English Cocker Spaniel life expectancy
The most common health problems in English Cocker Spaniels:
The English Cocker Spaniel Club conducted a health survey that included almost 2500 dogs. The average lifespan was reported as 12 years old – not a very long lifespan for a smallish dog.
Eye diseases are the major concern in English Cockers, especially progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can appear at 3-7 years old, and cataracts, which can appear between 1.5 and 8 years old and often progress to blindness. Fortunately, a simple DNA test is available for PRA in English Cocker Spaniels, so you can find out at any time whether your dog has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear of it.
Other eye diseases in English Cockers include cherry eye, persistent pupillary membranes, eyelash abnormalities, eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion), glaucoma, dry eye, and retinal dysplasia.
Skin diseases such as allergies (which cause itchy skin and often lead to pyoderma) and seborrhea are common in the breed, along with ear infections due to the narrow ear canals and profuse hair inside the ear canals.
Epilepsy is unfortunately common in English Cocker Spaniels, and heart disease (cardiomyopathy and patent ductus arteriosus) is becoming a concern.
Hormonal/endocrine system diseases are fairly common, especially hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, and Cushing's disease. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 17% of English Cockers have low thyroid levels.
A severe kidney disease claims the lives of many young English Cocker Spaniels.
Several blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's, factor II deficiency, and thrombocytopenia) occur in English Cockers.
The most common orthopedic diseases in English Cocker Spaniels are luxating patella (very common), hip dysplasia (less common), and intervertebral disk disease. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 5400 English Cockers and found about 6% dysplastic.
A bizarre neurological/behavioral syndrome known as Rage Syndrome can occur in English Cocker Spaniels, where an affected dog suddenly becomes violently aggressive. In many Cockers, it appears to be related to extreme dominance, where the dog believes that he is in charge of the household and somebody in the family does something that "challenges" his leadership and causes him to explode. However, other affected Cockers are good-natured and well-behaved right up until the moment they flare out of control. Some affected Cockers have abnormally low amounts of serotonin (a calming brain chemical). Whatever the cause, drugs and behavioral modification seldom work and euthanasia is often the only thing you can do.