American Cocker Spaniel
Breed Group: Sporting
Temperament and Behavior
For many decades, the American Cocker Spaniel has been one of the most popular dogs in the United States. And for good reason — a Cocker can be a pure joy to own. They are highly affectionate, playful, amiable, nearly always happy, sweet and ready to please. Companion dogs by nature, there’s no place they’d rather be than by their owner’s side. Exceptional with children and other animals, they make excellent family pets for just about anyone. But these traits only hold true if you’ve chosen a well-bred dog. Because they are so popular in the US, poor breeding practices are common. The resulting Cockers can display erratic behavior problems. Use caution when choosing a breeder. Many say it is easier to find a poorly bred dog than one that is well bred. American Cockers can have high energy levels; however, a modest walk on a leash should suffice for their exercise needs. With adequate exercise, they tend to be calm indoors and can take to apartment or city life just as well as suburbia or the country. Some tend to bark excessively, particularly if left alone for more than a few hours. They make good watchdogs – their inquisitive nature leads them to alert their owners to newcomers. But with their friendly nature, don’t expect them to fulfill the role of a guardian.
Physical CharacteristicsThe American Cocker Spaniel smallest member of the sporting group, they range in height from 14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 24 and 28 pounds. Their long, silky coats are flat or slightly wavy with longer hair on their abdomen, chest, legs, and ears. This longer hair is called feathering. Coat colors are buff, black, black and tan, parti-color, and, as the AKC refers to it, ASCOB or Any Solid Color Other than Black. An American Cocker Spaniel requires more grooming than most other breeds. To reduce their abundant shedding, their long, lustrous coat requires almost daily brushing, frequent bathing, and clipping every three months. They also need regular care for their eyes and ears, which are both prone to infection if not kept clean. They do well in moderate climates; but, their need for social interaction and companionship is so great that they should not be left outside for long periods of time. They don’t adapt well to extremes in either heat or cold.
Trainer's NotesThese dogs typically make wonderful training companions. They are intelligent and eager to please but do not react well to negative training methods. They simply give up if they feel they cannot please. Housebreaking can be difficult; patience and positive reinforcement are key. Social by nature – they love to be by their owner’s side. Socialization is important to counter the shyness in some lines. When a well-bred American Cockers is properly socialized, they are excellent with everyone including children, strangers, and other animals. Because of their popularity, careless breeding abounds. All too frequently this results in problems with temperament including fear, submissive urination, and aggression. Locate reputable breeders through the AKC or the national breed club. Then be sure to meet the parents of, and conduct a thorough temperament test before choosing a puppy.
American Cocker Spaniel