When you think of the English Cocker Spaniel, one or a couple of colors probably spring to your mind. If you're like us, you must have envisioned a healthy dog with a shade of brown or white markings to make up its coat.
If you're not, you might also be aware that the Cocker Spaniel has more than one coat color. But, do the different Cocker Spaniel colors make them different in their personality and ability? Are some dog coats prone to more maintenance and health issues than others?
To know more about Cocker Spaniel colors, keep on reading. Today in this article, we will tell you all the information you need to know about Cocker Spaniels and their coats.
English Cocker Spaniel coat
Before we go into detail about all the various colors, let's explore this dog's coat a little further. This beautiful dog is known to have a medium to long length, and it's a little bit wavy. When you take the coat of English cockers, it tends to feel smooth and silky.
In particular, it has longer hair on its legs, chest, and belly. This type of hair is known as feathering, which has an additional purpose. The feathering on this coat is known to help protect Cocker Spaniels against injuries and scratches.
What are the coat colors of Cocker Spaniels?
Overall, there's a grand total of 24 colors for a Cocker Spaniel, but that's unofficial. You can expect to find these cute coat potatoes in the following colors:
- Tan and black
- Black and white
- Black, tan and white
- Blue Roan
- Tan and blue roan
- Lemon Roan
- Tan and liver
- White and liver
- Liver roan
- Red roan
- Liver and tan roan
- Tan, white, and liver
- White and orange
- Roan and orange
- White and lemon
- Red and white
- Tan and sable
- White and sable
We told you there are a lot of coat colors for Cocker Spaniels.
What is the breed standard coat color?
- Liver (chocolate)
- Black and tan
- Liver and Tan
There should be no white hairs at all on their chest. If there is only a little amount is accepted.
- Bicolors: Orange and white, liver and white, lemon and white, and black and white.
- Tricolors; Liver, white and tan, black white, and tan.
- Roans: Liver roan, lemon roan, blue roan, orange roan, liver roan, and tan.
If we went and discussed all the different markings and colors of this dog, it'd probably take a few blog posts. Therefore to save you time, we're going to explore the most common colors of these dogs:
Golden English Cocker Spaniel
One common Cocker color is the golden shade. Typically, this dog's coat is not that light like its lemon coat, nor dark like red it falls between. In addition to this, these dogs tend to have a distinctive black coat.
Red English Cocker Spaniel
These dogs' colors tend to be on the darker side of the golden shade. It's not unusual for the same dog to have a color that is dark red like the Irish Settler. In addition to this, the Red English Cocker Spaniel will have a liver or black-colored nose.
Black fur Cocker Spaniel
The colors of this English Cocker Spaniel are jet black. It's not unusual to sometimes see white markings on their throat too. In the case of entering them for shows, these small white marks are still accepted. You can notice dark rims on their nose and eyes alongside their black fur. Most of the time, their eye color is black, if not dark brown.
Liver Cocker Spaniel
This Cocker Spaniel color looks similar to the color of chocolate. The liver color tends to have a mix of colors such as black, tan, red, golden and more. There are no white colors in this coat.
Particolor English Cocker Spaniel
These Cocker Spaniels consist of two colors or more; they can also have markings too. Moreover, their markings have different colors, shapes, and sizes.
Most of the Cocker Spaniel colors, apart from 6, are known to be Particolor. This makes them a truly unique and diverse dog breed for their appearance. No two Particolored Cocker Spaniels are identical!
Black and White Cocker Spaniel
Orange and white Cocker Spaniel
Liver and white Cocker Spaniel
Lemon and white Cocker Spaniel
Red and white Cocker Spaniel
Roan colored Cocker Spaniel
Dogs with roan patterns on their coat involve dim white hairs on its body. The light white hairs can make their coat look brighter than it typically is. Most of the time, the white hairs on this Cocker Spaniel is mixed in with its colored hairs, providing it with a distinct appearance.
Sometimes though, the Roan cocker Spaniel colors can be a bit deceiving. For instance, the blue roan coat does not contain blue; it's black with mixed white hairs. Because of this, the black Cocker Spaniel often looks a lot lighter, like blue color. Further to this, a chocolate roan is more of a liver colored Cocker Spaniel with white hairs mixed into the brown fur, making it look like a chocolate shade.
Blue Roan Cocker Spaniel
Chocolate Roan Cocker Spaniel
Lemon Roan Cocker Spaniel
Orange Roan Cocker Spaniel
Another common coat type for a Cocker Spaniel is when they have tan markings on their coat. They are visible on different types of coats and colors, creating a tri-tone look on Cocker Spaniels. Tan markings can occur anywhere on their body, such as their muzzle, legs, tail, eyes, and chest. Sometimes they can be visible on all parts and others just a few.
Red and orange roan dogs may also inherit the gene for tan markings, but it's not expressed that visibility in these breeds. Tan markings are also a recessive gene; therefore, they are only visible if both parents have them.
Black and Tan Cocker Spaniel
Liver and Tan Cocker Spaniel
Blue Roan and Tan Cocker Spaniel
Black, white and tan Cocker Spaniel
Liver, white and tan Cocker Spaniel
Sable Cocker Spaniels
The Cocker Spaniel can also come in sable coat color. This coat color is quite special as the hair on their coat consists of two unique colors. Usually, the base is the main color, and then the tips of the fur are black.
