Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Bocker, also known as the Beaker or Coagle, is a hybrid dog, which is a mix between a Beagle and a Cocker Spaniel. Their medium-size and sweet nature makes them a good choice for active families, with the Bocker being fun-loving, loyal, and protective. Bockers are intelligent but easily distracted, which means their owner must devote time to training or risk their pet running off.

Given the newness of the Bocker hybrid, little is known about breed-related health issues. However, they come from relatively healthy stock with the main potential problem areas being progressive retinal atrophy, anal sac carcinoma, or disc disease.

About & History

The Bocker is a new-pup on the block and so their story is that of the parent breeds.

The Beagle

The Beagle breed goes back to 16th century England, with their ancestors going way back to Beagle-like dogs described in ancient Roman and Greek documents. Indeed, their distant ancestor, the Talbot Hound, likely came to English shores with the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066.

Those early Beagles were smaller than the modern dog with the ‘Glove’ or ‘Pocket’ Beagle popular with the Plantagenet’s and Tudors. As a hunting dog, the Foxhound was more popular, but in the 1800s, selective breeding of larger Beagles took place, to establish the breed we are more familiar with as the modern Beagle.

The Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel has their origins in Spain, indeed the word ‘spaniel’ means ‘Spanish dog.’ In the 1800s, spaniels were either classed as toy (companion) or hunting dogs. The hunting dogs were further subdivided into those working best on land or in water. The term Cocker Spaniel was used to describe their hunting ability (excellent at flushing out Woodcock) rather than a distinct breed.

In the 19th century, selective breeding of those dogs that excelled at flushing out Woodcock, gave rise to the origins of the Cocker Spaniel breed we recognise today.


The Bocker is a sweet-looking fellow with chin-length drop ears, a wide forehead, medium-length snout, and a kind, intelligent expression. They are a medium-sized dog with strong limbs and an active air about them. The Bocker has a straight tail that is likely either wagging or held to attention.

Given the nature of hybrid dogs to take after either one of the parents or be a true blend of both, no two Bocker pups will look the same. Those Bockers with truly mingled genes have a short to medium-length coat. The coat colour varies from the tan or red of the Cocker through to parti-coloured coats featuring white with tan or black or both.

Character & Temperament

When socialised from an early age, both Beagles and Cocker Spaniels are happy, friendly dogs that love people. However, there are rare cases of certain Cockers with episodes of unprovoked aggression (so-called ‘Cocker rage’), which is thought to have a hereditary component. Therefore, on paper, Bockers should be joyful, engaging dogs, but there may be the odd exception to this with a dog prone to aggression.

But let’s go with the vast majority and say these amiable, energetic dogs that thrive in human company. They will enjoy a busy household, indeed, the opposite is true that they may get bored and anxious if left alone for long periods of time or don’t get plenty of exercise.

Both parents’ breeds love to follow a scent and have a strong prey drive. This means they do require dedicated training or they risk becoming unruly and wilfully disobedient. Another downside is a love of their own voice, with a bored Bocker happy to bark or howl to keep themselves company.


Two factors shape the Bocker’s trainability, being firstly, their working heritage (energy and intelligence) and, secondly, a leaning toward independent thought. The latter shows itself as distracted and following a scent trial despite their owner’s recall.

The practical upshot being that Bocker’s respond well to training but requires regular and consistent work. Not to do so risks a Bocker tracking after an interesting smell and going AWOL. Happily, Bockers are often food motivated, which means reward-based training methods using treats, should hold the dog’s attention.

As with any dog, especially if they are to be a family pet, good early socialisation is a must. This means the breeder exposing the pup to a wide range of sights, sounds, and smells but in a positive, confidence-building way to help them grow into well-adjusted adults.


Whilst there is a lot of data about the health problems linked to the parent breeds, given their rarity this information is not available for the Bocker. However, it is reasonable to assume they may be predisposed to share some of those health issues facing the parent breeds.

Disc Disease

Slipped discs are not uncommon in both parent breeds. This painful condition is the result of the soft cushion (disc) between the back bones (vertebrae) moving out of position to press on the spinal cord.

In the first instance, this is extremely painful and the dog may cry, whine, or even scream. They move stiffly and will be reluctant to jump up or use stairs. In the worst case scenario, the spinal compression can be so severe as to cause paralysis. If you suspect back pain, keep the dog still and rested, and contact the vet.


The hearty appetite of both the Beagle and Cocker can lead to weight gain, especially if they don’t get enough exercise. The wise Bocker owner learns to ‘body score’ their dog, and carefully matches food in to energy out. Not to do so risks obesity, which predisposes the dog to diabetes, heart disease, and early arthritis.

Anal Sac Carcinoma

The Cocker Spaniel is pre-disposed to a cancer of the anal sacs. When detected early, these tumours can be surgically removed. However, in the early stages, there are often no symptoms that cancer is present, so detection is difficult.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) affects the eyes and leads to early onset blindness. Sadly, there is a strong breed disposition to PRA in the Cocker Spaniel. This inherited condition causes errors in the genetic coding for a healthy retina. This results in the light sensitive layer (retina) of the eye wasting away over time.

Early signs of PRA include night blindness, meaning the dog is uncertain of their surroundings in low level light. This progresses over the months and years to a full loss of vision. Unfortunately there is no cure for PRA, and it is essential that affected dogs are not used for breeding.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Bocker does need a good amount of regular exercise. In practical terms, this means two outings per day, one of which is at least an hour with off-lead games of fetch and a chance to run around. Ideally, a Bocker should be pleasantly tired at the end of their walk.

A bored Bocker will make their own entertainment by chewing, barking, digging, or generally getting up to mischief. Alongside plenty of exercise, providing mental stimulation is also important. Happily, obedience training is a good mental work out, as is play and using puzzle feeders at mealtimes.


How often a Bocker requires grooming depends on whether they favour the Beagle short coat or the Cocker’s longer silky hair. Whereas a short coat requires minimal effort with a slicker a couple of times a week, a long silky coat requires a daily comb through. Also, should the Bocker take after the Cocker parent, then trips to the parlour for clipping may be required every six to eight weeks.

Other routine grooming essentials include daily tooth brushing and regular ear checks. Those gorgeous drop ears trap air, making the ear canal a warm moist place which favours ear infections. Lifting the ear flap to make a point of looking for a discharge or bad smell, helps an owner pick up an infection in the ear stages.

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