English Cocker Spaniels
- Created September 1995
- January 1996: History section updated, grooming section expanded,
misc. corrections in Resources.
- September 1996: relevant web links added, mailing list noted, rescue
- October 1997: Misc corrections and various address/URL updates.
English Cocker Spaniels are members of the Sporting Group. They were
originally designed as a hunting companion for flushing and retrieving
game. English Cocker Spaniels can still be used for hunting purposes
provided a dog is chosen with the proper structure and temperament. Most
English Cocker Spaniels, however, are companion animals. They are
friendly, gentle, obedient and adaptable.
In the 1800's, small spaniels were developed to hunt woodcock. The sizes of
puppies from these early litters varied widely. The first stud book of the
Kennel Club (United Kingdom) divided the dogs by weight alone. If a spaniel
weighed under 25 lbs, it was called a Cocker Spaniel. If a spaniel weighed
over 25 lbs, it was
called a Field Spaniel. Problems existed with the weight designations,
so it was decided that type should be considered more important than
Spaniel Club, which was formed in 1885, created Breed Standards for each
spaniel type. The Kennel Club had separated the different types of
in the Stud Book by 1893.
In America, after World War I, the English Cocker type was less favored
than the American cocker type which was forming. The American type was
smaller and more elegant. The two Cocker Spaniels were shown together,
competing against one another, until 1936 when the English Cocker
received status as a variety. Pedigree research began in order to separate the
English Cocker from the American Cocker. The English Cocker Spaniel Club of
America pledged not to interbreed the two types. The American Kennel Club
granted a separate breed designation for the English Cocker Spaniel in 1946.
In the 1960's the American Cocker Spaniel gained popularity as a show
dog in the United Kingdom and qualified for its own breed classification
in 1968. Although the American Cocker Spaniel has gained popularity
as a companion dog in the United Kingdom, the English Cocker Spaniel
remains among the most popular breeds in the United Kingdom.
In the United Kindgom and much of the world, the name "Cocker
Spaniel" refers to the English Cocker Spaniel, while in the United
States the name "Cocker Spaniel" refers to the American Cocker Spaniel.
The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, yet compact sporting dog. As a
sporting dog, the English Cocker Spaniel is designed to energetically
cover ground and penetrate dense cover in order to flush and retrieve
The physical features of the English Cocker Spaniel are designed to
create a capable hunting companion. The characteristics of the head
include long, low set ears, a flattened skull, wide jaws, wide nostrils
and medium-sized, slightly oval eyes with tight lids. The body is
compact with a deep chest and a short back. The tail is docked and
carried horizontally. The coat is medium long on the body and short and
fine on the head. The legs are moderately angulated and the feet are
round and catlike. Females are 15-16" tall at the withers and 26-32
lbs while the males are 16-17" at the withers and 28-34 lbs. There is
a wide variety of coat colors including solids, parti-colors and roans
in black, red, liver, orange or golden.
Any of the colors may include tan points on the eyebrows, muzzle,
throat, chest, under the tail, and feet. The most
popular color is blue roan.
The English Cocker Spaniel differs from the American Cocker Spaniel
in several areas. The head is shaped with a longer muzzle, flatter head
and less prominent eyes. The English Cocker Spaniel is slightly taller,
heavier and more solid.
The English Cocker Spaniel does not have the profusion of tummy coat
and leg furnishing found on the American Cocker Spaniel.
The classic temperament of the English Cocker Spaniel is that of the
"Merry Cocker." English Cocker Spaniels are friendly, affectionate,
and loyal. This is most obviously displayed in the incessant tail
wagging of a happy English Cocker Spaniel. They are good with children
and make wonderful companion dogs. English Cocker Spaniels need daily
exercise as a outlet for their energy. They make wonderful dogs for many
including hunting, obedience, tracking, agility, fly-ball
and therapy. Although, English Cocker Spaniels are alert, they will not
attack strangers. They are more likely to lick a burglar than to protect
your home. English Cocker Spaniels are sensitive and quick learners,
especially when trained with motivational methods. They do exhibit some
independence when outside the home due to their hunting background, but
do not wander out of your eyesight. Inside the home, they stick close to
you. They will watch you take a shower, share your bed, give you kisses
and play a game at any moments notice.
English Cocker Spaniels can live in any environment, provided they
have daily exercise. Brisk walks, fetching or field work can keep an
English Cocker Spaniel in excellent shape.
English Cocker Spaniels need human companionship. Although they can
sleep all day while you're at work, they require lots of attention and
exercise when you're home.
