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Working Cocker Spaniel OK as a family pet? How flexible are their stimulation needs?

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Purdy123, Jun 27, 2020.


  1. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    I have received excellent advice from this forum before so I am coming back for a sense check! Having researched different breeds for the past 6 months, we finally settled on a cocker spaniel and started the search. Unfortunately, we haven't' been able to find a reputable Show Cocker breeder with any availability before Xmas, but have come across a breeder of Working cockers and, whilst we prefer the look (and the coat maintenance!) of the Working cocker, we are worried about their energy/stimulation levels. Being realistic, our family wouldn't do more than a one hour walk a day, a couple of half-hour walks, plus a bit of garden fun/flyball or similar once or twice a day. A few times a week I'd take the dog with me on errands into town, or visit friends etc).

    The (KC registered) breeder says mum is really chilled out, doesn't mind missing out on a walk etc. and knows we want the pup as a family pet and thinks it will be fine with us/our energy levels. He didn't know very much about the (KC) stud dog, so I called the stud dog's owner who said he was quite soppy, adaptable, laid back, and in fact, she had hoped there was a bit more of the Worker in him than there was in reality?! So, on the surface of it, it seems we may be OK with this particular combination of working cockers. But boy am I nervous after everything I've read about Workers and their need for constant/ high levels of stimulation. Will our regime be enough to keep a Working cocker content? Some people say that if it gets used to your (more limited) routine from a pup, it will be fine, others say nope, if it doesn't get a lot of mental and physical stimulation then it will get destructive, be pacing about looking for more. What do people think?
     
  2. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I know two working cockers from the same litter. One is small and a real live wire, literally never stops but I think that is encouraged by the owner. The other one is twice the size and belongs to an unfit older person and seems really quite staid. So probably partly what you want from them and partly the luck of the draw.
     
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  3. rona

    rona Still missing my boys

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    This bit concerns me. If you are breeding a working cocker then you would want to know how the stud dog works and what it's ability and drive was like.
    Do either dog work?

    Have you checked health tests?
    https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/Default.aspx

    https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/health.aspx?id=2052
     
    #3 rona, Jun 27, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  4. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

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    I think you’re walking seems fine if that’s 4x a day. The thing with working dogs isn’t giving them tons and tons of exercise (which can just make a fitter dog!) it’s giving them the mental stimulation they need in terms of games and training.

    i know 2 working cockers who are family dogs and do fine. They are pretty go go go all the time when out and about but can be chilled in the house. They were both a bit mad as puppies though!

    i would check health tests have been done though as has been suggested.
     
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  5. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    That's reassuring, sounds like the dog is very influenced by its upbringing, which is what the hopeful side of me likes to think!
     
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  6. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    Hi, both dogs have had the recommended health tests, but no, I didn't know you could check the tests directly , thanks for the link, presumably we just put in the parents' names (and grandparents?) to verify? I think the stud dog might be a failed working dog, owner said he had hoped he would be a good worker, having looked at his lineage, he had expected him to be so, but was too easy-going etc to make a good working dog. He seemed happy to chat, I'm sure I could go back and ask more questions if there is something in particular I needed to find out.
     
  7. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    I know a few, loads in fact! And they aren't for the faint hearted. Especially as puppies they can be really hard work, and if you don't get recall in there early they will be off hunting. Just because Dad is laid back doesn't mean his pups will be.
     
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  8. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    Yes, am worried about the "on the go" the whole time when out and about, would quite like a dog that at least checks in and walks alongside us some of the time, not constantly on the go! Also, it's one long walk (an hour) or two shorter walks a day, not 4 walks.
     
  9. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    Don't want a hunter, so yes, it sounds like we need to be strong in those first puppy years! I think dad might come from a line of working dogs (am going to go back to owner tomorrow to find out more about family history), even though the Stud himself isn't much of a hunter. Mum is a cuddle-pot, not fussed about chasing etc, but you think even with her genes in the mix we could still end up with a live wire if dad's lineage is worker dogs?
     
  10. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    Not necessarily. You need a good breeder who can see the temperaments of the pups as they develop. Lots of enrichment so you can see who the real go-getters are and who the little thinkers are. Mind you proper thinker types can be the worst! Give the breeder a really good idea of what you are looking for and they should match a pup to you. Breeders who know their lines will know roughly how the pups should turn out temperament wise, although they will all have their own little characters.
     
