The English Cocker Spaniel dog breed belongs to the Sporting Group, but it has a distinctive look within that group. Their affectionate eyes, and a gentle temperament to match, are often deceiving, considering that these dogs are excellent hunters. In fact, compared to the related American Cocker Spaniel breed, the English Cocker Spaniels retain more of their hunting prowess even now. Nevertheless, they make excellent family dogs, especially for people who have an active lifestyle.
The Spaniel Group of dogs enjoys not only wide popularity, but they have the most number of breeds. There are water spaniels and land spaniels according to the area of operation of these sporting dogs, and the English Cocker Spaniel is considered a land spaniel. Spaniel breeds have been around for more than 500 years, and have been extensively used for hunting.
In the 19th century, smaller spaniel breeds, like this one, were employed for hunting woodcock, while the larger breeds mainly had the duty of springing game. However, they were both the same breed initially, and years of selective breeding for the different purposes led to them being recognized as separate breeds in 1893. The smaller type, typically weighing less than 25 pounds retained the name English Cocker Spaniel.
The breed became extremely popular in England by the beginning of the 20th century, by which time the weight limit no longer applied as the dogs were bred according to the demand by the people. Their popularity rose in the United States also, but the American breeders brought in some changes in the breed characteristics in 1936, that are different from those of a typical English Cocker Spaniel of England.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a compact dog measuring up to 16 inches at the withers and weighing up to 32 pounds. Even though they share much of the characteristics of Springer Spaniels, this breed is smaller in size, but slightly larger than the American Cocker Spaniels.
The English Cocker Spaniels come in several solid colors such as black, brown, and tan and also in color combinations involving blue, liver, orange, black and brown with white, grey, tan and fawn. Solid white is rare, and puppies born white are more likely to be deaf. The floppy, hairy ears are long, extending up to the tip of the nose. The feathery tail is medium long unless docked.
The English Cocker Spaniel dog breed is known for its happy and playful nature, and is often referred to as “merry cockers.” They are very affectionate and devoted to their family and are equally demonstrative of their feelings, wagging their tail constantly. These gentle dogs are very sensitive too, and get stressed easily if they are handled roughly. They are highly intelligent dogs and can be trained to be obedient by gentle training with positive reinforcements.
These friendly dogs desire human company, but early socialization ensures that they get along well with other pets, children and people. They are known to be attached to one person in the family more than the others, usually the person feeding the dog.
Grooming and exercise
The English Cocker Spaniel dog breed with its medium long shaggy coat requires a thorough brushing 2-3 times a week, the show dogs requiring more frequent grooming. The long hair around the eyes, head, and feet should be clipped once a month.
English Cocker Spaniels are high energy dogs that require plenty of workouts and activities to expend their store of energy. They should ideally have a free run of a large yard or open fields. Even though several brisk walks should meet some of their exercise needs, they should have some daily activities and play time in a protected yard to remain happy.
With a long history as a sporting dog used to the rough life, English Cocker Spaniels can live outdoors day and night during all seasons except in extreme temperatures.
Common health issues of English Cocker Spaniel dog breed
The English Cocker Spaniel dog breed is known to have a few health problems, the most common among them being progressive retinal atrophy and patellar luxation. They are prone to hip dysplasia, cataract and a kind of kidney disorder called familial nephropathy. Cardiac problems and hypothyroidism may occur too. The dogs should be tested for eye and ear disorders as well as musculoskeletal problems. With proper care, this breed can live up to 12-14 years.