The first Cocker in America is said to have arrived with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. Settlers in subsequent centuries brought more with them to help explore and exploit the country's wildernesses. American Cockers were developed from the English Cocker in the 19th century, to retrieve quail and woodcock. Originally they were divided from the English Cocker solely on the basis of size, but over the years they were bred for specific traits and the differences grew greater. By the 1940s the American Cocker differed so much in type from the English Cocker that it became impossible to judge them together and in 1945 the two breeds were separated and each officially recognised with their own standards. Bred as hunting dogs they still retain some of their hunting instincts, some are still kept as working dogs but most are now commonly found in the show ring or as companions. The American Cocker is one of America’s most popular breeds.
American Cockers come in a variety of colours: black, any solid colour other than black, particolours, roans and tricolours. Some tan can also be seen in the coat.
American Cocker Spaniels are small-bodied, compact dogs. They are workmanlike dogs and well balanced. They are noted for their rounded head and full, silky coat with feathering on ears, chest, abdomen and legs. They move in a smooth, co-ordinated way and appear to cover the ground effortlessly.
Dogs should ideally measure between 36 - 39cms at the withers and bitches measure between 34 - 37 cms. Both dogs and bitches weigh between 11 and 13kg.
The American Cocker has quite a few health problems although many can be treated and with proper care and attention the incidence of others will be lowered. Pups should always be chosen from healthy stock and it is particularly important to do so in this breed because of the number of potential problems. Purchasers should insist on seeing a current eye certificate for both parents because of the number of eye problems in this breed. It is important that the certificate is current as some problems, e.g. cataracts, may not appear until the dog is several years old.
The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Gundog Group. They will both point and fetch game and although still used as a field dog, are today more often seen in the show ring or as companion dogs.
American Cockers are relatively easy dogs to feed as they are small dogs and not fussy eaters. They are not normally greedy but do require a good quality food to keep their coats in good condition.
Although feeding costs are low, other expenses are potentially high. They have long silky coats which will benefit from professional attention at intervals. Skin problems are rather common and these can lead to considerable expense over a period of time.
American Cockers are cheerful intelligent dogs with a lively curiosity and make ideal companions. They are adaptable and suit both town and country dwellers but are demanding of the owners time. They have great personalities and are known to be mischievous with minds of their own, owners need to be gentle and patient with these dogs. Novice owners would be advised to speak to an expert before purchasing.
The American Cocker is an intelligent dog. Being eager to please and very adaptable they are easy to train for field work, showing or companionship.
Suitability for Children
Overall Exercise Requirement
The American Cocker enjoys exercise which they need on a regular basis, but they will be happy to live in a town with its reduced opportunities for free running. They love to swim and retrieve, and will happily play any 'fetch' games with the family. They do not really enjoy too much 'rough and tumble' play so they should be supervised with young children in case the games become too rough!
Suitability as a Guard Dog
Ease of Transportation
Other Animal Compatibility
American Cocker Spaniels are labour intensive dogs and need a thorough grooming every day. They require trimming at intervals, particularly working cockers as an untrimmed coat is impractical for these dogs. They also need bathing quite often to clean their skin and minimise odour. Their ears require careful attention as airflow is restricted and ear infections often occur, in addition the long ears will trail in food bowls unless specially designed ones are used, and will need regular cleaning. Eyes should be checked regularly and attention must be paid to the lip folds, making sure that they are clean and free from infection. Teeth will benefit from regular cleaning. Feet should be checked for matted hair or dried mud. Attention to these details will ensure that not only is the dog clean, tidy and comfortable but will help lessen or avoid many of the skin problems that would otherwise require veterinary attention.