Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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A darling little dog, the Docker has retained the ‘sausage dog shape’ but will be larger and stockier than their Dachshund parent. They have the long and luxurious ears of the Cocker Spaniel who contributes to the other 50% of their genetics. While not yet a well-known hybrid, the Docker is likely to increase in popularity over time thanks to its unique and quirky look.

Dockers are fun loving and have a heart of gold, always eager for a cuddle with their family. Their gentle temperament makes for a loving pet but they can be prone to stress and many struggle with separation anxiety. Playful and energetic, they take to new tasks with great enthusiasm and are keen to partake in a variety of different activities.

About & History

Dockers have not been around for very long and are still making their name in the world of designer dogs. Most assume they originated in America (as is true of many of the newer cross-breeds) but this is difficult to know for sure.

The Dachshund

Dachshunds may look like Toy Dogs but they were bred to work and would once hunt a variety of animals, including badgers and foxes. They originated in Germany and offer a good deal of variety to potential owners as they exist in various types including standard size, miniature size, long haired, smooth haired and wire haired.

Thus, there are six potential Dachshund types in existence. They have a confident though often stubborn character and are known for their ability to make good urban pets; adapting to life in small homes well.

The Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are also a hunting dog and were originally kept to hunt woodcock in England. While Spaniels are thought to have been developed in the 14th or 15th century, the Cocker Spaniel was only officially recognised in 1893 and, before that, all similar spaniels were known as ‘Land Spaniels’.

The most common coat colour used to be black but they are now available in a wide range of colours, including red, cream, white and roan. More recently, Cockers have been divided into the English Cocker Spaniel and American Cocker Spaniel, with the American being widely used for show purposes.


A small, rectangular dog, the Docker has a body that is much longer than it is tall. This shape makes them easily recognisable as a descendent of the Dachshund. Their face typically resembles that of the Spaniel, with their domed skull and well-defined muzzle. They have thick, pendulous ears and round, dark brown eyes that give them a pensive expression. Their legs are short and stumpy while their bodies are dense and low to the ground. They have thick tails which are well furred.

Dockers measure from 23cm to 33cm so are really quite short in comparison to their Cocker Spaniel parent. They weigh between 9kg and 11.5kg and have rather dense bones and muscling for their size.

The coat of the Docker is usually brown, black or cream and white markings are not uncommon. Their fur is moderately dense and medium in length with a nice wave to it in places where it is longer, such as on the ears and tail.

Character & Temperament

Docker dogs are naturally sweet and good-natured, longing to be loved by those they are closest to. They will bond strongly with all family members, though generally will have a ‘favourite’ that they dedicate themselves completely to. Their dependence on people can be a negative as they can sometimes develop separation anxiety and may be clingier than other breeds.

Not necessarily an ‘easy’ pet, Dockers have maintained a high prey drive and do not always have the best recall when off the lead. They love to follow new scents and are easily distracted. On top of this, they cannot always be trusted around younger children as they can be nervous and may snap if uncertain.

Energetic and smart, it is not always easy to keep a Docker entertained and, if under stimulated, they can quickly develop problem behaviours, such as furniture chewing, incessant yapping or garden digging. Owners need to keep them on their toes and come up with new and fun ways to keep their attention focused each day.


Quick to learn and with a good memory, the Docker makes an enjoyable training partner and will pick up on new training cues with ease. As they are sensitive, owners should offer plenty of praise and encouragement every step of the way.


There are certain health issues that we may find more commonly in the Docker breed than others and it is sensible to keep tabs on these while the population is still so young.

Lip Fold Dermatitis

One of the ‘smelliest’ conditions that our dogs can experience, this chronic infection around the lips emits a foul odour thanks to the bacterial proliferation. Some dogs can be managed with courses of oral antibiotics and medicated washes but others will require surgery to address the excess skin folds around the mouth.

It is always wise to culture the bacteria growing to determine which antibiotics would be most appropriate, especially if the course will be carrying on for some time.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

The shape of the Docker means it is highly prone to IVDD and owners must take responsibility and take steps to prevent it from occurring. This means keeping their dogs slim, avoiding unnecessary jumps (ramps within the home can be useful) and using body harnesses when out and about.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

MVD occurs when one of the valves in the heart is faulty and blood flows irregularly, leading to a heart murmur which can be heard with a stethoscope. As there can be several causes for murmurs, it is important to run tests, such as a thoracic x-ray and ultrasound scan of the heart. These tests also allow us to determine how progressed the disease is and if there are any other concurrent abnormalities.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While small and somewhat oddly shaped, the Docker is a sprightly dog that can really move! Most will be well able for a solid hour of exercise a day and particularly enjoy those activities that including sniffing and tracking.

A versatile dog that was designed for the outdoor life, they enjoy running, hiking, swimming and agility. To them, variety is the spice of life and they are happiest when trying out new ways to keep fit.


The longer fur of the ears and tail will need particular attention as it will become easily matted so should be brushed every day or two. As well as brushing the fur on the outside of the ear, we need to pay close attention to the inside of the ear (the canal). Cleaning out the canal can help to minimise the risk of infection and those prone to waxy canals may need their ears cleaned every couple of weeks.

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