How to Groom a Cocker Spaniel- A step by step guide

The Cocker Spaniel is a wavy and double-coated dog that looks incredible. However, this Spaniel coat is high maintenance which makes it have high grooming needs. Grooming a Cocker Spaniel is essential since the wavy coat is prone to tangling which eventually become mats. 

This dog also has long floppy ears that will need to be taken care of.

It is also important to keep in mind that the Cocker Spaniel is prone to having a bad odor and another reason to keep this dog clean and well-groomed.

Related article: Are Cocker Spaniels smelly? and some tips to stop the bad odor.

But before we get into the steps on how you can groom this dog, we should look at some basics first, including the type of coat that a Cocker Spaniel has.

So, let us get right into it. 

What type of coat does a Cocker Spaniel have?

Cocker Spaniels have a medium to long coat that can either be slightly wavy or flat to the body with a silky feel. The undercoat is soft while the outer coat is long, silky, and fine.

This dog also has feathering on the underbelly, feet, and chest.

These canine friends also shed moderately throughout the year with more shedding in Fall and spring.

It is also worth mentioning that the shedding can vary from one dog to another but frequent brushing and overall grooming should reduce the amount of shedding.

How often should I groom a Cocker Spaniel?

Cocker Spaniel grooming process Grooming frequency
Coat brushing Should be done at least 3 times a week.
Bathing Once every month but at least once every 6 weeks.

This can vary depending on whether the dog has a skin condition and the vet’s recommendation on how to deal with it.

It is common to see Cocker Spaniel with skin infection being bathed every week with medical supplies.

Nail clipping  Every 4 weeks
Dental care At least 4 days a week.
Spritzing After brushing
Ear cleaning Every 2 weeks

You can use the table above to create a grooming schedule for your Cocker Spaniel.

Recommended read- How to potty train a puppy and creating a potty training schedule.

Cocker Spaniel grooming supplies

Brushing tools:

  • Slicker brush– This brush has small metal pins with rectangular heads that can be used to remove knots and tangles.
  • Pin brush– This brush is great for the feathery part of the Cocker Spaniel’s coat. A pin brush is more gentle on the dog’s skin than a slicker brush but is not as effective.
  • Steel comb (greyhound comb)– Mainly used for the finishing touches after brushing to get rid of tangles that you may have missed.
  • Hand mint glove– Can be used to remove loose hairs and massage the dog.
  • Liquid detangling spray– Should be used before brushing to make getting rid of tangles easier and brushing easier overall.
  • Splitters– Are used to break up any mats that may be on your Cocker Spaniel.

Bathing supplies:

Portable bathtub;

  • Multifunctional cleaning systems
  • Portable and elevated bathtubs
  • Shower bags

Doggie shampoo;

  • Smelly coat shampoo
  • Medical shampoo for an itchy skin
  • Shampoo for dull coats and dry skin
  • Flea and tick shampoo

Blow dryer

Drying towels

You may also need a dog conditioner that will help leave your dog smelling fresh. Cotton balls will also be great for limiting water from getting into the ears.

Coat trimming tools:

  • Clippers– Will help reduce the overall length of the coat. You can use different blade sizes namely: 3.75, 7, 10, and 15 blade size.
  • Thinning shears and blunt-edged scissors– Are used for more detailed coat trimming on your Cocker Spaniel.

Nail clipping:

  • Guillotine-style nail clippers.
  • Nail grinder– Will soften the edges of the nails after clipping.
  • Styptic product/quick stop– Great for stopping bleeding if you cut the quick during nail clipping.

Ear care and dental care tools:

  • Ear cleaning solution.
  • Cotton balls.
  • Doggie toothpaste.
  • Doggie toothbrush/finger brush.

Related guide: 7 Tips on how to stop a Cocker Spaniel from barking.

How to groom a Cocker Spaniel (steps)

Step 1: Bathing

Before you bath a Cocker Spaniel you will need to get the right attire for the process. The dog will shake his body severally as he tries to get rid of the water.

You should also use cotton balls to prevent any of the bathing fluids to get into the ears. Also, do not use human shampoo on this dog but rather use a shampoo that is formulated for dogs.

For the dog’s face, soak a cleaning towel in water with shampoo in it and squeeze it to get rid of some of the water, then wipe the face gently. You can then rinse the face with the towel but this time only use clean water with the towel.

Rinse thoroughly to get rid of shampoo from the face. make sure the water or shampoo does not get close to the dog’s eyes.

Bathing a Cocker Spaniel

 How to bath a Cocker Spaniel

  1. Brush the dog’s coat thoroughly to get rid of all knots, tangles, or even mats that may be on the coat. Bathing the dog with tangles can make it worse.
  2. Place your Cocker Spaniel in a bathtub or bathing mat if you are outdoors and cover the ears with cotton balls.
  3. Pour warm water on the dog and wet him thoroughly. The longer the coat is the longer it will take to wet.
  4. Apply shampoo on the dog and use your fingers to gently massage it in until it lathers.
  5. Rinse the dog’s coat thoroughly with clean water and make sure that after you are done the water that runs from the dog’s coat is clear. Ensure that no shampoo is left on the coat when you are done.
  6. Apply conditioner on the dog’s coat and massage it in using gentle motions. A conditioner will help to remoisturize the coat and revert some of the damage that a doggie shampoo does.
  7. Rinse the dog thoroughly again.
  8. Use dry towels to gently get rid of most of the moisture from the coat but do not scrub. You may need to use 2 or more towels.
  9. Set your blow dryer to low heat and blow it in the direction of hair growth.

