Dogs are arguably the most popular pets, with an estimated 10 million Britons known to share their home with a canine companion.
Along with labradors, cockapoos and golden retrievers, English Cocker Spaniels are among the most sought-after breeds loved by the nation.
But experts from the Royal Veterinary College in London have warned of a surprising trait linked to these notoriously playful dogs.
Research has found that the working breed is twice as likely to struggle with aggression than most others in the UK.
The claim emerged after experts analysed data gathered from more than 10,000 cocker spaniels in the UK, as part of the VetCompass project by the Royal Veterinary College.
It found that while 2.2 percent of other dogs found in the country were rated as aggressive, the figure rose to almost double, at four percent for cocker spaniels. This is similar to chihuahuas, of which 4.2 percent are considered aggressive.
Despite being known for their family-friendly reputation and “forever puppy” appearance, golden cockers specifically stood out in the study.
Out of the 1,400 English cocker spaniels studied, one in eight of the tawny-coloured kind were found to have anger issues – equating to 12.1 percent of all goldens.
Seven percent of cockers with solid colour coats were found to be more prone to aggression than those with mixed colourations, of which just 3.7 percent showed problematic behaviour.
The prevalence of aggression was 6.5 percent in red cockers, 6.3 percent in black dogs and 4.3 percent in those with liver colouration.
According to scientists, these figures back previous research that found that solid-coloured dogs are far more likely to show signs of anger than bi-coloured and tri-coloured canines.
Gender also played a part in the likelihood of the dogs aggressively growling or biting, with male dogs “far more likely” to be aggressive than females, as reported by The Telegraph.
However, the exact reason for the link between coat colour and aggression remains unclear and is still claimed to be false by some.
And unlike the feisty reputation of the smaller chihuahua, cocker spaniels are regarded as a loyal, child-friendly breed. They are even loved by the Royal Family, with Princess Kate and Prince William known as the famous owners of Orla, a dark-coated working cocker.
The young pup is the second cocker owned by the Prince and Princess of Wales, who first owned Lupo until he died in 2020.
According to veterinary experts, the goal of the study was to describe the demography of the breed, including common diseases and reasons for death.
It found that aggression was the sixth most common condition that affects English cocker spaniels, ranking behind periodontal disease (gum disease), otitis externa (inflammation of the ear canal), obesity, anal sac impaction, and diarrhoea.
The most common cause of death of the beloved breed was found to be neoplasia – a condition that causes the uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells, often in the form of a tumour.