Cocker Spaniels are dogs belonging to two breeds of the spaniel dog type: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel.
Both of breeds are commonly called simply Cocker Spaniel in their countries of origin.
Cocker Spaniels were bred as gun dogs, to use their sense of smell to cover low areas near the handler to flush birds into the air to be shot, and to use their eyes and nose to locate the bird once downed, and then to retrieve the bird with a soft mouth.
The cockers are the smallest of the hunting spaniels (the toy spaniels are companion dogs).
The American cocker spaniel is a small dog standing 36 to 38 cm (14 to 15 inches) and weighing 10 to 13 kg (22 to 29 pounds). Compact and sturdily built, it has a rounded head, floppy ears, and a soft, flat or wavy coat. The tail is usually docked. The coat may be either solid coloured or variegated – colours include black and black with tan, reddish brown, buff, and black and white.
The English cocker spaniel is similar to the American cocker spaniel but is larger and has longer legs and a longer muzzle. It stands 38 to 43 cm (15 to 17 inches) and weighs 26 to 34 pounds (12 to 15 kg). It has a medium-length, silky coat in a variety of colours. Cocker spaniels are popular companion dogs and are especially good with children.
Cockers are compassionate, determined, kind, intelligent, athletic, alert and resilient and make great family pets. The breed does not like being alone, and will bond strongly to an individual person in a family, usually the one who feeds it. Known for optimism, intelligence and adaptability, the
breed is extremely loyal and affectionate.
They rank 18th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, being of excellent working/obedience intelligence. Due to the breed’s happy disposition and continuously wagging tail, it has been given
the nickname “merry cocker”.
The life expectancy of the Cocker Spaniel is around 10 to 15 years.
The spaniel is a breed type of great antiquity, believed to have originated in Spain (the words “Spain” and “spaniel” being closely related). Spaniels have been bird hunters’ helpers since before the development of the rifle, when hunting dogs were used in tandem with nets.
Spaniels have been found in art and literature for almost 500 years.
They were first mentioned in the 14th century by Gaston III, Count of Foix in his work the Livre de Chasse.
For centuries, European and British spaniels were informally grouped as simply land spaniels and water spaniels.
Cocker Spaniels were originally bred as hunting dogs in the United Kingdom.
The term “cocker” came from the dog’s use in hunting woodcocks.
They were particularly prized for their ability to assist with hunting game birds and waterfowl.
During the 19th century, a “cocker spaniel” was a type of small Field Spaniel – at the time, this term referred to a number of different spaniel hunting breeds, including the Norfolk Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, and Clumber Spaniel.
Prior to the 1870s, the only requirement for a dog to be classed as a Cocker Spaniel was that it needed to weigh less than 11 kg (25 pounds), although breeders separated the cocker from the King Charles Spaniel, which remains a smaller breed of spaniel.
In the 1890’s, the spaniel family was split in two, with recognition for both the cocker spaniel and springer spaniel. The breeds began to be independently developed and bred.
Within the cocker spaniel breed, further differentiation in type became evident. In the United States, a smaller, slightly blockier and furrier version of the spaniel came into popularity. Termed the American cocker spaniel, these dogs stand in contrast to the slightly larger English spaniel bred with longer legs, a shorter back, and less fur.
A black Cocker named Brucie helped popularize the breed by twice winning Westminster’s Best in Show, in 1940 and ’41, but the Cocker’s American heyday came in the 1950s. The Cocker was the AKC’s most
popular breed of the decade.
It was the era of Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” and Vice President Richard Nixon’s Cocker, named Checkers, who helped change the course of U.S. political history.
A Cocker Spaniel puppy is likely to cost between $500 and $1,500 with the average price being $800.
Cocker Spaniels are high maintenance when it comes to grooming. They need a daily brush to stay on top of dead hair and stop their fur from tangling.