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Cocker Spaniel

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Last updated date: 21st Jul 2024
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American Cocker Spaniel Hunting Dog

An English Cocker Spaniel is a gun dog breed. Amongst all the breeds of dogs, it is notable for generating one of the most diverse amounts of puppies in a litter. The English Cocker Spaniel is a sporting dog that stands well up at the withers and has a compact build. Cockers are divided into two types: "field" or "working" cockers and "house" cockers. It is one of the numerous spaniel breeds, and its American relative, the American cocker spaniel dog, is based on it. The English Cocker is a cross between the Field Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel in terms of working ability. 

The breed is popularly known as the Cocker Spaniel outside of the United States, and as the American Cocker Spaniel within the United States. The word "cocker" is thought to come from the fact that they were used to hunt woodcock. Litters of 3–12 puppies are common in this breed.

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Spaniels have appeared in art and literature for nearly 500 years. In England, spaniels were originally divided into two types: land spaniels and water spaniels. It wasn't until the mid-nineteenth century that spaniels began to be separated into the breeds we notice nowadays. Throughout this time, the land spaniels have become more developed, and weight divisions have been formed among the sorts. The Cocker Spaniel Dog White weighed 12–20 lb (5.5–9 kg) as per the 1840 Encyclopedia of Rural Sports. It was relatively rare for Cockers and Springers to be born in the very same brood at the moment. Even a puppy from a "Toy" bloodline has the potential to mature into a springer.

There is no evidence that spaniels are being utilized to recover wildlife in these early sources. Instead, they were employed to attract game to the cannons.

Other varieties of Cockers were documented in the 1850s and 1860s. Welsh Springer Spaniels and Devonshire Cocker Spaniels were present at the time. Cockers were also a name given to little dogs born from Sussex Spaniel litters. The newly created kennel club released the very first stud books in 1874. Any spaniel weighing less than 25 pounds (11 kilograms) was categorized as a Cocker, but the Welsh Cocker was redesignated as a Springer in 1903 because of its bigger size and shorter ear.

Following the foundation of the Spaniel Club in 1885, the sport of conformation exhibiting amongst spaniels started in earnest. Until The Spaniel Club developed breed standards for each one of the types, the new Springer and Cocker had been in the same class when they were shown. Eight years later, the Kennel Club divided the two breeds. Since then, Springer and Cocker breeders have selectively bred for the desirable characteristics. The breed now differs in more ways than just weight.

Between 1928 and 2009, the English Cocker Spaniel was by far the most successful breed in terms of winning Best in Show at Crufts, with victories in 1930, 1931, 1938, 1939, 1948, 1950, and 1996. Moreover, three of the four winners that have held the championship on multiple occasions are from H.S. Lloyd's Ware kennel, including all three hailing from the breed. Despite the fact that the event was only staged four times between 1938 and 1950 because of World War II, the English Cocker Spaniel has been the only breed to win the title.

Field Spaniel

With the rising popularity of dog shows and the introduction of breed standards at the end of the nineteenth century, the Spaniel family began to divide into numerous breeds. A group of dog lovers came up with the idea of creating a huge black spaniel breed. Two Cocker Spaniels, amongst four, one Cocker Spaniel/English Water Spaniel hybrid, and one Norfolk Spaniel would serve as progenitors for this new breed. The Field Spaniel has been the name given to this new breed, which was registered by the Kennel Club in the year 1892.

American Cocker Spaniel

In the 19th century, the American Cocker Spaniel evolved from the English Cocker Spaniel to retrieve quail and woodcock. These were initially separated from the English Cocker simply on the grounds of size, but have since been bred for a variety of qualities. In America, the two Cocker Spaniels were displayed together till 1936, when the English Cocker was recognized as a distinct breed. In 1946, the American Kennel Club designated the English Cocker Spaniel as a distinct breed. The American Cocker does have a smaller snout than the English Cocker, seems to be more prone to ear infections, and is handled accordingly.