Step 2: Brushing

  1. Spray the coat with a detangling spray to make it easy to brush.
  2. Use a slicker brush to first brush the coat against the direction of the coat then brush in the direction of hair growth. Make sure that you reach the undercoat.
  3. For the areas with feathering, use a pin brush to go over those areas.
  4. After you are done with the whole coat, use a steel comb to go over the whole coat. This helps to get rid of knots or tangles that you may have missed.
  5. For the face and ears, bruh using a steel comb.
  6. Finish with a hand mint comb to massage the coat and lay it flat on the dog’s body.
  7. Then use a conditioning spray to spritz the coat. Your detangling spray can also double as a spritzing spray.

Why is spriting important for a Cocker Spaniel?

  • For a fresh smelling coat.
  • Repel dirt, irritants, and debris in general.
  • Prevent frequent tangling.
  • Remoisturize the coat.
  • Reducing hair damage.
  • Protect the dog from sunburns.

Dematting a Cocker Spaniel

The best way to get rid of hard mats is by conditioning the coat with a detangling spray and gently breaking up the tangle using your finger. You can then use a steel comb to brush out that part of the coat.

Some of the mats may be too hard to try removing and in this case, you should cut them. trying to remove mats that are too hard can be painful for the Cocker Spaniel.

The second option is to use a mat splitter to remove hard mats.

How to use Cocker Spaniel mat splitters

Condition the mat.

Open up the mat spitter and use it to slowly work it through between the mat and the dog’s skin. Pull the splitter straight through the mat but away from the skin.

Ensure that you are not pulling the skin together with the mat and work on one section of the mat at a time.

You can gently work through the mat as many times as you want with each time making the mat smaller and smaller.

Once you are done with most of the mats, brush through the smaller mats using a slicker and pin brush then with a steel comb. The steel comb will get rid of the smaller knots and tangles.

This process will take time, so, be patient as you do it. You will also need to be changing the mat splitter blades from time to time when they get blunt.

Step 3: Nail clipping

Trimming the nails is an important part of grooming a Cocker Spaniel.

Before you clip the nail make sure that you trim the hair between the paw pads and that you can see the quick. You can easily see the quick on a dog with lighter nails but for a Cocker Spaniel with a darker nail, you can use the image below as a guide.

The dog could bleed if you wrongly cut the quick.

You will also need to clip the nail at a 45° angle then gently grind it and smooth it out.

Dog nail quick

Step 4: Cleaning the ears

You can clean the ears using cotton balls and an ear cleaning solution such as hydrogen peroxide or commercial preparations. Your vet should be able to recommend a proper ear cleaning solution that you can use.

Before you start cleaning the ears, use thinning shears to trim hair that may be around the inner part of the ear. This will make cleaning easier, prevent the accumulation of debris later on, and allow free airflow.

You can then dip your cotton ball in the ear cleaning solution.

Hold the ear flap and expose the inner part of the ears, then clean the inner parts of the ears with your cotton ball using outward movements. Make sure that you do not go too deep into the ear while cleaning.

Change your cotton ball once it soils up and repeat the same process.

Step 5: Dental care

Brushing a Cocker Spaniel’s teeth is pretty straightforward.

You can apply the doggie toothpaste on the toothbrush, lift the dog’s upper lift and gently brush just as you would do for yourself. Rinse it using clean water thoroughly.

Step 6: Trimming the coat

I would recommend using a number 10 blade when you are trimming your Cocker spaniel. However, if you are not used to doing, let a professional groomer do it.

  1. Before you start, brush and comb the coat thoroughly to make it fluffy.
  2. Start from the ears by holding them backward on top of the head and trim the hair from the back of the ears to the tips without cutting the skin.
  3. Go to the area under the upper lip and trim the hair then move to the area around the eyes and trim against the direction of the hair. Do not trim the eyebrows.
  4. Angle the dog’s head back to expose the neck area and trim from the breastbone upwards to the dog’s chin. Be very careful not to cut the skin.
  5. Use a 3.75 blade to trim the top of the head.
  6. Switch to a size 7 blade to trim the dog’s back, tail, and the belly area in the direction of hair growth. Start from the back part of the head as you move down to the back, tail, the sides, and the belly.
  7. For the dog’s feet use thinning shears or blunt-edged scissors to trim the hair in direction of hair growth. Use the same thinning shears to trim between the paw pads.

Top 3 Cocker Spaniel haircuts

1. The Cocker Spaniel show cut

Cocker Spaniel show cut

This is the hairstyle that you will see in most of the show Cocker Spaniels and is also known as the best-in-show cut.

It entails leaving the coat at the underbelly long leaving a sort of skirt at the bottom of the dog’s body. This “skirt should start below the top of the rib cage going around the bottom of the belly.

The face and head are neatly trimmed while the ears can also be trimmed according to your preference.

2. The traditional show cut

cocker-spaniel-traditional show cut

With the traditional show cut, the Cocker Spaniel’s coat is trimmed around the face to clear the hair around this area.

However, the signature to this haircut involves leaving long, flowing, wavy fringes from the face and around the torso.

3. The puppy cut

Cocker spaniel Puppy cut

With the Cocker Spaniel Puppy Cut, the whole coat is trimmed evenly to a length os about 1 inch.

Unlike the 1st and 2nd, the Puppy Cut is easier to maintain.

My final take

Whether you are showering your dog, brushing the coat, taking care of his teeth, or even taking the dog to the groomer to give him a fresh cut, it is important to make sure that it is well done.

However, you should ensure that you are consistently doing it to keep the dog in top-notch condition and healthy.

So, did you find this guide helpful? You can share your feedback or any questions with us in the comment section below. 

There you go, WOOF!