Grooming the American Cocker


Well-Known Member
Owned by
3 cockers
Grooming the American Cocker Spaniel

Many people feel very intimidated by the thought of grooming their American Cocker themselves. There is the fear of cutting the dog, and also of putting the dog in a completely ridiculous haircut. I had the same fear when I first got a Cocker Spaniel, but after paying $50 every 2 months for grooming, I quickly realized that grooming the dog myself would be much less expensive over time. The initial outlay for grooming tools and products is not insignificant (a list of recommended items is below), but if you look at the cost now versus the cost of grooming your dog at least 4 times a year for the next 12-14 years, that’s not a small dollar amount either.

Should you decide to give home grooming a try, I’ve listed some suggestions for tools and methods below. Keep in mind that grooming tools such as scissors, brushes and combs are a personal preference. That’s why I recommend checking out sites such as and eBay for second hand grooming equipment. That way you can try things out and start to get a feel for what you like, without investing big bucks right up front.

If you would rather take your dogs to a groomer regularly, that’s fine too. Do your best to find a good, responsible, caring groomer that will treat your dogs with kindness. As for referrals from your vet clinic, from the breeder or rescue group that you got your dog from, or from the local training club. You can also look at the yellow pages for names of groomers. I recommend visiting the grooming salon prior to booking an appointment for your dog. Ask if you can observe the groomers at work, to get an idea of how they treat the animals, and how they respond to difficult situations. Everybody can have a rough day at work, but overall you want to see dogs that aren’t afraid of being there, and groomers that seem happy and in good spirits. If you feel uncomfortable with the situation, do not bring your dog there.

If you’re going to have somebody else groom your dog, surf the Internet for pictures of Cocker Spaniels in different trims. It’s always easier for a groomer to understand exactly what you want if you have pictures to show them. Be realistic in your expectations – while the full coat may be dazzling to look at, it is definitely more work to look after than a puppy cut. It requires brushing several times weekly, and much more frequent bathing than the short trim does. And if your Cocker ends up at the groomers full of tangles, understand that a complete shave may be necessary. If you have a good relationship with your groomer, these types of situations will be discussed before any action is taken, when the dog is dropped off.

Grooming Equipment

§ Soft slicker brush (I prefer #1 All Systems or Vellus)
§ Pin brush (#1 All Systems, Vellus, PSI)
§ Combination comb of medium and fine teeth (I prefer to use a 1” Poodle comb from Resco, as it has longer teeth to get through the coat)
§ Mars Coat King (#20) or Medium Oster Coat Rake
§ 8.5” Straight Shears (they do not need to be expensive – spend around $30)
§ 30-46 tooth Thinning Shears (with teeth on one blade only – Millers Forge, 44/20 Inc.)
§ Single speed clippers (Andis, Oster, Wahl – not the inexpensive home grooming kits)
§ #10 or #15 blade for the face, #7 blade for the back
§ Can use a #3F blade to leave ½” hair on the legs if you wish
§ Toenail clippers & styptic powder
§ A de-matting rake (Mat Breaker tools are excellent)
§ Shampoo & conditioner
§ Cotton Balls
§ Ear Cleaner
§ A couple of old bath towels
§ Blow dryer – human hair dryer will work, otherwise a Metro Air Force would be a nice purchase
§ Grooming table (can be made at home, by a handy person)
§ Grooming Arm & Noose (I actually purchase two of each and put a grooming arm at either end of the table – I use one noose for around the neck and one for around the waist, so the dog can’t sit down while I’m grooming it)

I highly recommend you check eBay for used grooming equipment. Sometimes breeders and/or groomers are getting out of the profession and looking to sell their equipment quickly and inexpensively, especially scissors and thinning shears.

How Often Should I Groom?

For the face, a Cocker can go up to 4 weeks before needing a trim. Because I have the equipment at home, I prefer to go no longer than every 3 weeks. It is a personal preference, but remember that the more often you do it, the more proficient you will get and the easier it will become.

A Cocker Spaniel should be bathed a minimum of every 6-8 weeks. If you groom the dog yourself, it is best to give the dog a bath prior to grooming, in order to keep the clipper blades sharp for as long as possible. Clipping a dirty dog does dull the blades more quickly. That being said, if you have a severely matted dog, you should shave it prior to bathing it. Water causes mats to tighten, and they become nearly impossible to remove once they are wet.


Senior Member
Owned by
4 cockers
That was too cute. Such a happy boy. Coco's bacon was a shakin :)

Mine head for the hills at the mere sight of the brush. :angry:


Super Moderator
Staff member
Owned by
1 cocker
I wish I could watch Utube..but with dial up.. no chance...

Mike, you should see my Pepper run when he knows its groomies time.. ;)

Coco's Mom

RIP Coco May 4th 2020
Owned by
1 cocker
I wish I could watch Utube..but with dial up.. no chance...

Mike, you should see my Pepper run when he knows its groomies time.. ;)

I am putting it on my Facebook if your on there. I have entered so many people in the past couple days, I now can't remember who is who hahaha.

Coco's Mom

RIP Coco May 4th 2020
Owned by
1 cocker
That is the exact reason why we want to stay with the breeder we got him from. He is such a pleasure.


Mom to Max and Ace
Owned by
1 cocker
I tried to watch the video. All was fine until I turned the volume up. Max got so excited! He was running around going nuts trying to find you. ROFL!


Owned by
1 cocker
Thankfully my Mickey LOVES being brushed! I usually try to make it enjoyable for him, he LOVES to have his belly rubbed and scratched til his leg starts kickin! So every minute or two I'll just give him a little rub and scratching on his belly. Unfortunately when I figured this out at first I took it a little far. One day I noticed he wasn't kicking anymore and when I looked under all that fur his skin was red from irritation. Now I am MUCH more careful about that and thankfully he has forgiven me and still loves the brush!