English Cocker Spaniels

An Online Owners Guide



Grooming Your Pet English Cocker

'Morgan' - O'Crowley

Grooming your pet English Cocker yourself can be a lot of work, but it is much less expensive than paying a groomer in the long run, and you will also be assured that your dog is treated well during this sometimes stressful process.

Please keep in mind that these instructions are for a pet groom, for the average pet owner - NOT a show groom.   You should check with your breeder and find out if they are particular about how the puppy is groomed, then follow their advice.  

All of the dogs pictured on this page belong to breeders, and are not shaved. 

If you have never groomed an English Cocker before, it might be good to take your dog for its first haircut to a professional groomer.  That way you will have a pattern to follow when you begin grooming yourself.  Make sure you find a groomer that knows how to do English Cockers, not American Cockers, as they are groomed very differently.  

First off you will need proper tools:
  • A good set of clippers made for grooming dogs.  Oster  clippers are what most ECS people I know use.  I use the Oster A5, it has 2 speeds that I find come in handy.  It comes with a #10 blade.
  • Three Spacing Comb attachments for the Oster clipper,  1/4", 1/2" and 1".  Or a 4-F blade.

Grooming Table Set Up - Minor

  • A high quality pair of thinning scissors.
  • A good pair of straight scissors, made for cutting dog hair.
  • Miscellaneous brushes/combs - a good pin brush, a small slicker brush, a  metal comb, a horse hair glove.
  • A small snood, or a big soft hair scrunchy to hold the ears up.  Don't use rubber bands or coated rubber pony tail loops - your dogs ears are very sensitive!
  • A blow dryer - if you do not want to spend a couple hundred dollars on a professional dog dryer, you can buy a hand held doggie dryer called The Duck. It has 3 heat & air settings.  I   would not recommend using the highest heat setting, however.  
  • A grooming table or some area that you feel comfortable grooming your dog.  
  • Some special treats that he really likes.
  • Dog shampoo.
  • A spray on leave-in coat conditioner.
  • Towels.
  • 2 Cotton Balls.

If your breeder does not want your dog shaved, then you must strip the coat before bathing.  A clean coat is much harder to strip.  Check with your breeder on this process.

I know it's hard to believe, but this is the same dog! 'Raven' - Minor

Paula & pup

OK, after all your tools are in place the first thing you must do before any grooming happens is bathe your dog in a good dog shampoo.  Put a cotton ball in each ear to avoid water getting in there.  Rinse him well, towel off excess moisture, and blow dry.  Most people use some type of leave-in coat conditioner to avoid mats and tangles.  Use your metal comb & pin brush during drying to separate the hair and speed up the process.  Try not to groom your dog if he has not been bathed first - it will make your clippers and scissors dull.

Keep it lighthearted & fun - I usually give my dog treats at intervals during the bath - one treat when I first put them in the tub, then another one after I wet them down, then another after getting soaped up, then another one when they're rinsed off.   Keep praise low key & calm.

So now your dog is clean, dry & all brushed out - where do you start?   Anywhere, really!  Let's begin with the back and work down.   Place one of your combs on the end of your clipper - either the 1" or the 1/2", depending on how short you like your dogs coat on his back, or if you are using a 4-F blade instead, put it on now.  With the comb, shave against the grain of the hair, starting at the tail and continuing to the neck & making sure the hair that is falling off does not tangle in with your dogs feathers (the long hair on his legs & sides).  

If you are using the blade instead of the comb, you can shave with the direction of the hair to get a longer length if desired.  I use the combs because the blade gets very  hot during cutting, and with the comb on the hot blade never touches your dogs skin.  Another plus to the combs is they are very lightweight, where the 4-F blade is heavier than the standard #10 blade.  If you are having a problem controlling or gripping the clipper the extra weight of the 4-F blade can compound your difficulties.  

Shave a small area, then put down your clippers & turn them off (let them cool).  Brush out the area you have shaved, smooth it down with the horse hair brush, and see how you like it.  If it is too short or too long then change your comb before proceeding.  Clean the hair off your table as you go along to prevent it from tangling in with your dogs coat and causing a big mat.  Give your dog a treat  - good dog!  Keep your voice calm and your tone down - nice calm praise.  

Continue shaving the top coat.  After you have finished this, let your dog run around a little - take a small potty break!  Give him/her some treats - keep it fun. 


Now, back to business.  Next we will shave the hind leg area - you can use either the 1/4" or 1/2" comb, shave against the growth of hair, begin right above what would be his knee joint, and shave upward into the area you shaved the back coat off of.   You only shave the outside flank of the rear legs, not the longer "feathers".  See red area outlined on picture.


Now, the front legs - shave from the foot upward, onto the shoulders, and into the back coat area using the same comb or blade you used on the back legs.  You can use the soft scrunchy or snood on his ears at this point to hold them up from the area being groomed.   Keep the scrunchy nice and loose - don't hurt your dogs ears.  Do not shave the back of the legs. 

If your dog is getting antsy, take another break, let your clippers cool down, next  we will start the head/ears.


First put the ears up on top of the head in the loose scunchy - you don't want to cut the hair on the ears by mistake!  Tilt the head back, and shave with your #10 blade (no comb attached) from the neck area right up to the lower jaw.  Make sure you shave off the hair around the mouth very close - it will keep the lips from getting infected by holding moisture and food.  Hook your finger in the lip and pull it tight to get the blade close.  Next shave the muzzle itself, from just below the eye right to the lips.  Again, shave this area close.  Take the scrunchy off the ears.


Shave close around the upper and lower lips, right back to the ear opening.

Shave the inside of the ears, about 1/3 way down.  Shave close all the hair around the area where the ear attaches to the head, down to the mouth area.  Removing this hair will open up the ears to air and hold down on infections. 


On the outside of the ear, shave about 1/3 of the way down into a 'v' shape. 

Put on your 1/4" spacing comb and shave the top of the head.

If your dog has very thick hair you can thin out the long feathers on all 4 legs with the thinning shears.  Also use the thinning shears along the sides to blend the clippered area in with the skirt.


Use your straight scissors to trim the skirt, longer toward the front & tapering off to the back.  

Stand your dog and trim close around the feet so they look like 'cat feet'.   Lay your dog down on his side and trim the hair on the bottom of the feet even with the pads.

Brush the feathers and skirt with the slicker brush to fluff them out, and use the horse hair brush on the areas you shaved to get a nice sleek look.  

Stand back and take a good look at your grooming job.  If any areas look choppy you can smooth them out with the thinning shears.  - Done! -

Remember, one good thing about grooming your English Cocker is their hair grows pretty quickly - so anything you cut too short won't stay that way long!

'Teddy' - Karsch before.

'Teddy' - Karsch after.

Aedden 'before' - Land

Aedden 'after' - Land