The American Cocker Spaniel

Origins and History

The American Cocker Spaniel is directly descended from the English Cocker and was “rehabilitated” in America due to different breed standards from those in England. It was first registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878. The term ‘cocker’ comes from the breed’s origins hunting Woodcock, and the spaniel refers to the roots of the breed in Spain. 


Character and abilities

The American Cocker Spaniel is a happy and playful dog, full of energy, as all Spaniels are known. Affectionate and playful, this small dog breed is a very good companion for children so long as they are socialized and trained appropriately. He gets along well with other animals. Born as a hunting dog, it is now raised mainly as a companion dog and for dog shows. This is a very beautiful natured dog whose character is much milder than the English breed. They are of average working intelligence, and as such, are not working dogs so much any more. They are easy going, and respectful of their pack-leaders authority. However, they can be quite shy and nervous, if not socialized well, and can develop snappiness or defensiveness especially around the unpredictableness of children.



The Cocker spaniel is easy going, and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. Like all dogs, they require consistent and regular training. You, as their pack leader, and the rest of the family, all need to use the same commands, hand movements, and the same corrections for bad behavior. Dogs respond to consistency. They don’t understand the concept of ‘sometimes’. If they were allowed up on the bed for a snuggle one day, then in their mind, that means always, so it is unfair to tell them off the next time they jump up on the bed. This leads to confusion and anxiety in the dog, as they now don’t know their boundaries. They are calm and relaxed when they know what they can and cant do.



These dogs, with good early socialization to people and other dogs, will generally always be seen with their tail wagging, and enjoy the company of their family more than being left alone. If not socialized well, they can tend to be a shy and reserved dog. It is highly recommended to take this breed running and walking as often as possible, ideally for a good walk once a day, because its origins and natural instincts are still those of a hunting dog. The desire to keep their coat beautiful, especially in a dog show contestant, should never go against the happiness of the dog.


Living conditions and adaptability

They are suited to an apartment so long as they get regular time outside walking and playing. They will be quite active inside and are not suited to being left alone for long times. They would prefer a small secure yard if being left at home while the family is away at work. As a social dog, the Cocker Spaniel is definitely not suited to being left outside in a kennel. They will become part of the family and will be happiest inside with you. They can develop separation anxiety and become quite destructive if not socialized, exercised and trained appropriately.



Sturdy strong dog, however they can be prone to ear and eye infections, and sometimes heart problems. Their previous popularity and high demand increased the incidence of ‘backyard breeders’ and puppy mills. This indiscriminate breeding has resulted in a certain breed related health problems becoming more common.

Average life expectancy: about 14 years


Physical characteristics

This small dog is the English Cocker “in the extreme”, with very marked characteristics but slightly smaller. The body is short and compact. The head is well proportioned and very chiseled. The muzzle is short and straight. The eyes are large, dark in color. The ears are drooping and fringed with fine feathers.

Hypoallergenic: no

Coat: it is short and fine on the head, medium, flat and slightly wavy length, but never curly, on the body. The ears, chest, abdomen and back part of the legs are feathered but these fringes should never hide the lines and movements of the dog.

Color:  depending on the variety, black, black and tan colored buffalo leather in its different shades, white and black, white orange, tan, roan.

Grooming the spaniel needs a lot of grooming, washing and clipping as they shed quite a lot.

Size: 15 inches maximum for males and 14 inches maximum for female

Weight: 26 pounds



Energy Level


Good with kids