Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever – A Detailed Comparison Of Both Dogs

Hello, my name is Valerie and I am the owner of Bentley, who is a three-year old Clumberdoodle.

I’m thinking about a furry friend for Bentley and have decided to look into these two types of dog.

I’ve done some research and found several differences between Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers which I hope you find interesting.

Short Introduction to the Dogs: Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever

Cocker Spaniel

I’ve found that the Cocker Spaniel and Golden Retriever are quite different.

The life span is slightly shorter for the Golden Retriever and it seems that the overall cost may be more than with the Cocker Spaniel.

Of course there is a size difference, so if space is an issue with you, then the Cocker may be your best choice.

Both can be couch potatoes, given the opportunity, and both can be bundles of energy when they want to be.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Size: Which is bigger?

Well, the Golden Retriever is larger than the Cocker Spaniel. The Spaniel will weigh in at about 25-35 pounds, while the Retriever will be between 55 – 75 pounds.

The Retriever is also taller at 21-24 inches compared to the Spaniel at 15-17 inches.

Both of the breeds are decidedly good looking. You will see that the profile of the retriever is straighter than the Spaniel.

The Retriever has droopy ears and they are not as long as the Spaniel ears. They sit a little higher up on his head.

As the name says, the Golden Retriever is a golden colour, although he can be darker or lighter, depending on his parents.

The Spaniel can come in a full range of colours ranging from black to white, tan, red, brown, sable, silver and in fact, any combination of these colours.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Temperament: How do They Behave?

A white dogThe Spaniel is affectionate and cheerful, a little bundle of energy who is friendly and gentle.

He is also very smart, lively and loving. Spaniels are loyal to their families and very playful. They are often quite stubborn.

Your Cocker Spaniel is just as happy to be out hunting for birds or hanging around the house with his family.

The Spaniel tail is always wagging, if it isn’t he’s not happy so this is a good indicator of his state of mind.

Being a Spaniel he loves water, whether it is in the bath or garden hose or beach. He has no problem diving right in.

Golden Retrievers are alert and friendly. They are intelligent and loyal dogs who are playful. They can also be quiet and have no problem sitting with you while you read.

The breed is sweet and people-pleasing. They do not have great guarding instincts but will bark when alarmed.

Don’t expect this breed to protect you from burglars. Rather you can expect him to make friends with them if they offer him treats!

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Life Span: What’s Their Life Expectancy and Health Conditions

The life expectancy of the breeds is quite similar with the Cocker Spaniel living between 12-14 years and the Golden Retriever between 10-13 years of age.

Golden Retrievers are apt to gain weight as they get older so you should be careful not to over feed them.

Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia, heart problems, eye problems and skin allergies.

The Cocker Spaniel has a tendency to overheat and get fat very quickly. They suffer from eye problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and allergies.

This breed is also prone to hip dysplasia and liver disease. Further health problems common to Cockers are cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Appearance: What do They Look Like?

A golden retrieverThe Cocker Spaniel has droopy ears while the Golden retriever has folded ears. The eye shape of both breeds is medium.

Both tails are fairly straight and prone to tangles if not brushed often. Neither breed has wrinkles and folds.

The Golden Retriever is stronger than the Spaniel although the Cocker can be a good puller when playing.

Neither breed is recognised as being ‘pulling dogs’ although both would do well with training on how to walk next to you instead of in front.

Both have lovely, shiny coats which can grow long if left ungroomed.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Shedding: What Kind of Coats do They Have?

Cocker Spaniels shed to some degree although the amount will vary between dogs. They require regular grooming to keep their coats shiny and smooth.

Golden Retrievers shed profusely! You can reduce this by brushing three times a day, but if shedding is an issue then this dog is not the one for you.

Mild shampoo and a diet rich in Omega 3 and 6 will prevent hair fall and keep skin healthy.

Retriever hair needs to be trimmed but not shaved because this will lead to problems in the winter. Olive oil added to dog food also helps to reduce shedding.

The reason that Cocker Spaniels do not shed as much as Retrievers is that this breed does not shed its hair in order to regrow it.

Other breeds such as the Retriever because of this trait you will need regular visits to the groomer to keep Cockers coats neat and tidy.

If you suffer from allergies to dog fur, then the Cocker Spaniel may be the better choice or you.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Grooming: How Much do They Require?

Black puppy

The Cocker Spaniel needs less grooming than the Golden retriever simply because they shed less.

You will need to brush your Retriever up to three times a day to keep shedding to a minimum, while a Spaniel will be fine with every other day.

If you have a busy schedule and may not have time to brush a dog that often then the smaller dog would be a better choice for you.

The Cocker Spaniel needs more clipping than the Retriever otherwise his coat will mat and tangle, although they both need to be bathed about the same, which is every six weeks.

