German Shepherds might seem to have the same general appearance. However, some of them are working…
The German Shepherd is a beloved breed that’s commonly used to cross with others because of its many positive traits. Just like with every other dog, however, mixing different breeds with the GSD is not always a good idea.
What about the Cocker Spaniel? Is a Cocker Spaniel German Shepherd mix a good dog to have?
About the German Shepherd Breed
German Shepherds have been part of the American Kennel Club’s top 3 most popular dog breeds for at least a decade. These dogs are well-loved because of their versatility, intelligence, and highly adaptable nature.
GSDs are loyal and confident dogs with incredible athletic abilities. Although they were first used and developed as sheepherders, German Shepherds now fulfill many different roles as working dogs, service dogs, and personal companions.
About the Cocker Spaniel Breed
The Cocker Spaniel might seem like your average lap dog, but it is actually a very active sporting breed.
These dogs assisted hunters even before rifles were invented. They got their name from the woodcock, which was the type of game they specialized in.
Today, Cocker Spaniels are mostly found in homes and dog shows. They were especially popular in the 1950s when Disney first aired the animated movie Lady and the Tramp.
Although not quite as popular these days, they are best-loved for their calm temperament and irresistible, silky coat. They also tend to be excellent household companions for families with young children.
Why Cross a Cocker Spaniel With a German Shepherd?
Few would cross GSDs and Cocker Spaniels on purpose because their size difference may cause some health issues down the line. Nevertheless, there are many positive outcomes to crossing these two breeds.
German Shepherd – Cocker Spaniel mixes aren’t just physically smaller but they are also calmer and more content when left to relax at home. They are less vigilant and more open to strangers than purebred GSDs.
Additionally, they require less mental stimulation and are less likely to get themselves into trouble.
General Characteristics of a Cocker Spaniel – German Shepherd Mix
Although Cocker Spaniels and German Shepherds are both wonderful breeds, they’re different in so many ways. Their differences are apparent in their physical appearance as well as their personalities.
Nevertheless, here are general traits you can expect from a GSD – Cocker Spaniel cross:
Cocker Spaniels are considered a small breed while German Shepherds are large dogs. Here’s how the two compare in terms of height and weight:
|Breed||Height (in.)||Weight (lbs.)|
|German Shepherd Dog||24 – 26||22 – 24||65 – 90||50 - 70|
|Cocker Spaniel||14.5 – 15.5||13.5 – 14.5||25 – 30||20 - 25|
The size of an adult Cocker Spaniel – German Shepherd mix depends on which parent it takes after.
Given these figures, it is clear that the offspring of these two breeds would be at least a medium-sized dog that’s approximately 20 inches tall and weighs about 60 pounds.
German Shepherds have dense undercoats combined with medium-to-long, rough guard hairs. In contrast, Cocker Spaniels are known for their luxuriously long, silky coats.
A cross of these two breeds could inherit any of these two types of coats or even a combination of both.
In terms of color, black & tan and solid black are the most common. However, other color combinations, as well as markings, can be inherited, especially from the Cocker Spaniel side.
How much effort you need to groom a Cocker Spaniel – GSD mix depends on what type of coat it inherits. You’ll experience less shedding with a Cocker’s coat but it will require daily brushing to keep it silky and free from mats.
On the other hand, the GSD double-coat sheds quite heavily but requires brushing only once or twice a week.
Additionally, a cross that inherits the Cocker’s floppy ears will need more frequent ear cleaning. Make sure you keep it dry (especially after every bath) to reduce the risk of ear infections.
All other grooming requirements (i.e. bathing, nail clipping, and tooth brushing) would be just the same as any other dog.
German Shepherds have impressive strength but the opposite is true of Cocker Spaniels. Nevertheless, Cockers are hardy dogs and can be quite athletic thanks to their hunting and sporting heritage.
German Shepherd – Cocker Spaniel crosses are generally quite strong. However, they are not expected to compete in strength with purebred GSDs as they are smaller and less muscular.
