AMERICAN COCKER SPANIEL Breed Standards
The “cocker” in the name Cocker Spaniel refers to the fact that the breed originally hunted woodcock. The first Cocker Spaniel in America is thought to have arrived in 1620 along with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower. Over the following centuries, settlers brought more Cockers to help investigate and take advantage of the wilderness game. These dogs are the ancestors of the Cocker Spaniel.
Cocker Spaniels have been exhibited in the US since the early 1880s. However, as developed here, the American Cocker has evolved somewhat differently in type, size, and coloring from the breed now recognized as the English Cocker Spaniel. Originally a gun dog, the American Cocker now fulfills the position of family pet or show dog most often and unlike the English Cocker, is rarely seen hunting. Nevertheless, some American Cockers are still bred for fieldwork, and a small movement works to preserve the hunting abilities of the breed. The Cocker Spaniel’s inherent desire to hunt contributes to his capability as a gun dog when judiciously trained, and the Cocker covers all territory within gun range speedily, flushing game and retrieving only when under command, and taking to water readily.
Cocker Spaniels have attained “star” status in the media. The more famous Cockers are Lady from Lady and the Tramp, Lucky Bundy from Married with Children, Oprah Winfrey's pets Solomon and Sophie, and Checkers, First Dog during the presidency of Richard Nixon.
SKILLS: Field sports dog by origin, mainly a family pet today.
SIZE: The shoulder-height is about 38cm (15in) for dogs and 35.5 (14in) for bitches.
COAT: The hair on the head is short and fine while the body hair is medium length. There should be feathering of silken hair on the ears, chest, belly and legs. American Cocker Spaniels are recognized by this long hair. Almost any color is accepted, including black, deer red, light beige, black and tan, and multi-colored.
CARE REQUIRED: Grooming the coat is very important. With this Spaniel it is necessary to brush and comb the hair every day. Additionally, if you want to keep the dog's appearance according to the breed standard, you will need to take it to a professional dog groomer about every four weeks. Of course, the ears should be examined regularly and excess hair between the pads of the feet, under and inside the ear, should be trimmed. If you do not have the time for the grooming required or cannot afford the cost of regular visits to a professional, avoid this breed.
CHARACTER: These are lovable, gentle, and playful dogs that are intelligent and obedient.
TRAINING: Training the American Cocker Spaniel rarely leads to any problems. Train them with a gentle hand and bear in mind that they are sensitive to the tone of your voice and any upsets within the home.
SOCIAL BEHAVIOR: Dogs of this breed are very sociable and consequently they get along fine with their own kind and with other household pets. Because they will meekly accept virtually anything, it is sensible to protect them from children's play which can become too rough.
EXERCISE: This Cocker Spaniel loves to play and frolic. Provided you bear this in mind, there is no reason why it cannot be kept in an apartment. A few of the breed are still used to find birds in hunting. Most of them greatly enjoy both swimming and retrieving.
SPECIAL REMARKS: In view of the popularity of this breed, it is advisable to purchase a puppy only from a recognized and reliable breeder.