American Cocker Spaniel

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
13 -14
black, black & white, red & white, brown & white; any solid colour other than black (ASCOB),
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • excellent choice for an apartment dweller

  • playful and affectionate

  • gets along with kids

  • smart and trainable

  • needs sizeable amount of grooming

  • can’t be trusted with guarding tasks


The American Cocker Spaniel is a vigorous, sprightly and clever little dog with gorgeous coat and kind dark eyes. Initially bred for hunting feathered game, nowadays it mainly serves as a delightful family dog and enjoys tremendous popularity in this role. This smallest member of the Spaniel family suits ideally for apartment dwellers and families with kids.


The Spaniel-type dogs have long and colourful history. Initial predestination of these canines was hunting land or water quarry, and sometimes both. It’s said that distant ancestors of the modern-day American Cocker Spaniel had already existed as early as in the XIV century. Nonetheless it’s known for a certainty that the breed was developed directly from the English Cocker Spaniel. Both varieties specialised on bird hunting and were particularly skilful at flushing and retrieving woodcocks. So they apparently got their names in honour of their excellent hunting talents.

The specimens of the English Cocker Spaniel were brought to the United States and Canada during the XVIII century. American hunters were absolutely enthused at responsiveness and working drive of these dogs and used them to quarry pheasant, grouse and woodcock. In the early to middle of the XX century American Cocker Spaniels started to be separated from their English cousins. Breeders from this country strived for showing their dogs in the conformation ring so they tried to miniaturise them, which also improved its general acceptance as a companion animal. Soon this type of Cocker Spaniel became one of the most fashionable pure-blooded breed in America. The American Kennel Club (AKC) fully recognised it in 1878.

Hunting fans were displeased with this tendency towards breeding miniature Cockers. In 1935 they founded a distinctive breed club for the authentic English Cocker Spaniel and dedicated huge efforts to its promotion in the U.S. Nonetheless the American Cocker Spaniel won much greater popularity in this country than its English counterparts and had many fanciers among American presidents, including Richard Nixon, Rutherford B. Hayes, Harry Truman, and Bill Clinton.

Unfortunately such universal love had some unexpected and undesirable aftereffects. Lots of breeders forgot in their pursuit for easy profits about proper breeding practices and produced dogs with unsteady and unpredictable temperament. But today there are still many responsible lovers of the American Cocker Spaniel who breed high-quality dogs with endearing personalities of an ideal companion animal.


The American Cocker Spaniel earned the adoration of countless canine fanciers for a reason. With its sunny character and all-around friendliness this dog adjusts well to any type of a home as long as its sociable nature can find proper outlet. It simply can’t stand being alone and becomes much stressed if left alone for any considerable period of time. It’s imperative to exhibit the dog to various situations, people of all ages and different species of animals in an early age so it will react to them adequately in adulthood. In this case your pet will become a wonderful playmate for family kids. But you should make sure that your child understands the rules of handling canines.

The properly bred American Cocker Spaniel is totally fine with strange people and very quickly makes friends with them. Some of its specimens may demonstrate moderate level of nervousness or shyness around strangers. This dog is prone to greet its masters and uninvited guests in the same ecstatic manner, so it should never be charged with guarding tasks. Commonly it makes a very reliable watcher, which is always ready to alert its owners about any slightest change in the environment.

The inborn good-naturedness of the American Cocker Spaniel also extends to its counterparts. This playful canine is always glad to frisk with other dogs, familiar or not. So it will welcome an opportunity to share its life with one or several other canines of similarly merry disposition. Its specimens are still sometimes utilised for hunting purposes so no stray cat or other small animals can be safe around the American Cocker Spaniel. However it can be successfully kept with those individual pets, with which it has been raised since a young age.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· cancer;

· eye problems;

· ear infections;

· dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM);

· sick sinus syndrome;

· phosfofructokinase deficiency (PFK);

· canine epilepsy;

· rage syndrome;

· canine hip dysplasia;

· patellar luxation;

· hemolytic anemia (AIHA);

· cardio myopathy;

· allergies;

· skin problems.


The maintenance of the American Cocker Spaniel is a quite laborious task. It has thick and long hair that needs both frequent brushing and professional grooming to look tidy and attractive. Prepare to thoroughly brush your pet every 2 to 3 days at the very least otherwise numerous tangles and matts will develop in the areas of the dog’s ears, rear end, legs and chest. Regular visits to professional groomer allow minimising the amount of required daily care.

The hanging ears of the American Cocker Spaniel are completely covered by hair, which complicates access of fresh air to the ear canals and creates favourable conditions for the development of ear infections. That’s why it’s an absolute must to carefully clean them on a weekly bases. Trim the nails of your pet every month and bathe it as necessary. This breed is an average shedder.


The American Cocker Spaniel is a bright and docile dog whose training will take minimal amount of your time. Its eagerness to please makes a learning process a very easy and pleasant job. This dog stands out for heightened sensibility to the tone of your voice and behavioural pattern and responds with fearfulness or resentment to any form of rough-housing. Keep your lessons short, encourage interest of your pet with its favourite treats and your efforts will pay off really quickly.

The specimen of the American Cocker Spaniel usually has success in agility, obedience, flyball and various field trials. But it may be relatively hard to house break this breed so have patience with your pup and forgive its little blunders.


Despite its moderate size, lively and frisky American Cocker Spaniel needs regular daily physical exercise in order to be fully satisfied with its existence. Puppies of this breed are renowned for their playfulness and have to give a vent to their mischievous nature on a regular bases. That’s why it’s essential to provide them with an opportunity to run and romp freely in a securely fenced yard.

Older dogs are usually content with a long and brisk daily walk. This breed feels itself at ease in a small apartment if its need for physical stimulation is properly met. At the same time if the American Cocker Spaniel doesn’t have a chance to let off steam it will develop issues with destructiveness, disobedience and hyper activity.