Fun Facts About the Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed

The Cocker Spaniel is a cheery little dog. It has a lovely coat which takes a lot of time to properly groom. The Cocker Spaniel is a loyal family dog, gets along well with all people and other animals when properly socialized from puppyhood.

There is a difference

There are two Cocker Spaniel breeds, the English and the American. The English Cocker Spaniel is slightly larger than the American Cocker Spaniel.

The American has rounder eyes, a more domed skull, and shorter muzzle. The English Cocker Spaniel looks more sporty in appearance. Both come in a variety of colors. In America, people say Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker to differentiate the breeds.

In the rest of the world, people say American Cocker Spaniel to differentiate. The English Cocker has much less hair, and its coat is similar to a Golden Retriever in style. The American Cocker Spaniel has a lot of hair, and its coat is like that of a Lhasa Apso.

A Star was born

The Cocker Spaniel rose to popularity with the release of Disney’s animated movie, Lady and the Tramp in 1955. For many years following the breed was in the top ten list produced by The American Kennel Club (AKC).

The breed is consistently in the top 30. For 18 years in the 1940s, 1950s, and again in the 1980s, the Cocker Spaniel was the number one most popular breed as ranked by AKC.

Be a sport

AKC lists the Cocker Spaniel in the Sporting Group. It is the smallest breed in the group. Originally the Cocker Spaniel was bred to flush small game birds, specifically the woodcock, which led to the name of the breed.

An avid hunting companion, the Cocker Spaniel, will happily spend the day flushing and retrieving for its partner.

Color me here

The Cocker Spaniel comes in many colors. In the show ring, they are put into three varieties. The Black, ASCOB, and Parti.

The Blacks are solid black, with a small amount of white being acceptable to the standard. Black and tan are also shown with the blacks. Black and tan have similar markings to the Rottweiler breed. The tan is on points and not in the body of the coat. ASCOB is the variety for Any Solid Color Other than Black.

Again, a small amount of white is acceptable; too much white, and it is a mismarked dog. Perfect for a pet or performance home but not acceptable in the conformation ring. Lastly, the Parti variety.

In the Parti category, you will find black and white, red and white, and all roans. Here color and white are where the body is mainly white with patches of another color.

Roan is a marking that has a lot of ticking of color and is more prevalent in the English Cocker Spaniel. In America, sables and merles are not shown in the breed ring.


In the conformation show ring, the Cocker Spaniel should have a happy presence. Those big brown eyes and plush ears make it an irresistible breed to stop and observe as it strides around the ring. With the flowing coat, the dog appears to glide on a cloud.

Beyond beautiful

There are many sports for dogs in today’s world. Among the most popular is hunting, agility, obedience, rally, barn hunting, lure coursing, and scent work. A well-trained dog can excel at every one of these sports.

Cocker Spaniels have excellent noses, which are an inherent trade from the hunting stock. In today’s world, they put their nose to good work beyond hunting. The sports of Barn Hunt and Scent work depend on a reliable sniffer to succeed.

The compact size of the Cocker Spaniel and it being a healthy and hearty little breed make it a winner on the agility course. Speed and accuracy come naturally to the breed. A strong-willed little dog the breed can be a challenge to train.

However, it is eager to please the human partner, and with patience and consistency, success will soon be yours.

The right choice

When choosing a puppy, always find a breeder who health tests. Do not be anxious and buy on a whim. Do your research. Protect yourself. Every dog breed has health issues, and you want to be sure you make the best decision when getting a puppy.

Cocker Spaniels live about 15 years. You are making a significant commitment to purchasing a puppy. You want a puppy that is healthy and happy and around for a long time. Be responsible and deal with a reputable breeder.

There are many resources for finding your housemate. Look for a breed club in your area; members are usually happy to share with a newcomer.

Every breed has a parent club. In the case of the Cocker Spaniel, go to the American Spaniel Club (ASC) web site and learn about the breed. Use the AKC web site as well.

For the Cocker Spaniel, at a minimum, the parents of your puppy need to have been health tested with x-rays and eye exams. In the Cocker Spaniel, the breeding stock must have their eyes examined within 12 months of being breed.

Cocker Spaniels are prone to cataracts and ingrown eyelashes. The eyelashes can lead to other problems, none of which are fatal, but you need to know what you are buying. Fifteen years of eye drops and vet checkups are a costly expense you can avoid. A good quality puppy is not cheap.

The parents need to have an Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) certificate or other qualified agency. The certificate will rate the parents’ hips against dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a painful, crippling disease.

It’s a wrap

The Cocker Spaniel goes seamlessly from agile beauty to comfy snuggle time. A high energy dog which requires exercise, it also fits nicely into apartment living. Happy with the family on walks or in front of the TV, the Cocker Spaniel breed is perfect for any household.

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