English Cocker Spaniel
An Adorable Dog Who Rewards Assertive Owners with Loyalty and Obedience To Firm but Gentle Rules
English Cocker Spaniel puppies are most adorable dogs! The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest dog breeds around. It was originally imported into England several centuries ago, but subsequently split into seven different spaniel breeds (the English Springer; the Cocker Spaniel (also known as the “American” Cocker Spaniel in other parts of the world); the Sussex; the Clumber; the Welsh Springer; the Irish Water; and the Field). The American Cocker Spaniel is an entirely different breed, separate from the English Cocker Spaniel. The name "cocker" is a reference to the woodcock, a bird that English Cocker Spaniels flushed out during pursuit of game. These obedient, highly intelligent dogs are still used for retrieval and tracking work, as watchdogs, and on hunting expeditions. They also excel in agility and competitive obedience trials.
Spaniel-type dogs have been around for centuries, and were originally documented as either land or water spaniels in England. Differentiation among the breeds wasn't seen until the late 19th century. English Cocker Spaniel puppies are descendents of the original land spaniels of Spain and today are highly diversified in type, color, size, and ability to hunt. Before the 17th century, all spaniels were grouped together, but eventually were divided and distinguished by size and hunting ability. English Cockers were originally known as the "small land spaniel" group, with the kennel club in England finally recognizing Springers and Cockers as separate breeds in 1892. Confusion continued, however, as Cockers and Springers continued to have separate distinctions even if they were sometimes of the same litter, with the only discernable difference being their size.
In 1935, the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was formed to promote the English Cocker Spaniel. Different strains of the breed began to appear around that time, but many purists wanted to preserve the original English Cocker as a separate breed. As a result, the club strongly discouraged the interbreeding of American and English Cocker Spaniels. In 1946, the American Kennel Club finally recognized the two breeds of American and English Cocker Spaniel as separate, with the English classified as part of the sporting group.
Compact, sturdy and amicable, the characteristic expression on the English Cocker Spaniel's face is one of alertness and intelligence. Typically, Cocker tails are docked in America, with show dogs' tails docked closer to the body. Docking is illegal in Scotland, South African, and Australia. In regard to breed standard, the English Cocker Spaniel stands between 13 and 16 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 29 and 32 pounds – different from the smaller American Cocker Spaniel, which stands 14 to 15 inches at shoulder, and weighs 24 to 29 pounds. The ears are lowhanging, and there is usually some feathering on the legs, abdomen, and chest.
Colors are usually a solid, singular color, or roan (characterized by “ticking”), and can have black, liver with brown spots; red with black or brown spots; gold with black or brown spots; or can be ash; silver; sable; black and tan; liver and tan; blue and roan; black and white; orange and white; lemon and white; and more. Obviously, a huge variety of colors is available! Occasionally, English Cocker Spaniels can be born a pure white, although they can be prone to deafness and are not encouraged as part of the breed.
English Cocker Spaniel puppies are very intelligent, sturdy and hardy dogs with a playful, affectionate, lovable, gentle, and very alert personality. Properly socialized, these dogs are very tolerant of children, wonderfully obedient to owners and quite outgoing with strangers. English Cocker Spaniels are extremely sensitive to voice, as well, so make sure you are calmly assertive rather than harsh and intimidating.
Because English Cocker Spaniels are so intelligent, though, you must maintain a firm but gentle stance with this breed. If your pet senses that it is in fact stronger-minded than you are, it will have no qualms whatsoever about trying to take the upper hand. Therefore, it's absolutely necessary that you are calmly dominant at all times to make sure you retain proper control of this dog. If given clear boundaries, however, English Cocker Spaniels are very obedient and willing to listen, as well as incredibly loving and loyal. A pet this intelligent will enjoy learning and has proven its aptitude for excellence in obedience training, as well as learning tricks, etc.
The breed is sometimes wrongly described as temperamental and even prone to violent and aggressive behavior, but this is in fact the fault of bad owners (and sometimes improper breeding). If you judiciously socialize your pet, provide consistent structure, and have purchased your dog from a reputable breeder, you should have no such problems. Using calm, stern authority on daily walks where you teach your dog to heel and take direction from you will ensure that your puppy develops into an excellent family pet.
Although the English Cocker Spaniel will easily accept life in an apartment if you give your pet sufficient exercise, this is a highly energetic, athletic dog that needs lots of physical as well as mental stimulation. Daily walks are a must, both for exercise purposes and to make sure you maintain "pack leader" status. It's important to understand that you're not doing your dog any favors if you let it take the lead. This will result in an unhappy, snappish, and even possibly dangerous dog that will try to take control. You as the pack leader should always "go first," both when you go for walks and in life in general. Take command, provide firm guidelines, lots of love, and plenty of mental and physical stimulation, and your dog will be a superb pet.
If you have established your dominance over your pet, the English Cocker Spaniel will behave well with children. Because poorly-socialized and improperly-trained English Cocker Spaniel puppies can be snappish and even dangerous, it is advised that you supervise your pet around small children until you're sure the dog can be trusted. This type of dog also cannot endure long periods of loneliness, so if you can't provide nearly constant human companionship, it's better to adopt a more independent breed.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a robust and sturdy breed, with few health problems. These dogs can easily live between 12 and 15 years, quite long-lived for a breed of this size. Because of the way the ears hang close to the ground so that burrs or ticks can invade, these dogs can be susceptible to ear infections. As they get older, English Cocker Spaniels are also prone to gaining weight, so make sure you feed only moderate amounts of food and provide plenty of exercise.
Your pet will require regular grooming and brushing. Coat types vary even within the breed, with some prone to matting. Bathe or dry shampoo as needed, taking special care to check the ears for debris and signs of infection. Most English Cocker Spaniel varieties have "feathers" over the feet, and this hair, too, should be groomed regularly, and trimmed as necessary. Hair around the feet pads should be trimmed, but not between the toes.