The English Cocker Spaniel is a very well balanced, strong dog. It does have a distinct expression that demonstrates intelligence and awareness. Its eyes should have been black, and when pulled forward, its lobular ears should extend "just past" the nose tip. The appearance of field-bred and conformation show-bred dogs differs significantly now. In North America, the tail of the Cocker is usually docked. Field-bred dogs' tails are normally docked at around 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) in areas where docking is permissible, whereas show dogs' tails are docked nearer to the body. In Australia and South Africa, docking has now been prohibited. Docking is only permitted in England and Wales on dogs whose owners have demonstrated that the canines will be employed as working or hunting dogs.

According to the breed standard, males should measure between 15.5 and 16 inches (39 and 41 cm) at the withers, while females should measure between 15 and 15.5 inches (39 and 41 cm) (38 and 39 cm). Males and females of the breed weigh between 13 and 14.5 kilos (29 and 32 lb). Males and females of the American Cocker Spaniel are smaller, with males measuring between 14.25 and 15.5 inches (36.2 and 39.4 cm) and females measuring between 13.5 and 14.5 inches (34 and 37 cm), and that both averaging around 11–13 kilos (24–29 lb). English Springer Spaniels are larger than both other kinds of cockers, with females rising to between 19 and 19.75 inches (48.3 and 50.2 cm) and males expanding to between 19.25 and 20 inches (48.9 and 50.8 cm) and averaging between 23 and 25 kilos (51 and 55 lb).

The only significant distinction between the English Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel is the Springer's bigger size. English Cockers, on the other hand, possess larger, lower-set ears as compared to that of the English Springers. Springers also do have a longer muzzle, smaller eyes, and a less dense coat than other breeds.


For the sake of conformation shows, breed rules limit all dog breeds to specific colours (dependent on country). The Kennel Club of the United Kingdom, for instance, stipulates that no white is permitted in solid colours with the exception of a small bit on the chest, while the American Kennel Club has requirements for traits such as expression, topline, neck, and body. Breeders of working Cockers place a premium on the dog's aptitude to work rather than its colour.

Solid (or "self"), parti-coloured, and roan markings are available. There is very little or no white on solid dogs. On a white dog, parti-coloured dogs possess spots or areas of colour. "Ticking" is the term for colour blemishes on the nose and legs of parti-colored dogs. Roan is a more extreme kind of ticking in which a dog's white areas are speckled with much the same colour as that of the solid spots. Roan puppies are born white having coloured areas that turn roan as they get older, identical to Dalmatian spots.

Black, red/golden, liver/brown, and black/brown with black or brown pigmentation are all solid English Cocker colours whereas Parti-coloured cockers come in orange roan with lemon and white ticked with brown or black pigmentation, black or brown pigmentation, blue roan, lemon roan with black or brown pigmentation, liver and white ticked, liver and white with brown pigmentation, black and white ticked, liver roan, orange and white ticked with black or brown pigmentation, black and white, lemon and white with black or brown pigmentation, orange and white with black or brown pigmentation. Tan-points can be found on any of these colours, though you're unlikely to see them on gold, red, or lemon Cocker because they'll blend in.

Sable is the most unusual and divisive of the solid colours, with some countries classifying it as a sort of parti-color due to its mixed hair shafts. Whereas others have suggested that this colour is a result of a mix with another breed, geneticists have found that the English Cocker sable is a distinct breed. Furthermore, a silver/ash colour, which is closely correlated with the Weimaraner breed of dog, is genetically feasible but has yet to be registered by the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom. Lemon roan, with its light brown colour, is by far the most recessive of almost all of the roan variants. Cockers who are born completely white are believed to be much more vulnerable to deafness than those who have some pigmentation. As a result, they are rarely seen in the breed.


