The English Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized dog breed with long ears and a cheerful character. The "Cocker" in their name stems from their days of hunting woodcock in England, although English Cockers have also been used for hunting many other types of birds.
Spaniels of various sizes have been around for centuries. Spaniels come in two types: land spaniels and water spaniels. English Cockers are members of the land spaniel family. They got their name from the work they did, namely hunting woodcock, a type of game bird.
Until the last century, it was not uncommon for a litter of spaniels to have pups of different sizes. Breeders decided for which purpose the pups in their litters seemed most suitable, depending on their size, muscle mass, intelligence and stamina. Towards the end of the 19th century, however, British breeders began to subdivide the spaniels into specific breeds: English Springer, Welsh Springer, Cocker, Field, Sussex, Clumber, and Irish Water Spaniel.
All spaniels weighing less than 25 pounds (11.3 kg) were classified as Cocker Spaniels. There was some disagreement about some of the weight designations, however, so it was eventually decided that type would be more important than weight in determining the breed of dog. In 1885, the English Spaniel Club was founded. One of the club's first tasks was to create breed standards for each of the different spaniel types.
Across the ocean, the development of Cockers went in a different direction. American breeders selected for smaller dogs with a more rounded skull, shorter muzzle, and heavier coat. By 1935, it was clear that American and English Cocker Spaniels were two very different types.
The English Cocker is described as cheerful and affectionate with an even temperament. It is playful, highly trainable, and friendly to people and other dogs. English Cockers bark to let you know someone is coming, so they are good watchdogs, but as typical spaniels, they will happily show the burglar where the silver is.
- Adult onset neuropathy (nerve disease in adulthood)
- Hip dysplasia (developmental hip disorder)