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  11. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

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    I think if you get a puppy from working lines, you have to expect a worker to greater or lesser extent. Sure, not all dogs will follow that pattern, but at a basic level, it's in their genes to display working characteristics.

    While the upbringing you give the puppy will certainly help shape it, you can't beat what's naturally a part of the dog. My 'puppy' (now 4) is not a working breed but my gosh, he was absolutely nutso up until he was about 3. It certainly wasn't as a result of the upbringing I gave him - I had a relatively sedate small dog and we were used to pottering around together before the whirlwind of Elliot entered our lives. His litter brother on the other hand is the most chilled dog I think I've ever met in my life. Sure, you can argue that any puppy can be crazy and hard work, but with a worker there's a lot more going against you.
     
  12. Teddy-dog

    Teddy-dog PetForums VIP

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    The two I know - ones recall took a lot of work or he’d be off hunting. The other is still very on the go when out but always sticks around and checks in but is busy busy sniffing and investigating (obviously this has been trained into her, the checking in, but she was much easier in that sense than the male I know). The walking should be ok as long as you spend time training and mentally stimulating them with games etc. Most of them will need to use their brains in one way or another or they will find their own fun.
    It’s difficult to say exactly though as a lot depends on the parents and the lines!
     
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  13. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Yes I agree - all the ones I know aren't for the faint hearted either but most were purchased to do either agility or competitive obedience so the owners knew exactly what they were getting.
    As Blitz has already said it's the luck of the draw really. I've had working sheepdogs/collies for many years; some have been almost manic workaholics and some have been very chilled and quite happy to lounge around all day.
     
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  14. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    I hear what you're saying; a working cocker is meant to work, no matter how much we want it to be a bright and loveable family pet, it can't help being a working dog with an inbuilt instinct, as well as the bright and loveable family pet. Argh... it's like chasing after the wrong sort of man all over again, you know he's bad for you but can't help it!!
     
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  15. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    Unfortunately, we won't have much of a choice, someone pulled out, so we get the last dog left. I had asked if he matches the pup to the person, but he said it's order of waiting list.
     
  16. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

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    If what you really want is a show cocker, why not just wait until you can get one? Sure, good breeders have waiting lists, but they're not exactly a rare breed so I can't imagine you'll be waiting years.
     
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  17. The Wild Bunch

    The Wild Bunch Owner of dogs and referee of children

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    I've got a terrier. Mum isn't a worker but dad is. We wanted an active and driven bitch and that's exactly what we've got! She is into everything and is a cracking dog. Very high drive, very reactive and if she's not on a lead, she will kill whatever she can catch. My neighbours adore her as she kills the rats that have moved into their garage.

    The magic age for them to start calming down is apparently 3 in my girl's lines, she's 18 months now and a lot more chilled than she was a year ago :)
     
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  18. Purdy123

    Purdy123 PetForums Junior

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    Have always been torn between the show and the working, think the show temperament is probably more suited to us, but like the look and the grooming/maintenance levels of the Working, so if there was a way of getting a calmer Working dog, that would have been perfect. Ideally a mix of the two would suit us well, but can't seem to find that, so initially we had decided to go for the Show cocker. We've made it onto 3 wait lists, all fallen through, either too small litters to move us up the queue, or at time of birth our calls not returned etc. I don't know what has made cockers so popular right now, but the breeders we do get through to are telling me that they are getting as many as 500 calls a day when they post a kc litter. As we'd always liked both strains of cocker, we were wanting to explore the idea of a Working cocker now that one had become available through a KC breeder and with full history. But you're right, there's always next year if we find a working cocker is going to need more mental/physical stimulation we can give. .
     
  19. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    There sometimes isn't too much difference between working and show. Earlier this year someone brought a 14 week old (ish) Cocker Spaniel pup into our training class which had been rescued 2-3 days earlier. A family living in a flat had her and taken her to the vets to be pts because she was supposedly biting them aggressively. She was beautifully made and quite obviously from show lines but my goodness she was up for anything and not the slightest bit fazed coming into the hall with loads of strangers. I actually did quite a bit of play training with her and she had lots of opportunity to bite me. I was very sorely tempted to bring her home but I've got a youngster.
     
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  20. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    Honestly I would just wait a bit. The puppy market has sky rocketed due to people wanting pups during lockdown, it will be hard to sift through the bad breeders to find the good ones at the moment. Get yourself chatting to breeders and finding out about their lines and breeding, rather than settling for the last pick of a litter where you aren't sure of their lines and temperament. Find a breeder you like and get yourself on their waiting list.
     
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