Learn The Differences Between
The English and The American Cocker Spaniel
The American Cocker was developed from the English Cocker Spaniel around the 19th century. Both breeds were originally bred as gun-dogs; they were used to flush, point and retrieve small birds such as woodcock and quail.
At first, the two 'breeds' were differentiated by their size; the smaller dog became known as the American Cocker Spaniel, and the larger of the two, the English Cocker Spaniel.
Later, they were bred for different traits, and so their differences began to grow and become more apparent until, in 1945, both breeds were officially recognised in their own right, with their own breed standards.
Cocker Spaniels are outgoing and very friendly, have a rather loveable nature, and are particularly good around children which makes this breed good family dogs.
They're intelligent and respond well to training, however, they are very gentle and can sometimes be a little sensitive.
They don't like rough training or handling (particularly from over-excited children) so it's important that children understand how to behave around their pets.
Both breeds are very eager to please and quite adaptable, making them easy to train for field work, for showing, or simply for being our 'best friend'.
Although there are similarities between the American breed and its English cousin, the head and skull are very different.
The scull of the American dog is much more rounded, and its muzzle is broad and deep-set and is much shorter than the English Spaniel.
Their ears are long and pendulous, low set, and are covered with long silky fur which can be straight or slightly waved.
Their eyes are one of their most appealing features; they're large, dark, round (rather than oval) and forward looking, rather than set to the sides of the head.
Their look is alert, but gentle and appealing.
The American Spaniel's eyebrows are distinct and have a very definite stop, unlike the more gently graduated head of the English breed. Their back is shorter, and gently slopes from withers to tail.
Their coats come in three major colours: black, ASCOB (any solid colour other than black), and parti-colours.
The body of their coats (which can be either flat or slightly wavy) is long, silky, and flows luxuriously to floor length.
They're heavily feathered on their ears, legs, chest and underbelly.
A working dog needs to be able to chase through the undergrowth without being snagged, and if left long and flowing, that's exactly what happens. Their coat is often caught up in brambles and barbs so it's best if a working dog's coat is kept well-groomed and trimmed.
Both the English and the American Cocker Spaniel's coats need a lot of attention.
I recommend you brush your dog at least two to three times each week and take him to a professional groomer once every three months - unless of course, you learn how to groom your Spaniel and do it yourself.
The American Spaniel is a medium-sized dog; it's the smallest of the gun-dog group and is slightly smaller than its English cousin.
It's compact and muscular, and has great endurance and speed, but don't let its delicate appearance fool you, it's a tough little dog!
According to the Kennel Club (UK), the American Cocker's average height ranges somewhere between 34cm and 39cm.
They specify that the ideal height for a male dog is 37-39cm and for bitches it's 34-37cm.
They recommend that the weight of an adult male American Cocker spaniel should be between 13 and 16 kg.
As the adult female is slightly smaller than the male, the female American Spaniel should weigh somewhere between 12 and 15 kg.
The average lifespan of the American breed is slightly lower than it's English cousins - somewhere between 10 and 11 years - although, similar to the English, many American Spaniels live longer lives than the suggested 'average' figure.
The Kennel Club (UK) maintains that the ideal height for an English Spaniel male is between 39 cm and 41 cm.
Whereas the English Cocker bitch should be between 38 cm and 39 cm.
The American Kennel Club however, suggests slightly different sizes for the English breed, ranging in size for both male and female from 38-43 cm tall at the shoulder and 11.82-15.45 kg in weight.
And, specifically for males, they should reach 40.6 cm-43.2 cm and for the females, 38.1 cm-40.6 cm.
According to the American Kennel Club, the most desirable weight for an English male dog is in the region of 12.7-15.45 kg and for bitches it's 11.8-14.5 kg.
The average lifespan of the English Spaniel is somewhere between 10-12 years, although many do live longer.
Both breeds are susceptible to a few health problems (as most breeds are) and are known to be prone to certain hereditary diseases.
One particular health problem is ear infections and unless you keep your dog's ears very clean, bacteria will set up home and once it does, it can be very difficult to move. Trust me, I know - it too over 6 months to rid Max of a particularly stubborn ear infection!
It's very important to keep your Spaniel's ears clean and dry, especially if he's been swimming!
Both breeds can also suffer from eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), glaucoma, and cataracts, and are also prone to luxating patellas and hip dysplasia.
According to the Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee, the main causes of death in the American Cocker Spaniel are cancer, old age, cardiac, and immune related diseases (illnesses which result from abnormal activity of the body's immune system).
A summary of their report entitled, 'Purebred Dog Health Survey for American Cocker Spaniels' can be viewed here.
Most of the information given on our website applies equally to both the English and the American Cocker Spaniel.
Photo Credits - In order of viewing:
1. EriKlam at http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-american-cocker-spaniel-image23177947
2. Liliya Kulianionak at http//www.dreamstime.com/Lilun_info
4. Michelle De Kock at http://www.dreamstime.com/english-cocker-spaniel-image13579192