The Cocker Spaniel is by far one of the most popular dog breeds around, and is actually the smallest of their kind in the Sporting Group. Just don’t tell them that.
Happy and smart, always looking for an adventure, especially if it involves a hunt or slouching around with their master. The Cocker Spaniel is a beloved sporting dog.
But what else makes this dog such a popular choice among dog lovers around the world?
Here is what you need to know about the Cocker Spaniel.
Some historians believe the Cocker Spaniel dates back to the 14th century from Spain’s “Spanyl” family. The breed of that time certainly isn’t representative of today’s Cocker.
Their name derives from their precise ability to hunt woodcock. In England, where they originally made their legacy, the Cocker Spaniel was used and still is classified as a gun dog. Hunters would bring the Cocker along hunting excursions to flush out birds so that they could get a better shot. After the bird was shot down, the Cocker would then go track and redeem the trophy.
The modern breed as we know it today is believed to be descended from a father/son combination. A Cocker named, Obo, is believed to be the progenitor of the English Cocker Spaniel, while his spawn, Obo II, is said to be the father of American Cock Spaniel.
In 1801, Wales Historian, Sydenham Edwards, wrote in the Cynographia Britannica, that there were two types of Land Spaniel, hawking and cocker.
During the early 1800’s, a Cocker was simply known as a small Field Spaniel. That list included breeds like the Clumber and Sussex Spaniels. The standard to be labeled a Cocker was to weigh 25 pounds or less.
In America, the dog was bred in a different fashion and are considered somewhat elusive in size, type and coloring from the English brand. The English version has a more narrower chest and head, while the American Cocker Spaniel is smaller with a shorter muzzle and back. Each type, however, have unbelievable senses, and are incredibly alert and sharp when it comes to hunting, tracking, flushing, and retrieving.
In 1878, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed and classed them into the Sporting Group. Most kennel groups elsewhere around the world, still label the Cocker Spaniel in the Gun Group.
By the 1880’s, the first Cocker registered by the American Kennel Club was Obo II. It took until 1935, however, for the distinction to be made between the American Cocker Spaniel and the U.K. version. The U.K. Kennel Club followed suit in 1970.
Since being recognized by the AKC in the late 19th century, the Cocker Spaniel has emerged as a popular Sporting dog, but an even bigger fan favorite as a companion. During the 1930-1950”s, this bred was deemed the most popular in the United States.
Today, the Cocker is still cherished and is ranked 29th most popular breed by the American Kennel Club.
The Cocker Spaniel is listed as a medium sized dog by the American Kennel Club. According to the breed standard, a male Cocker should stand around 14.5 to 15.5 inches to the withers. A female will stand around 13.5 to 14.5 inches in height.
A male should weigh around 25 to 30 pounds, while the female Cocker should weigh 20 to 25 pounds.
You don’t need to be a seasoned hunter, or live in the Bayou to own a Cocker Spaniel. This breed is very easy to train and is always eager to please their master. First time dog owners will enjoy the ease of training and bonding that comes with this breed.
Cockers love affection and aren’t afraid to lend out their fair share. Attention driven, the Cocker Spaniel aims to please and only wishes to be part of all the family expeditions.
While they are listed as a medium energy breed, they can be very active puppies and young adults. This means dig out the tennis ball, frisbee or some other form of mental stimulation. This breed thrives on hikes, swimming, longer walks or just about anything that involves movement with their human.
Great with child, just as long as they are socialized properly. Even cats get along with the Cocker Spaniel, but really all family pets will enjoy the gentle spirit of this breed. Strangers may experience a shy or reserved Cocker at times, or they may experience a boat load of kisses and slobber.
Cockers are very intelligent and love a task or chore to do. Give them a job and watch them excel at it. Proper reinforcement, such as positive reaffirming, will go a long way with this dog during training.
The average life expectancy for a Cocker Spaniel is 10 to 14 years, but don’t be surprised to find one or two squeeze out a year or two longer.
The adorable and outgoing Cocker comes with quite the laundry list of health concerns related with the breed.
Before you purchase any dog from a breeder, you should always make sure that you have the proper clearances and the right paperwork to avoid an unhealthy breed. Routine veterinarian visits are always a good idea in helping keep your pooch happy and healthy.
Cockers do have a tendency to become obese as they age. This should be avoided, and can be with a proper nutritional plan, a proactive program of exercise, etc.
On the list of health issues are:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This condition can lead to blindness if left untreated. This bilateral degeneration of the retina causes vision loss.
