The Mini Cocker Spaniel or Teacup Cocker; either way, you may not have heard about this tiny dog, but I’m sure that will change over the next few years, especially if the craving for miniature dogs continues. Of course, these tiny dogs are gorgeous, and who wouldn’t fall in love with them? But if you’re considering bringing one home, there are some vital facts you ought to think about concerning their health and ongoing care.
Miniaturizing dog breeds brings some health concerns for the dog and worries dog owners, both emotionally and financially. This article will provide you with plenty of information about the Miniature Cocker Spaniel; from there, you’ll be able to decide if buying a Miniature Cocker is the best thing for you and your family.
People are attracted to tiny dogs; even people typically not interested in dogs have a soft spot for a dog that looks like an eternal puppy. I suppose you could look at miniature dog breeds from different angles; tiny dogs are more practical, they don’t eat much, so they’re cheaper, time spent exercising is a lot less, the dogs definitely don’t take much room in your home, and they fit in a small carry bag, so you can virtually take them anywhere.
But the other side of the story is not so positive. Yes, these dogs are beautiful and tremendously cute, but they can suffer from severe health conditions, which are terrible from two points of view. The first is the ongoing misery for the dog. Humans only need to feel off-color for a few days and look how miserable we feel. Imagine a tiny dog having to suffer from a severe debilitating heart condition for its entire life.
The second point refers back to one of the pros of owning a tiny dog. I said they cost much less; however, think about the medical costs if your miniature Cocker Spaniel suffers from severe heart disease. I’m not trying to make a case for or against miniature dog breeds, whether it’s a Cocker Spaniel or any other breed. I want only to point out what I see as the facts. Talking about facts, let’s get down to talking about how breeders create miniature dog breeds.
How are dog breeders able to miniaturize dog breeds? Well, there are three basic methods.
And we’re going to talk about all three:
- Mixing normal-sized Cockers with smaller dog breeds
- Introducing a dwarfism gene into the breeding line
- Breeding only Smaller Cockers or Cocker Spaniel Runts
Let’s see what each method entails.
Breeding Cocker Spaniel Runts
When some litters are born, there can be a smaller than average puppy in the litter. These puppies are known as the runt of the litter. These little puppies don’t get the best start to life because feeding times are a free for all; the biggest and strongest get the most mother’s milk. There’s no sibling love lost between puppies in a litter. In some cases, mother dogs can even reject the runt. On top of this terrible start to life, the poor puppy may have some severe health conditions. I’m in no way suggesting that every runt goes through this type of ordeal. Some breeders care for the runts and bring them on nicely and the puppy, while still smaller, turns out to be just as healthy.
I think you can see how terrible it is to breed with these disadvantaged dogs. Breeding runts like this will not produce strong, vital dogs; they are far more likely to breed puppies with genetic health conditions. Breeding with these weaker dogs eventually will produce Miniature Cocker Spaniels. This method is the one that will produce tiny versions of a Cocker Spaniel; the dogs look exactly like a normal Cocker Spaniel, just miniaturized.
Pituitary dwarfism is an endocrine disease where there is a lower amount than is typical of growth hormone. Dwarfism is also a congenital disease and can be passed on to offspring.
Skeletal dwarfism is a result of the mutation of the growth factor receptor gene. If a puppy inherits this specific gene mutation, it prevents the dog’s bones from reaching their expected size.
Cocker Spaniels with this mutation can experience:
- Abnormally short legs
- Slow body growth
- Cardiovascular issues
- Bowed front legs
- Larger than average heads
- And more
Dwarfism in dogs can occur naturally if the parents carry the gene and pass it on to their offspring. But some breeders introduce the dwarfism gene intentionally by mating a Cocker Spaniel with the gene with another Cocker that does not. The result will be some puppies born smaller than the average. This method of breeding is utterly incomprehensible and unethical.
This breeding method is typically the most common way of breeding Miniature Cocker Spaniels. However, breeding a Cocker Spaniel with another breed is fraught with problems. Breeders have little idea who the puppies will take after, the Cocker parent or the other breed’s parent.
For it to be successful, the puppies must inherit the majority of the Cocker Spaniel’s characteristics. Miniature Cocker Spaniel breeders prefer to use the Dachshund, Toy Poodle, or the English Toy Spaniel as the other parent of the teacup puppies.
Cocker Spaniel Dachshund Mix
The Cocker Dachshund mix is commonly known as the Docker Dog, usually grows up to 12 inches and weighs up to 18Lbs. The resulting crossbreed will not look like a true Cocker Spaniel, and while they make pleasant family dogs, they often inherit the Dachshund stubbornness.
Toy Cockapoos are extremely friendly family dogs with excellent temperaments, happy and lively. The dog can be low-shedding, depending on which characteristics they inherit.
These two dogs are similar and are both Spaniels, so they have a lot in common. Mixing Cockers and Toy Spaniels will produce hybrid dogs that will weigh under 14 pounds and only grow to a maximum height of 9 inches.
Mixing two of these healthy dogs should produce the best quality puppies, both in health and appearance. They will, of course, be smaller than a Cocker Spaniel but should retain a similar look. However, it’s essential to point out the puppies will not be 100% Cocker Spaniels.
The Teacup Cocker is not a dog that wants to be left alone. The Cocker Spaniel doesn’t like being alone, and there’s no question this trait will pass down to the offspring. Whoever chooses a Miniature Cocker will need to be home most of the time to keep the dog company. Being so small, their exercise needs will not be excessive, but they will need some exercise every day.
Miniature Cocker Spaniels tend to put on weight if they’re overfed and don’t get the amount of activity they need. Tiny dogs like these can be prone to get hypoglycemia, the same as many other Teacup breeds. Because of this, you’ll need to be especially careful what you feed them. Stay away from sugary snacks and limit their carbohydrate intake.
Carbohydrates break down into glucose, and that will spike the dog’s blood sugar. It’s a severe condition and can result in nerve damage. Grooming will be about the same as the average Cocker Spaniel. So miniatures will tend towards high maintenance.
Mini Cocker Spaniels are similar in temperament to their bigger versions. They’re intelligent, friendly, and adorable little dogs. Some of the less endearing traits of a Cocker Spaniel will likely pass down to the mini version. I’m mainly thinking about their prey drive.
Cockers initially were hunting dogs, trained to flush prey, and later retrained as gun dogs. So with that kind of ancestry, you can see why a Mini Cocker Spaniel will chase after the neighbor’s cat or the odd squirrel that ventures into your garden. I’ve already mentioned their separation anxiety issues; the dog loves attention from their family and will be downright miserable left alone.
When you get your puppy, enroll them in obedience and socialization classes. You’ll see how well-adjusted they’ll be if you do that from a young age. The Mini Cocker will be a lively handful, especially when they are puppies, so tire them out to calm them down, but don’t overdo it, though. You might also find they enjoy barking, perhaps a little too much.
I would say yes, they make excellent family pets. But they will do better with older children; tiny dogs are very fragile. Young children tend not to have much idea how to treat animals of this size. Accidents can happen; young children can fall or sit on tiny dogs and break their fragile bones very easily.
If you choose a Mini Cocker Spaniel, then ensure you pick a reputable breeder. Remember what I said about the different ways breeders create these tiny dogs. Don’t go down the road with unethical and cruel breeding practices.