COCKER SPANIEL HISTORY
English or American
When the breed was brought to the United States it was bred to a different standard which enabled it to specialize in hunting the American Woodcock. Further physical changes were bred into the cocker in the United States during the early part of the 20th century due to the preferences of breeders.
Spaniels were first mentioned in the 14th century by Gaston III of Foix-Bearn in his work the Livre de Chasse. The “cocking” or “cocker spaniel” was first used to refer to a type of field or land spaniel in the 19th century. Prior to 1901, Cocker Spaniels were only separated from Field Spaniels and Springer Spaniels by weight. Two dogs are considered to be the foundation sires of both modern breeds, the English variety are descended from Ch. Obo, while the American breed descends from Obo’s 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.
Prior to the 1870s, the only requirement for a dog to be classed as Cocker Spaniel was that it needed to weigh less than 25 pounds, 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 1901, with larger dogs being classed as Springer Spaniels. Following the Kennel Club in the UK in 1987, 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.
In the United States, the English Cocker was recognized as separate from the native breed in 1946; in the UK, the American type was recognized as a separate breed in 1970. In addition, there is a second strain of English Cocker Spaniel, a working strain which is not bred to a standard but to working ability. Both breeds share similar coat colors and health issues with a few exceptions.
Cocker Spaniel coats come in a variety of colors including black, liver, red and golden in solids. There are also black and tan, and sometimes liver and tan, as well as a variety of color mixtures of those solid colors including roans, roan and tans, tricolors and those solid colors with additional white markings. Rare colors can appear unexpectedly in certain lines, for instance while an all-white cocker usually bred by a selective breeding of very light golden strains, they can still appear very uncommonly to parents who are dark colored. A noted occurrence of this happened in 1943, when a grandson of “My Own Brucie”, Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1940 and 1941, was born all-white.
SIZE AND WEIGHT
English Cocker Spaniels:Height for males should be 16 to 17 inches, females 15 to 16 inches. Weight for males should be 28 to 34 pounds and females between 26 to 32 pounds.
American Cocker Spaniels:Height for males should be 15 inches and females 14 inches. Weight should be around 24 to 28 pounds.
The average lifespan of Cocker Spaniels is around 10 to 12 years although many American Cocker Spaniels have lived longer than the average figure and have lived from 13 to 16 years.
Merry and affectionate, the English Cocker Spaniel is an excellent family companion due to its even disposition and trainability. Whether working in the field or at home lounging on their owner's bed, their tails rarely stop wagging. The breed can live in any environment provided it receives daily exercise and is a willing worker and a faithful and engaging companion.
The American Cocker Spaniel is also known as the "Merry Cocker". With a good level of socialization at an early age, an American Cocker Spaniel can get along 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. In households with young children, care should be taken that the child will not torment the dog and give it its space.