Cocker Spaniel Lab Mix

cocker spaniel lab mix

The Cocker Spaniel Lab mix is a designer dog that has been around for a lot longer than that term has been popular. They are almost the antithesis to the modern trend for hybridization, combined historically by gamekeepers wanting an all purpose hunting and retrieving companion for long days out in the fields. And these friendly, medium sized mixes did the job.

They weren’t the best retrievers or the most hard headed hunters, but they were confident, keen and clever. Happily sticking by their handler’s side through driving rain and thick gorse, then curling up in their lap in the evening.

But that doesn’t mean the tried and tested Cockador mix is going to fit well into the average family home. The best of both worlds for a gamekeeper, is not the usual pet owner’s idea of paradise….

Common Personality Traits

Cockers and Labradors have been bred with cooperative natures. They are designed to be focussed on their handlers and quick to pick up new skills. Both breeds are relatively easy to train with positive reinforcement methods. They are food motivated and attentive.

These are courageous breeds that aren’t afraid of inclement weather or rough terrain. They also both have the instinct to chase and hunt, as well as pick up and retrieve. Although to different extents.

Differences in Temperament

Although prey drive is a factor for both Labs and Spaniels, it is demonstrably higher in the hunting Spaniel breeds. Cockers were selectively bred for their scenting skills, and their enthusiasm for tracking their quarry.

If you have other small pets in the house, they are less likely to butt heads with a Labrador than a Cocker for this reason.

Whilst each breed generally does well socially, both with other dogs and humans alike, as a general rule Cocker Spaniels are slightly less pushy. They are friendly, but won’t force themselves bodily onto your guests in the same way that your average Lab will.

Size and Build

Cocker Spaniels are on the small to medium scale, whereas Labrador Retrievers are medium to large dogs. For both breeds the show bred English lines tend to be heftier than the lighter working American type.

When you combine a small and large dog, you don’t always end up with a medium one. Cocker Lab mixes can be as little and the tiniest Cocker or as large as the biggest Lab.

Cocker and Lab Coat Types and Grooming

Cocker Spaniels have long, wavy coats. They look gorgeous, but need a lot of work to stay in good condition. Tangles and knots are common, especially around the head, ears and backs of the legs. When petting even our well groomed Cockers I frequently find my fingers catching on a clump of new matting, that needs snipping or teasing out.

Labrador coats are short but no less laborious when it comes to shedding. They molt like nobody else, and during their autumn and spring coat blowout you’ll need to groom them daily and have a massive session with a deshedding tool in the backyard at least once.

Cocker Spaniel Lab mixes have short coats, with maybe slightly fluffier than average ears. As you get into second or third filial generations, you’ll find much longer coat growth for this hybrid as the recessive genes from the Cocker line find each other again.

Historical Successes in Hybridizartion

Many mixed breed designer dogs are fairly new. But due to years of fieldwork closeness, and the casual use of multipurpose dogs by gamekeepers, the Cocker Spaniel Lab mix has actually been around for a long time.

I even met them out in the field as a kid, when purebred dogs were very much the norm in hunting circles.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

Cocker Lab mixes are clever, enthusiastic and still to this day do well as an all purpose casual hunting companion. But their prey drive, intense relationship with their owners and unpredictable characteristics mean that if you are looking for a simple family pet, you’ll probably do better with a purebred Lab or Cocker Spaniel puppy to raise.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. I got Billie a year ago from the SPCA shelter, when I first got her was wanting to be with women and avoided men, so it was a challenge training her because she was afraid of me. We started letting her know who the alfa was, after i gave her lots of love and let her know I was there for her and would never hit her. it has been 15 months that we have been together but she is now a great service dog for me bipolar disorder, and the PTSD, she goes into Walmart to shop and she stays at heal and acts just like a service dog today we went to the VA Hospital and everyone was impressed with how well she behaved, she is now my service dog and it only took a year, and she is very affectionate to me.

