Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever: Similarities & Differences

Deciding between a Cocker Spaniel and a Golden Retriever needs you to be informed about the two breeds. Learn about the breeds to make an informed decision.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever 1 Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever: Similarities & Differences

What’s the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel?

Cocker Spaniels and Golden Retrievers share both similarities and differences. The Golden is heavier and taller than the Spaniel, but the Spaniel will live longer than the Retriever. However, both are highly active dogs and are good with children.

In addition to our knowledge of these breeds, several vets assisted us in compiling this guide. At the end of this post, we hope you have decided on the best breed for your household. 

Before understanding how similar and different the Spaniel and Golden are, let’s first understand their origin.

Origins of the Cocker Spaniel

In the late 1800s, the Cocker Spaniel, the tiniest sporting dog and a descendant of the English Cocker Spaniel was imported to the United States. 

At the time, the two were classified as members of the same breed but later recognized as different breeds.

Although more frequently kept as home pets, spaniels are still considered lead hunting and sports breeds. They had a huge increase in popularity following World War II. In fact, the cocker spaniel was the most popular breed registered that year.

About The Golden Retriever

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever 1 1 Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever: Similarities & Differences

Families worldwide have cherished Golden Retrievers as pets since the 17 century. The most well-liked breed for families and the third most popular breed overall, Goldens are also commonly used in search-and-rescue operations.

The Golden Retriever originated in the Scottish Highlands. In 1868, D.C Marjoribanks, a young man passionate about dog breeding, developed the first Golden Retrievers by breeding a wavy gold retriever and a Tweed Water Spaniel. 

The subsequent pups, who had the same hunting characteristics as water and land dogs, gave rise to the first Golden Retrievers.


Despite the Cocker Spaniel and Golden Retriever being both loving and caring pawed buddies, the two have notable distinctions from one another. Here’s how dissimilar they are:


If the size is important to you and you’re seeking a relatively light companion, the Cocker Spaniel is your best choice. The pup is around 25 to 35 pounds heavy, while the Goldie comes in at 55 to 75 pounds.

In addition to the Retriever being heavier than the Cocker Spaniel, it is also taller, standing at  21 to 24 inches paw to shoulder. The cocker spaniel has a height of 15 to 17 inches.


Trying to decide which one of the two breeds is the cutest is rather difficult because both are awfully cute and adorable. Eventually, it all narrows down to preference.

Golden retrievers have a thick undercoat and a tough, water-repellent outer coat. While some coats are waved, others are straight.

The chest, back of the thighs, tail, underbody, and backs of the front legs all have thicker feathering on the fur. A Golden Retriever can be any shade of gold.

On the other hand, the cocker spaniel is distinguished by an elegant round head and a wide, square snout. The dog’s enormous, fluffy ears and arching back toward the tail give it a magnificent appearance.

But perhaps the unique characteristic of the cocker spaniel is its long, silky coat, which has feathering on the legs, chest, bottom, and docked tail. The spaniel comes in various colors, from tan to red, black, or white; you are spoilt for choice.


If you want a furry buddy that will keep you company for a long time, go for the Cocker Spaniel since they have a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years. The Goldie can live for 10 to 12 years, but some have been known to live to 17, 18, and even 19.

Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever 2 Cocker Spaniel vs Golden Retriever: Similarities & Differences

Grooming Requirements

Well, for most people, grooming is the determining factor of which breed they’ll take home. A Cocker spaniel may not be the ideal choice if you generally have a hectic schedule and find it difficult to brush your dog routinely. 

More low-maintenance than the Cocker Spaniel is the Golden Retriever.

Cocker spaniels’ long, wavy hair needs continuous and diligent brushing since their coat is so effective at capturing dirt. With this breed, combing is crucial. The hair will mat or tangle if you take a long time before brushing them.

Trimming around the ears is also quite a task because of how delicate and thin the skin around the area is, yet, they have long fur around the ears.

A key part of a cocker spaniel’s grooming regimen is taking regular baths. The pup needs premium shampoo to keep their coat smooth and lovely. However, thoroughly rinse the soap because cocker spaniel skin can be quite sensitive to soap residue.

While the Goldie is famous for shedding, some easy maintenance will minimize the amount of hair you find around. 

Regular use of an undercoat rake and brushing with top-notch bristles will reduce shedding. Unlike the Cocker Spaniel, Goldens don’t require frequent baths. Bathing them every two weeks is enough.

If you often have a busy schedule and find it challenging to give your dog regular brushing, a Cocker spaniel might not be the best choice for you.

Health Issues

Both dogs are healthy, but you should be aware of a few health concerns and conditions unique to each breed.

Cocker Spaniels’ elbows, knees, hips, and spine are just a few of the numerous body parts that can be impacted by bone and joint problems. Serious joint issues in cocker spaniels may cause paralysis and cause them to lose their ability to walk.

Of all the dog breeds, cocker spaniels are the breeds most prone to acquiring glaucoma. Extreme ocular pressure increases brought on by glaucoma in dogs can cause lifelong blindness.

No matter how old or young your cocker spaniel is, they should get regular eye tests. Keep an eye out for signs of excessive crying, colored discharge, and red or itchy eyes that could indicate a vision problem.

Compared to other breeds of dogs, golden retrievers are more prone to cancer. More than 60% of golden retrievers die from cancer. Work with a breeder who does cancer testing to lessen the genetic risk.

Cancer risk may decrease by getting spayed or neutered, eating healthily, and avoiding exposure to too much sunlight, dangerous chemicals, and cigarette smoke.

Similarities Between Cocker Spaniel And Golden Retriever

Although different, both of these breeds do share some similarities. They include:

How They Handle Children

The Spaniel and Goldie are kind, loving, sweet, and active dogs who like being a part of a family. They can be delicate and sensitive towards babies and toddlers, but they can also play rougher and rowdier with adults, older kids, and other dogs.

Along with being nice to children, Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels can make good pet dogs for children. Getting your child a pup gives them a lifelong best friend who can teach them responsibility.

The Cocker Spaniel’s only flaw is that it barks a little more frequently than the Golden Retriever, but this shouldn’t be a problem with appropriate training.

Energy level

Both of these dog breeds are quite active.

Goldens were developed to be working retrievers, so they have a lot of energy and expect a lot of activity. They do best with owners who lead active lifestyles and thrive in homes with children or someone who loves to work out. Goldies suffer when left alone at home because they depend on their loved ones.

Extremely animated dogs, Cocker Spaniels continue to behave like puppies well into adulthood. Cocker Spaniels require a lot of mental and physical stimulation throughout their lives to prevent having too much energy or developing behavior and temperament problems.

Key Takeaway

  • The Golden Retriever requires less upkeep than the Cocker Spaniel.
  • The Spaniel and Goldie are good-natured, devoted, playful, and athletic dogs who like spending time with families.
  • The Cocker Spaniel is around 25 to 35 pounds heavy, while the Goldie comes in at 55 to 75 pounds.

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