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  • Post last modified:August 21, 2023
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Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive? Can they attack humans?

Long feathery ears, a moderate size, cuddly nature, and a forever wagging tail would make up for a complete description of a cocker spaniel.

All this was until you did some research to find out some things that got you worried, so much that you now have second thoughts about bringing home this dog.

Are cocker spaniels aggressive? Just read on to understand a little more about this dog, and you might be surprised.

Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive?

Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive? Photo of Dogs at the Park

Cocker spaniels cannot be called an aggressive breed, as they are overwhelmingly friendly with a temperament that makes them a pleasure to be with. However, some sources claim that this breed is mean and that one should not be fooled by its innocent appearance. 

If you have come across this, too, here is an explanation for you. Cocker spaniels are sweet but not the kind to get bullied. In other words, just like any other breed, certain factors can cause aggression among them, such as fear, boredom, and a lack of early socialization.

Besides this, there’s another explanation. Sometimes a cocker spaniel may be experiencing what is known as cocker rage (which can be treated), which refers to sudden and vicious aggression from a Cocker Spaniel.

This type of mental lapse aggression can be aimed at anyone or another animal, and the owner may be unable to control the dog.

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics: Temperament, Personality, Size, and More.

Temperament Affectionate, gentle, and loyal.
PersonalityEnergetic, playful, and curious.
SizeMedium-sized / 20-30lbs / 13-16in tall.
Life Span12-15 years.
CoatThick, soft, wavy
Exercise NeedsModerate, daily walks and playtime.
Health IssuesEar infections, eye problems, and skin allergies.
TrainingIntelligent and trainable.

Are Cocker Spaniels Hyper?

Cocker spaniels come with high energy levels, so they can be hyper. However, this is not always bad as long as they don’t get aggressive.

If you are about to adopt a cocker spaniel into your home, knowing what’s in store for you is essential. Here is a dog that can get easily excited and will need a lot of exercise and playtime, so make sure you are prepared for it. 

If not, get a pug instead, as they are comparatively low on energy and will not demand too much of the above things. 

Sometimes a cocker spaniel can get hyper when he is tired. In such a case, one of the best ways to get him to relax is to get him a toy, bone, or anything to settle down. 

Must Read: Are cocker spaniels hunting dogs?

Is It Normal For Cocker Spaniels To Be Aggressive?

Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive? Close-Up Shot of a Cocker Spaniel

A cocker spaniel is one of the most hostile breeds, but then, as you saw above, their hostility comes with conditions. 

Cocker spaniels are generally not aggressive, so if you find yours being aggressive right now, chances are he is either excited or being provoked by someone (perhaps you?), which has made him act aggressively. 

This is why you could have him snapping, biting, and lunging at the person provoking them, unlike a retriever that merely wags its tail at you. 

Don’t worry. This happens more often when in the presence of other dogs. Here the aggressiveness is fear-based and could occur due to a lack of socialization, especially at an early age. 

That was one reason, a more generic one, which could be more serious. An owner here would need some help in getting the dog treated. The other is cocker rage, which you will find in the next heading of this article. 

Cocker Spaniel Rage Syndrome Symptoms

Sometimes, you may find sudden onset aggression in cocker spaniels, which can often catch you off-guard. This is known as the cocker rage and affects just 10% of dogs under this breed. 

Symptoms of rage syndrome in cocker spaniels include:

  1. Physical Symptoms – This includes drooling, panting, and even urinating at inappropriate times and places. 
  2. Temperamental Symptoms – In more serious cases, a dog may even show signs of temperamental disorder where the dog will exhibit bad behavior. They may not listen to their owners or heed their instructions, but with a little help and understanding, they will soon learn to obey you. 
  3. Aggression – This can be one of the most severe symptoms of cocker rage, where he may show you unprovoked aggression at a time when you least expect it. He will growl, bark, and lunge, sometimes frustrating an owner. 

An owner at such times will find it very difficult to take the dog out for a walk as he is most likely to get aggressive with the other dogs around. Some can even be savage, staring and dilating their eyes at the target.

What Causes Rage Syndrome In Dogs?

Rage syndrome is a rare genetic disorder in dogs that can cause unpredictable outbursts of aggression. While the exact cause of rage syndrome is not fully understood, there are several theories as to why it may occur, including:

Illness – Illness is one of the most common causes of rage syndrome in the cocker spaniel. This could vary from simple allergies to more serious symptoms like a tumor in the brain. 

Seizure – Sometimes, the dog could be just suffering from epilepsy, which is a kind of partial seizure disorder that leads him to become aggressive. All this makes it very important to get the dog to the vet so that he can detect and treat the symptom of the rage. 

Hereditary – In some cases, this is considered to be hereditary. It would be good to study the dog’s behavioral history in such a case. The dog could have a history of high sensitivity levels, so at such times, it is very important to treat him carefully and lovingly. 

Suppose you suspect that your dog may be experiencing rage syndrome. In that case, it’s best to seek the help of a veterinary or applied animal behaviorist to make a diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Recommended Reading: Are Chow Chows Aggressive?

When Do Cocker Spaniels Calm Down?

Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive? Close-Up Shot of a Cocker Spaniel

A cocker spaniel will generally calm down when he reaches two years of age, though this can vary for some that can calm down a bit early. 

