The American Cocker Spaniel

Quick Facts

-Good for novice dog owners
-Good with children
-Good with other animals
-Medium size
-Medium exercise needs
-Medium to high shedding
-Low watchdog abilities
-High ease of training

American Cocker Spaniels are descendents of the English Cocker Spaniel. The first spaniel came across on the Mayflower. In 1878, a liver and white Cocker Spaniel named Captain was the first to be registered with the American Kennel Club. The breed became more and more popular and by the end of the 1800s, American Cocker Spaniels were much loved as both family and hunting dogs.

American Cocker Spaniels are extremely friendly. In fact, they are known as the "Merry Cocker" and are very affectionate, great with kids and family friends, and even strangers. They are far too friendly to be considered good guard dogs. They might bark when the doorbell is rung, but as soon as the person comes inside they become friends. They are very active members of the family and should not be relegated to the backyard. They would much rather be inside with their people.

Some do have a tendency to be sensitive and timid so do not attempt to train with any brutality or force. Training should be positive and reward focused. Some American Cocker Spaniels can be barkers; some can be hard to housebreak. For good results, training should be patient and gentle. Loud or violent training can result in them being defensive and snappy.

American Cocker Spaniels, because of their gentle demeanors and small size are good dogs for apartments or houses. They do require an hour or so of exercise daily. Cocker Spaniels from working lines require considerably more exercise than those from pet/show lines. Those from working lines are bred for stamina and if they don’t get enough exercise they can become destructive. Because of their athletic ability, they do well in obedience and agilty trials, and make excellent bicycling and jogging companions.

Appearance and Grooming
American Cocker Spaniels grow to 14-15 inches in height and weigh an average of 26 pounds. They have long silky fur on their ears and body. Their hair hangs down on their belly and legs and they should be brushed twice a week. They come in many colors, including black, liver with different colored pigmentation, golden with different colored pigmentation, red with brown or black pigmentation, sable, silver, and white with black or brown pigmentation. There are also black and tan, liver and tan, red/golden and tan, and tiger striped varieties available (although the tiger striping is considered a fluke or the result of inbreeding)

Unfortunately, a lot of irresponsible breeders have caused health problems within the breed. Cockers are prone to eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma, hemophilia, heart disease, PRA, skin conditions, cancer, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and eyelash/eyelid abnormalities. They are also prone to ear and eye infections. Perspective owners should buy from a breeder who offers puppies from parents who are OFA and CERF registered.

There is a "Rage Syndrome" (also called "Cocker Madness") issue with a very small number of dogs, including this breed. Most commonly associated with red/golden Cockers, it can occur in dogs of any color. No one knows for sure what causes it. If you suspect your dog suffers from Rage Syndrome, consult your vet.

American Cocker Spaniels enjoy very long lives and most reach 15-16 years.


Located in: Sporting