spaniel’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 445 kcal per 250ml/120g cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older. (We know Orijen is expensive but this food really stands out for senior dogs.)
Another food you may want to consider for older dogs is Weruva’s Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner with Pumpkin. This food (and several others in this product line) is potato-free with no corn or wheat, easy to digest, and low-glycemic. It contains pumpkin and oatmeal for healthy gut motility. Meat protein comes from grass-fed venison and the food also features salmon meal and herring meal. The dry matter basis for this food is an estimated 37.8 percent protein;14.4 percent fat; 3.9 percent fiber; and 35 percent carbs. The calorie count (calculated) is Metabolizable Energy (ME) 3320 kcal/kg; 348 kcal/cup. Those look like good figures for senior dogs who need more protein without extra fat.
Another senior food we like a lot is Bright Mind 7+ from Purina. Whether you normally like Purina foods or not, we have heard nothing but positive comments about this food, especially for elderly dogs that might be slowing down and starting to withdraw. The food addresses some of the cognitive issues that older dogs can have.
Best Dog Foods for English Cocker Spaniels with Skin Problems/Allergies
As mentioned earlier, English Cocker Spaniels can have some allergies and skin problems. If your dog needs to avoid common proteins, you can try this food.
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are less common in today’s pet food market so your dog probably hasn’t eaten them before – which means there is less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your English Cocker Spaniel has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling. The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
nother food that is often recommended for dogs with food allergies and skin problems is Zignature. It comes in proteins such as trout & salmon, kangaroo, turkey, duck, venison, and others. It’s available in dry and canned versions. Foods are potato- and grain-free, and chicken-free. They do not use common bonding agents in their foods which are high in simple carbs and starches. They only use low glycemic carbs such as chickpeas that add extra protein and fiber to the food. They work with Tuffy’s in Minnesota and Performance Pet in South Dakota to make their foods. Many people like Zignature very much. If you have a dog with food allergies, this is a brand that you might consider.
Best Dog Foods for English Cocker Spaniels with Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
We recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients are: Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Salmon Meal, Canola Oil, and Potato Fiber. It has 21 percent crude protein, 10 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 380 kcal/cup and it’s an all life stage formula. If your dog can’t eat some of the ingredients in this food, Natural Balance has lots of other LID recipes that you might check.
If your dog can’t eat these ingredients, you might try one of the Weruva foods or Acana Singles. Weruva also has lots of foods with pumpkin which can sometimes help a dog with stomach issues.
Note: If these foods designed for dogs with stomach issues don’t work, you may need to consider prescription/veterinary diets. Please work with your veterinarian for any health issues your dog may have.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight English Cocker Spaniels
If your English Cocker Spaniel becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise. English Cockers are very active and playful dogs as puppies and young adults but they tend to become more sedentary as they get older. You will probably have to encourage your English Cocker to get more exercise as he ages.
If your English Cocker Spaniel needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have an English Cocker Spaniel that needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
(Note that we looked at the new Orijen Fit & Trim food but it has 425 calories per cup. The ingredients look good but that’s a lot of calories for a weight control dog food, even if it is a good quality food. It also has as much fat as most regular dog foods.)
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
English Cocker Spaniels are beloved around the world. In the United States they are not as well-known as American Cockers but people who know them adore them. They are sweet, smart, affectionate, devoted dogs who make very good family pets. While they share the same roots as their American Cocker cousins, they are truly a different breed. If you haven’t met an English Cocker before, try to meet one. These merry little dogs are worth getting to know.