Both breeds need their nails to be clipped regularly.

Cocker Spaniels need their ears kept clean more frequently than Retrievers because they are more susceptible to ear disease. They also need eyes to be kept clean, for the same reason.

While both breeds are prone to dental issues, the Spaniel will need his teeth cleaned more often.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Training: Can They be Trained Easily?

The Cocker Spaniel is harder to train than the Golden Retriever because he is the more stubborn of the breeds. The Retriever is more eager to please and easier to train.

He will also want to please his owner far more than the Spaniel who is somewhat headstrong.

Golden retriever dog

Both dogs are intelligent although the Retriever is more playful than the Spaniel.

Both breeds love fetch games, and both are great family dogs, although the size of the Retriever may not be suitable for very small children, simply because they are boisterous.

However, with older children retrievers make wonderful pets, being loyal and loving.

If you are struggling to train your Cocker Spaniel or Golden Retriever we have created a great article which reviews Brain Training 4 Dogs an amazing programme that can teach your dog amazing tricks!

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Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Availability: Are They a Rare Dog Breed?

Neither the Cocker Spaniel or the Golden Retriever are rare breeds so are readily available.

However, there are many ‘puppy farms’ now because they are such popular breeds so make sure you only buy your pup from a reputable breeder.

You may have to put your name on a waiting list to get a pup who has been carefully bred and less health problems. It is worth doing this instead of buying from a puppy mill.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Diet: What do They Eat?

Golden retrieverThe Cocker Spaniel should have good quality meat and fish in the diet.

This may include such things as salmon, chicken and turkey. Make sure you trim off the excess fat. They will also enjoy cooked eggs, vegetables and cereals.

The Golden Retriever enjoys a similar diet of high quality protein. They will benefit from food which includes glucosamine and chondroitin for their joints.

You should also make sure that there are vitamins and minerals in the food.

Because the Spaniel will eat everything you put down in front of him, you may want to give him two or three small meals each day to stop him gulping all the food at one sitting.

Golden Retrievers do better with two meals a day instead of one.

Neither of these breeds are picky eaters, so make sure that what you give them is good for them.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Family dog:  Are They Good With Children?

Both breeds are widely recognised as good family dogs. They both make friendly, active companions.

The enthusiasm of the Golden Retriever makes him prone to distraction, although with regular training, they are both excellent with families.

The Cocker Spaniel normally gets enough exercise from one or two walks a day, but the retriever needs mental stimulation to keep his energy channeled in a positive way.

The Retriever will benefit from more than one walk a day so if time is an issue for you, then you may want to opt for the Cocker Spaniel who will take up less time.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Environment: Where Are They Best Suited?

Black dog

The Cocker Spaniel can be easily adapted to life in an apartment, especially if this is the way he has been raised from puppyhood, but the Golden Retriever needs more space and is not suited to apartment life.

Both breeds love life with active couples or families. Spaniels will be reasonably happy to stay on their won, but Golden Retrievers prefer to be with their humans as much as they can.

If you leave your Golden Retriever alone for extended periods of time, he will resort to destructive behaviour. They do indeed wake up each morning thinking ‘What are we going to do today?’

The Cocker Spaniel is less active than the Retriever. The Retriever will excel at such things as agility sports, any fetch games and even with mental puzzles.

Neither dog howls or barks very much so living next door to other people should not be a problem for either breed.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever Running Costs: Are They Expensive to Look After?

The Cocker Spaniel is cheaper to look after. Their food costs less because they eat less. Visits to the groomer are shorter and less frequent than the Retriever.

The Retriever will need to visit the groomer more often and for longer times as he has more grooming to be done.

Vet visits will work out about the same while both dogs are healthy. Both dogs will be costly if they get ill.

Insurance for the Retriever (if you have them insured) will be higher than for the Cocker Spaniel, simply because there are inherently more illnesses which affect them.

If the dogs are kept healthy, the Cocker Spaniel is cheaper to maintain so if money is an issue than this may be the better option for you.

Final Thoughts: Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever

light coloured dogSo, to sum up, I have found that while both breeds are adorable, smart and loving, there are some things to take into account if you choose either of them.

Both are great with kids, and both are great for inexperienced owners.

Both have high grooming needs, although the Retriever needs a little more grooming to look tidy.

Of the two dogs, the Spaniel will bark more than the Retriever, although neither are classed as barky dogs.

Ideally, for a small house or apartment, the Cocker Spaniel would be the better choice as the Retriever is simply too big to stay indoors. I you have to leave your dog for extended times then the Retriever will be most unhappy.

The ideal situation for the Retriever is a house with a garden and an owner who can take him for good, long walks every day, while the Cocker Spaniel will be satisfied with one walk and a smaller place to stay.

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