The American Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniels may be a little different from English Cocker Spaniels, but they're just as cute! Learn about the differences between these two wonderful breeds here.

American Cocker's History

The American Cocker was developed from the English Cocker Spaniel around the 19th century.

Cute, black and white American cocker spaniel, sitting.

Both breeds were originally bred as gun-dogs and were used to flush, point and retrieve small birds such as woodcock and quail.

At first, the two 'breeds' were differentiated by their size and the smaller of the two became known as the American 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.

In 1881 the American Spaniel Club was established but it wasn't until September 1946 before they formally recognized the English Cocker Spaniel.

Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

Both breeds are outgoing and very friendly, have a rather lovable nature, and are particularly good around children, which makes them ideal family dogs.

Cockers 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.

They're intelligent and respond well to training, however, they are very gentle and can sometimes be a little sensitive. The good news is that you can go some way to reducing this sensitivity by thorough socialisation while they're still young puppies.

Both the English and American Cocker Spaniels 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 Cocker and its English cousin, the head and skull are very different.

The scull of the American Cocker Spaniel is much more rounded, and its muzzle is broad and deep-set and much shorter than the English Cocker.

Their ears are long and pendulous, low set, and are covered with long silky fur which can be straight or slightly waved. Unfortunately, by their very design, both breeds are often prone to ear infections but if they're given extra attention, infections can easily be avoided.

It's also very important to keep their ears clean and dry, especially if they've been swimming!

Two very cute black American cocker puppies

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, gentle and appealing.

The American Spaniel's eyebrows are quite distinct and have a very definite stop, unlike the more gently graduated head of the English Cocker. Their back is shorter, and gently slopes from withers to tail.

The Cocker's Coat

The Cocker coat comes in three major colour types: 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 and 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 burs 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 fair amount of attention if they're to stay in good condition.

I recommend brushing your dog at least two to three times each week (more if you feel inclined) and take him to a professional groomer once every three or four months.

And if you'd like to learn how to groom your Spaniel yourself, you could save yourself a heap of cash!

American Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

His Ideal Height & Weight

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.

Beautiful light buff coloured American cocker spaniel sitting on grass

It is sturdy,  compact and muscular, and has great endurance and speed, but don't let this dainty looking dog fool you, the American Cocker is a tough little canine!

The American Cocker's average height ranges somewhere between 35.5 (14") and 38cm (15").

The ideal height for the male is 38 cm (15") and for bitches it's 35.5 cm (14") - an allowance of plus or minus 1.26 cm (0.5") is given for both. Height is measured from the top of their shoulders straight down to the ground.

The recommended weight of an adult male American Cocker spaniel is between 11 and 13 kg (24 and 28 lbs).

As a general rule, because the adult female is slightly smaller than the male, the female American Spaniel should weigh a little less.

Gorgeous golden English Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker's Lifespan

The average lifespan of the American breed is 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.

English Cocker's Ideal Height & Weight

The Kennel Club (UK) maintains that the ideal height for an English Spaniel male is between 39 cm and 41 cm (15-16").

Whereas the English Cocker bitch should ideally be between 38 cm and 39 cm (15-15.5").

Generally, their ideal weight is between 12 to 14.5 kg but that really depends on the size and age of the dog and females generally weigh less.

The English Cocker Spaniel's Lifespan

The average lifespan of the English Spaniel is somewhere between 10-12 years, although many do live longer.

American Cocker Spaniel Health

Both breeds are susceptible to a few health problems (as are most canine breeds) 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 took over 6 months to rid Max of a particularly stubborn ear infection - learn to spot the signs of ear infection in dogs!

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).

Want More Info on the American Cocker Spaniel?

Most of the information given on our website applies equally to both the English and the American Cocker Spaniel.

However, should you want more specific information on the American Cocker Spaniel, you can get it from The Kennel Club here. 

If you'd like to read more about the English Cocker Spaniel's characteristics and temperament you can do so here.

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