English Cocker Spaniel Guide

Sporting Dog Breeds

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The English cocker must be able to find, flush and retrieve upland game birds for a full day of hunting. It must be small enough to penetrate dense cover, but of sufficient size to retrieve larger game. The broad muzzle helps when retrieving. The dog is slightly taller than long, compactly built and short coupled. This breed loves to hunt and shows it by the wagging of its tail when on the job. The English cocker has a driving, powerful gait that covers ground effortlessly. The coat is of medium length, silky in texture and either flat or slightly wavy. The feathering should not be so profuse that it becomes a hindrance in the field, but it should be long enough to protect the underside of the dog. The expression is soft and melting, yet dignified.

The English cocker spaniel retains more of its hunting nature than does the American version, and it also needs a little more exercise. It is cheerful, inquisitive, demonstrative, devoted, biddable, loyal and sensitive. This is a sociable dog that likes to stay close to its human family.


FAMILY gundog, spaniel



ORIGINAL FUNCTION bird flushing and retrieving

TODAY'S FUNCTION bird flushing and retrieving, spaniel field trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 16-17 Weight: 28-34

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 15-16 Weight: 26-32

OTHER NAME cocker spaniel

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

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Daily exercise is a necessity, either in the form of a long walk on leash, a good run in the field or a lively game in the yard. Although the English cocker could physically live outside in temperate to warm weather, it is such a social dog that it does best living inside and playing outside. The medium-length coat needs brushing two to three times per week, plus clipping around the head and ears scissoring around the feet and tail every two months. The ears should be cleaned weekly.
• Major concerns: PRA
• Minor concerns: cataracts, CHD, familial nephropathy
• Occasionally seen: glaucoma, cardiomyopathy
• Suggested tests: hearing (for particolors), eye, hip, (knee)
• Life span: 12 – 14 years
• Note: deafness is a major concern in particolors; CHD is more common in solid colors; PRA is of PRCD type
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The spaniel family is one of the largest groups of dogs, and one of the most specialized. The English cocker spaniel is one of the land spaniels. The land spaniels consisted of larger spaniels that were better for springing game, and smaller spaniels that were better for hunting woodcock. These different sizes appeared in the same litters and were essentially two variations of the same breed. Only in 1892 were the two sizes considered separate breeds, with the smaller size (under 25 pounds) designated as the cocker spaniel. In fact, because both breeds shared the same gene pool, they still share many of the same hunting talents. In 1901, the weight limit was abolished. Cocker spaniels became extremely popular in England, but American breeders strove to change the breed in ways that traditional English cocker spaniel enthusiasts objected to. English and American cocker spaniels were shown together until 1936, when the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was formed and the English cocker received status as a separate variety. The English Cocker Spaniel Club discouraged the interbreeding of the American and English cockers, and in 1946 the English cocker was designated a separate breed. After the breeds were separated, the American cocker eclipsed the English in popularity — but only in America. Throughout the rest of the world, the English cocker is by far the more popular of the two breeds and is known simply as the cocker spaniel.
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