American Cocker Spaniel
Other names: American Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniels are happy and playful dogs, with lots of energy, just like all Spaniels. Affectionate and playful, they are very good playmates for children. They are sociable dogs and they generally get on well with other animals. Born as hunting dogs, they are now mainly bred as pets.
Key facts about the American Cocker Spaniel
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Origins and history
The American Cocker Spaniel descends directly from the English Cocker Spaniel who was ‘readapted’ in America to suit their tastes and were made much more conspicuous than their British cousins. The first female Cocker Spaniel arrived in America in 1882. Gradually, the American Cocker Spaniel became a breed in its own right and was no longer a variety of the English Cocker Spaniel. The breed was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1946. The World Canine Organisation officially recognised the breed in 1965.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs
Section 2 : Flushing Dogs
Physical characteristics of the American Cocker Spaniel
Female : Between 13 and 14 in
Male : Between 15 and 15 in
Female : Between 15 and 31 lb
Male : Between 15 and 31 lb
Their coat can be jet black or any other solid colour, ranging from light cream to dark red. Their coats can also be two-coloured and multi-coloured (black and red, black and white, brown and white etc.)
Type of coat
Their coat is mid-length.
Their coat is short on their heads, mid-length on their bodies, and the hair itself can be silky, flat or slightly wavy.
Their eyes are dark brown.
They resemble an English Cocker Spaniel that has been “pushed to the extreme”, with accentuated characteristics yet smaller in size. Their bodies are short and compact. Their heads are well proportioned and very chiselled, with a pronounced stop. Their muzzle is short and straight. They have big eyes and droopy ears. Their tails are in the middle of their backs and it wags when they’re active.
Good to know
They are one of the most common breeds in America, and they are easy to identify as they are truly spectacular dogs. Some even have coats that go all the way down to the ground, which is almost never seen in their European counterparts.
American Cocker Spaniels, (named after where they originate from), are particularly friendly dogs who are always happy and cheerful. They have a lovely backstory and origins, which makes them very good family dogs.
They are very playful dogs who like to let off steam through playing, which allow them to spend time with humans and therefore strengthen these relationships.
They are sweet and affectionate and know how to be calm, nevertheless some dogs are more nervous than others.
American Cocker Spaniels are mentally and physically gifted, although they don’t often make the most of these abilities, they are definitely there! They excel in multiple disciplines and are not just there to stand on the podium at beauty pageants!
Behind their elegant, almost precious look, they are actually great working dogs. They are very good at hunting although they are much more commonly treated as pets these days.
Fearful / wary of strangers
These dogs are never timid or aggressive without reason. If they’re properly socialised they will have no problem when faced with strangers. The problem is that they will not be phased by potentially malicious intruders.
Although American Cocker Spaniels are good hunters, they are still real pet dogs in the sense that a lack of human interaction can make them unhappy.
Behaviour of the American Cocker Spaniel
The American Cocker Spaniel does not like it when their master is not present. They are at their happiest when all of members of their social group are present.
Easy to train / obedience
They have a docile nature and therefore you must make the most of when the puppy first arrives home, by starting training early and setting clear rules and limits.
They are rather sensitive dogs and don’t respond well to any form of brutality and can quickly become stubborn and difficult if they sense any type of violence, whether physical or psychological.
Nervous dogs can bark quite frequently, particularly those that are not used to being left alone or those that didn’t hear lots of different noises during their early development.
Tendency to run away
These dogs can run away if they’re following a trail, but given their dependence and strong attachment to their social group, they usually return quickly.
American Cocker Spaniels have a tendency to be destructive when left alone, especially in terms of destroying objects that smell like their master.
Greedy / Gluttony
It is impossible to find a greedier breed of dog; they’ll eat anything edible!
Having said this, treats are a very good source of motivation when doing training. However, be careful not to overdo these to maintain their weight.
They are dreadful guard dogs because they befriend everyone, even thieves!
There are many reasons why the American Cocker Spaniel is a great first dog; they are docile, affectionate, sociable, playful and sporty. They are suited to various living environments and many different types of homes.
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American Cocker Spaniel in a flat
In order for American Cocker Spaniels to live happily in an apartment, it is important to provide this dog with regular exercise.
Although a house with a garden suits them perfectly, they can adapt to a city life if they are taken out several times a day (as long as these walks are sufficient and not just around the neighbourhood).
Need for exercise / Sporty
When you first see this dog, you might think that they are a precious dog that only appreciates comfort and luxury; in fact, they’re quite sturdy and are capable of great things, not just winning beauty contests!
If they are well trained, they can, for example, excel in disciplines such as agility, obedience-rhythm or tracking.
Travelling / easy to transport
As long as they get used to it from a young age, these dogs are very happy travelling and will follow their master without any fuss.
American Cocker Spaniel and cats
It is important to channel the hunting instinct of this dog to ensure the safety of everyone in case they live with a cat. However, if the two animals grow up together and the cat does not have a fear-based ‘fight’ reaction, they can get on well.
American Cocker Spaniel and dogs
They are friendly in nature and need to socialise with other dogs from a young age so that their future encounters with other dogs are positive.
American Cocker Spaniel and children
They are family dogs and love homes with children as they are able to play with them.
American Cocker Spaniel and the elderly
Due to the fact that these dogs do not like being alone, living with the elderly, (particularly those who are retired), is a major asset for American Cocker Spaniels. Nevertheless, their exercise and activity needs should not be overlooked as they will not appreciate a sedentary lifestyle.
The price of an American Cocker Spaniel varies according to their origin, age and sex. On average, a pedigree dog costs £800.
On average, it will cost £25/month to meet this dog’s needs.
Their eyes and ears must be cleaned carefully once or twice a week.
In terms of grooming, these dogs need to be brushed once or twice a week to maintain their beautiful coats. In addition, professional grooming is recommended roughly every two months.
Grooming these dogs is very difficult, especially for show dogs, which is why professional grooming is recommended to get the best results.
These dogs usually have an annual moulting period where they lose a moderate amount of hair.
Nutrition of the American Cocker Spaniel
This type of Spaniel does not need a specific diet, it is happy with anything. They are very greedy dogs, so be careful not to overfeed them to avoid them gaining too much weight.
We advise that they are taken to the vet during their first few months of life to ensure their healthy development.
A single daily meal is sufficient, as long as it consists of good quality of dry food or prepared meals. Their masters must make balanced meals that are adapted to the daily exercise level of the dog, their age and their health.
Health of the American Cocker Spaniel
Their life expectancy is around 13 years.
Strong / robust
These dogs are strong and robust but are still affected by several health issues.
Like many dogs, heat is not usually a problem for these Spaniels as long as their activities are well timed (walks early in the morning and late at night), they have accessible fresh water and a shaded area to relax in.
This dog has a good undercoat which provides some protection from the cold. However we recommend that they don’t sleep outside.
Tendency to put on weight
If this greedy dog’s masters give into their sweet looks and give them endless treats, then they will put on weight and may even become obese.
- Ocular problems (cataracts, glaucoma etc.)
- Cardiac malformation
- Ear infections
- Type 7 Glycogenosis (genetic illness which affects carbohydrate metabolism)
- Factor X deficiency or Stuart-Prower factor deficiency
- Renal cortical hyperplasia
- Renal failure
- Liver problems
- Cancer (unspecified)