If you want a “proper dog”, you may want to consider the Sprocker Spaniel.
For the uninitiated, the Sprocker Spaniel is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Springer Spaniel.
The result is an extremely loyal and social dog that can make loyal companion pets.
Like every dog breed, the Sprocker Spaniel come with their pros and cons.
Bentley and Morgan are the two stars of the @meet__the__sprockers account on Instagram.
The pair have amassed a following of over 9,000 followers on Instagram, shining a light on this cross breed.
If you’re thinking about getting a Sprocker Spaniel, you’ll find this interview particularly insightful.
Bentley and Morgan’s owner Becky spoke about her firsthand experience in detail to give our readers a clear idea about the Sprocker mix.
You can follow Meet The Sprockers (@meet__the__sprockers) on Instagram.
1) How did you end up with Bentley and Morgan?
I often ask myself this question!!!
After many years of wanting a dog, but understanding that the circumstances weren’t ideal, the time became right to give a forever home to a four-legged companion. I did a lot of research about which breed would be suitable for life within our family as I had a lot of considerations. My son was only seven at the time meaning we often had young children in the house, so first and foremost, any dog had to be good with children. I also wanted a dog that would enjoy ‘a good walk’ and as a keen runner, one that would delight in joining me on cross-country runs. I didn’t want anything too big, but also didn’t want anything too small. I wanted said canine to be a good guard dog, but not aggressive. And so the list went on …
I was talking to a friend who is an experienced dog handler about a couple of breeds that took my interest and I will never forget her advice. ‘Oh, for goodness’ sake, Bex. Get a proper dog!!’ So, I started looking at ‘proper dogs’. I took particular interest in the English Springer Spaniel and Working Cocker Spaniel as both seemed to fit the bill and focussed my research on these breeds. When I saw a litter of Sprocker puppies advertised locally, it seemed like the perfect answer to my ‘which breed’ dilemma and the 14 September has been celebrated as Bentley’s Gotcha Day ever since.
When Bentley got to eight years old, ‘someone’ in the family had a midlife crisis and instead of opting for the fast car (or the blond bit on the side in the office) bought home an eight-week old Sprocker puppy … the rest is very much history.
2) What attracted you to the Sprocker Spaniel breed?
First and foremost because they are a lot of fun! The Sprocker Spaniel is an absolutely charming breed with an amazing zest for life combining some of the best traits of both the Springer and the Working Cocker. I loved the fact that Sprockers are such busy dogs with abundant energy, as this suited my lifestyle, but at the same time are gentle and loyal souls.
They also make super family pets as they are robust dogs who love people and other dogs and if properly trained are generally well behaved. The word generally here is going to be my ‘get out of jail’ card!!
3) What are the personalities of Bentley and Morgan like?
In two words, completely different!
Bentley is a true gentleman. He is a very demure dog with lovely manners. As an older dog, he is still really playful and continues to love walking – several miles each day. He isn’t a cuddly dog, but loves to be fussed and stroked and likes to be near you. Sensitive and hates to think he might be in the dog house, Bentley is very biddable and likes to please. He is quick to learn and very much a creature of habit. Oh, and we should mention, he is the most handsome dog in the whole wide world with a wig to die for!!!
Imagine a toddler with a packet of blue sweets, a couple of cans of Red Bull and after a quick sniff of speed. That’s Morgan. Morgan is CRAZY. On a scale of 1-10 for sheer joie de vivre, he registers at least 64. He is full of life and always happy – even when he really shouldn’t be!! Whilst he appears outwardly bullish, he is actually quite a nervous dog underneath the seemingly confident façade. He is ball obsessed and I mean that most sincerely. Problematically so. He is also the clumsiest dog ever. Hugely determined with a strong desire to work 24/7, nothing will stop Morgan from getting what he wants. Whether it’s scaling a wall, swimming a river, going through barbed wire or climbing on the kitchen table to steal an apple (which looks like a ball) from the fruit bowl. He is also the most affectionate dog I have ever known and will never be found away from my feet in the house. He often forgets his size when he is climbing onto your lap for a cuddle and loves nothing more than to be squeezed tightly. He only has two speeds. 100mph or off. When he does eventually switch off, he is out like a light but when he’s on, he does everything at the speed of light.
4) Do Sprocker Spaniels need regular grooming?
When you have two mud monkeys like Bentley & Morgan, then yes, they will need very regular grooming!!
Sprocker Spaniels often have beautiful coats but to keep them in tip top condition will require some (daily) effort. Predominantly, Sprockers will need to be regularly groomed to keep knots and tangles at bay.
I make life extra difficult for myself as I don’t have either of my dogs clipped. And the reason I don’t have them clipped? Because they look so dog-damn cute with their feathers and their wigs! Any groomer will tell you that they are the worst example of a standard breed cut but I feel their haircuts are what gives them their amazing good looks.
