American Cocker Spaniel Dog

The American Cocker Spaniel dog is a breed of sporting dog. It is also known by some other names such as Cocker Spaniel, Cocker, Merry Cocker etc. The breed is usually called the Cocker Spaniel in the United States, while it is called the American Cocker Spaniel elsewhere in the world.

The American Cocker Spaniel is a spaniel type dog that is closely related to the English Cocker Spaniel. These two breeds diverged during the 20th Century. The word cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock in England. While spaniel is thought to be derived from the type’s origins in Spain.

The first spaniel in America came across with the Mayflower in 1620, but it was not until 1878 that the first Cocker Spaniel was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC).

A national breed club was set up three years later and the dog considered to be the father of the modern breed, Ch. Obo II, was born around this time.

The English and American varieties of the Cocker had become noticeably different by the 1920s. And AKC recognized the English type as a separate breed in 1946.

It was not until 1970 that The Kennel Club in the UK recognized the American Cocker Spaniel as being separate from the English type. The American Cocker was the most popular breed in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s and again during the 1980s, reigning for a total of 18 years.

They have also won the best in show title at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on four occasions, the best in show title at Crufts in 2017, and have been linked to the President of the United States on several occasions, with owners including Richard Nixon and Harry S. Truman.

The cocker spaniel ranked 29th the American Kennel Club registration statistics of historical comparisons and notable trends in 2013. The American Cocker Spaniel dog breed is the smallest of the sporting dogs recognized by the AKC. And it’s distinctly shaped head makes it immediately recognizable.

There are some marked differences between the American Cocker Spaniel dog and it’s English relative. The American Cocker Spaniel is a happy breed with average working intelligence. Although, by being bred to a show standard, it is no longer an ideal working dog.[1]

American Cocker Spaniel Dog Characteristics

The American Cocker Spaniel dogs are very beautiful with attractive appearance. They are the smallest dogs recognized by the AKC as a sporting dog. They have medium long silky fur on the body and ears, hanging down on the legs and belly.

The head of the American Cocker Spaniel dogs has an upturned nose and the ears hang down. The head makes the breed immediately recognizable, with the rounded dome of the skull, well-pronounced stop and a square shape tip.

Their drop ears are long, low set with long silky fur. And their eyes are dark, large and rounded. Their nose can be black or brown depending on the color of the breed.

The coat of the breed come in a variety of shades with the colors being separated into three main groups: black/black and tan, any solid color other than black (ASCOB), and parti-color. The black variety is either all black, or with tan points on the dog’s head, the feet and the tail in a pattern called black and tan.

The group known as ASCOB includes all other solid colors from light cream through to dark red, although some lighter coloring is allowed on the feathering according to standards. Parti-colored dogs are white with patches of another color such as black or brown, and includes any roan colored dogs. In addition, American Cockers coats can come in a pattern known as merle, which is not recognized by the American Kennel Club.

American Cockers have rounder eyes, a domed skull, shorter muzzle and more clearly pronounced eyebrows than the English Cockers. Head of the English Cockers is more setter-like.

In colors, the roan colors are rarer in the American variety than in the English but the shade of buff which is common in the American is not seen in the English breed at all, although there are English Cocker Spaniels which are considered to be a shade of red. The English breed is also slightly larger in size.

The mature American Cocker Spaniel dog is between 13.5 and 15.5 inches tall at the withers. Average live body weight of the mature dogs is between 11 and 14 kg, with the females are usually weighing slightly less than the males.

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The American Cocker Spaniel breed standard defines the ideal dog of the breed as being “equable in temperament with no suggestion of timidity.” The breed ranks 20th in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, a rating that indicates good “Working or Obedience Intelligence”, or trainability.

IQ tests run on a variety of breeds in the 1950s and 1960s showed that the American Cocker performed the best when tested on its ability to show restraint and delayed response to a trigger, a trait which was put down to the breed’s bred-in ability when hunting to freeze upon finding a bird before flushing it out on command.

But the American Cocker Spaniel dogs proved to be the worst breed tested when it come to manipulating objects with their paws, for instance uncovering a dish of food for pulling on a string.

The American Cocker Spaniel dog can get along with people, children, other dogs and other pets, with a good level of socialization at an early age. They seem to have a perpetually wagging tail and prefers to be around people, and they are not best suited to the backyard alone.

The American Cocker Spaniel dogs can be easily stressed by loud noises and by rough treatment or handling. The breed was originally used as hunting dogs, but increased in popularity as a show dog. It was bred more and more in conformation with the breed standard, resulting in certain attributes, such as a long coat, which no longer make it an ideal working dog.


Average lifespan of the American Cocker Spaniel dog is between 12 and 15 years.


How much a mature dog eats depends on it’s size, age, build, metabolism and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high quality dry food a day is recommended for an American Cocker Spaniel dog.


Despite the beautiful looks and cute, round eyes, the American Cocker Spaniel dog is a hunter at heart. It is also a good candidate for many canine sports, especially agility and obedience competitions, hunt tests, flyball or tracking.

Like most other dog breeds, the American Cocker Spaniel is better behaved when active than when it is allowed to get bored (which can lead to such behavior problems as barking, digging and chewing).

The American Cocker Spaniel dogs are well suited to living in an apartment. Though of course, they love to share a house and yard. Although, they don’t need vast space to roam, they just need daily activity.

A daily romp in the yard along with a brisk 30-minute walk can keep them happy and trim. Then bring the dog inside with you — the Cocker is not pleased to be left alone outdoors for the day, and it may respond by digging or barking to keep itself amused. It is most content when it is with it’s family, participating in the group’s activities.


The American Cocker Spaniel dogs are generally healthy. But like all other dog breeds, they are also prone to certain health conditions. Their common health problems include eye problems, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, hypothyroidism, primary seborrhea, allergies, idiopathic epilepsy, cannine hip dysplasia, patellar luxation etc. Keep good contact with a vet in your area.

Breed NameAmerican Cocker Spaniel
Other NamesCocker Spaniel, Cocker, Merry Cocker
Breed SizeSmall
HeightBetween 13.5 and 15.5 at the withers
WeightBetween 11 and 14 kg
Good as petsYes
Climate ToleranceAll climates
Lifespan12 to 15 years
Good for childrenYes
Country of OriginUnited States

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