Cocker Spaniels are beautiful. They come in so many amazing colors, each one coat textures, and size variations. However the one thing that makes them really differ from each other is their breed sub-type. So, if you have been wondering about the difference between working and show type Cockers, you have arrived at the right place.
In short, there are only a few differences between working cockers and show cockers. These include subtle changes in their appearance, head size, body, tail, coat texture, and trainability. But, apparently there are also a few major factors that contribute greatly to deciding their overall health status.
Keep on reading until the end to know more.
Working Cocker Vs Show Cocker
Before we start with the comparison, let’s have a look at the history of this breed.
So, as we had covered earlier, Cocker Spaniels originated as a working gun dog breed. They were primarily used for hunting and flushing games, however as their popularity sky-rocketed, more and more Cockers were seen participating in show dog championships. And thus with the rising demands, breeders focused more on enhancing their aesthetic qualities, leading to the birth of the show quality Cocker Spaniels.
Okay, now moving on to the main part:
Known for their superb upland flushing qualities, working cockers exhibit a powerful appearance. They have strong legs, a muscular neck, broad chest, and relatively slimmer coats of fur. All of these factors add up to their quicker movements, making them perfect for hunters and gun dog trainers, alike.
A relatively new subtype of the Cocker Spaniel breed, show cockers however exhibit a fluffier, adorable face and body. All of their physical attributes are as per show dog championship demands and therefore recognizing a show cocker from a working cocker isn’t that hard.
The head of such a pup will be comparatively flat with longer, narrower muzzles. Moreover, their ears are set higher than their eyes and are pretty small, making it easier to seamlessly navigate through thick bushes without risking injury due to friction.
Contrary to the working Cockers, these pups have longer ears, a rounded skull, and a shorter but prominent square shaped muzzle. This gives them a bulky appearance, fit for show requirements. Apart from that, their long ears are coated with multiple layers of fur, giving them the distinctive ‘Cocker Spaniel’ look. Their eyes are doe-shaped, unlike the small eyes found in working Cockers.
Although there isn’t much difference in the body size of both these Cocker subtypes, working puppies do have a longer body. Their necks are strong and muscular with less focus on angulation. The same also goes for their legs, which exhibit a visibly slimmer but a muscular look. Fur distribution is also relatively less than their counter-types.
These pups arrive with a compact body that is covered in generous amounts of fur. This gives them the fluffy look which they are immensely popular for, but under all these layers, their body is rather muscular and strong much like their field brothers and sisters. Their rib cages are bigger, legs muscular and loins smaller. So, there isn’t much to differentiate when it comes to the body factors of Cocker Spaniel puppies.
Coat colors and patterns
Cocker spaniels arrive in many mesmerizing colors and fur patterns. This includes four single tone solid colors and rest roan mixes. Some pups also have dual and triple solid color furs, making them a delightful sight. And moreover as working cockers don’t have to follow any strict guidelines or regulations, these puppies are generally bred or adopted in almost every color. There is no correlation between a pup and their color when it comes to working as gun dogs.
Unfortunately, pet parents of show cockers have to follow breed standards if they want their Spaniels to enroll for show dog championships. According to the breed standards, only specific coat colors or patterns are allowed. However, if your pup has white fur on the majority of its body, they might not be acceptable as per the set standards. Only a little white on the chest portion is deemed okay, although some judges might even reject the pup in such cases.
Personality and Needs
While personality stays the same in both the sub-types, field puppies are filled with a lot of energy and stamina as compared to their show buddies. So. automatically, they will also require a lot of mental and physical stimulation on a regular basis.
Starting from going on long hikes, running, helping in hunts or flushing, there’s a lot these puppies will require to settle down peacefully once at home and not destroy furniture. Interested pawrents can also let their puppies be admitted into classes that encourage scent-work, gun dog activities, and other agility courses.
Now even though show cockers do have the working capabilities, they are bred to be more visually aesthetic than chase games on a hot sunny day. These pups do well with an hour worth exercise, but the same needs to be done regularly. Without this the canine will get bored and may indulge in self-entertainment, which believe me is not good for your home.
Cocker Spaniels (no matter their sub-type) are highly intelligent canines with a very eager mindset to learn new things and comply with their owners. Thus, it is fairly easy to train these pups. But as with every breed, you might also stumble across stubborn, dominant pups that would require more vigorous training unlike others to behave decently.
Usually, following with the right positive reinforcement training works out well. With this not only the canine has a good time while learning all tricks but reward based training also ensures a more strengthened and intimate bond between you and your pup.
Finally, health is the last most important differentiating factor between the two subtypes of Cocker Spaniels. Even though they both are generally strong, healthy pups, the breed is still predisposed to certain health conditions. So, depending upon their pedigree and persisting health conditions, extra care might be necessary.
Such pups will usually need a diet rich in additional protein in case they are used for gun dog activities or other heavy pressure tasks. The extra protein levels will make sure their muscles and bones are strong enough to meet the heavy demands of their work.
In the meanwhile, show cockers will require a diet schedule that has been carefully planned. Any extremities in the nutrients could easily lead to fattening of their bodies, eventually leading to obesity and other health conditions. Thus, to ensure their safety, pet parents should always formulate their feeding based upon their age, health, gender and as per vet consultations. A regular exercise is also indeed essential to keep the pups fit and fine.
So, which one is the best: Working or Show Cocker?
Always remember there is no best amongst the two subtypes of Cocker Spaniels, rather your choice depends upon the type of lifestyle you lead as well as your expectations from the canine.
For instance, if you live in the countryside, getting a field Cocker is for the best. This is a champ that can accompany you on your hunting trips, go on super long nature hikes, find and prevent small rodents from destroying your crops, and so much more. In simple words, these pups are for individuals who are always working and plenty of area for the woofer to run around.
Similarly, show cocker spaniels are best suitable for pet parents who regularly participate in show dog championships. With their furry little adorable faces and low exercise requirements, they can seamlessly fit into small living spaces, although their care and maintenance may be pretty expensive.
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