Cocker Spaniels are irresistible purebred dogs many dog owners would love to have as buddies. When it comes to male vs. female Cocker Spaniel, that’s where the owners get in trouble: which one do you pick?
Are males better than females? Should I neuter or spay, or are un-neutered dogs better? Which one makes better pets? Should I pick an English Springer Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, or the American Cocker Spaniel? That’s a lot of questions, and we’ll try to answer them all.
Generally speaking, Cocker Spaniels are excellent family dogs if coming from good breeders.
Related: 7 Reputable Cocker Spaniel Breeders In The UK (2022)
In fact, they’re one of the most beloved canines registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
It’s no surprise! Cocker Spaniels are close to being perfect pets. Give them good dog food, lots of hugs and kisses, and unconditional love. Your pup will pay you back by being the best dog ever, no matter if it’s a he or she.
What Is The Difference Between Male And Female Cocker Spaniels?
Let’s take a look at this comparison board which shows us general traits of both genders:
|Male Cocker Spaniels||Female Cocker Spaniels|
|Height||14.5–15.5 inches||13.5–14.5 inches|
|Weight||25–30 lbs||20–25 lbs|
|Lifespan||10–14 years||10–14 years|
|Build||Bigger build, more muscles||Slimmer build, less muscle mass|
And here’s a comparison board every future Cocker Spaniel owner should look at – their temperament traits:
|Male Cocker Spaniel||Female Cocker Spaniel|
|Gentle, smart, and happy||Gentle, smart, and happy|
|Hard to train, easily distracted||Easy to train, focused|
|Less suspicious of strangers||More suspicious of strangers|
|More attention-seeking||Less attention-seeking|
|Hard to train off-leash walking||Easy to train off-leash walking|
|More playful and energetic||Less playful|
|Territorial and protects the whole family||Territorial about an individual|
|Clumsy around kids||Cautious around kids|
|Matures slowly||Matures quickly|
|Doesn't get along with dogs or other pets||Gets along with everyone|
|Bonds with the whole family||Bonds with one family member|
|Easy socialization||Hard to socialize with people|
|Eager to please||Not so eager to please|
Physical differences between a male and female Cocker Spaniel are almost non-existent.
The Male Cocker Spaniel is a larger dog than his female counterpart, by around 1 to 2 inches. They’re also 3–5 pounds heavier. No wonder; males have a huge appetite and love eating, while the females’ appetite increases during pregnancy.
Female Cocker Spaniels are small both in height and weight. Some females are lighter than males by five pounds and are smaller by an inch or two.
Since their height is almost the same, and their weights are also in the same range, it’s hard to distinguish a male Cocker Spaniel from a female. Sometimes the only way to do so is by examining their private areas.
You can look into Cocker Spanel growth chart to find out more information about the minor size difference.
Temperament Differences: Male Vs. Female Cocker Spaniels
Male Cocker Spaniels are always dominant in nature. Their tendency to get into fights with other dogs is notorious. Also, they’re more prone to being defiant.
Unlike their female counterparts, the male Cocker has fewer mood swings. They’re more loving and affectionate compared to females.
It’s in the breed’s nature to explore, but males have a tendency to roam, especially if there is a female in heat around.
As we mentioned on our comparison board, males are eager to please their owners, making them one of the most loyal dog breeds out there.
Males are sometimes a bit mischievous, destroying things around the house, being too loud if scolded, but they mean no harm. They’re playful pups who rush over to comfort you the moment they sense something is wrong.
Female Cocker Spaniels are homebodies and not quite dominant in nature. They’re not aggressive and won’t start a fight with another dog. But, when a female gets into a fight, she will be deadlier than a male and will not stop until she’s proven dominance.
Female Cockers want everything to go their way, so don’t be surprised by their many mood swings, especially when they don’t get what they want. Being sulky is just another way of manipulating you into getting what they want. Such an attitude requires obedience dog training.
Girls are playful puppies, but they calm down as they reach the first birthday milestone. They love being the center of attention but also love spending time alone.
They tend to get sulky when they don’t get their way, and this is one way of manipulating you into doing what they want. So, if you catch your pup doing this, it’s best to train her to be more obedient.
Are Male Or Female Cocker Spaniels Better To Train?
