The American Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniels may be a little different from English Cocker Spaniels, but they're just as cute! While their differences may not be apparent, they will soon become obvious once you know what you're looking for. 

Read on to discover the differences between these two beautiful breeds.

The American Cocker: A Potted History

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

Both breeds were initially bred as gun dogs and were used for flushing, pointing, and retrieving small birds such as woodcock and quail.

At first, they were differentiated by their size. Eventually, the smaller of the two became known as the American Cocker Spaniel.

Black, tan, and white American cocker spaniel, sitting. Shown on a white background.A cute American Cocker Spaniel!

As time went by, they were bred for different traits. 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 recognised the English Cocker Spaniel.

English & American Cocker Spaniel Temperament &  Characteristics

Both breeds have a delightful temperament. They're outgoing and very friendly, have a rather lovable nature, and are particularly good around children, making them ideal family dogs.

Cockers don't enjoy rough training or handling (particularly from over-excited children), so the kids must understand how to behave around their pets.

They're intelligent and respond well to training; however, they are very gentle and can sometimes be slightly sensitive. The good news is that you can reduce this sensitivity by thorough socialisation while they're still young puppies.

Two very cute black American cocker puppies, posing for the camera. White background.Cute American Cocker Spaniel puppies!

The English and American Cocker Spaniels are eager to please and quite adaptable, making them easy to train for fieldwork, showing, or simply being your '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 covered with long silky fur, which can be straight or slightly waved.

Unfortunately, both breeds are prone to ear infections by their very design; however, infections can often be avoided if given extra attention.

Keeping their ears clean and dry is essential, especially if they've been swimming!

If you'd like to know more about the characteristics of the English Cocker Spaniel, follow the link.

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 very appealing.

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

The American Cocker's Coat

The American Cocker Spaniel's coat comes in the same colours as the English Cocker, for example, chocolate, black, golden, etc., parti-colours and roans. If you'd like to learn more about their coat colours, follow the link.

The body of their coats (which can be 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 on brambles and burs. If their coat is left long and flowing, that's precisely what happens, so it's best to keep a working dog's coat well-groomed and trimmed.

The English and the American Cocker Spaniel's coats need a fair amount of attention to stay in good condition.

I recommend brushing your dog at least two to three times each week (more if you feel inclined) and taking 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, but they're just as lovely.

Side view of a beautiful light buff coloured American cocker spaniel sitting on the grass.American Cockers are just as lovely as their English cousins.

They're sturdy, compact and muscular and have excellent 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 to the ground.

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

Generally, the female American Cocker should weigh slightly less because the adult female is slightly smaller than the male.

American Cocker Spaniel Lifespan

The average lifespan of the American breed is lower than its English cousins - between 10 and 11 years - although similar to the English, many American Cockers live longer lives than the suggested average figure.

Video: The American Cocker Spaniel

This video, by the American Kennel Club, is part of their dog breed series and shows  American Cocker Spaniels at their best to give you an idea of how beautiful they are.

This superb video will give you a better understanding of how the American Cocker looks and its cheeky personality. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

The English Cocker Spaniel

To help you see the difference between the English and the American Cocker Spaniel, you'll find a brief outline and a gorgeous photo of an English Cocker below.

Close up, head and shoulder shot of a gorgeous golden English Cocker Spaniel, sitting in a meadow. His long pink tongue lolling out of his mouth.Golden English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker's Ideal Height & Weight

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

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

Generally, their ideal weight is between 12 to 14.5 kg, but that depends on the dog's size and age, and taking into account that females typically weigh less.

The English Cocker Spaniel's Lifespan

The average lifespan of the English Spaniel is between 12-15 years, although many live longer.

My cocker, Max, is now 15 years old, and I fear the inevitable is nearing.

He's had pancreatic problems and has many growths on his little body. He's had surgery three times to remove the wart-like growths, but they keep growing back.

There will come a point when surgery is no longer possible, but I will keep loving him until then!

He also has a huge lump under the skin on his underbelly, but the vet has advised that we leave it alone.

He is now totally blind and deaf, which has its challenges; for Max and me!

He sleeps most of the day and no longer enjoys long walks, so I take several short walks instead. He seems okay with this for now.

American Cocker Spaniel Health

Both breeds are susceptible to a few health problems (as are most canine breeds). They are known to be prone to certain hereditary diseases.

One particular health problem is ear infections; unless you keep your dog's ears very clean, bacteria will set up home. Once it does, it can be challenging to get rid of it.

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 conditions such as luxating patella and hip dysplasia.

According to the Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee, the leading causes of death in the American Cocker Spaniel are cancer, old age, cardiac, and immune-related diseases (illnesses that result from abnormal activity of the body's immune system).

Want More Info on the American Cocker Spaniel?

Most of the information on our website applies equally to 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.

You might like these articles about Cocker Spaniels

Although my site is about English Cocker Spaniels, most, if not all of the advice given here will also apply to the other Spaniel breeds, including the American Cocker! 

Photo Credits: American Cocker Spaniels
1. Eriklam -
2. Liliya Kulianionak at
3. Wikipedia at
4. Michelle De Kock at