The GSD might have a better reputation for speed but Cocker Spaniels actually run pretty fast, too. This should be unsurprising as the ability to run fast is an important trait among game dogs.
Given that the GSD – Cocker Spaniel mix may have shorter legs, they may not be able to run as fast as purebred German Shepherds. Nevertheless, they could still be expected to reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour.
The Cocker Spaniel – German Shepherd cross won’t have as much excess energy to expend as a purebred GSD. However, they will still need regular exercise to maintain the muscle tone their bodies are built for.
Generally, these sporting dogs will thrive with 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day. Playing fetch or going on long walks are good options. Additionally, romping around with other canine companions would count as exercise.
According to the dog intelligence ranking developed by canine psychologist Stanley Coren, German Shepherds belong to the top tier of dogs.
Their intelligence enables them to master a command in fewer than 5 exposures. They are also among the most obedient, following commands at least 95% of the time.
Mixing Cocker Spaniels with GSDs is likely to result in a less intelligent, although still a remarkably bright dog.
Purebred Cocker Spaniels belong to the second tier of dogs, which means they can master a command within 15 exposures. Additionally, they obey at least 85% of the time.
Even if the two parent breeds differ in intelligence, any German Shepherd – Cocker Spaniel mix is still expected to be highly trainable. Apart from intelligence, they are eager to please and have a strong work drive.
The Cocker Spaniel – GSD cross is typically a good family dog. They are affectionate, patient with young children, and tolerant of other pets.
Additionally, they are protective but less vigilant and more accepting of strangers compared to purebred German Shepherds.
Among the best traits of the GSD – Cocker Spaniel cross is their adaptability. They can thrive in many living situations as long as they’re given opportunities to exercise. They also tend to be gentle and even-tempered.
GSD – Cocker Spaniel mixes tend to be of good health but could develop severe health conditions that stem from the size difference of their parents. They could have issues with bone & joint development.
Or, they could develop organs that are disproportionate to their bodies. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to ensure proper development, monitor their overall condition, and address possible health risks early on.
Additionally, GSD – Cocker Spaniel crosses that inherit floppy ears might be prone to ear infections. Much care has to be taken to keep the ear canals clean and the flaps dry.
Although some health issues might stem from the significant size difference of the two breeds, healthy Cocker Spaniel – German Shepherd crosses actually tend to live long and happy lives. In fact, they have a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years.
To improve longevity, it helps to give your dog a high-quality, well-balanced diet as soon as you get them. Additionally, don’t miss their scheduled vaccinations and keep them parasite-free.
The American Kennel Club is primarily a registry for purebred dogs and a proponent of standards for each breed. So, it’s perfectly understandable that it would not recognize a cross between a German Shepherd and a Cocker Spaniel as its own breed.
Nevertheless, any German Shepherd – Cocker Spaniel mix can enroll in the AKC Canine Partners program. This program was specifically developed so that mixed breeds can participate in various AKC events, including title recognition programs like Flyball and Diving Dogs.
How Popular is the German Shepherd Cocker Spaniel Mix?
Finding a German Shepherd– Cocker Spaniel cross would be difficult because they are not very common. Enthusiasts of each breed prefer to keep their breeding stocks pure, typically to conform to AKC standards.
Additionally, both GSDs and Cocker Spaniels are more valuable as purebreds. So, breeders aren’t motivated to cross them.
Also, due to the size difference of these breeds, they aren’t normally mated. If they are mated the male is usually the Cocker Spaniel as the potential size of the puppies could be too large for the smaller Cocker Spaniel to carry.
Nevertheless, you might be able to find one caused by mismating or accidental breeding.
A Cocker Spaniel – German Shepherd mix will require additional effort in grooming. And, they might experience some health challenges due to the size difference of their parents. Nevertheless, their more timid nature is a delight for households looking for loyal yet calm and affectionate companions.
If you’re interested in a GSD cross but not sure that one mixed with a Cocker Spaniel is for you, check out other German Shepherd mixes here.