When grooming, you have to pay particular attention to areas prone to matting – ie, the ears, under the ears, under the arms and the feathers. These areas are harder to brush because they are generally places where the fur is longer, but clip the coat and these dirt devils are much easier to keep in tip top condition.
Having a good vacuum cleaner is a must as Sprockers moult. I don’t really get hairs on my clothes but there is always a lot of loose hair on the floor. (Mental note, don’t have white floor tiles with Sprockers again!) They also bring in a lot of ‘debris’ wherever they’ve been – leaves, twigs and the occasional flower for mummy. Again, this would be a whole lot better if we got rid of the Velcro fur and they were clipped short.
Other grooming considerations are keeping a watchful eye on the ears (which can be prone to infection) and brushing teefies.
5) Do Sprocker Spaniels have any health problems?
In the main, Sprockers don’t have too many hereditary health conditions. Health issues are typically joint problems, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, DCM and eye problems. Whilst this sounds alarming, they are generally considered as very fit and healthy dogs.
As an old gundog trainer once said to me in his broad accent ‘you can’t break these dogs’. I’m not entirely sure I like this sentiment, but I absolutely know what he meant.
The high energy levels and resultant exercise requirements of the Sprocker can contribute to health concerns and my advice is always take out health insurance with this breed of dog. They are constantly busy, always wanting to have fun and liable to get into scrapes. Grass seeds, tail injuries and cuts are just some of the reasons you’re likely to be at the vets.
6) Do Bentley and Morgan get along with other dogs and pets?
Yes, they do. Both are friendly with other dogs when we are out and about and both are happy to have furriends round to the house and garden. When Sprockers meet other dogs, generally it’s not whether they’ll get along that’s the problem. It’s whether you’ll be able to stop them playing that is.
We have a cat and they both get on fine with him. That said, the cat was here first and as is often the case with cats, he is the boss. It helps that he is also the local neighbourhood gangster so has no problem keeping two spaniels in their place.
As working dogs, both Bentley & Morgan have a high prey drive. In other words, little fluffies that are capable of moving quickly are really exciting. Bentley as a puppy liked to chase Enzo. This was something as a pawrent I wasn’t keen on, so we did lots of work to try and put a stop to it. The work did help, but honestly speaking, it was really something he grew out of as he approached adulthood. Bentley and Enzo now have a completely harmonious relationship and are both extremely settled in each other’s company.
Morgan is a different kettle of fish. Even at four years old, he is fascinated by Enzo and finds him the most exhilarating thing besides tennis balls and squirrels. He is never deliberately unkind to the cat but still loves to chase him and finds it difficult to leave the cat alone. Even now I find myself stepping in to tell Morgan that enough is enough because it’s not fair on the cat and Morgan of course also risks a nasty swipe with the claws. Training has helped and distraction works well. For the first couple of years, I wouldn’t leave the Enzo and Morgan alone together in the house unless they were in separate rooms. Despite Enzo being feisty and in charge, I wouldn’t have left an excitable adolescent spaniel with him just in case ‘play’ became too stimulating. It was just a risk that wasn’t worth even considering, Now I do leave them alone.
I think the dog cat dynamic in this instance is much more to do with Morgan’s unique character than the breed character in general and I’d say that Sprockers and cats can happily live together in most cases with the right boundaries and human intervention.
7) Are Sprockers good family pets?
Yes, I can’t say anything other than my two boys make fantastic family pets. They are both great with kids and absolutely love to play. Interestingly, I never had issues with play biting with either dog. How much of this is down to the individual dog or the way they were trained rather than breed is hard to say but I feel fortunate it’s not a problem I ever encountered when they were pups.
Bentley is the gentlest soul you could ever wish to meet. He loves to play and will happily play ‘fetch’ or ‘find it’ with willing volunteers of all ages. Morgan also loves to play. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, Morgan is a compulsive player and as I’ve mentioned previously, is ball obsessed. He is very happy to be stroked and cuddled by children of all ages but I am always on my guard with him around very small children only because even as an adult dog, he is still so kamikaze. I worry that his clumsy nature and exuberant personality mean he might knock a tot flying. It would be completely by accident but as a responsible dog owner, I know that it’s a possibility and so step as a precautionary measure.
Sprockers need a lot of stimulation – not just in terms of the excessive physical exercise they require, but also mental stimulus. They are extremely active and love playing games which makes them a lot of fun for the entire family. If you’re not able to commit to the amount of playing, training and exercising you’ll need to do then a Sprocker Spaniel may not be the wisest choice of breed for your family.
They will want to walk whatever the weather. No such thing as bad weather with a Sprocker – just the wrong type of clothing.