  2. We have a black lspanador we adopted he is 17 years old..what a beautiful loving dog, he still loves to play and can go up & down 6 steps and loves hikes and snow. He is just a little slower but
    Quite able to get around. Had a fatty cyst taken off his belly 1 1/2 years ago and vetcwas amazed at v his health. Good Salmon or chicken dry food only.
    And occasionally treats for dental.
    Enjoyed reading blog..thanks

  3. Hi. I have been offered a beautiful 4 year old female Spanador. Have met her three times at the place she is staying. The owner is overseas and due to regular travel the little girl is left on her own. I am preparing my place to be ready for her and although she will be extremely comfortable and loved, I do work 4 days a week. After reading your comments and general facts I am wondering if it is cruel to adopt her due to my absence throughout the day? I do live in a house with a big yard in a dog-friendly neighbourhood near a beach so she will get lots of exercise. I am going to trial her here in the next few weeks while I am on school holidays and home heaps. Wish me luck!

  4. My wife and I have a seven year old Cocker-Lab mix. We can’t say enough good things about him. Very smart, well behaved and loving. A little reserved and shy of strangers but nothing different than any other dog. He has a Labrador body and coat with a cocker spaniel face and color. Good energy level and very trainable wanting to please. He’s about 50 pounds which makes him a good size around the house not being too big yet big enough to hold his own in the outdoors so he get over and around obstacles with confidence. I don’t hunt over him as I don’t have the time or access but he definitely has the instinct and capacity to do so if one chose to. He would make every bit a good hunting dog as my German Shorthair Pointer was given the time and effort. So, if you have an opportunity to get one from a good breeder don’t pass. Ours is a wonderful family member.

  5. I have a 4 month cocker spaniel lab mix. He looks more like a lab to me due to the shortness or the hair and the flappy ears. The one thing I don’t know where he got from was some extra skin. He looks amazing. But the only thing is he cries every time I head to the door and leave 🙁

  6. We have a 7 month old male Spanador who is the best dog we have ever had. So smart, loving and loyal. He is great with our cat and other dog. He is still a little timid around strangers but only takes a few minutes to make a friend. Loves to play and cuddle and so trainable. He seems to have hunting instincts and loves to be outside. We would like to breed him once before neutering him. Looking for a female Spanador to breed with! We have many friends and family members who would purchase a pup.

    • Please please please help – I am looking for a lab spaniel mix and can only find puppy mill type sites – I’m in Pennsylvania USA. Can you literally – throw me a bone!!!!

  7. We have a 5 year old Labrador x cocker spaniel called Indy, he is incredibly affectionate, bouncy and obedient, we love him dearly. He is amazing with the children and our cat. Couldn’t ask for a better dog. He is definitely more lab looking and often gets mistaken for a lab puppy, he is the best dog ever and I think the mix is perfect 😀

  8. We have a lab cocker spaniel mix ( cockerdor ) called Angus. He is 6 months old and is adorable very much looks lab but with cocker ears. He is very affectionate easy to train. He is amazing with children. An absolute pleasure we wouldnt be with out him. He fitted in firmly with our family from day one.would very much recommend this breed.

  9. Wanting to know if a male lab gets a female cocker pregnant is it safe for the cocker to have the puppies naturally since the lab is much larger?

  10. We rescued a Spanador puppy three years ago and he’s a wonderful dog! He is social and LOVES everyone he meets. He also loves to play, other animals, and to be around people. He is a fantastic companion! He looks very much like a miniature lab at 30 pounds. With his small size and playful personality, most people think he is a puppy even though he is over three years old.

  11. We had what the adoption agency and every vet he went to called a labrador and cocker spaniel mix for many years. Because he was a rescue, we were never sure that this was his actual mix, but I couldn’t tell you what else could have possibly been in there. He was built like a short but thick lab and had the smile of the friendliest cocker spaniel. Pete was a great dog! Never met a stranger. Never showed any aggression towards anything. Got along with all types of animals. And was amazing with every child he ever came into contact with. This is absolutely a desirable mix. We loved ours until he left us just this past Christmas.