American Cocker Spaniel Health

Cocker Spaniel

Although the American Cocker Spaniel is a relatively healthy and resilient breed, they may have a “breed pre-disposition” in a small percentage of dogs for some of the disorders listed below. This means these conditions may occur more frequently in this breed compared to other breeds or to the general dog population as a whole. This suggests inheritance factors may be at play. In some cases the mode of inheritance is unknown. In other cases, DNA testing and other forms of screening is available to determine affected or carrier dogs.

 It should be noted that any of the conditions listed below can occur in any breed, mixed or pure, including the new designer dogs. Responsible breeders are well aware of the conditions that can affect their breed and will take suitable measures to get the appropriate medical tests and clearances on the dogs they breed.

 Health conditions that can occur in the American Cocker Spaniel include:

von Willebrand Disease (vWD)

Thyroid problems

Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK)

Eye diseases including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Retinal Dysplasia, glaucoma, and cataracts.

Autoimmune problems including Hemolytic Anemia.

Cardiac conditions including Dilated Cardiac Myopathy and Sick Sinus Syndrome.

Epilepsy and seizure disorders.


von Willebrand’s Disease

von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) is a clotting disorder that can result in uncontrolled bleeding depending on the type of vWD. There is no treatment or cure, but DNA tests are available to detect carrier and affected dogs.


Hypothyroidism can occur in all breeds, mixed or pure. It is a dysfunction of the endocrine system resulting in the impaired production and secretion of thyroid hormones, causing poor metabolism, weight gain and skin and coat problems. Though easy to diagnose and treat, some breeds are more predisposed than others, and genetic testing known as the TgAA test (Thyroglobulin Auto Antibody) is required prior to breeding. Dogs testing positive for TgAA should not be used for breeding purposes.


Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK)

PFK is an enzyme deficiency where the body lacks the ability to metabolize sugar to energy. Symptoms range from being mild to severe and can include exercise intolerance, fever, muscle wasting, and hyperventilation. Blood tests are available to measure PFK enzyme levels and to determine carrier dogs for breeding purposes.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a classification of eye diseases characterized by the degeneration of the retina. Depending on the breed, type of PRA (central or generalized) and age of onset, PRA leads to vision loss and eventual blindness in one or both eyes. Inheritance factors vary by breed, and dogs in breeds affected by PRA should be screened through opthalmologic examination or DNA testing prior to breeding.