Sure, male Cockers are great, but training them can be a nightmare. It’s a difficult task because they get distracted so easily. These dogs love to investigate around them, and you’ll often find your dog focusing on you for a moment to process what you’ve been saying.
Their dominant trait makes male Cocker Spaniels prone to fights and being defiant.
Still, the male is more loyal and eager to please. He will do anything his owner asks him to. If you train your male Cocker well, you’ll have a loyal sidekick for life.
On the other hand, female Cocker Spaniels are easier to train because they mature earlier and are more intelligent. Females don’t get distracted so easily unless something is really interesting.
In addition, female Cocker Spaniels are excellent hunting dogs, unlike their male counterparts.
Male Or Female Cocker Spaniel Puppy: Which Is Healthier?
Male Cocker Spaniels are usually more prone to entropion than females. Entropion is an eye abnormality where the eyelid rolls inwards, making the haired skin come in contact with the corneal surface.
The reason behind this condition is a faulty eyelid conformation, typically presenting in young adult dogs. The condition is also associated with trauma, skin diseases, and other painful conditions.
The common manifestation is that the affected eye is partially shut or there is excessive tearing in the eye.
Another disease male Cockers are prone to is phosphofructokinase deficiency, or glycogenosis type VII. It’s a disorder that causes a mutation and affects the muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates.
Symptoms of this condition include muscle pain during exercise, muscle weakness, cramps, dark urine, and exercise intolerance. English Springer Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels are most prone to it, especially the male examples of the breed.
Furthermore, cardiomyopathy, a degeneration of the heart muscle that makes it become thinner, is also a disease frequently found in male Cocker Spaniels. The blood pressure inside the heart causes the muscle’s thin walls to expand. The condition is then called dilated cardiomyopathy, and it’s the number one cause of most heart failures.
Female Cockers suffer from other health conditions. Canine liver disease is one of them. It affects more female dogs than male dogs, especially if their diet is rich in fat. This condition has many causes ranging from trauma like a diaphragm hernia, bruises, or heat stroke.
A common symptom of canine liver disease is an orange or yellow tint in the whites of the eyes, skin, and gums.
Other symptoms are bright yellow or orange urine and feces, an unquenchable thirst, loss of appetite, chronic weight loss, and bloody vomit. The abdomen can also feel uncomfortable.
The dog’s general behavior also changes, causing them to feel lethargic, depressed, or suddenly disinterested. Watch for these signs, and if any of them rings alarm bells, go straight to the vet.
Another disease that affects only females, especially intact ones, is a mammary tumor. This health problem is the result of an abnormal replication of breast tissue cells. These tumors can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). The more a female is exposed to ovarian hormones, the higher the risk of mammary cancer.
The risk significantly decreases when you spay your female Cocker Spaniel puppy before her first heat cycle. Every cycle that passes without spaying increases the risk. Also, a lean body condition is associated with a decreased risk of mammary tumors in female dogs aged nine to twelve months.
Other health issues that affect both genders are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, patellar luxation, glaucoma, elbow dysplasia, and epilepsy.
Are Female Or Male Cocker Spaniels Better With Children?
Cocker Spaniels are generally great with children. A male Cocker is an excellent choice if you want your kids to grow up with an energetic dog.
They will keep your children company, but they’ll look at kids as their playmates. This makes them a bit rougher during playtime and less cautious, so make sure you watch over while they’re playing, especially if there are younger children around.
If you’re expecting a baby soon, it’s highly important to train your Cocker Spaniel before the baby arrives. It might take some time for the dog to get used to the fact that he or she is not the baby of the house anymore.
Another thing you need to pay attention to is that your kids don’t handle Cocker Spaniels roughly because they can become aggressive and defiant, especially males. Some experts claim neutering helps with decreasing this behavior.
On the other hand, females are calmer and gentler, especially around young children. If you’re not a fan of rough playtime, then your choice should be a female Cocker. They have a maternal instinct that makes them take care of kids and play cautiously with them.
This is great because young kids might get injured by the dog’s rough play.
Females become more mature and calmer as they turn one. But, they still like being the boss. Females value their alone time more, so always let the kids know they should give them space.
Pushing a dog into rough play can lead to irritation and aggressive behavior.
