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The Furry Critter Network
English Cocker Spaniel Breed Description
Cocking Spaniel, Merry Cocker
Approximately 12-15 Years
Average 3-7 Puppies
The English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy, compact and well-balanced dog. It has a characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness. Its eyes should be dark and its lobular ears should reach "a bit past" the tip of the nose when pulled forward. Today, a significant difference in appearance exists between field-bred and conformation show-bred dogs. The Cocker's tail is customarily docked in North America. In countries where docking is legal, the tail is generally docked at about 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) in field-bred dogs while show dogs are generally docked closer to the body. Docking is now illegal in Australia and South Africa. In England and Wales, docking can only be carried out on dogs where the owners have proved that the dogs will be used as working or shooting dogs.
The English Cocker Spaniel is similar to the English Springer Spaniel and at first glance the only major difference is the larger size of the Springer. However English Cockers also tend to have longer, and lower-set ears than English Springers. In addition Springers also tend to have a longer muzzle, their eyes are not as prominent and the coat is less abundant.
Head: Long. Well-developed, chiseled skull. Pronounced stop. Very angular muzzle. Strong jaws. Wide nose.
Ears: Set on low, lobe-shaped, thin. Long, straight, silky feathering.
Eyes: Brown or hazel, depending on coat color.
Body: Stocky, square build. Neck moderately long, muscular, without dewlap. Well-developed chest. Well-sprung ribs. Short, broad loin. Broad, well-muscled croup.
Tail: Set on low, carried level to the ground, never raised. Usually docked. Constant wagging of the tail in action is typical.
Hair: Flat, silky, never wirehaired or wavy, not too thick and never curly. Feathering on the legs and body.
Coat: Various colors. In the whole-colored variety, white is allowed only on the chest.
Size: Dog: 39 to 41 cm (15.5-16 in).Bitch: 38 to 39 cm (15-15,5 in).
Weight: 12 to 14.5 kg (26.5-32 lb).
Initially, spaniels in England were divided among land spaniels and water spaniels. The differentiation among the spaniels that led to the breeds that we see today did not begin until the mid-19th century. During this time, the land spaniels became a bit more specialised and divisions among the types were made based upon weight. According to the 1840 Encyclopedia of Rural Sports, Cockers were 12–20 lb (5.5–9 kg). At this time it was not uncommon for Cockers and Springers to come from the same litter. Even a puppy from a “Toy” sized lineage could grow to be a springer.
There is no indication from these early sources that spaniels were used to retrieve game. Rather they were used to drive the game toward the guns.
During the 1850s and 1860s, other types of Cockers were recorded. There were Welsh Cockers and Devonshire Cockers. Additionally, small dogs from Sussex Spaniel litters were called Cockers. In 1874 the first stud books were published by the newly formed kennel club. Any spaniel under 25 lb (11 kg) was placed in the Cocker breeding pool, however the Welsh Cocker was reclassified as a Springer in 1903 due to its larger size and shorter ear.
The sport of conformation showing began in earnest among spaniels after the Spaniel Club was formed in 1885. When showing, the new Springer and Cocker, both were in the same class until The Spaniel Club created breed standards for each of the types. The Kennel Club separated the two types eight years later. Since then, the Springer and Cocker enthusiasts have bred in the separate traits that they desired. Today, the breed differ in more ways than weight alone.
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. The English Cocker Spaniel has a cheerful nature. 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". They can also be dominant but loyal to their companion.
With a good level of socialisation at an early age, Cocker Spaniels can get along well with people, children, other dogs and other pets. This breed seems to have a perpetually wagging tail and prefers to be around people; it is not best suited to the backyard alone. Cockers can be easily stressed by loud noises and by rough treatment or handling. When trained with a soft hand and plentiful rewards, the Cocker Spaniel will be an obedient and loving companion with a happy, cheerful nature.
He can live in an apartment, but long, daily walks are necessary. He requires brushing and combing twice weekly and grooming twice or three times per year. His ears must be checked regularly. Hunting dog. Companion dog.
Hunting Dog, Companion Dog.
A field-bred cocker spaniel is first and foremost an upland flushing dog. In performing this task there are some skills the dog must be trained to perform.
Common health issues with English Cockers are bite problems, skin allergies, shyness, cataracts, deafness (affecting 6.3% of the dogs of this breed), aggression towards other dogs, and benign tumours.
Some uncommon health issues that can also have an effect on English Cocker Spaniels include canine hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, and heart murmurs. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint which is the most common cause of canine arthritis in the hips. Patellar Lunation, also known as luxating patella, refers to the dislocation of the kneecap. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is an adult onset condition which occurs when the heart muscle is weak and does not contract properly. It can lead to congestive heart failure, which is where fluid accumulates in the lungs, chest, abdominal cavities, or under the skin. Dilated cardiomyopathy is often accompanied by abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias which can complicate treatment. Cocker Spaniels can present with a nutritional form of dilated cardiomyopathy that is associated with low blood concentrations of the amino acid taurine. This form of dilated cardiomyopathy is in many cases reversible if the dog receives taurine supplementation.
"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"
If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)
Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network
Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. RescueShelter.com is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.