Cocker spaniels are loyal, gentle dogs who are most happy being around people. This breed is well suited as a family pet or for showing. But keep in mind that a cocker spaniel's long, silky coat requires a lot of maintenance. Routine proper grooming keeps the coat healthy and clean. Skin or coat problems that need attention are often discovered during grooming sessions. Learning to groom your dog is a way to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
Start by clipping the ears using a #30 blade on your clipper. Clip in the direction of the grain. Clip off the top third of the overall length. The ideal length of hair on the ears should be slightly below your dog's eye level when the ears are relaxed. Trim the ends of hair on the ears with shears to give them a slightly rounded appearance.
Groom the head against the grain, starting from the back of the neck using a #10 blade. Finish the trim just in front of the nose tip. Keep enough length so that the hair lies down at the centre of the head, but do not allow the hair to cover the eyes. Use thinning scissors to trim the hair around the eyes.
Use a #9 blade to groom the fur at the front and sides of the neck. Start grooming from the breastbone to the lower lip in the direction of the grain. If you want to give the cocker spaniel the illusion of having a long neck, trim the coat on the breastbone in a V shape instead of a straight line. To achieve this effect, trim from the coat just below the breastbone to the sides of the shoulders with a #7F blade. Try to align the V shape with the middle of your dog's neck while trimming.
Trim the back of the dog with a #5 blade beginning from the shoulders. Stop the back trim at the side coat. The back coat should be flat and short, blending into the side coat. Thin the hair where the back and side coat meet using thinning scissors. The side coat doesn't need to be trimmed, allowing it to grow down to the feet for a natural look. Make sure all the hair from the shoulder creases is neatly trimmed with shears.
Trim the leg fur using a #15 blade. The fur at the ends of the feet should be trimmed to a bevel shape.
Trim the nails using nail clippers. The nails on the feet should never be exposed.
Brush your cocker spaniel either on a grooming stand or on the floor. Brush your dog in small sections at a time, starting at one side from its head back to its tail against the direction of hair growth. Redo the process on the other side. Reverse the brushing direction to prevent hair matting. This time, brush from tail to head in the direction of hair growth.
Groom your dog regularly to help minimise skin shedding. After grooming a few times, you will learn how much to trim to achieve the look you want. When brushing your dog, use a lead and collar or have it lie down for more control.