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American Cocker Spaniel

Origin

The Cocker Spaniel dates back as far as the 14th century. The breed originated from English Cocker Spaniels which were brought to the United States. The Spaniels were bred down in size and given the name American Cocker Spaniels, officially called simply the "Cocker Spaniel" by the American Kennel Club.

The American Cocker Spaniel is more popular in the States than the original English Cocker Spaniel and is also liked in Europe and Britain. The Cocker Spaniel is a hunting-gun dog able to work in difficult terrain in both wet and dry land. Excellent at flushing and retrieving game with a gentle mouth they listen to commands well.

The name "Cocker" comes from the woodcock, a game bird the dogs were known for flushing. Some of the American Cocker Spaniels talents are hunting, tracking, retrieving, watchdog, agility and competitive obedience. The American Cocker Spaniel was first recognized by the American KC in 1873.

Description

The Cocker Spaniel is a medium sized sturdy dog. The head is rounded with a pronounced stop. The muzzle is broad and deep with square even jaws. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The eyeballs are dark, very round with slight almond shaped eye rims. Merle Cocker Spaniels can have blue eyes. The long, low-set ears are well feathered. The top line slopes slightly from the front of the dog to the back and the legs are straight.

The dewclaws may be removed. The silky coat is flat or slightly wavy. The hairs are medium length on the body but short and fine on the head. There is feathering on the ears, chest, abdomen and legs. The coat comes in any solid colour, black with tan points, merle, solid colour with tan points, and parti-coloured. Examples of parti-coloured combinations are white with buff or red, white with black, or white with black and tan points. Field lines have shorter coats than show lines.

Temperament

Bold and keen to work, the American Cocker Spaniel is equally suited to life as a gundog or as a household pet. Cheerful, gentle and sweet this breed is of average intelligence, and is respectful of its master's authority. Amusing, trustworthy and charming with an ever-wagging tail they are active, playful and devoted, but should be introduced to other dogs when they are young to avoid a tendency for shyness.

Cockers, who understand their place is under humans, are good with children. They love everyone and need firm, loving leadership and daily exercise to be happy. With the right training they learn quickly and easily and get along well with other animals, although house training can be an issue. Do not allow this dog to believe that it is top dog just because it is small. The human should always be looked upon as pack leader other wise the dog can develop behavioural issues.

It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an alpha male and female dog who it looks up to. When we live with dogs we become their pack. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined, and rules are set. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog.

Owners who allow their dogs to believe they are higher up in the order and/or who do not take the dog out for the exercise required can end up with a badly behaved dog with behavioural issues. There are two types, field lines and show lines. Field lines are bred for working and have better hunting instincts, and shorter coats, which is more practical for working in the woods. Both types make good pets when the owners meet their needs.

Height, Weight

Height: Dogs 38cm. Bitches 36.8cm
Weight: 7-14 kg.

Health Problems

Some major concern in American Cocker Spaniels are cataracts, glaucoma and patellar luxation. Some minor concerns are hip dysplasia, ectropion, entropion, PRA, allergies, seborrhea, lip fold pyoderma, otitis externa, liver disease, urolithiasis, prolapse of nictitans gland, CHF, phosphofructokinase deficiency, and cardiomyopathy. Occasionally seen are gastric torsion and elbow dysplasia. Also IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia) IMHA is relatively common in cockers, and almost always fatal. It's a fast-acting, silent killer.

Living Conditions

Cockers will do okay in a flat or small dwelling if they are adequately exercised, and are fairly active indoors. A small garden is sufficient. Not suited to live outside alone in a kennel.

Exercise

American Cockers have plenty of stamina and need regular exercise. They should be taken on at least two walks a day. When walking, avoid brushy thickets that can tangle the coat. Be sure to have the dog heeling beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog's mind, the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the humans, not the dog.

Life Expectancy

About 12-15 years.

Litter Size
1 - 7 puppies - Average of 5

Grooming

Wipe under the eyes often as they tend to tear. Some owners prefer to leave the coat long, brushing daily and shampooing frequently with quarterly scissoring and clipping. Others prefer to clip the coat to medium length to be more functional. Either way, the dog will need regular trimming. When brushing, be careful not to pull out the silky hair. This breed is has average moulting.

Group

Gun Dog

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