English Cocker Spaniel

Grooming Advice

Descended from the original spaniels of Spain, the English Cocker developed from the smaller dogs for hunting woodcock. This capable and energetic spaniel should cover the ground effortlessly in his pursuit to flush and retrieve. He is compactly built and without exaggeration - I did like the lines I read on this breed, “the whole worth more than the sum of his parts”.

So, the exuberant and sporting English Cocker with his ever wagging tail showing the typical bustling movement, particularly characteristic when following scent, requires a coat that allows him to work that heavy dense cover and uphill terrains.

He is a sporting dog and as such, the coat does allow trimming to remove overabundant hair that might prevent him in the course of his work. The over all look should always appear natural. You are able to trim around head, neck and feet to remove excess and to thin or shorten excess featherings to enhance overall functional appearance. As it takes skill to wield a pair of straight shears/scissors it is advisable to use thinning shears/scissors, otherwise you could end up with a chopped, or steps and stairs result. Far better and more natural, is to hand strip or strip excess undercoat with a stripping knife. The Terrier people are generally adept at this technique and may agree to show you how.

The standard also requires a flat, silky texture - never wiry or wavy, not too profuse & never curly.

When preparing blacks, blue roans and black/whites for a show, use Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo diluted 5 parts water to one part shampoo for a pearly, white finish and tone any unwanted warm/rusty tones of the darker colour of the coat. For solid blacks you can also use Plush Puppy Black Opal Shampoo which is specifically for black coats only. This helps restore the lost cool tones in the coat and enhance the original colour. Firstly shampoo with Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing Shampoo to remove any residues on the coat and then follow with the Black Opal shampoo, lightly diluted 3:1 on those areas needing restoration. Leave for as long as the dog will stay still (preferably 10 minutes) and rinse. Use as often as needed.

If shine is the main consideration, and indeed the AKC standard uses the word “glossy”, use Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo again diluting 5:1. Dilution allows for easier workability, quicker rinsing and to be able to apply the attributes of the extracts in the shampoos evenly over the coat. All the shampoos are fairly concentrated allowing this dilution to best advantage. This particular shampoo is also excellent for solid golds or use just on the gold parts of a gold roan or a parti colour.

If more coat is needed, such as for sparse featherings, use Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo diluted 3:1 for extra oomph.After shampooing with the correct choice of shampoo for your particular situation, apply a light squish through the longer parts of the coat with a well diluted mix of up to 10:1 of Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner which will serve to keep featherings untangled and hydrated. It is not necessary to use a conditioner on the shorter body coat as you risk making the coat fluffy when the coat is needed to sit flat.

For show drying, use the Plush Puppy Pin Brush and a well diluted application of P.P. Swishy Coat to the featherings - 1 tspn to 2 cups water - applied liberally, leave in - do not rinse out. This assists to keep the featherings disentangled, minimizes static and reduce excess wave. Should the coat featherings appear boofy, excessive or wavy, then add 1 tspn of Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream to the above mix to really flatten and soften. Blow dry to ¾ dry and then finish for smoothest result with Plush Puppy Metro Brush - this 2 brush technique lessens the problems of over stretching the coat.

For maintenance between shows, use Plush Puppy Revivacoat diluted for quicker application (1 golfball amount to 1 cup water) and sprayed onto the coat as a grooming spray or as a disentangler during the week. Excellent for moisturizing and hydration and helps maintain elasticity in the hair. For damaged or brittle coats, use Plush Puppy Coat Rescue, again diluted for ease and speed at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 cup water and worked well through the damaged or dehydrated areas and left as long as the dog will allow you to before rinsing.

Another good in between show remedy, is Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil sourced from Evening Primrose Oil and Calendula oil etc, all organic and goes a long way to protect and nourish both skin and coat. Spray the topline and featherings or dilute and use as a final rinse at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 gal/4 lt water and left in. A liberal spray around the pee feathers stops discolouration and breakage. A real outdoor dog’s best friend! For severe climates, apply a dash of Plush Puppy Sunshade to the topline and head especially for the dark or gold coats which sun bleach easily.

Show day for parti colored dogs - apply a quick dab of Plush Puppy Coverup Cream with a barely damp sponge to the white areas such as the face, elbows, hocks, etc to even out any discolouration and finish with an application of corn starch which not only helps make the coat appear whiter but assists in drying the Coverup Cream faster too. Both work for each other with the Coverup Cream holding the starch/chalk.

Show day brushing/grooming, use Plush Puppy OMG the very latest in grooming sprays and concentrated for you to be able to dilute to suit your own dog. Normal/average show spray mix is 1 part OMG Concentrate to 25 parts water. This won’t build up and makes last minute grooming a pleasure. Also available in OMG Ready To Use Spray at 20:1 which can also be further diluted if required.

Plush Puppy Wonder Wash is a great standby for a waterless/no rinse shampoo when dramas occur last minute. Spray, lightly foam up with hands and towel dry. Just brilliant. Add also a light mist of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb just to the topline held at a distance of 12 inches/30 cms for a last minute sheen and a judicious dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust applied onto the last 2 rows of the Metro Brush and stroked through the bib, pants and lightly to the topline prior to the Shine & Comb. Don’t go overboard as this is for a light bit of glamour and not intended for a Xmas pageant!

You do own a breed that is distinguished and one of a class of dogs from that old school of esteemed dogs - the Gundogs. For those of us with “other” breeds, we admire the skill and usefulness of a dog who is not only man’s best friend but has the ability to put food on the table. Shown today in the conformation ring, he has flash, dash and class. Well presented, he is breathtaking.

- Cheryl Le Court