Cocker Spaniel Glossary: Feathering

What is Feathering?

Feathering, in the context of Cocker Spaniel ear characteristics, refers to the long, silky fringe of hair that grows on the outer edge and underside of the dog’s ears. This soft, flowing hair gives the Cocker Spaniel its distinct and elegant appearance, enhancing its overall appeal. Feathering isn’t limited to the ears; it can also be found on the legs, chest, and belly of the dog. However, the feathering on the ears is often the most pronounced and is considered one of the breed’s signature features.


  • Silky, long fringe of hair on the outer edge and underside of ears.
  • Adds to the Cocker Spaniel’s distinct and elegant appearance.
  • Most pronounced feathering found on the ears, though it can appear on other body parts.
  • Signature feature of the Cocker Spaniel breed.

A Deeper Look: Feathering

Feathering, while primarily an aesthetic feature, has historical significance for the Cocker Spaniel. Historically bred as gun dogs to retrieve game from water, the feathering may have helped protect the sensitive areas of their skin from brambles and underbrush in the field.

However, while feathering has its advantages, it also comes with specific care needs. The long, silky strands can easily get matted or tangled, especially if the dog is active outdoors. Wet and muddy conditions can further contribute to the tangling of the feathered hair. Regular grooming, therefore, becomes essential. Brushing the feathering daily or every other day can help prevent tangles and mats, keeping the fur smooth and healthy. Additionally, it’s crucial to inspect the feathering regularly for any signs of ticks, fleas, or other pests, as the thick hair provides an ideal hiding spot.

Spotlight on Feathering in Cocker Spaniels

  • Historically helped protect from brambles and underbrush during hunting.
  • Requires regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles.
  • Thick feathering can be a hiding place for pests like ticks and fleas.
  • Daily or bi-daily brushing is recommended to maintain its silky appearance.

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