American Cocker Spaniel breed dog black and tan minepuppy American Cocker Spaniel breed dog black minipuppy American Cocker Spaniel breed dog brown minipuppy American Cocker Spaniel breed dog buff minipuppy American Cocker Spaniel breed mini puppy minepuppy American Cocker Spaniel breed puppy buff minipuppy American Cocker Spaniel breed puppy red minipuppy

Breed information

Group: Sporting
Life span: 12-15 years
Height male: 38-41 cm/ 15-17 inches
Height female: 38-41 cm/ 15-17 inches
Weight male: 7-14 kg/ 15-30 pounds
Weight female: 7-14 kg/ 15-30 pounds
Character: Even Tempered, Joyful, Merry, Outgoing, Intelligent, Sociable, Trusting


While their origins are unknown, "spaynels" are mentioned in 14th century writings. It is commonly assumed that they originated in Spain, and Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York in his 15th century work The Master of Game introduces them as "Another kind of hound there is that be called hounds for the hawk and spaniels, for their kind cometh from Spain, notwithstanding that there are many in other countries." The Master of Game was mostly an English translation of an earlier 14th century Old French work by Gaston III of Foix-Béarn entitled Livre de Chasse.

In 1801, Sydenham Edwards wrote in Cynographia Britannica that the "Land Spaniel" is divided into two types: the hawking, springing/springer and the cocking/cocker spaniel. The term cocker came from the dog's use in hunting woodcocks. 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. While there were no Sussex Cockers or Clumber Cockers, there were dogs known as Welsh Cockers and Devonshire Cockers. The Welsh or Devonshire were considered cockers until 1903 when they were recognized by The Kennel Club as the Welsh Springer 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 25 pounds (11 kg), although breeders separated the cocker from the King Charles Spaniel which remains a smaller breed of spaniel. This maximum weight limit remained on the Cocker Spaniel until 1900, with larger dogs being classed as Springer Spaniels. The colors of the Devonshire and Welsh Cockers were described by John Henry Walsh under the pseudonym Stonehenge in his book The Dog in Health and Disease as being a deeper shade of liver than that of the Sussex Spaniel. Following the formation of The Kennel Club in the UK in 1873, efforts were made by breeders to record the pedigrees of cockers and springers. In 1892, English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels were recognized as separate breeds by The Kennel Club.

There are two dogs which are thought to be the foundation sires of both modern breeds of cocker spaniels. Ch. Obo is considered by breed enthusiasts to be the father of the modern English Cocker Spaniel, while his son, Ch. Obo II, is considered to be the progenitor of the American Cocker Spaniel. Obo was born in 1879, at which point registration as a cocker was still only by size and not by ancestry. He was the son of a Sussex Spaniel and a Field Spaniel. Although Obo was an English dog, Obo II was born on American shores – his mother was shipped to the United States while pregnant. During his lifetime, it was claimed in advertisements that Obo II was the sire or grandsire of nearly every prize winning cocker in America.


The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group. He has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head, with the overall dog in complete balance and of ideal size. He stands well up at the shoulder on straight forelegs with a topline sloping slightly toward strong, moderately bent, muscular quarters. He is a dog capable of considerable speed, combined with great endurance. Above all, he must be free and merry, sound, well balanced throughout and in action show a keen inclination to work. A dog well balanced in all parts is more desirable than a dog with strongly contrasting good points and faults.


The American Cocker Spaniel has an average life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, cancer, cherry eye, cataracts, ectropion, entropion, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy, corneal ulceration, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, ear infections, hemophilia, hepatitis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, chondrodysplasia, hypothyroidism, patent ductus arteriosus, pulmonic stenosis, endocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy, intervertebral disc disease, epilepsy and an assortment of dermatological (skin) disorders.


Outgoing, sociable and almost uniformly happy, the American Cocker Spaniel is an extremely popular family pet. These are charming, sturdy little dogs that originally were bred to flush and retrieve birds on land. Many of them are still used for that purpose. However, their best role is that of a beloved family member. This sweet, easygoing breed loves children and usually gets along quite well with other dogs and even cats, provided that proper socialization takes place. Because American Cocker Spaniels tend to welcome friends, family and foe in the same fashion, they do not typically make good watchdogs. However, they are loyal, endearing companions that crave - and thrive on - human attention. They also are quite portable, given their modest size, which makes them great travel partners.

Activity Requirements

The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest of the Sporting Breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Although they are not large dogs, they are energetic, active and playful. They thoroughly enjoy going on hikes, swimming and participating in other activities with their human family-members. This is a highly adaptable breed that can live quite comfortably in apartments or condominiums, as long as their owners give them enough exercise. A long, brisk daily walk is often enough for an older Cocker Spaniel. However, younger animals will need more activity, either in the form of walks, romps at the dog park, playing in the yard with other companion animals or playing fetch with their owners. American Cocker Spaniels are natural retrievers and usually are more than willing to chase a ball and bring it back for as long as their owner cares to toss it. It is important for owners of this breed to keep their dogs active and engage. A Cocker that is left to his own devices is likely to become bored and eventually destructive, as he tries to find ways to entertain himself.


American Cocker Spaniels are intelligent dogs that love to please their people and are easy to train. As with almost any breed, it is important that Cockers are socialized correctly starting at an early age. These are extremely sensitive, affectionate animals that are best trained using positive reinforcement and gentle, patient repetition of commands. Short training sessions several times a day are better than a single prolonged session. Owners should concentrate on getting their Cocker to master one basic command, before moving on to another one. Housebreaking can be difficult for this breed. Crate training usually makes potty training much easier. Flushing and retrieving birds come naturally to most American Cocker Spaniels, without the need for any advanced or specialized training. They also excel in competitive dog sports such as agility, obedience, rally, flyball, hunting tests, field trials and many others. Well-behaved Cocker Spaniels also make exceptional therapy dogs.

Best Training Equipment Trainers Recommend

Behavioral Traits

Because the blood of generations of hunting dogs courses through the veins of American Cocker Spaniels, they are particularly alert to the presence of birds and other small animals. As a result, owners should not let their Cocker off-leash, unless the dog is thoroughly trained in obedience and has a rock-solid recall, because he might become distracted and try to chase any nearby moving creature. Some Cocker Spaniels have a tendency to be a bit aggressive, or a bit shy. Generally, this is due to inadequate socialization at a young age. The most important period for correctly socializing this breed is when the dog is 2-5 months old. During this key time, the owner should expose the dog to lots of new people and new situations in a positive, non-threatening manner. Children must be taught to treat the dog gently and affectionately, so that he learns to trust them. When a young American Cocker Spaniel is carefully introduced to new people, places and things, he usually learns to accept them readily and becomes a happy, trusting, gentle family companion.


The American Cocker Spaniel has an abundant coat that requires regular attention. Most owners of companion Cockers eventually elect to take their pets to a professional groomer, so that their lovely locks are kept neat, tidy and tangle-free. The large, soulful eyes of this breed need to be cleaned regularly, as do their long, hairy ears, to prevent debris from accumulating and to ward off infection. Cocker Spaniels can develop nasty hair mats if they are not kept well-brushed, bathed and combed. These mats can be rather tricky to remove, without injuring the dog’s delicate skin. A thorough grooming and trim every few months usually is enough to keep an American Cocker’s coat in tip-top shape.

Best Deshedding Brushes And Shampoos For Dogs