The American Cocker Spaniel evolved in the United States from spaniels imported from Great Britain. By the 1930s the American variety had become so different from the English variety that it was given separate breed status.
American Cocker Spaniel Appearance
American Cockers weigh 24 to 28 pounds (11 to 12.75 kg) and stand 15 inches (38 cm) maximum height. They come in three major color varieties: black, ASCOB (Any Solid Color Other than Black) and particolor. The other solid colors are chocolate, red, buff, and sable. Particolor dogs are all of the above colors and white. Black and tan, chocolate and tan, and tricolor (white, black and tan) are also common. Roan (black and white or red and white hairs interminged) occurs rarely. The domed head, large dark expressive eyes, short deep muzzle, and abrupt stop are characteristic breed points. The coat is flowing, long, silky and abundant. The long, luxuriantly feathered ears are a striking breed feature. Some cockers bred for hunting tend to have shorter coats and a longer muzzles than pet or show cockers.
American Cocker Spaniel Temperament
The American Cocker Spaniel temperament is typically happy, trusting, and intelligent. The ideal cocker temperament is merry, outgoing and very willing to please. They tend to be “softer” dogs who do not do well with rough or harsh training.
However, their popularity also led to considerable bad breeding in an attempt to keep up with the demand, and some lines contained dogs who tended to be fearful or aggressive. Submissive urination and resource guarding also occurred in some lines. Thankfully, this has been bred out of the dogs. As with all puppies, owners are advised to choose their breeder carefully.
American Cocker Spaniel Health
Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to a variety of maladies, particularly infections affecting their ears and, in some cases, their eyes. As a result, they may require more medical attention than some other breeds. Common eye problems in Cockers include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), glaucoma, and cataracts. The American Spaniel Club recommends annual eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist for all dogs used for breeding. Autoimmune problems in Cockers include autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and ear inflammations. Less common are luxating patellas and hip dysplasia. Dogs used for breeding can be checked for both of these conditions, and dogs free of hip dysplasia can be certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
American Cocker Spaniel History
The name cocker comes from the fact that the breed originally hunted woodcock. In the United States the breed is registered under the name “Cocker Spaniel”, as is the English Cocker Spaniel in the UK, which can cause confusion between these two breeds. By the 1930s the American variety had become so different from its English ancestors that it was given separate breed status. Originally a gun dog, the Cocker now fulfills the position of family pet or show dog most often and unlike the English Cocker, is rarely seen hunting. Some American lines are still bred for fieldwork, and a small movement works to preserve the hunting abilities of the breed. He can be a faithful and responsible children’s companion. Cockers have been a highly popular American breed since the 1940s, occupying the top position in number of American Kennel Club registrations from 1940-1952. The breed declined a bit in popularity and then resurged to #1 in registrations from 1984-1990. In the last fifteen years the breed’s popularity has declined. The cocker spaniel was 15th in AKC registrations for 2004, down from 14th in 2003.
More Information on Cocker Spaniels