English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel is a breed of gun dog. The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, good-natured, sporting dog, standing well up at the withers and compactly built. There are "field" or "working" cockers and "show" cockers.

It is one of several varieties of spaniel and somewhat resembles its American cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel, although it is closer to the working-dog form of the Field Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel. Outside the US, the breed is usually known simply as the Cocker Spaniel, as is the American Cocker Spaniel within the US. Due to the breed's happy disposition and continuously wagging tail, it has been given the cute nickname "merry cocker". They can be also dominant and loyal to their companion. Their health issues are typical for a purebred dog breed; however they are closely associated with rage syndrome even though cases are really quite rare. The word cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock.

Description

The English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy, compact, well-balanced dog. It has a characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness. Its eyes should be dark and its lobular ears should reach "a bit past" the tip of the nose when pulled forward. Today, a significant difference in appearance exists between field-bred and conformation show-bred dogs. The Cocker's tail is customarily docked in North America. In countries where docking is legal, the tail is generally docked at about 4�5 inches (10�13 cm) in field-bred dogs while show dogs generally are docked closer to the body. Docking is now illegal in Australia, South Africa and Scotland. In England and Wales, docking can only be carried out on dogs where the owners have proved that the dogs will be used as working or shooting dogs.

The breed standard indicates that the males of the breed are on average between 15.5 and 16 inches (39 to 41 cm) at the withers with the females a little smaller, growing to between 15 and 15.5 inches (38 to 39 cm). Both males and females of the breed weigh approximately 13 to 14.5 kg (28 to 32 lb). American Cocker Spaniels are smaller, with the males being on average between 14� and 15� inches (36�39 cm), and females again being smaller on average at between 13� and 14� inches (34 to 37 cm), both weighing approximately 11 to 13 kg (24 to 29 lb). The closely related English Springer Spaniels are larger than either types of cockers, growing to between 19 and 19� inches (48 to 50 cm) for the females, and 19� and 20 inches (49 to 51 cm) for the males, and weighing between 23 and 25 kg (51 to 55 lb).

The English Cocker Spaniel is similar to the English Springer Spaniel and at first glance the only major difference is the larger size of the Springer. However English Cockers also tend to have longer, and lower-set ears than English Springers. In addition Springers also tend to have a longer muzzle, their eyes are not as prominent and the coat is less abundant.

Temperament

The English Cocker Spaniel can be stubborn, but can be easily trained and make a good medium-sized family pet. The breed does not like being alone, and will bond strongly to an individual person in a family. Known for optimism, intelligence and adaptability, the breed is extremely loyal and affectionate. They rank 18th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being of excellent working/obedience intelligence.

A link between coat colour and temperament has been proposed. This link could be the colour pigment melanin, which is biochemically similar to chemicals that act as transmitters in the brain. A study made by the University of Cambridge involving over 1,000 Cocker Spaniel households throughout Britain concluded that solid colour Cockers were more likely to be aggressive in 12 out of 13 situations. Red/golden Cockers were shown to be the most aggressive of all, in situations involving strangers, family members, while being disciplined, and sometimes for no apparent reason. A study by Spanish researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona revealed a similar link between golden Cockers and aggression. Males were also more likely to be aggressive. The study found the English Cocker Spaniel to have the highest level of owner- and stranger- directed aggression compared to other breeds.

History

Spaniel type dogs have been found in art and literature for almost 500 years. Initially, spaniels in England were divided among land spaniels and water spaniels. The differentiation among the spaniels that led to the breeds that we see today did not begin until the mid-19th century. During this time, the land spaniels became a bit more specialised and divisions among the types were made based upon weight. According to the 1840 Encyclopedia of Rural Sports, Cockers were 12�20 lb (5.5�9 kg). At this time it was not uncommon for Cockers and Springers to come from the same litter. Even a puppy from a �Toy� sized lineage could grow to be a springer.

There is no indication from these early sources that spaniels were used to retrieve game. Rather they were used to drive the game toward the guns. During the 1850s and 1860s, other types of Cockers were recorded. There were Welsh Cockers and Devonshire Cockers. Additionally, small dogs from Sussex Spaniel litters were called Cockers. In 1874 the first stud books were published by the newly formed kennel club. Any spaniel under 25 lb (11 kg) was placed in the Cocker breeding pool, however the Welsh Cocker was reclassified as a Springer in 1903 due to its larger size and shorter ear. "...in those days only those dogs up to a hard day�s work and sensible specimens were allowed to live, as absolute sporting purposes were about their only enjoyment and dog shows were hardly heard of...".

The sport of conformation showing began in earnest among spaniels after the Spaniel Club was formed in 1885. When showing, the new Springer and Cocker, both were in the same class until The Spaniel Club created breed standards for each of the types. The Kennel Club separated the two types eight years later. Since then, the Springer and Cocker enthusiasts have bred in the separate traits that they desired. Today, the breed differ in more ways than weight alone. At Crufts, the English Cocker Spaniel has been the most successful breed in winning Best in Show, winning on a total of seven occasions between 1928 and 2009, with wins in 1930, 1931, 1938, 1939, 1948, 1950 and 1996. In addition, the breed make up three of the four winners who have won the title on more than one occasion with all three coming from H.S. Lloyd's Ware kennel. Due to World War II, the English Cocker Spaniel managed to be the only breed to have won the title between 1938 and 1950, although the competition was only held on four occasions during that period. The most recent best in show was Sh. Ch. Canigou Cambrai in 1996.

English Cocker Spaniel Pictures

English Cocker Spaniel - Classifieds