- Cataracts: A cloudy condition affecting the crystalline lens of the eye which can cause partial or total opacity.
- Patellar Luxation: Dislodge knee cap from the femur. This can cause pain, lameness and severe discomfort.
- Glaucoma: Common with dogs like the Poodle and Cocker, this optical nerve disease affects fluidity in the eye, which can lead to blindness. Boston Terriers, Basset Hounds, and Cockers are consistently among the highest of breeds to inherit this disease.
- Epilepsy: Cockers and Irish Wolfhounds are prone to seizures than most breeds. Epilepsy is common with younger dogs between ten months and 3 years old.
These along with Elbow Dysplasia, Gastric Torsion, Cardiomyopathy, Ectropion, Urinary Stones, Seborrhea, Cherry Eye, Liver diseases, and especially Allergies can also be found in this breed.
Some of the grooming that comes along with this dog may be difficult for newcomers and should be left to the professionals. With the Cocker Spaniel, you’ll definitely want to check the eyes and ears for infections or irritation. Watch out for any debris collecting, and always wash it out with a damp cloth and dry well.
This is an intelligent breed, that needs plenty of activity between master and dog. You will want to make time for your pooch, so that your Cocker doesn’t go stir crazy and suffer boredom. j
Early socialization will make this breed a great companion for you, strangers, small children and other pets.
Daily walks is always suggested.
Thrives better out in the country, but can totally be an apartment pet.
This loyal dog will shower you with plenty of love and affection, even if you don’t deserve it, so be sure you return the favor. You can never show or tell a Cocker you love them too much.
Because the Cocker Spaniel is susceptible to allergen issues, you will want to watch what you feed this dog. Stay away from filler canine food and avoid feeding them wheat or corn.
High quality dog food with meat as the first ingredient is always recommended. This breed is no different when it comes to healthy balance.
An ordinarily active dog should be getting around 600 calories per day or so, while a moderately active Cocker should be consuming 750 calories and over 1000 calories for the hunting and hyperactive Cocker spaniel.
A protein source like lamb, beef, chicken or fish is fine. Mixed in with essential omega vitamins and rice. 18 to 22 percent protein intake per day, and about 5 to 8 percent fat intake per day will suffice their dietary needs.
According to Dog Food Advisor, you can feel a Cocker with an average activity rate half a cup to nearly a whole cup of top rated dog food , while an active Cocker Spaniel should be consuming 1 to 1.5 cups per day.
As always, you should have clean and fresh drinking water available for your dog.
The Cocker Spaniel is known for their trademark feathering around their legs, chest, ears, and stomach.
Their medium length double coat can come in various colors and two accepted marking. The top layer is a silky smooth finish, while the undercoat is durable and mild textured, which protects them from the wet weather conditions.
A Cocker can come in three color ranges. The first is called Black/Black with Tan. The second is all solid colors except for Black. The last variation is called, parti-color.
Cocker Spaniels are known to mat, so you will want to groom regularly. While it wouldn’t hurt to brush and groom daily, the suggest amount is 2-3 times per week.
The following coat color list is the approved standard by the American Kennel Club:
- Black and Tan
- Black and White
- Black, White and Tan
- Brown and Tan
- Brown and White
- Brown, White and Tan
- Buff and White
- Red and White
Other colors like Sable, Cream and Blue Roan have been found on the Cocker Spaniel but aren’t registered or approved. The marking accepted by the AKC are Roan and Merle.
Fun Cocker Spaniel Facts
- Ruby, a Cocker Spaniel, was the first ever of the breed to win the American Kennel Club’s hunting title.
- The classic 1955 Disney movie, Lady and The Tramp, featured a Cocker named, Lady.
- Cocker Spaniels have fared well at the Westminster dog show winning a total of four times.
- The English royal class was quite fond of the Cocker Spaniel. The Queen of England was said to have owned several.
- Celebrities sure do love this breed including, George Clooney (Einstein), Oprah Winfrey (Sophie), Elton John(Arthur), and President Nixon (Checkers) each owned a Cocker.
- They are considered to be the smallest of the Sporting Group breed, according to the American Kennel Club.
The Cocker Spaniel was bred to be a gun dog and excelled mightily at tracking, flushing and retrieving.
When the Cocker arrived in the United States, however, the breed proved to be more than just a hunting dog.
Since then, they have proven to be just as great of a companion to the family as they were talented gun dogs. They are eager to please, outgoing, loyal, and intelligent.
If that’s what you’re looking for in a dog, then you have found yourself a friend with the Cocker Spaniel.