Cockers make really good family pets because they are alert, kind, intelligent, compassionate, athletic, determined, and resilient. The breed dislikes to be and therefore will develop a solid bond with a single family member, typically the one who keeps feeding it. The breed is incredibly loyal and affectionate and is recognized for its optimism, intelligence, and adaptability. The English Cocker Spaniel is a happy dog. They are ranked 18th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, indicating that they have exceptional working/obedience intelligence. The name "merry cocker" was granted to the breed because of its pleasant nature and constantly wagging tail. They could also be domineering while being devoted to their partner.

Cocker Spaniels may like being around children, people, other dogs, as well as other pets if they are properly socialised from an early age. This breed has a continually swinging tail and wants to be around people; it is not well adapted to being left all alone in the backyard. Loud noises, as well as hard treatment or handling, could quickly stress Cocker Spaniels. The Cocker Spaniel would be an honest and loving companion with a pleasant, cheery personality if trained with a gentle hand and plenty of treats.


In the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada, English Cocker Spaniels have had an average lifetime of 11 to 12 years, which is usual for purebred dogs but maybe a little shorter than many other breeds of similar size. The English Cocker Spaniel has a somewhat longer lifespan than the American Cocker Spaniel. Cancer (30%), cardiac (9%), old age (17%), and "combinations" have been the most likely explanations of death according to a 2004 UK Kennel Club poll (7 percent ).

The top causes of mortality in the 1998 and 2002 USA/Canada Health Surveys were old age (40 percent) and cancer (22 percent ).

Bite difficulties, cataracts, skin allergies, deafness (affecting 6.3 percent of English Cockers), timidity, hostility against all other dogs, and benign tumours are also common medical problems in this breed.

Canine hip dysplasia, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, patellar luxation, and heart murmurs are some of the rare health conditions that might affect English Cocker Spaniels. Hip dysplasia is the most prevalent cause of canine hip arthritis. It involves an improper development of the hip joint. The dislocation of the kneecap often referred to as patellar lunation or luxating patella, is referred to as patellar lunation. Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is an adult-onset disorder wherein the heart muscle weakens and fails to contract adequately. This could cause congestive heart failure, wherein fluid builds up in the lungs, abdominal cavities, chest, or underneath the skin. Dilated cardiomyopathy is frequently associated with irregular cardiac rhythms, or arrhythmias, that can make treatment more difficult. A nutritional variant of dilated cardiomyopathy in Cocker Spaniels is connected with insufficient blood concentrations of the amino acid taurine.

Rage Syndrome

Even though cases have been reported in other breeds, and instances are quite uncommon even within the Cocker Spaniel breed, rage syndrome has been most commonly associated with the Show Cocker Spaniel breed. Rage syndrome is defined as when a dog attacks unexpectedly and savagely without warning, and the dog does have a glazed look and seems to be unaware of its surrounding environment during the attack. 

Any breed can be affected by Rage Syndrome. Though not a frequent condition, research has revealed that it is more common in solid-colored Cockers than parti-colors, and also in darker-colored Cockers than lighter-colored Cockers, with solid gold and black spaniels being one of the most prevalent. Their health difficulties are typical of a purebred dog breed, but they are intimately linked to rage syndrome, despite the fact that instances are extremely rare. Rage syndrome is impossible to foresee and could only be diagnosed with EEG or genetic testing, both of which are inconclusive.

A relationship has indeed been established between coat colour and temperament. The colour pigment melanin, that is biochemically identical to molecules which operate as transmitters in the brain, might be the connection. In 12 out of 13 circumstances, solid-colored Cocker Spaniels were more likely to be violent, according to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge comprising over 1,000 Cocker Spaniel homes across the United Kingdom. In scenarios involving strangers, family members, though being reprimanded, and often for no obvious cause, red/golden Cockers have been demonstrated as being the most aggressive of all. A similar correlation between golden Cockers and violence was discovered in a study conducted by Spanish researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Males were also much more aggressive than females. When compared to those other breeds, the English Cocker Spaniel has the highest possible level of owner- and stranger-directed hostility.

