About The American Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed

There are many breeds of Spaniels in the world, some of which are included in the Sporting Dog group of the American Kennel Club (AKC). The Spaniel dog breed is the oldest dog breed in the world and has an ancient Spanish origin. And the first Spaniel documented to arrive in North America was aboard the Mayflower in 1620.

A more specific Spaniel breed is he Cocker Spaniel. There are two Cocker Spaniel dog breeds in the AKC. One is the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed and the other is the English Cocker Spaniel dog breed. At one point, both these Cocker Spaniel dog breeds were considered the same breed. But the AKC separated them as two breeds in 1935. There are many similarities in the breeds, but the biggest difference is in their size. Cocker Spaniels were originally bred to hunt the woodcock – hense the name “Cocker” Spaniel. However, Americans preferred to use them to hunt quail. So a smaller version of the English Cocker Spaniel dog breed was bred and the American version took hold.

Cocker Spaniel dog breeds are one of the most popular dogs in the United States. Not only are they great game dogs with their ability to both flush birds and retrieve them, but they are also great family house dogs. They are great dogs to have with every member of the family, including children and even with other pets. However, you will want to make sure that you either adopt an adult Cocker Spaniel whose temperament has already been gauged, or purchase a puppy from a reputable and responsible breeder. The popularity of the Cocker Spaniel dog breed has resulted in a number of irresponsible breeders to breed several undesirable temperament traits such as separation anxiety, excessive barking habits, aggression, and other such unstable temperaments. A reputable breeder breeds only the Cocker Spaniel dog breed and only breeds them for the love of the breed, not just to make money. A reputable breeder may also be a member of the American Spaniel Club. http://www.asc-cockerspaniel.org/.

Cocker Spaniels are both very affectionate and playful dogs. They are relatively easy to train, but can be very sensitive to harsh training. Some are overly submissive so careful positively reinforced training is needed to build their confidence. The Cocker Spaniel dog breed is energetic, outgoing, and playful. They need a moderate daily walk and fun games like fetch. With their intelligence, energy level, and eager-to-please nature, they would also do well with agility training.

The Cocker Spaniel dog breed is the smallest of the Spaniel dog breeds. They have somewhat short legs and a long and straight back. The Cocker Spaniel weighs between 24 and 32 pounds and stands 13.5 to 15.5 inches tall. They are easily recognized by their docked tail, rounded skull, and long lobular ears. They have a flat wavy coat which needs regular grooming. Brush two the three times a week and pay close attention to the ears. The Cocker Spaniel dog breed is prone to having ear infections and other ear problems. If keeping the coat of the Cocker Spaniel long, more regular brushing may be needed. Otherwise, have the Cocker Spaniel’s coat clipped every two to three months.

The colors of the Cocker Spaniel dog breed is many. The three main color groups recognized by the AKC include black, ASCOB (Any Solid Color Other than Black), and parti-colors. A Cocker Spaniel who is considered black in color may be a solid black or black with tan markings. ASCOB colors include brown, red, cream or buff, or silver. ASCOB colors can also have tan markings. Parti-colors of the Cocker Spaniel dog breed is any solid color with a white background. This includes black and white, black with tan markings plus white, brown and white, and red and white. It also includes roan. Roan is a solid color intermingled with white hairs.

Colors of the Cocker Spaniel dog breed not favored by the AKC include sable and merle. Merle is a mixture of two solid colors (not including white) which are in sort of a dappled or swirled pattern. A merle-colored Cocker Spaniel may have blue eyes. It is a dangerous color to breed because if two merle Cocker Spaniels are bred, puppies can be born blind and deaf and have a number of other health issues which may shorten their lives.

As stated above, Cocker Spaniel dog breeds are prone to a number of ear problems. They are also prone to eye problems such as cherry eye, entropion, and ectropion. In cherry eye, the third inner eyelid comes out of its position and swells up. The swelling is red and rounded, reminding us of a cherry. Entropion and Ectropion is where the eyelid rolls inward or outward causing pain and irritation. The Cocker Spaniel dog breed is also prone to patellar luxation. Patellar luxation is where the knee cap slips in and out of position, causing difficulty and pain in walking. And another health issue associated with the Cocker Spaniel dog breed is seborrhea. Seborrhea is a skin issue which causes excessive dandruff and/or greasy and scaly skin. According to http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/americancockerspaniels.html, “American Cocker Spaniels are one of the riskiest of all breeds in the health department.”

So while the Cocker Spaniel dog breed can be the perfect family pet or hunting dog, careful research of the breeder is needed before purchasing one. Visit lots of websites for more information and don’t rely on the information on a breeder’s website alone. Or if you adopt an adult Cocker Spaniel, be sure to ask the rescue group or shelter as many questions about the dog’s health and temperament as you can. Make sure every family member has a chance to meet and interact with the dog before taking him home.

“The Dog Breed Bible” by D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
“Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds” by Ernest H. Hart


A figurine of the Cocker Spaniel is pictured above. This Cocker Spaniel figurine can be found at the AnimalFigurineStore.com.

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