Parti-Coloured Cocker Spaniel Club

Differences between Show Type and Working Type Cockers

Cocker Spaniels are lively, intelligent dogs that were originally bred as working gundogs and are today one of the most common gundog breeds and popular for people to purchase as a companion or family pet.

However, the breed has been divided into two strains:

The Show-Type
show type head study


The Working Type
working type head study

As you can see by the photos, both strains are completely different in their looks. Their characteristics and their needs are also equally apart from each other’s traits.

Although few show-type Cocker Spaniels are trained to the gun, they have still retained many of their natural instincts, see Show Cockers at Work.

The show-type Cocker Spaniel is the breed generally seen in the show rings (such as Crufts) and is bred to conform to The Kennel Club’s breed standard. Being of medium size, they are very adaptable to many environments and easy to transport with you, so resulting to becoming the most popular type of Cocker Spaniel as a typical family pet. The qualities to make a good specimen of this type are: sound temperament, intelligence, happy bustling movement, silky coat with feathering, biddable nature and pleasing ‘to the eye of the beholder’ – the show-type Cocker Spaniel can be energetic and will happily go for long country walks. Show type dogs can also happily fulfil active roles working as PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dogs and assistance dogs such as Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

Further detailed information on the show-type Cocker Spaniel is available on the following websites:

The Cocker Spaniel Club:

The Cocker Spaniel Breed Council:

The working-type Cocker Spaniel is mostly referred to or known as the “Working Cocker”. This strain of Cocker Spaniel is potentially bred for use in the shooting field and other country pursuits and has gradually become popular and suitable for training in canine sporting activities, such as agility/flyball, and also excels in other disciplines such as Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and PAT (Pets as Therapy) Dogs. Working Cockers are also used by the police and customs services as sniffer dogs and some have been trained in detecting cancerous cells. All in all the Working Cocker is a popular choice as a working dog.

The Working Cocker is bred for the purpose and ability to work as a gundog and does not necessarily conform to The Kennel Club’s breed standard. Compared to the show-type Cocker Spaniel, their physical build and look is different and their coat is not so profuse. If you are considering a Working Cocker, the qualities to make a good specimen of the breed are: sound temperament, intelligence, stamina, speed and biddabilitiy - the Working Cocker must be sound in body and capable of being trained to perform the job it was bred for: hunting, flushing and retrieving game (on land and from water).

The Working Cocker is undoubtedly fantastic to watch in its ability, whether it is used as a gundog, a sniffer dog, an assistant dog, or in other canine sporting activities. If it is brought up with the correct knowledge, understanding and training, the working Cocker Spaniel would make a good companion in an active family home environment.

See Working Cockers in Action for more info and photos

Further information on the Working Cocker is also available on the following websites:

Whichever strain of Cocker Spaniel you decide to choose for you or your family’s lifestyle, this breed makes very good companions provided they are given careful training and socialisation as youngsters. If left on it’s own for long periods of time and offered limited exercise opportunities or left to it’s own devices, this breed may quickly develop behavioural problems and become disruptive and destructive, therefore a Cocker Spaniel (whether it be show OR working-type) is not suitable for people who are out at work all day.