The American Cocker Spaniel
is a breed of dog that originated in the
United Kingdom and was brought to Canada and the United States in the late
1800s. American Cocker Spaniels were given their own AKC Stud Book in the early
1900s. By 1946, the English Cocker Spaniel was distinct enough in type from the
"American" variety, that the American Kennel Club established it as a breed
separate from the American Cocker Spaniel.
Dog Show from Russia with American Cocker Spaniels
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It was given its own Stud Book and
that left the "American" type to be known as the Cocker Spaniel in the
United States. They are in the sporting breed group of dogs and are the smallest
of their group. American Cocker Spaniels were used to flush out birds and prey
from the brush so their masters could shoot it.
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The signature trait of the American Cocker Spaniel is its dark, expressive
eyes that reflect a happy, loving, and active nature. Cockers are a dropped
eared breed (pendulous ears) and the mature Cocker is shown in a full feathered,
silky coat. After its show career ends, the fur is often trimmed into a "puppy
cut," shortened on the legs, sides and belly, that is easier to keep whether as
a pet, performance dog, or hunting companion. It is important to keep the hair
clipped from both sides of the ear about one third down the ear flap. This helps
to keep air flowing through the ear canal and reduce risk of ear infections from
bacteria, injury or parasites.
Cockers weigh an average of 18 to 28 pounds. The ideal height of an adult
female at the withers is 14 inches; the ideal height for males is 15 inches. An
adult male who is over 15.5 inches, or an adult female over 14.5 inches would be
disqualified in a conformation show. Bone and head size should be in proportion
to the overall balance of the dog.
Cockers are divided by the breed standard into three varieties: Black, ASCOB
(Any Solid Color Other than Black),and Parti-colors. Black Variety includes:
solid blacks and black & tan. ASCOB includes solid colours ranging from silver,
to light cream (buff) to dark red and brown and brown with tan points.
Parti-colors have large areas of white with another color(s) and must be have at
least 10% coloration (not more than 90% white). Parti-colors include: black &
white; black & white with tan points (referred to as tri-colours or "tris"),
brown & white, brown & white with tan points (referred to as a "brown tri"), and
red & white. Roans are shown in the Parti-color variety and can be black
(referred to as "blue roans"), red ("orange roan"), or brown ("liver or
chocolate roan"); with or without tan points. In a roan coat, individual colored
hairs are mingled in with the white. Sable colouring is seen in solids or
Parti-colors, but no longer can be shown in conformation by the American Spaniel
Club, although it still can be shown in Canada. Merle is a highly controversial
pattern, as it is debated whether it is a result of breeding to another breed.
Cockers cannot be registered as merles with the AKC. It is not recognized by the
American Spaniel Club and cannot be shown in conformation.
Their temperament is typically joyful and trusting. The ideal Cocker
temperament is merry, outgoing, and eager to please everyone, . They can be good
with children and usually sociable and gentle with other pets. They tend to be
"softer" dogs who do not do well with rough or harsh training. The popularity of
the American Cocker Spaniel led to a considerable amount of irresponsible
breeding in an attempt to keep up with the demand. The results have included
fearful or aggressive behaviour in some of the dogs, submissive urination, and
resource guarding. Responsible breeders have worked diligently to eliminate
these negative characteristics while trying to educate the public regarding
responsible breeding. Temperament of the American Cocker Spaniel should always
be the primary concern when breeding these dogs. As with all puppies, owners are
advised to choose their breeder carefully.
Black & Tan Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to a variety of maladies,
particularly infections affecting their ears and, in some cases, their eyes. As
a result, they may require more medical attention than some other breeds. Common
eye problems in Cockers include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), glaucoma, and
cataracts. The American Spaniel Club recommends annual eye exams by a veterinary
ophthalmologist for all dogs used for breeding. Autoimmune problems in Cockers
include autoimmune hemolytic anaemia (AIHA) and ear inflammations. Less common
are luxating patellas and hip dysplasia. Dogs used for breeding can be checked
for both of these conditions, and dogs free of hip dysplasia can be certified by
the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Cocker Spaniels are fairly active
indoors and will do okay in an apartment. A small yard would be best, as they
need regular walking.
American Cocker Spaniels are the smallest of the sporting spaniels. Their
name cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock in
England, but today this breed is used to hunt a variety of upland gamebirds and
In the United States the breed is known officially by the American Kennel
Club, as the "Cocker Spaniel". Outside the US, it is often referred to as the
American Cocker Spaniel, but it was the creation of the English Cocker Spaniel
that triggered the breed split in the 1930s.
On June 20, 1936 a group of English Cocker fanciers met at the home of Mr.
And Mrs. E. Shippen near Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. They formed a specialty club
for English Cocker Spaniels known as the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America.
After this meeting, AKC recognized the "English" variety and people began to
import Cockers bred in England, to the United States more frequently.
By 1938, 24 Cockers had completed their championships from the "English"
classes, but six of them were American-bred Cockers and only one of those had an
English import in the first five generations of their pedigrees. There was an
advantage in the point system then to show in the English-variety classes. For
instance, in California, a male ECS had to defeat five other dogs to earn a five
point major; a solid Cocker male (American type) had to win over 19 dogs to win
the same major, and some people used the advantage, after all, the types were
bred together and a litter could have both varieties and all were registered as
Then in 1938, the ECSCA Board of Directors met at Giralda Farms, Madison, New
Jersey, and Mrs. Geraldine Dodge made the motion that the owners of ECS studs
would not allow them to be bred to American type bitches as a policy and
requirement of membership in the ECSCA.
They also resolved to object to showing American type Cockers in English
Cocker classes and went on to define an English Cocker Spaniel as "a dog or
bitch of the Cocker Spaniel breed whose pedigree can be traced in all lines to
dogs or bitches which were registered with the English Kennel Club (or eligible
for export pedigree) on or before January 1, 1930." (Jubilee, 1986).
American type Cocker popularity surged during the 1940s and ECS fanciers knew
they needed their own AKC Stud Book recognizing the English Cocker Spaniel as a
separate breed. Mrs. Dodge began the work of sorting out the pedigrees not only
in the United States, but in England and Canada. The project was done by
Josephine Z. Rine, Mrs. Dodge's curator of art and former editor of "Popular
That accomplished, Mrs. Dodge then began the process with AKC and in June
1946, the English Cocker Spaniel was officially recognized by AKC as a breed
different from the American Cocker Spaniel. (ECSCA Jubilee, 1986)
A four-months-old Cocker Puppy
American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels are the only spaniel
breeds allowed to compete together in Cocker Field Trials in the United States.
There are a small number of field-bred American cockers bred in the US, but the
distinction between field and show-bred dogs is less than exist in English
Today's American Cocker Spaniel is as always, a versatile small dog. It
remains popular as a pet, but is also known for its workmanlike attributes that
make it a stunning show dog, lively companion hunter, competitive gaming dog, or
gentle therapy dog.
- NFCH Prince Tom III CD, UD, owned by Tom Clute, author of the 1958
children's book,Champion Dog Prince Tom
- Checkers owned by Richard Nixon (see Checkers speech)
- Lucky Bundy from Married... with Children
- Solomon and Sophie, pets of Oprah Winfrey
- Lady from Lady and the Tramp
- Snooper Dawg Channel Chasers
- Butch, Albert Staehle's Cocker, who inspired his Life magazine covers
- The dog who appears in the original Coppertone ad.
- Whitey Hoover, who appears in several Tim Hortons testimonials.
- Tubby, the only fatality when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in 1940.
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I have a cocker he is 6 months i love him dearly and love the energy and
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