American Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel evolved from an ancient type of dog classified generally as Spaniels and Cocker Spaniel. The name “Spaniel” is mentioned in various literature and pictured in woodcuts as early as 1328.

Spaniels originated in Spain.

The English literature and letters of the day always accepted that Spaniels originated in Spain. The partridge and quail hunters of the early 1800s wanted a smaller-sized dog who would find the game without disturbing it.

Finally, in 1892, the Kennel Club (England) recognized the “Cocker” as a classification and being a Spaniel that was less than 25 lb. (11-12 kg), and one that worked. The first Cocker was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1879. The Cockers at this time were long and low-bodied and were generally around 20 lb. (9-10 kg).

American Cocker Spaniel

In the early 1900s, the American Spaniel Club, striving to maintain the Cocker in its sporting dog classification, made the standard call for a dog not less than 28 lb. (13 kg). It was during this time that the American Cocker Spaniel as we know it today really started to evolve into a separate and distinct breed of its own.

American Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniel groomed to participate in a dog show.

American Cocker Spaniel FAQ Frequently Asked Questions:

Let us seek some answers related to the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed. Are they hypoallergenic, or do they shed a lot? Do they bark a lot? Are they good guard dogs? Are they good family dogs? Good with children? And many more questions that a potential dog owner may be concerned about.

What is the difference between an English Cocker Spaniel and an American Cocker Spaniel?

Not very long ago, American and English Cockers were considered to be the same dog breed. They were classified as separate dog breeds in the 1930s when it became evident that Cocker Spaniels in the U.S. were different than ones in England.


One difference is size. The English Cocker Spaniel is larger than the American Cocker Spaniel. They also have different body types. American Cocker Spaniels have less stamina compared to English Cocker. Unlike the American Cocker Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel is likely to be found in the field alongside his cousins, the Field Spaniel and Welsh Springer Spaniels.

Are American Cocker Spaniels hypoallergenic?

No! American Cocker Spaniel is not a hypoallergenic dog breed. American Cocker Spaniels shed a lot. Among Spaniels, The Irish water spaniel, referred to as the spaniel family’s clown boasts a hypoallergenic, poodle-like coat with a bare, rat tail. The breed’s exceptional swimming ability is aided by his webbed feet. If you have allergies, here is a list of hypoallergenic breeds.

At what age do American Cocker Spaniels calm down?

Most dogs calm down when they’re about two years old, but cockers seem to take a little longer to mature! They calm down at about 3 years. Most calm down immediately after mating or neutering.

Do American Cocker Spaniels bark a lot?

Yes! American Cocker Spaniels bark more than many other dog breeds. We Americans absolutely love them, though, as they fit in well amongst us.

Can Cocker Spaniels be left alone?

Cocker Spaniels need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.

Are American Cocker Spaniels good family dogs? Are they good with children?

American Cocker Spaniels do make good family dogs, especially if they’ve been socialized and trained from being a puppy. However, some Cockers can be sensitive and may need gentle handling, but in any case, it’s a good idea to set up some firm ground rules for the kids to follow. If you are looking for kid-friendly breeds, here is a list of dogs good with children. Some families complain that their American Cocker Spaniel is too needy, as if they were attached with duct tape to their alpha human side. There is a certain level of clinginess with these dogs because they can sense the moments when you feel anxious, so that causes them to feel the same way.

American Cocker Spaniel Photo

Do American Cocker Spaniels like to cuddle?

The well-bred American Cocker Spaniel has a sweet temperament. He is affectionate and cuddly and loves to participate in family activities. He is playful, alert, and active, enjoying any exercise from a brisk walk to hunting in the field.

Are they high maintenance?

Yes and No, They do need frequent grooming sessions to look tip-top. However, they are just as happy if you keep them in a low maintenance puppy cut—no special feeding requirements.

Is American Cocker Spaniel a good watch/guard dog?

No! They are too small to be intimidating. Also, these dogs are neither strong nor powerful. A good guard dog ought to stand up for its owners and have the physical build to back it up. At most, the Cocker Spaniel could function as an unreliable watchdog. If you are looking for a small watchdog, consider the Lhasa Apso.

Are American Cocker Spaniels aggressive dogs? Do they bite?

Cocker Spaniels are not normally aggressive dogs, but their aggressive behavior is often misdiagnosed as Cocker Rage or Sudden Onset of aggression when they do behave badly. However, if it will manifest itself, it will do so before your dog becomes an adult, often around 8 months old. Cocker spaniels can be mouthy dogs, who are sometimes prone to nipping or biting, especially when stressed.