The medium long coat on the English Cocker Spaniel does take some care.
coat consists of long guard-hairs on the top and a soft undercoat.
styles depend greatly on the purpose, coat texture and color of the dog.
showing purposes most coats are stripped by hand or with a stripping
The face and top of the ears are clipped. The feathering is cut so it
not drag on the ground and the feet are trimmed to keep the hair neat.
hunting dog, much of the hair is removed. Field-bred dogs tend to grow
coat. Coat texture makes each dog's grooming style different. Ask the
about the effect of color and coat texture on grooming.
Commercial groomers can be used with caution. Some groomers are very
the different styles of the American and English Cocker. Some are not.
English Cocker owners learn to groom their own dogs and find great
such as undertaking.
In addition to the coat, the nails should be trimmed and teeth
brushed with a dog toothpaste. The ears require special care. They
should be cleaned weekly with a dog ear cleaning solution.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a generally healthy breed. The most common
problems are Progressive
Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Canine Hip Dysplasia
and Kidney Disease. For PRA and Canine Hip Dysplasia, tests can be
administered that will show signs of the diseases before clinical
signs appear; therefore all dogs that are bred should be tested for
these diseases. Dogs which have been tested for PRA will have a CERF
clearance number and dogs tested for Canine Hip Dysplasia will have
an OFA clearance number assigned to them.
A dog must be at least two years old before OFA will certify
it free of Hip Dysplasia, and its
eyes should be checked
annually (as some eye problems do not appear until later in life).
These tests have allowed breeders to breed from the most sound and
healthy dogs. Some incidence of congential deafness has been reported in
the English Cocker Spaniel. The BAER test is starting to be performed by
breeders to determine if a dog is deaf before breeding.
There are additional health concerns
in English Cocker Spaniels. For more information, see the ECSCA health
http://www.ecsca.org/clubinfo.html#Health) or contact Addi
For more information, please see:
- The English Cocker Spaniel: Jubilee Book of the ECSCA, 2000
- Two volume set,
illustrated. Breed history 1986-1999. By Beth McKinney and Kate Romanski.
English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc. 2000.
Can be ordered from:
- The Cocker Spaniel (English).
- By George Caddy. 1993. 352 pages. 441 color
photographs. (Out of print.)
- Cocker Spaniels Today
- By Joyce Caddy. 1995. Ringpress Ltd. (UK)
"Cocker Spaniels" by Jennifer Lloyd Carey. 1992. Crowood Press Ltd. (UK)
- The English Cocker Spaniel: Jubilee Book of the ECSCA, 1987.
- Two volume set,
illustrated. Breed history 1936-1986; Directory of titleholders through 1985.
By Beth McKinney and Kate Romanski. English Cocker Spaniel Club of America,
Can be ordered from:
- A Dog Owner's Guide to American and English Cocker Spaniels.
- By Frank Kane and Phyllis Wise. 1987.
- The English Cocker Spaniel Handbook.
- By Beth McKinney and Kate Romanski.
3rd Edition. English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc. 1989.
- The Sporting Spaniel Handbook.
By Loren Spiotta-DiMare. 2000. Barron's
Educational Series. Paperback, 144 pages. Color photographs throughout.
- English Cocker Spaniel-AKC Breed Video.
- American Kennel Club.
- The English Cocker Show Groom
- By Kathleen Moore. For more information contact: Kabree Farms, 4731
Linda Vista Ave., Napa, CA 94558. (707/258-2556 or email
- The Cocker Spaniel: The complete guide to grooming, trimming,
hand-stripping, and clipping.
- Demonstrated by Jackie Marris Bray. Video by AMP Productions, UK.
For NTSC or American TV standard, contact 4M Dog Books, Inc. at
email@example.com . For PAL vidoetape contact: Tel/Fax: # 01366 383723 or
- The ECSCA Review.
- English Cocker Spaniel Club
of America, Inc. P.O. Box 252,
Hales Corners, WI 53130. Quarterly.
- ECSCA Titleholders Database.
English Cocker Spaniel Club of America. 1999. Nancy Praiswater. 16735
Von Neuman Dr. Monument, CA 80132. (719-481-9323 or e-mail:
- English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc.
- P.O. Box 252, Hales Corners, WI 53130.
English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Rescue Network
- Marsha Wallace, ECRESQR@aol.com.
English Cocker Spaniel FAQ
Denise Gormish, firstname.lastname@example.org