8) Were Bentley and Morgan easy to train?
One thing is absolutely certain. If you have a Sprocker, you will need to train a Sprocker. You will also need to train yourself. And you will never stop training.
Sprocker Spaniels are really bright, so yes, Bentley and Morgan were relatively easy to train in many respects. They are very biddable dogs who are keen to please and I found training in an indoor environment away from distraction easy, which makes them a pleasure to work with. Trick training particularly is a doddle and Morgan is capable of picking up a new trick in less than a morning. They also have the intelligence to master some pretty awesome tasks over a longer duration. To work their brains, Bentley & Morgan both love a puzzle and enjoy playing ‘find it’ type games.
As with any dog, you will need to reinforce and repeat training as my dogs both go off the boil if they think they can get away with it. Yes, Sprockers are as cheeky as a wagon load of monkeys. It’s one of their very lovable traits.
The fact that they are so intelligent however is also a bit of a barrier to training and you will have to work hard to make sure you aren’t being trained by the dog and you may have battles with their prey drive. I have had some specialist help to help train both dogs on occasions. The key to training is to find what really floats their boat and work with this. To this end, Sprockers typically excel at gundog classes, flyball and agility. Bentley loves to work for treats, for Morgan, the tennis ball is the ulti-mutt reward.
The one thing many Sprocker owners find really challenging is lead walking. Both Bentley & Morgan have the capacity to be an absolute nightmare on the lead and it has taken a lot of work to get them to have acceptable manners when being walked. Bentley is a sniffer so the key to good walking for him is not to allow him to sniff. If he’s allowed to sniff at will, he will lunge when a nice smell grabs his attention – and he’s a strong dog that could have you over if unprepared. Morgan is just Morgan, and is so excited by wherever he’s going that he is a complete twit on the lead. He can do it and 99% of the time he will do it. For the 1% of the time when excitement levels are off the clock and he simply won’t do as he’s asked, he wears a figure of eight slip lead over his nose. Whilst I’m disappointed that I have to resort to intervention, it’s sometimes the only solution to walking both dogs together. Morgan’s issues are more down to Morgan being Morgan, but I guess what I’m saying is that the moral of the story is ‘work on lead walking’ from the outset with a Sprocker puppy.
Word of caution, if you are not able to give Sprockers the attention they need in terms of exercise and training, you could well end up with behavioural problems. Destructive behaviour and anxieties are fairly common with an under-stimulated Sprocker.
9) Are Sprocker Spaniels aggressive?
Not in our experience. Neither Bentley or Morgan have ever shown aggression towards human beings. Whilst it’s not something we’d regularly do (of course), we are able to take toys, treats and food away from both dogs without any negative reaction from either.
They are both very soppy dogs but I am one hundred percent convinced that they would protect me if somebody tried to do me harm. They are good guard dogs who don’t miss a trick when it comes to people outside or on our property. Aggressive no, but protective, yes.
10) Would you recommend Sprocker Spaniels to first-time owners?
This is a difficult one. As a dog owner, I am a firm believer in whatever breed you own, you should totally understand the breed characteristics before you decide to give a home to that particular breed and that ongoing training is important.
Bentley and Morgan are the same ‘breed’ but just as you and I are never going to be the same, these two dogs have entirely different personalities. I have a calm, well-mannered older gentleman and a crazy, exuberant thug who has no filter. I’ll leave you to decide which one has given me more grey hairs over the years.
If you’ve never owned a dog before, I’d say that a working dog like a Sprocker possibly isn’t the ideal first dog but if you are prepared to learn with your dog, go to training and have access to a good dog support network then yes, it could work. Personally speaking, I think a Sprocker is a better choice for someone who has dog experience but it’s not a perfect world.
As with any breed, you are always going to get your wildcard. It’s just that when you get a wildcard with a Sprocker, (like Morgan!) you really know all about it!!
11) What are the pros and cons of Sprocker Spaniels?
• Energetic, charming and mischievous dogs that will keep you entertained every minute of every day. They will make you laugh a lot.
• Very, very sociable dogs that love people and other dogs.
• Highly intelligent.
• Easy to train.
• No major health concerns.
• Behaviour is fairly predictable when you know your dog.
• Energetic dogs that require an exceptional amount of physical exercise – at least an hour a day.
• Outdoor space is a must with this breed.
• Sprockers are also very lively and need a lot of mental stimulation. Physically they are hard to wear out so they need extra stimulus to keep them occupied.
• They are not the sort of dog that could be kept in a small environment and are not adaptable to a slower pace or a reduction of activity.
• Can be challenging to train.
• Need daily grooming.
• Shed hair.
• Lead walking can be challenging.
• Can develop behavioural issues, (such as destructive behaviours) if under-stimulated.