Cocker Spaniel Glossary: What is a Working Line?

In the context of Cocker Spaniels and many other breeds, the term “Working Line” refers to dogs that are bred primarily for their working abilities rather than their conformation to specific breed standards that are judged in the show ring. In the case of Cocker Spaniels, a breed with hunting origins, this would mean dogs that are bred for their aptitude in fieldwork, retrieving, and other hunting-related tasks.


  • Denotes dogs bred for their function and abilities.
  • It contrasts with dogs from show lines, which are bred for appearance.
  • For Cocker Spaniels, this often relates to their proficiency in hunting roles.
  • These dogs excel in fieldwork, retrieving, and other tasks.
working line cocker spaniel

Understanding Working Line

This type of Cocker Spaniel is selectively bred to optimize its skills in the field. While a show line Cocker Spaniel might be bred for a luxurious coat, specific color, or a certain head shape, a working line Cocker Spaniel is bred for traits like stamina, intelligence, keen senses, and trainability. Their coat, while still beautiful, is often shorter and more manageable, tailored for outdoor tasks rather than the show ring. Working Line Cocker Spaniels may also have a more pronounced prey drive, making them excellent at flushing and retrieving game.

How do Working Line Cocker Spaniels Differ from Show Line?

Working Line Cocker Spaniels are crafted for performance. This means their physical and behavioral attributes might differ considerably from those of show lines. For example, a working line Cocker Spaniel might be more energetic, requiring more exercise and mental stimulation. Their coat may be more practical and easier to maintain. Additionally, due to their high drive and intelligence, they might require more intensive training, but they can excel in various canine sports and activities.

Examples of Working Line Traits in Cocker Spaniels

  • Coat: More practical and often shorter, designed for fieldwork without the need for extensive grooming.
  • Stamina: Bred for extended periods of work, these dogs have high energy levels.
  • Trainability: A heightened ability to be trained for various tasks, from retrieving to scent work.
  • Temperament: Often more driven, focused, and with a higher prey drive, tailored for hunting tasks.

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