Working Cockers

The "working" (or "field-bred") and "conformation" strains of this breed, like so many others having working-dog roots, emphasize working-dog skills while the "conformation" strains concentrate on guaranteeing that the dog's appearance corresponds to a breed standard, accordingly. Cocker Spaniels bred for pets and the sport of conformation displaying grew in popularity dramatically after WWII, and for a time, they were the most popular Kennel Club certified breed. The perception that all Cockers were worthless as working dogs grew as a result of their popularity. However, this is not true for many of these dogs, because even show-bred Cockers maintain their working nature.

This breed is seeing a resurgence in popularity as a working and hunting dog nowadays. Working-line dogs have a particular physical appearance. The working variety, like the English Springer Spaniel, has indeed been bred solely to function as a hunting partner in the field. They have a shorter coat and much less pendulous ears as compared to show-bred dogs. Despite the fact that they have been recognised as being the same breed, the two strains have varied so much that they have been rarely crossed. Field-bred dogs from lately imported English lines have ruled the field trial, hunt test, and hunting scene throughout the United States. Working-dog lines frequently exhibit physical features that would make them unsuitable for show competition. This is due to different qualities being selected than those chosen by show breeders. In the field, the thicker coat and ears, which were chosen for the show ring, have become an impediment. English Cocker Spaniels are trained and used by Cuban authorities as sniffer dogs to search for drugs and edible goods in passengers' luggage at Cuban airports.


A field-bred cocker spaniel seems to be an upland flushing dog first and foremost. In doing this activity there have been some abilities the dog should be trained to accomplish.

  • Hup - This is the classic sit-and-stay command. To be a successful hunter, the dog should completely obey this instruction. The dog could be provided direction referred to the handler when this order is delivered. Hupping a dog working actively as a running bird helps the handler as well as any gunners to catch pace without having to run.

  • Retrieve to Hand - The bulk of hunters and all hunt test or field trial judges demand that a dog transport a bird to hand, which means the dog must retain the bird until commanded to pass it over to the hunter.

  • Quarter - In advance of the hunter looking for upland game birds, the dogs should operate in a pattern. To prevent flushing a bird from outside a shooting range, the dog should be trained to stay inside the rifle range.

  • Follow Hand Signals - Upland hunting is when you go for a wild game in its natural habitat. Gun dogs should investigate potential upland game bird hideouts. In an attempt for the hunter to steer the dog toward areas of specific interest, the dog should be sensitive to hand signals.

  • Steady - A flushing dog ought to be stable to wing and shoot whenever hunting upland birds, which means he must sit when a bird lifts or a gun is shot. When chasing a missing bird, he does this to record the landing and prevent flushing other birds.


Lupo, an English Cocker Spaniel adopted by Prince William, Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, was produced from Ella, a dog carried by her parents Carole and Michael Middleton. He had been an English Cocker Spaniel with a working temperament. Lupo was born in a litter shortly before Christmas in 2011 and was entitled to Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Prince William, Duchess of Cambridge.

Lupo was among the first official images taken after Prince George of Cambridge was born. In March 2014, he was photographed with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George in a family picture.

Fun Facts About a Cocker Spaniel

  • The First Cancer-Detecting Dog Was a Cocker Spaniel.

  • The Cocker Spaniel was the only one depicted on the Coppertone bottle.

  • They're the world's tiniest sporting breed.

  • The English and American cocker spaniel breeds are distinct.

FAQs on Cocker Spaniel

Q1. Which Spaniel is the Calmest and Easy-Going?

Ans. The Clumber spaniel has been one of the largest spaniels on our list and is calmer than most of their working counterparts. Clumbers are known for being mellow in the home. They aren't as swift or energetic as cockers or springers, but they can be identified once they pick up a scent.

Q2. Why Do Cocker Spaniels Have Such a Strong Odour?

Ans. Because of the strong secretion of the sebaceous gland, Cocker spaniels stink. Infections, wax build-up on the dog's ears, and foul breath are some of the other causes of odour.