Cocker Spaniels are sweet dogs that love their owner and every other human they encounter. Both the American and English varieties of this dog make a good family pet. But are Cocker Spaniels good dogs for seniors? Yes, most seniors will find that one of these dogs works well with their lifestyle, even though there are a few potential hiccups you should be aware of.
In general, Cocker Spaniels are best for seniors who:
- Can brush their dog daily, or can have regular professional grooming weekly
- Can exercise their dog for 30 minutes per day
- Are not looking for a guard dog or service dog
If you are considering getting a Cocker Spaniel to join you in retirement or are considering a Cocker Spaniel for a senior in your life, here’s what you need to know.
An Ideal Family Dog
Cocker Spaniels are very friendly dogs, as long as they were properly socialized when puppies. You can expect your Cocker Spaniel to get along well with you, your family, your grandchildren, and anyone else they meet on the street. Their deep love for and desire to please humans is a huge benefit for seniors, as it also makes them very easy to train.
Cocker Spaniels are so attached to their humans that they can become anxious when separated for them. In that regard, a Cocker Spaniel is an ideal dog for someone who is retired or who spends a lot of time at home.
That said, if your senior loved one is looking for a dog to make them feel a little safer in their home or to provide some kind of support as a service dog potentially, a Cocker Spaniel is not a good choice. While intelligent, they are limited by their size. As emotional support animals, they excel, but they may struggle to guide seniors or pick up objects.
Cocker Spaniel Grooming& Exercise Needs
Cocker Spaniels have long, luscious coats that are great to snuggle up to. However, they also require daily brushing and will shed a lot if you do not meet that need. Seniors who have arthritis in their hands or other chronic pain may find that they need someone else to brush their dog. If you can afford a weekly visit to the groomers, it can still work out.
As they were originally bred to hunt birds (the Eurasian woodcock and American woodcock), the Cocker Spaniel is energetic. The AKC describes their energy level at “regular exercise” or high medium compared to other dogs. While the energy needs of individual dogs will vary, you can expect to walk a Cocker Spaniel for 30 minutes per day. Seniors who can’t walk for that long daily can supplement their walks with games of fetch.
Should I Choose an American or English Cocker Spaniel?
The two kinds of Cocker Spaniel are very similar, but their slight differences may matter to you. The English Spaniel requires slightly less frequent brushing and is also slightly less friendly. Seniors who are looking for a small and loving dog will be happy with either type of Cocker Spaniel.