The Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK, and it’s easy to see why. Their fun and playful nature and happy disposition make them a joy to be around and great with young children.
If you are thinking about getting a Cocker Spaniel or just want to learn more about these loveable dogs, check out these ten fun facts.
1. Cocker Spaniel’s are easily recognisable
You can always recognise a Cocker Spaniel thanks to their adorable floppy ears and their lovely, round eyes, which are usually dark or hazel brown colour. Cockers also come in various colours, and their coats tend to be silky and flat, with feathery legs. While their luxurious coats certainly make them recognisable, it does mean owners need the services of a professional groomer to keep it looking pawfect.
2. Cockers may have travelled to America on the Mayflower
Records show that two dogs were passengers on the Mayflower, an English ship that travelled from England to New England in 1620. One of the dogs was a Mastiff, and the other was a Spaniel. However, at that point, the different types of Spaniel, including Cockers, hadn’t been distinguished from each other yet.
3. Cockers were bred to hunt
Spaniels came from Spain and were originally bred as hunting dogs in the 1400s. The Spaniel breed encompassed a wide variety of dogs of different shapes and colours. Each had different qualities that helped hunters in the field. Eventually, the dogs were divided into land Spaniels and water Spaniels, with Cocker Spaniels, mainly used for hunting on land.
4. There are two different types of Cocker Spaniel
They may look similar, but the English and American Cocker Spaniel are considered by the American Kennel Club as two separate breeds. During the 19th century, both English and American dog breeds started to focus on different traits. American Cockers are generally smaller and have more rounded heads. Meanwhile, English Cocker Spaniels have longer snouts and less prominent eyebrows. The two dog breeds eventually became different enough to be considered two separate breeds in 1945.
5. Cockers are closely related to Springers
Initially, a litter of Spaniels would produce both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels. The smaller dogs got the task of hunting a type of bird called Woodcock that flies low to the ground. This is how the Cocker Spaniel breed earned its name. The larger dogs in the litter were given the name Springer due to their ability to spring into bushes and scare flying birds. In 1892, the English Kennel Club officially recognised them as different breeds.
6. Cocker Spaniels inspired the deck shoe
When Paul Sperry noticed his Cocker Spaniel called Prince running around on ice without any problems, it made him think about the grip of the dog’s paws. He saw that his pup’s paw pads had wave-like grooves. This inspired Sperry’s 1935 patent for a sole with what he called a Razor-Siping. This led to Sperry’s Top-Siders, the first boat shoes with excellent traction and white soles to not leave marks on the boat. In the UK, these shoes are better known as deck shoes and worn on and off the boat in various styles.
7. A Cocker Spaniel became a star of the big screen
Possibly the most famous Cocker Spaniel in the world is Lady from Lady and the Tramp. The Cocker’s silky hair, long ears and sensible nature made the breed the ideal choice to play the elegant Lady.
8. Cocker Spaniel’s are popular with celebrities
It’s not surprising that their adorable looks, gentle personalities and friendly nature has made Cocker Spaniels a favourite with celebrities. Oprah Winfrey once had two Cockers called Sadie and Solomon, and David and Victoria Beckham adopted a Cocker named Olive. Actor George Clooney is the owner of Einstein, a rather elderly Cocker Spaniel and even Prince William and Duchess Kate have a Cocker Spaniel called Lupo, who was given to the couple as a wedding present.
9. Cocker Spaniel’s are very smart
Cocker Spaniel’s are very intelligent animals and very fast learners. The dogs get pleasure at pleasing their owner and being obedient, making them a joy to train. They are also used a lot by police as sniffer dogs because of their intelligence and ability to sniff out items such as drugs, money, and guns.
10. The first cancer-detecting dog was a Cocker Spaniel
Scientists first confirmed that dogs could identify cancerous samples using their sense of smell in a study in 2004. A Cocker Spaniel called Tangle had the best success rate at detecting cancer, with an accuracy of 56%. After researchers continued to work with Tangle, his success rate has now improved to 80%.
So there you have it, ten facts about the adorable Cocker Spaniel. How many did you already know?