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January 21, 2013

Meet the Breed: The American Cocker Spaniel

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Overview:

  • Height: 13.5-15.5 inches at the withers
  • Weight: 24-30 pounds
  • Historical function: Hunting, retrieving
  • Modern function: Hunting, retrieving, companion
  • AKC classification: Sporting group

Physical Characteristics: 

The American Cocker Spaniel is an easily recognizable breed with their sturdy, medium build, long ears, soulful round eyes, and wavy feathering on their ears, chest and legs. They come in several coat color varieties including buff, black, merle, black and tan, black and white, red, and others. They are closely related to the English Cocker Spaniel but have a smaller build, a domed head, shorter muzzle, more pronounced brows, and the buff color is not present in the English Cocker breed. 

History of the Breed:

The Cocker Spaniels originated in England in the 14th Century where they were bred for flushing out birds, particularly the woodcock, hence the name "Cocker Spaniel." When they were imported to the U.S., they were bred down to a smaller size with a shorter muzzle, and became popular for their hunting and companionship. A club was formed to help set the standard for this new breed back in 1881, making it the oldest breed club in America which is currently called the American Spaniel Club. 

Temperament: 

The Cocker Spaniel is known as the "Merry Cocker" due to it's happy personality. They are equally suited to family life and to hunting and working. They are very people oriented, and work hard to please their master. Their tails rarely cease wagging. Do socialize this breed early to prevent shyness.

  • Best suited for: Cockers will do okay in an apartment if they are adequately exercised. They are fairly active indoors. A small yard is sufficient.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog is very people oriented so would not do well alone outside or in a kennel.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Wipe under the eyes often as they tend to tear. Some owners prefer to leave the coat long, brushing daily and shampooing frequently with quarterly scissoring and clipping. Others prefer to clip the coat to medium length to be more functional. Either way, the dog will need regular trimming. When brushing, be careful not to pull out the silky hair. This breed is an average shedder.
  • Exercise needs: This is an active dog that requires a daily walk.
  • Health Concerns: Unfortunately, the American Cocker Spaniel faces several health concerns due to indiscriminant breeding due to the breed's popularity. Be sure to use a reputable breeder when choosing this dog. Known health issues include cataracts, glaucoma and patellar luxation as well as others. 

Breed Club Links: American Spaniel Club.  


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