However, as an owner, if you want to calm your young cocker spaniel, give him a gentle scolding, and he will listen to you. Don’t go over the board; remember, he can get mean with you if you do that. 

Dog training is one way to help a cocker spaniel calm down. This way, the cocker spaniel will undergo some modification techniques to help him deal with the situation better and learn to calm down. 

Positive training methods can, in fact, significantly reinforce their good behavior and, in time, let go of their dominant side. 

Amidst all this, know that affection is one of the best ways to help a dog get over issues like this, and so as an owner, make sure you are generous with it. 

Can Cocker Rage Be Cured?

Don’t be fooled by sources that say a cocker rage can’t be cured, and don’t let this take you to the extent of being cruel. 

The fact here is that cocker rage can be cured. A little time and patience are all it takes, and with the proper training, he will be back as the happy dog you want at home. 

However, remember the age-old saying; prevention is better than cure. Early socialization is one way to prevent this, especially if you have a cocker spaniel that could be prone to this disease. 

Take him for walks often and ensure he gets ample playtime out of the house, interacting with other dogs and human beings.

Cocker spaniels need lots of mental stimulation to stay healthy. They love meeting people and other dogs, and an owner will have to spare at least an hour each day for this. 

All this will prevent a dog from getting aggressive and go a long way in making him a more confident pup to grow into the kind of dog he is meant to be. 

How To Diagnose Rage Syndrome In Dogs?

Are Cocker Spaniels Aggressive? Close Up Photo of a Dog Biting a Toy

Rage in a cocker spaniel is indeed rare, but if you are worried, here are some ways to diagnose it. 

  • Coat Color – One way to detect this is by looking at the dog’s color, as solid-colored cocker spaniels are known to be at high risk of becoming aggressive. 
  • Physical Tests – If you want to do it correctly, it is advisable to take the dog to the vet, who will conduct physical tests with samples from his blood and urine. In addition, the vet will conduct imaging techniques to check for other signs of an abnormality like tumors or organ dysfunctionality. 
  • Neurological Tests – The vet will, in some instances, even perform a series of neurological tests so you can arrive at a more reliable diagnosis. 

Yet, despite all this, it is also very important that an owner gives the vet a detailed note of the dog’s behavior to include it in his study and arrive at the perfect diagnosis.

Are Cocker Spaniels Good Family Dogs?

Let’s put it this way. Cocker spaniels make wonderful additions to any family. They love the company of human beings and can make one of the most affectionate pets.

He will be the most gallant in your family and a source of joy for kids and adults alike. Speaking of kids, a cocker spaniel can be very tolerant around them. 

In time, you’re just going to get used to all that lunging and hunting that when not around for a while, you are going to go around the house looking for this happy dog, always wagging his tail and finding a way to make you smile. 

He may require a little more grooming than some other dog breeds, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem, should it? 

Are Cocker Spaniels Protective?

Cocker spaniels are generally high-strung, which can make them protective over themselves and their owners. They can become territorial when feeling threatened anywhere, including in their home environment. 

However, to provide an honest answer, these are not the best watchdogs. A cocker spaniel is aggressive only when provoked and is not known for being overly protective.

The reason behind this is their gentle and friendly nature. His playful nature could sometimes prevent him from protecting his owner.

Don’t worry; he will still bark and alert you when he sees someone unexpected, so you won’t have a thief plundering into your house with a dog like this. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Cocker Spaniel Bite Force

Oh, they can have a strong bite force and see that they are not provoked. Want to know the bite force? The cocker spaniel’s bite force is 235 pounds per square inch, maybe not as high as a Kangal or a Doberman, but enough to make you flinch. So, don’t mess with it. 

Q2. Are Cocker Spaniels Mean?

Ans: Some research does suggest that these dogs can be hostile, with sources that even label it as one of the meanest dogs in the world. But there’s a catch. This meanness occurs only when placed in the hands of a bad owner. In other words, you have nothing to worry about if you are a good owner. 

Q3. What is springer rage?

Ans: Spinner rage is a syndrome where a dog suddenly displays unexpected and unprovoked moments of rage, commonly as a result of fear and territorialism. A dog at a time like this could be feeling threatened and is trying to protect himself from a situation, leading to behavior like this. 

Q4. How To Train A Cocker Spaniel?

Ans: Cocker spaniels, like most dogs, respond well to positive methods of training, so it is very important to be affectionate and not harsh in the process of training. In addition to that, they are easy to train, and a little motivation is all they need. 

Final Thoughts!

Are cocker spaniels aggressive? Yes, but don’t let all this disturb you. As said time and again in this article, aggression in a cocker spaniel is indeed rare, so rare that it is highly unlikely that you will end up with one. 

Even if you do, know your aggressive cocker spaniel still loves you, so keep it. If he is aggressive, there are always ways to deal with this and bring him back to being just how you (and everybody) want him to be. 

At the end of the day, don’t be the owner who abandoned his pet cocker spaniel but the kind that was there when he needed a good friend, a friend he found in you. 


Hey there, pet lovers! I'm Pratik, a lifelong animal lover, and pet care expert. My passion for animals began at a young age and has only grown stronger over the years. Through my blog, I hope to share my knowledge and expertise with other pet owners and provide them with valuable information on pets.