AKC Dog Breeds: Cocker Spaniel

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Sporting Group
Height: 14-16 inches   Weight: 15-30 pounds  Color: black, buff, or chocolate

Exhibited in the US since the 1880s, the Cocker Spaniel remains one of the most popular breeds. The Cocker Spaniel is a smaller sized spaniel that has wonderful temperament and boundless energy. They are great dogs for families as well as single people. The American Cocker Spaniel was developed by very selective breeding of the English Cocker Spaniel, although the two now look distinctly different. The American Cocker Spaniel is more of a companion dog and less likely to be used for hunting than the original English Cocker Spaniel. Through selective breeding in the United States the Cocker Spaniel has become smaller and showier than the original hunting breed.

General Appearance
The head of the Cocker Spaniel is dome shaped between the long, pendulous and well feathered ears. The eyes are very round and positioned towards the center of the muzzle, dark and very soft looking while still giving a twinkle of merriment and interest in their surroundings. The muzzle has a defined stop at the eyes then is rather square and broad in appearance down to the nose. The nose is large and noticeable with black coloration on dark coated dogs and a more brown color on the lighter coat colors. The upper lips are relatively long and hang down beyond the level of the lower jaw but are tight to the mouth. The neck is short and very erect from the shoulders, which are muscular and well developed. The legs tend to be rather short and well feathered, making them appear slightly heavier than they really are. The coat of the Cocker Spaniel is varied in length with the hair on the head short and sleek and the hair on the ears, neck and chest being moderately long and well feathered. The rest of the body including the legs is well feathered with a silky, fine and flat hair that is easy to care for and very silky to the touch.


The Cocker Spaniel is a happy, friendly and enthusiastic dog that is great with families and children. A charming and gentle mannered creature, the Cocker Spaniel is a dog that enjoys playing but also has a clam and dignified manner about him. This is a dog that gets along well with children, especially when raised with them, and get on well with other animals and with strangers. The Cocker Spaniel is a sociable and amiable dog with a cheerful outlook on life and a responsive attitude. He is highly intelligent making him a stand-out at obedience training. Owners may find that these dogs are difficult to housebreak, and often barking can be a problem. These dogs are affectionate, which is great news for those looking for a devoted pet, but the Cocker Spaniel can sometimes get a little over dedicated and clingy, which makes him something of a demanding pet, and certainly not ideal for those that cannot dedicate the time to look after a pet and pay it plenty of attention.


The Cocker Spaniel requires regular care and ideally daily or every other day brushing to stay in top shape. Their long, silky coat is prone to tangling and matting but is easy to maintain with a quick five minute grooming routine each day. These dogs love the attention so grooming really is simple and easy. He is a medium shedder, which means that he is not ideal for those with allergies. The eyes and ears of the Cocker Spaniel will need special care. The eyes should be carefully cleaned with a water dampened cotton cloth. Also, during grooming sessions you should check the ear canals to ensure that they are clean and dry.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Cocker Spaniel is around 10-14 years, and there are a number of health problems that are linked to this breed. This includes PRS. HD, cataracts, autoimmune problems, skin conditions, and epilepsy.

Activity Level
The Cocker Spaniel is, by nature, a very active dog, especially when they are young. As they mature the need for long, sustained exercise is much less, but they still enjoy a brisk walk or a run through the park on a daily basis. The wonderful adaptability of the Cocker Spaniel means that they can adjust to various levels of exercise and although they are an active dog, can tolerate periods of inactivity without becoming hyper and destructive in the house, as long as the inactivity is not prolonged.


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Cocker Spaniel profile on dog encyclopedia
Cocker Spaniel dog on dog encyclopedia