English Cocker Spaniel
(aka: Cocker Spaniel)
The English Cocker Spaniel is a small but sturdy looking dog, with a handsome appearance and a beautiful silky coat. These dogs weigh in at 25-32 pounds for females and around 28-35 pounds for males. The height of the female English Cocker Spaniel is around 14-16 inches inches, and the height of the male is around 17-17 inches. The coat of the English Cocker Spaniel is flat, long, and silky, and he has beautiful, long silky ears that frame his sweet face. Coloring can vary and includes white with markings that can be blue, liver, or red; solid black, solid liver, or solid red, and some may have tan markings.
English Cocker Spaniel Temperament
The English Cocker Spaniel is an eager, playful, and cheerful dog with plenty of affection to give and a responsive and gentle nature. This is a sociable breed, and loves to be around his loved ones. Sweet and enthusiastic, the English Cocker Spaniel makes for a great family pet, but it is worth noting that some can be overly dependant on their owners to the point where they become clingy, so it is important to teach your English Cocker Spaniel to be independent. These sensitive dogs can sometimes be overly timid and submissive, so early socialization and training is important.
The English Cocker Spaniel is an eager to please dog and a quick learner, and this makes training easy. However, housebreaking can sometime be a problem and some English Cocker Spaniels can be chronic barkers. When it comes to children these dogs are generally very good, and they are also very friendly with strangers in most instances. The English Cocker Spaniel will get along well with other pets too, making this breed ideal for families with other pets. Some English Cocker Spaniels can have a willful nature and this can result in possessiveness when it comes to things like his toys.
The grooming requirements for the English Cocker Spaniel can be high, and this dog is a medium, year round shedder, and is therefore not the best choice for those that suffer from allergies. It is important to brush his silky coat every couple of days to ensure that it does not matt, and to keep it in good condition. The coat may need to be clipped every two months. You should also check the ear canals to ensure that they are clean and dry for hygiene reasons and to reduce the chances of infection.
Evidence of the spaniel goes back as far as 1300. At some point, they became divided into two types: land spaniels and water spaniels. But, it wasn't until 1800 that the spaniels were divided into seven separate breeds: the Welsh Springer, English Springer, Sussex, Clumber, Field, Irish Water and Cocker. You'll also hear of the Devonshire Cocker. Essentially, any spaniel weighing less than 25 pounds was considered a Cocker during this time. All of these breeds began from a Spaniel sort of dog that came to England centuries ago, and the breeds were developed from there.
Spaniels were used only as hunting dogs for many years. However, during the early years, the spaniels were not used to retrieve the game. Rather they were used to drive the game toward the guns.
In these days, puppies that did not prove to be up to the hunting challenge were often killed, as they were not considered to be companion or show dogs. In 1885, however the Spaniel Club was formed in England, and the dogs began to be used for show, with both the Springer and the Cocker in the same category. Until 1892, Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels were considered basically the same breed, with the only difference being size. In 1892, the Kennel Club of England recognized them as separate breeds. From this point on, different traits were bred into the two different breeds, and today the Springer and the Cocker differ in many ways in addition to size.
In the 1940s, the American Kennel Club began to recognize the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed from the American Cocker Spaniel. These dogs are quite similar, but do have some differing physical characteristics, particularly around the face and muzzle. In addition, the English Cocker Spaniel is larger than the American Cocker. In temperament, however, they are largely identical.
Cocker Spaniels were bred to hunt. Their smaller size made them easy to transport and the perfect size for bird hunting. In fact, the name Cocker Spaniel comes from the woodcock, the bird this dog originally hunted in old England. They were prized as hunting dogs because of their impeccable retrieving capabilities, their ability to handle rough terrain and their energy and endurance.
Cocker Spaniels are intelligent working dogs, and their temperaments incline them to be obedient and loyal. Once in a while, particularly if you own a female, you'll find a cocker who is very stubborn, but generally, they are quick to recognize you as the boss and to obey your command willingly. Cockers who are field dogs are especially quick to bond and obey with a master who takes them on the hunt, as they seem to know instinctively how this relationship is supposed to work.
Cockers, like all dogs, need firm obedience training until they understand that you are the alpha dog. However, once this is established, you'll find the Cocker Spaniel to be very intelligent and easy to train. In fact, this breed is one of the best at competitive obedience training. They can be sensitive, so don't make your corrections too harsh when training. Firmness, patience and consistency will work best when training a cocker.
Once you've mastered basic obedience training, this is a great breed to train for more complicated activities. They love to do tricks and can be trained for nearly any competitive dog activity. Since they were bred to be a working dog, they will appreciate having a purpose in life beyond being a companion.
Hunting spaniels are some of the best trained dogs in the world. They are amazing in their ability to work alongside their master, seeking direction and often responding just to hand signals. They have an uncanny ability to locate and flush out birds, as well as to locate them and retrieve them after they have fallen. Watching a Cocker Spaniel at work in the field is a joy, as they so obviously love the hunt and are so instinctively good at it.
Cocker Spaniels that are used for hunting are expected to master the following skills:
Hup-Sit and Stay. This command is basic obedience of course, but is used extensively in the field to allow the hunter to catch up to the dog.
Retrieve to hand-The dog is trained to retrieve the bird and hold it in its mouth until the hunter requests that it be given to him.
Quarter-The dogs work in a pattern in front of the hunter when seeking out birds. The dog must stay close enough to the hunter to be in shooting distance, so that they don't flush out birds that are too far away to be hit.
Hand Signals-During hunting, the dog will be given hand signals for direction by the hunter. This helps keep the area quiet when hunting.
Steady-This command means that the dog must sit when a bird rises or a gun is fired. This helps him mark the fall of the bird and avoid flushing other birds when pursuing a missed bird.
The life expectancy of the English Cocker Spaniel is around 12-15 years. This is quite a sturdy and healthy breed in general, but there are some health problems that have been linked to the breed. This includes HD, PRA, kidney problems, deafness, and cataracts. Allergies, seizures, and thyroid problems may also be a problem in some lines. Parents of the English Cocker Spaniel puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.