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rec.pets.dogs: English Cocker Spaniels Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/englishcockers
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Last-modified: 25 Jan 2002

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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                          English Cocker Spaniels

   Denise Gormish,
   Copyright 1995-2000
   Revision History
     * Created September 1995
     * January 1996: History section updated, grooming section expanded,
       misc. corrections in Resources.
     * September 1996: relevant web links added, mailing list noted,
       rescue contact updated.
     * October 1997: Misc corrections and various address/URL updates.
Table of Contents

     * Overview
     * History
     * Breed Characteristics and Description
     * Health
     * Resources
          + Books
          + Videos
          + Magazines
          + Clubs
          + Online Resources

   English Cocker Spaniels are members of the Sporting Group. They were
   originally designed as a hunting companion for flushing and retrieving
   game. English Cocker Spaniels can still be used for hunting purposes
   provided a dog is chosen with the proper structure and temperament.
   Most English Cocker Spaniels, however, are companion animals. They are
   friendly, gentle, obedient and adaptable.

   In the 1800's, small spaniels were developed to hunt woodcock. The
   sizes of puppies from these early litters varied widely. The first
   stud book of the Kennel Club (United Kingdom) divided the dogs by
   weight alone. If a spaniel weighed under 25 lbs, it was called a
   Cocker Spaniel. If a spaniel weighed over 25 lbs, it was called a
   Field Spaniel. Problems existed with the weight designations, so it
   was decided that type should be considered more important than weight.
   The Spaniel Club, which was formed in 1885, created Breed Standards
   for each spaniel type. The Kennel Club had separated the different
   types of spaniels in the Stud Book by 1893.
   In America, after World War I, the English Cocker type was less
   favored than the American cocker type which was forming. The American
   type was smaller and more elegant. The two Cocker Spaniels were shown
   together, competing against one another, until 1936 when the English
   Cocker received status as a variety. Pedigree research began in order
   to separate the English Cocker from the American Cocker. The English
   Cocker Spaniel Club of America pledged not to interbreed the two
   types. The American Kennel Club granted a separate breed designation
   for the English Cocker Spaniel in 1946.
   In the 1960's the American Cocker Spaniel gained popularity as a show
   dog in the United Kingdom and qualified for its own breed
   classification in 1968. Although the American Cocker Spaniel has
   gained popularity as a companion dog in the United Kingdom, the
   English Cocker Spaniel remains among the most popular breeds in the
   United Kingdom.
   In the United Kindgom and much of the world, the name "Cocker Spaniel"
   refers to the English Cocker Spaniel, while in the United States the
   name "Cocker Spaniel" refers to the American Cocker Spaniel.
Breed Characteristics and Description

   The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, yet compact sporting dog. As
   a sporting dog, the English Cocker Spaniel is designed to
   energetically cover ground and penetrate dense cover in order to flush
   and retrieve game.
  Physical Features
   The physical features of the English Cocker Spaniel are designed to
   create a capable hunting companion. The characteristics of the head
   include long, low set ears, a flattened skull, wide jaws, wide
   nostrils and medium-sized, slightly oval eyes with tight lids. The
   body is compact with a deep chest and a short back. The tail is docked
   and carried horizontally. The coat is medium long on the body and
   short and fine on the head. The legs are moderately angulated and the
   feet are round and catlike. Females are 15-16" tall at the withers and
   26-32 lbs while the males are 16-17" at the withers and 28-34 lbs.
   There is a wide variety of coat colors including solids, parti-colors
   and roans in black, red, liver, orange or golden. Any of the colors
   may include tan points on the eyebrows, muzzle, throat, chest, under
   the tail, and feet. The most popular color is blue roan.
   The English Cocker Spaniel differs from the American Cocker Spaniel in
   several areas. The head is shaped with a longer muzzle, flatter head
   and less prominent eyes. The English Cocker Spaniel is slightly
   taller, heavier and more solid. The English Cocker Spaniel does not
   have the profusion of tummy coat and leg furnishing found on the
   American Cocker Spaniel.
   The classic temperament of the English Cocker Spaniel is that of the
   "Merry Cocker." English Cocker Spaniels are friendly, affectionate,
   and loyal. This is most obviously displayed in the incessant tail
   wagging of a happy English Cocker Spaniel. They are good with children
   and make wonderful companion dogs. English Cocker Spaniels need daily
   exercise as a outlet for their energy. They make wonderful dogs for
   many activities including hunting, obedience, tracking, agility,
   fly-ball and therapy. Although, English Cocker Spaniels are alert,
   they will not attack strangers. They are more likely to lick a burglar
   than to protect your home. English Cocker Spaniels are sensitive and
   quick learners, especially when trained with motivational methods.
   They do exhibit some independence when outside the home due to their
   hunting background, but do not wander out of your eyesight. Inside the
   home, they stick close to you. They will watch you take a shower,
   share your bed, give you kisses and play a game at any moments notice.
   English Cocker Spaniels can live in any environment, provided they
   have daily exercise. Brisk walks, fetching or field work can keep an
   English Cocker Spaniel in excellent shape.
   English Cocker Spaniels need human companionship. Although they can
   sleep all day while you're at work, they require lots of attention and
   exercise when you're home.
   The medium long coat on the English Cocker Spaniel does take some
   care. The coat consists of long guard-hairs on the top and a soft
   undercoat. Grooming styles depend greatly on the purpose, coat texture
   and color of the dog. For showing purposes most coats are stripped by
   hand or with a stripping knife. The face and top of the ears are
   clipped. The feathering is cut so it does not drag on the ground and
   the feet are trimmed to keep the hair neat. For a hunting dog, much of
   the hair is removed. Field-bred dogs tend to grow less coat. Coat
   texture makes each dog's grooming style different. Ask the breeder
   about the effect of color and coat texture on grooming.
   Commercial groomers can be used with caution. Some groomers are very
   aware of the different styles of the American and English Cocker. Some
   are not. Many English Cocker owners learn to groom their own dogs and
   find great rewards in such as undertaking.
   In addition to the coat, the nails should be trimmed and teeth brushed
   with a dog toothpaste. The ears require special care. They should be
   cleaned weekly with a dog ear cleaning solution.

