English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel is one of the friendliest and the nicest dog breed. It is a dog full of life and good feelings for humans. Although unexplained aggression occurs within this breed, a majority of Cocker Spaniels are beautiful, intelligent and friendly animals.

FCI Classification

  • Group 8: Retrievers, Flushing Dogs, Water Dogs
  • Section 2: Flushing dogs
  • With working trial
English Cocker Spaniel

Breed’s history

The first mention of Spaniels can be found in literature and art that is about 500 years old. Firstly, the dogs were divided into two varieties: land and water spaniels. It was because the breed was significantly differentiated. Finally, in the 19th century, the initial breed was divided into several separate breeds. Over the years, land spaniels were more specialized in their functions. All other breeds were differentiated on the basis of the weight. According to the Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports from 1840, Cocker Spaniels were supposed to weigh 5,5 – 9 kg (12 – 20 lb). It happened quite often that within one litter were born both Cockers and Springers. Moreover, the dogs from the Toy variety were able to achieve the same size as Springers did. It is impossible to determine based on the earliest sources whether Spaniels were used to fetch. However, we know that they cooperated with armed hunters.

In the second half of the 19th century two new Cocker breeds were developed: Welsh Springer Spaniels and Devonshire Cocker. Small Sussex dogs were as well classified as Cockers. In 1874 a newly founded Kennel Club published a breeding book. It was indicated there that Spaniels weighing less than 11 kgs (24 lbs) were supposed to be classified as Cockers. However, in 1903 Welsh Springer Cocker was classified as Springer due to a larger size and shorter ears.

After the foundation of The Spaniel Club in 1885 a huge breed’s career as a sport and a show breed began. For some time Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels belonged to the same group. It was not until the Spaniel Club developed separate breed’s standards. 8 years later the Kennel Club finally divided those two breeds into two separate ones. Modern representatives of Cockers and Springers differ now in many features, including the body mass.

English Cocker Spaniels taking part in Crufts are one of the best “fighters”, winning the champion title 7 times.

English Cocker Spaniel



English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy, compact and well-balanced dog. Its eyes are very intelligent and vigilant. They are usually dark. The ears hang loosely and are quite long.

In North America the tails are being cut. In the countries where this procedure is forbidden, the tail is trimmed to the length between 10 and 13 cm (4 – 5 in) in the case of hunting dogs. The show Spaniels’ tails are much shorter.

According to the breed’s standard, the males should be 39 – 41 cm (15.3 – 16 in) on average high at shoulders and the females 38 – 39 cm (15 – 15.3  in). However, both males and females should weigh between 13 and 14.5 kg (28.6 – 32 lb). Their relatives, Springer Spaniels are bigger. They achieve 48.3 – 50.8 (19 – 20 in) cm of height at shoulders and weigh between 23 and 25 kg (51 – 55 lbs).

English Cocker Spaniel

FCI recognizes 4 types of color:

  • Solid – golden, chocolate, red, black. The black and chocolate coloration may as well be tanned. There may appear a white marking on the chest.
  • Bicolor – white-orange, black and white, white and chocolate with tan
  • Tricolor – black and white with tan and white and chocolate
  • Roan – orange, lemon, blue (with tan), chocolate (with or without tan)

The hair is silky soft, wavy but not curly. The limbs are the hairiest ones.

English Cocker Spaniel


According to the breed’s standard the dogs are friendly, intelligent, agile, vigilant and perfect for families, therefore they do not feel well alone. They tend to choose a single member of the family whom they are the closest with.

English Cocker Spaniel is known for its optimism, adapting skills, loyalty and affection. It loves wagging its tail. Although it likes dominating, it is very loyal and faithful towards its family’s members. Provided that, it underwent a proper socialization as a puppy, it get on well with children, other dogs and pets. It may sometimes be stressed out when hearing loud noises or when is treated in an unpleasant way, therefore it is important to train it by the means of reinforcement and understanding.

English Cocker Spaniel


An average lifespan of English Cocker Spaniels in the UK, the USA and Canada amounts 11 – 12 years. The breed lives usually about a year longer than smaller American Cocker Spaniels.

The research conducted in 2004 by the UK Kennel Club indicated that 30% of death cases were caused by cancer, 17% by the old age, 9% by heart failures and 7% by some of the aforementioned combined. In 1998 and 2004 the institutions from the USA and Canada admitted that the main death cause within the breed constituted the old age (40%) an cancers (20%).

Less dangerous health problems include skin allergies, cataract, deafness, shyness, but also an aggression towards other dogs and bites.

English Cocker Spaniels may suffer from rage syndrome. Although the syndrome may as well occur in the case of other breeds, English Cocker Spaniels seem to be more susceptible to it. The syndrome manifests through sudden aggression, when the dog attacks without any warning. It has a glazed look and seems to be unaware of what is happening. It is not very common problem, however it was indicated based on the observation that it occurs much more often in the case of solid and dark Cocker Spaniels.

English Cocker Spaniel


Initially English Cocker Spaniels were used as working dogs. After the Second World War, the dogs started to be bred as family dogs and sport dogs. When it comes to the breed’s popularity in sport activities, it increased when dogs stopped being used as working dogs. However, many Spaniels still have the working instincts.

Modern English Cocker Spaniels are now again recognized as working and hunting dogs, especially in fowl hunting. In Cuba the dogs work at the airports, checking the drugs and food products in the passenger’s luggage.

English Cocker Spaniel

Detailed information / dimensions

English Cocker Spaniel

  • Heght at shoulders:
    • males: 39 – 41 cm (15.3 – 16 in)
    • females: 38 – 39 cm (15 – 15.3  in)
  • Weight: 13 – 14.5 kg (28.6 – 32 lb)
  • Lifespan: 11 – 12 years
English Cocker Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel – curiosities

  • Three out of four champions came from the breeding of Herbert Summers Lloyd.
  • The last champion within the breed was Canigou Cambrai, which gained the championship in 1996.
  • Nowadays there are many differences in the appearance of show dogs and hunting dogs. It concerns in particular a size, a size of the ears, a shape of the muzzle or the coloration.
  • According to Stanley Coren’s ranking of the most intelligent dog the breed takes 18th place what indicates that they are obedient and intelligent as well as excellent at working.
  • They tend to wag their tails very often when they are happy, therefore they are called merry Cockers.
English Cocker Spaniel


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