Are they good apartment dogs?

American Cocker Spaniels are good for apartment living. But if you look at the popularity, they are less popular compared to other small dog breeds.

Ok, so let’s assume you have chosen the American Cocker Spaniel as the best dog breed suitable for yourself. You have decided to find yourself an American Cocker Spaniel puppy as your next family member. How will you choose the best pup? Let us look at some standard characteristics of the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed, which will help you select the right puppy. Keep reading.

american cocker spaniel puppy

Choosing a good American cocker spaniel puppy

The definition of the best American Cocker Spaniel puppy depends on your requirements. Your expectations from an adult American Cocker Spaniel can be broadly categorized as follows: Confirmation for show or breeding; obedience; smart guard dog; companion; homely pet.

Although it is tempting to look for all these qualities in one American Cocker Spaniel puppy you plan to buy; it is seldom possible to find all qualities in a single pup.

If you want your American Cocker Spaniel puppy to grow up to be a champion in the show ring, you should look for confirmation to the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed standards. We have put together a general guideline for selecting an all-around good puppy for you. Our guideline includes breed standards and gives importance to temperament, appearance, physical details, gait, health issues, grooming needs, and maintenance.

Look for the following characteristics while choosing an American cocker spaniel puppy.

American Cocker Spaniel General Appearance

The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group. He has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head, with the overall dog is in complete balance and ideal size. He stands well up at the shoulder on straight forelegs with a topline sloping slightly toward strong, muscular quarters. He is a dog capable of considerable speed, combined with great endurance. Above all, he must be free and merry, sound, well balanced throughout, and inaction shows a keen inclination to work; equable in temperament with no suggestion of timidity.

American Cocker SpanielAmerican Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel Temperament

Above all, he must be free and merry, sound, well balanced throughout, and inaction shows a keen inclination to work; equable in temperament with no suggestion of timidity. When the dog is in motion, the tail action is merry.

American Cocker Spaniel Size

The withers’ ideal height for an adult dog is 15 inches (38 cm) and for an adult bitch 14 inches (35.5 cm). Height may vary one-half inch (1 cm) above or below this ideal. A dog whose height exceeds 15-1/2 inches (39 cm), or a bitch whose height exceeds 14-1/2 inches (37 cm), shall be disqualified. An adult dog whose height is less than 14-1/2 inches (37 cm) or an adult bitch with less than 13-1/2 inches (34 cm) shall be penalized.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Coat

On the head, short and fine; on the body, medium length, with enough undercoating to give protection. The ears, chest, abdomen, and hind legs are well feathered, but not so excessively as to hide the American Cocker Spaniel’s true lines and movement or affect his appearance and function as a sporting dog. The texture is most important. The coat is silky, flat or slightly wavy, and of texture that permits easy care. The excessive or curly or cottony textured coat is to be penalized.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Colors

Black Cocker Spaniel Variety

Solid color black, to include black with tan points. The black should be jet; shadings of brown or liver in the coat’s sheen are not desirable. A small amount of white on the chest and/or throat is allowed. White in any other location shall disqualify.

Black Cocker Spaniel
Black Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker ASCOB Variety

Any solid color other than black and any such color with tan points and color with sable shadings. The color shall be of a uniform shade, but the lighter coloring of the feather is permissible. A small amount of white on the chest and/or throat is allowed; white in any other location shall disqualify.

ASCOB Cocker Spaniel
ASCOB Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Parti-color Variety

Two or more definite, well-broken colors, one of which must be white, including those with tan points and those with sable shadings; the tan markings should be located in the same pattern as for the ten points in the Black and ASCOB varieties of cockers. Roans (Roan means even mix of white and colored hair) are classified as party-colors, and maybe of the usual roaning patterns. The primary color, which is ninety percent or more, shall disqualify. Merle pattern in any color shall disqualify.

Parti-colored Cocker Spaniels
particolored Cocker Spaniels

Tan Points: The tan’s color may be from the lightest cream to the darkest red color and should be restricted to ten percent or less of the color (of the specimen). Tan markings above that amount shall disqualify. In the case of tan points in the Black or ASCOB variety, the markings shall be located as follows:

(a) A clear tan spot over each eye.

(b) On the side of the muzzle and the cheeks.

(c) On the undersides of the ears.

(d) On all feet and/or legs.

(e) Under the tail.