   The English Cocker Spaniel is a generally healthy breed. The most
   common problems are Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Canine Hip
   Dysplasia and Kidney Disease. For PRA and Canine Hip Dysplasia, tests
   can be administered that will show signs of the diseases before
   clinical signs appear; therefore all dogs that are bred should be
   tested for these diseases. Dogs which have been tested for PRA will
   have a CERF clearance number and dogs tested for Canine Hip Dysplasia
   will have an OFA clearance number assigned to them.
   A dog must be at least two years old before OFA will certify it free
   of Hip Dysplasia, and its eyes should be checked annually (as some eye
   problems do not appear until later in life). These tests have allowed
   breeders to breed from the most sound and healthy dogs. Some incidence
   of congential deafness has been reported in the English Cocker
   Spaniel. The BAER test is starting to be performed by breeders to
   determine if a dog is deaf before breeding.
   There are additional health concerns in English Cocker Spaniels. For
   more information, see the ECSCA health section ( or contact Addi Pittman
   For more information, please see:
     * Canine Hip Dysplasia:
     * Kidney Disease:
     * BAER testing:

   The English Cocker Spaniel: Jubilee Book of the ECSCA, 2000
          Two volume set, illustrated. Breed history 1986-1999. By Beth
          McKinney and Kate Romanski. English Cocker Spaniel Club of
          America, Inc. 2000. Can be ordered from:

   The Cocker Spaniel (English).
          By George Caddy. 1993. 352 pages. 441 color photographs. (Out
          of print.)
   Cocker Spaniels Today
          By Joyce Caddy. 1995. Ringpress Ltd. (UK) "Cocker Spaniels" by
          Jennifer Lloyd Carey. 1992. Crowood Press Ltd. (UK)
   The English Cocker Spaniel: Jubilee Book of the ECSCA, 1987.
          Two volume set, illustrated. Breed history 1936-1986; Directory
          of titleholders through 1985. By Beth McKinney and Kate
          Romanski. English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc. 1986.
          Can be ordered from:
   A Dog Owner's Guide to American and English Cocker Spaniels.
          By Frank Kane and Phyllis Wise. 1987.
   The English Cocker Spaniel Handbook.
          By Beth McKinney and Kate Romanski. 3rd Edition. English Cocker
          Spaniel Club of America, Inc. 1989.

   The Sporting Spaniel Handbook. By Loren Spiotta-DiMare. 2000. Barron's
          Educational Series. Paperback, 144 pages. Color photographs
   English Cocker Spaniel-AKC Breed Video.
          American Kennel Club.
   The English Cocker Show Groom
          By Kathleen Moore. For more information contact: Kabree Farms,
          4731 Linda Vista Ave., Napa, CA 94558. (707/258-2556 or email

   The Cocker Spaniel: The complete guide to grooming, trimming,
          hand-stripping, and clipping.
          Demonstrated by Jackie Marris Bray. Video by AMP Productions,
          UK. For NTSC or American TV standard, contact 4M Dog Books,
          Inc. at . For PAL vidoetape contact:
          Tel/Fax: # 01366 383723 or e-mail:
   The ECSCA Review.
          English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc. P.O. Box 252,
          Hales Corners, WI 53130. Quarterly.
        ECSCA Titleholders Database. English Cocker Spaniel Club of
                America. 1999. Nancy Praiswater. 16735 Von Neuman Dr.
                Monument, CA 80132. (719-481-9323 or e-mail:
        English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc.
                P.O. Box 252, Hales Corners, WI 53130.
        English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Rescue Network
                Marsha Wallace,
  Online Resources
            English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Homepage
            English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Rescue Homepage
            The AKC Homepage has the Breed Standard for the English
            Cocker Spaniel.
          + An English Cocker Mailing list is hosted by Hoflin
    English Cocker Spaniel FAQ
    Denise Gormish,
                                 Hosted by
                                  K9 WEB 

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