Most of the time, this makes English Cocker Spaniels have a gorgeous coat that looks different in certain lighting. It's not unusual for Sable Cocker Spaniels to have a coat that is parti-color with white fur or tan markings.
Sable Cocker Spaniel
Black and tan Sable Cocker Spaniel
Sometimes a Cocker Spaniel can have more patterns on its coat, but very small ones. Often these patterns are ticked, or there are little flecks of white fur. There is also an open marked Cocker Spaniel which means the dog is completely white between the patches with no ticking.
How is the Cocker Spaniel coat determined?
While Cocker Spaniel colors are vast, they occur due to each parent's wide variety of genes. Combining their genes help decide the coat color and patterns (solid color or parti-color). Then, parti-color is broken up into different categories such as ticked, roan, or open marked.
The factors that make up the appearance of these hunting dogs are due to a color series known as loci. Loci are short for the locations of the chromosomes in dogs and categorized into a series of colors.
These colors are typically split into categories similar to what we mentioned in the last section. Most of the time, several loci work together to create different genes to produce a unique coat color. Sometimes dominant ones can hide the presence of recessive genes in Cocker Spaniels.
Can coat color have an impact on aggression?
Reading about Cocker Spaniel colors may have you interested to see if there are links to personality and their appearance.
Well, back in 2005, a study was published under the name “Heritability of dominant-aggressive behavior.” This study looked at the aggression of English Cocker Spaniels using the Campbell test to evaluate their score. The scoring was split up into five sections which helped assess their traits. In the study, it was observed that puppies reacted to the experimenter in one or several ways, such as:
- Biting or growling (A form of struggling)
- No biting or growling
- Showing signs of struggle then calming down
- No struggle
The study overall found that regardless of the coat color of a Cocker Spaniel puppy, males were a more dominant gender. However, it does show overall the coat color does have somewhat of an influence on their dominant nature, with Golden Cocker Spaniel puppies being the most dominant.
After this, black was the next dominant color, and the Parti color was shown to be the least. Moreover, the study highlighted that the dominant behavior was often inherited from their parents.
Another aggression study
There is also similar evidence related to cocker Spaniel colors that dates back to 1997.
In this year, a study was conducted that reviewed aggression in puppies of this breed. Typically the aggressive traits observed were:
- Aggression towards unusual dogs
- Aggression towards strangers
- Aggression towards people visiting their home
- Aggression towards people approaching their owner outside the home
- Signs of aggression at children in the house
- Signs of aggression towards other dogs in the house
- When their owner provides attention to other animals or people
- Aggression towards the owner or a member of their family
- Signs of aggression when disciplined
- Aggression when handled or reached
- Signs of aggression in a restricted space
- Aggression during meal times or defending food
- Spontaneous aggression
This study found that English Cocker Spaniels typically showed more signs of aggression than the parti color Cocker Spaniel. This was evident in 12 of the 13, the only one that wasn't was aggression towards strange dogs.
It was also shown that Cocker Spaniel's colors of golden and red were seen as more aggressive than black ones. This study does not apply to all Cocker Spaniels, though, as there's little external validity, it's unknown if they looked at all 24 coat color patterns, and there's no mention of all the solid colors.
Does their coat color correlate with health?
With this loving companion, there is no correlation between health and coat color most of the time. While the white pigmentation in dog breeds like the Dalmatian is known to cause blindness and deafness, this is not the case with the Cocker Spaniel.
Often in other dogs, Merle is also deemed to be a troublesome shade, but with English Cocker, there is no Merle in their coat. Therefore, there's no prominent research supporting health differences concerning the Cocker Spaniel coat.
What are their grooming requirements?
Most of the time, the grooming regime of the Cocker Spaniel tends to be the same regardless of their coat color. If you plan to own a Cocker Spaniel, you'll want to brush their coat every day, and every time they've been outside playing. They're also a dog that sheds quite regularly and therefore is not a hypoallergenic breed.
Ideally, it would help if you took it to a professional groomer every 6 weeks to trim the feathering, so their coat does not drag on the floor, keeping them looking neat.
On the contrary, if you plan to enter English Cocker Spaniels into a show, they'll need more maintenance. Their coat should be stripped by hand or stripped using a knife. You can learn how to do this from a breeder or take it to a professional groomer.
Overall the English Cocker is a medium sized dog that can be quite the couch potato when not exercising. To avoid this it’s important you exercise these couch potatoes right from when they’re a puppy.
This dog can come in a range of colors, up to 24 different types! Between those types, they can have different features like tan markings, parti color, solid colors, tickings, open markings, etc.
English Cocker Spaniels are not a hypoallergenic dog breed and therefore require daily brushing to keep on top of their shedding. There is research that sometimes shows there can be a difference in aggression in some coat colors of English Cocker Spaniels; however, there's not enough there yet to validate this. On the contrary, there is no difference in the health of English Cocker Spaniels.
Alex Wrigley is a professional writer and blogger who loves travel, technology and dogs. She is originally from the UK but currently lives in Nepal with her three dogs: two pugs and a golden retriever.