(f) On the chest, optional–presence or absence not penalized. Tan markings which are not readily visible or which amount only to traces shall be penalized. Tan on the muzzle, which extends upward, over, and joins shall also be penalized. The absence of tan markings in the Black or ASCOB variety in each specified location in an otherwise tan-pointed dog shall disqualify.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Head

To attain a well-proportioned head, which must be in balance with the rest of the dog, it embodies the following: Skull rounded but not exaggerated with no tendency toward flatness; the eyebrows are clearly defined with a pronounced stop. The bony structure beneath the eyes is well chiseled with no prominence in the cheeks. Muzzle broad and deep, with square, even jaws. The upper lip is full and of sufficient depth to cover the lower jaw. To be in correct balance, the distance from the stop to the tip of the nose is one-half the distance from the stop up over the crown to the skull base. The nose of sufficient size balances the muzzle and foreface, with well-developed nostrils typical of a sporting dog. It is black in color in blacks and black and tans. In other colors, it may be brown, liver, or black. The darker, the better. The color of the nose harmonizes with the color of the eye rim. Mouth: the teeth are strong and sound, not too small, and meet in a scissors bite. Eyes: eyeballs are round and full and look directly forward. The eye rims’ shape gives a slightly almond-shaped appearance; the eye is not weak or staring. The color of the iris is dark brown, and in general, the darker, the better. The expression is intelligent, alert, soft, and appealing. Ears lobular, long, fine leather, well feathered, and placed no higher than a line to the lower part of the eye.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Neck and Shoulders

The neck is sufficiently long to allow the nose to easily reach the ground, muscular and free from pendulous “throatiness.” It rises strongly from the shoulders and arches slightly as it tapers to join the head. The shoulders are well laid back, forming an angle with the upper arm of approximately 90 degrees, which permits the dog to move his forelegs easily with considerable forward reach. Shoulders are clean-cut and sloping without protrusion and so set that the withers’ upper points are at an angle that permits a wide spring of rib.

Body: The body is short, compact, and firmly knit together, giving an impression of strength. The distance from the highest point of the shoulder blades to the ground is fifteen percent or approximately 2 inches (5 cm) more than the length from this point to the tail’s set-on. Back is strong and sloping evenly and slightly downward from the shoulders to the set-on of the docked or undocked tail. Hips are wide and quarters well rounded and muscular. The chest is deep, its lowest point no higher than the elbows, it’s front sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung space, yet not so wide as to interfere with the forelegs’ straightforward movement. Ribs are deep and well sprung. The American Cocker Spaniel never appears long and low.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Legs and Feet

Forelegs are parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular and set close to the body well under the scapulae. When viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical, the elbow is directly below the shoulder blade’s highest point. The pasterns are short and strong. The hind legs are strongly boned and muscled with good angulation at the stifle and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle joint is strong, and there is no slippage of it in motion or when standing. The hocks are strong, well let down, and the hind legs are parallel when in motion and at rest when viewed from the behind.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Feet

Compact, large, round, and firm with horny pads; they turn neither in nor out. Dewclaws on hind legs and forelegs may be removed.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Tail

The docked or undocked tail is set on and carried on a line with the topline of the back, or slightly higher; never straight up like a terrier and never so low to indicate timidity.

American Cocker Spaniel’s Gait

The American Cocker Spaniel, though the smallest of the sporting dogs, possesses a typical sporting dog gait. A prerequisite to good movement is balanced between the front and rear assemblies. He drives with his strong, powerful rear quarters and is properly constructed in the shoulders and forelegs so that he can reach forward without constriction in a full stride to counterbalance the driving force from the rear. Above all, his gait is coordinated, smooth, and effortless. The dog must cover the ground with his action, and excessive animation should never be mistaken for proper gait.

Faults that are observed in the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed.

Dogs under 14-1/2 inches (37 cm), bitches under 13-1/2 inches (34 cm) are penalized. Excessive or curly or cottony textured coat. Tan markings which are not readily visible or which amount only to traces. Tan on the muzzle, which extends upward, over, and joins.


1. Blacks and ASCOBS – white markings except on chest and throat.

2. Parti-color: 90 percent or more of primary color.

3. Tan Points: tan markings above 10 percent.

4. Absence of tan markings in the black or ASCOBS variety in each specified location in an otherwise tan pointed dog.

5. Height: males over 15-1/2 inches (39 cm); females over 14-1/2 inches (37 cm).

6. Blue eyes or merle in any color.

Links: English Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel Videos

Look at the different colored American Cocker Spaniels.. don’t ask questions like why there is a fish in the tub!

We hope you enjoyed reading about the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed. You may consider sharing your views in the comments section below. Inputs and priceless experiences from dog owners, American Cocker Spaniel breeders, and dog lovers, in general, help us better understand our most loyal friends. Thank you for your interest.

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