Male Vs. Female Cocker Spaniel: Relationship With Other Dogs
Male Cocker Spaniels are more sociable than females. They easily accept other dogs and are more likely to play with strangers.
They have an issue with dominance and get into fights with other dogs easily.
Their fights are frequent, but they also stop quickly. Males like roaming around, especially when they feel a female dog in heat somewhere around them. In this case, your male should be kept in a fenced yard or on a leash.
Males easily accept new additions to the family, including babies and other puppies. However, they get along best with female dogs and neutered males. As long as the dog is properly integrated, it will get along okay with the male Cocker Spaniel.
Female Cocker Spaniels are shyer than their male counterparts. They love spending time on their own and have a tendency to be cautious around newcomers. Females are intelligent and don’t get into fights easily because they don’t have the same dominance trait males have.
If a female gets into a fight, they will be more dangerous than males, and they won’t stop that easily. Such behavior can be stopped if you socialize your puppy at an early age.
Exposing Cocker Spaniel puppies to new dogs and strangers, as well as new situations and places, is key to a well-socialized dog.
Female Vs. Male Cocker Spaniel: Which Is Better For A Family?
You’ve learned so far that Cocker Spaniels, both males and females, are excellent family dogs. They love spending time outdoors and inside, making them perfectly adjustable to any lifestyle.
You won’t find a dog who’s more happy and content with everything their owner does. As long as they feel involved, they will be happy and will form a bond with you.
However, this brings some issues under the spotlight. If you leave your Cocker Spaniel alone for too long, he will develop separation anxiety. Either you don’t leave the house that often, or you bring your dog with you.
These are universal traits of the breed, but each gender has its own traits. A future Cocker Spaniel owner should be aware of them.
Male Cocker Spaniels in a family environment:
• Get along with other pets
• Sociable and trusting of other dogs
• Energetic even after the first birthday mark
• Very affectionate with people
• Get along the best with female dogs
• Only for older kids who can play roughly
Female Cocker Spaniels in a family environment:
• More intelligent
• Easy to train
• Become calmer after the first birthday
• Cautious of new people
• Get along the best with male dogs
• Great with smaller kids who need gentle care
Is It Better To Get A Male Or Female Cocker Spaniel As A Guard Dog?
Photo from: @cockerspaniel_daily.ig
Cocker Spaniels are gentle and friendly dogs with a wonderful personality. But, they’re also excellent guard dogs, believe it or not! Their guarding personality has a lot to do with the dog’s intelligence and loyalty towards family members.
When you have such a highly intelligent dog, you can train him to become anything you want, from watchdogs to guard dogs. But, there is one teensy tiny thing to remember: they’re all bark and no bite.
The Cocker Spaniel has a lot of love for his owners, making his protective trait one of the best. This dog will make noise anytime they feel their home or family members are in danger.
Gender doesn’t have much to do with choosing the best guard dog. Both males and females have some advantages, but generally, they both make great guards for your family.
Male Cocker Spaniels as guard dogs:
• More territorial than females
• Always on alert and energetic
• Larger build
• Quite protective of their owner
Female Cocker Spaniels as guard dogs:
• More protective because of their maternal instincts
• Faster acting than males
• Noisier and bark more
• Cautious of strangers
Since male Cocker Spaniels have a dominant trait, their role as protectors comes more naturally. They are territorial and fiercely loyal to their owners, making them extremely protective. Males are more on alert and have more energy than females.
Female Cocker Spaniels are also great watchdogs because they bark more and are noisier than males. Those are exactly the traits you’re looking for in a guard dog. Also, females are more cautious and don’t trust strangers anywhere near your property.
Their puppy dog eyes and soft, fluffy ears popularized the Cocker Spaniel breed more than Lady from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. When it comes to male vs. female Cocker Spaniel, it’s difficult to tell which one is sweeter.
Cocker Spaniels are adorable buddies for life who will love you unconditionally.
Gender is not important at all. What is important are the traits these dogs have. Whether a male vs. female Cocker Spaniel is a better choice depends only on your personal preferences. Find a reputable breeder who will get you the best puppy for you. You’ll be thankful forever!
Read Next: The Mini Cocker Spaniel: Everything You Need to Know!