American Cocker Spaniel. Full breed information and advice

American Cocker Spaniel

Your happy little shadow!

The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the gun dog group and is a lively, playful popular pet for families with children. They are extremely friendly although they can throw the odd strop if they don’t get enough attention.

A brown American Cocker Spaniel walking on grass
American Cocker Spaniel

They adore human company and will follow you around constantly and want to lay on your lap for cuddles.

Their favorite thing to do is try to please their master and will bring “presents” to anyone and everyone to make them happy.

American Cocker Spaniel

A dark brown/black American Cocker Spaniel looking at the camera
Flickr pic courtesy of Neil Conwey

Cockers are real foodies and will scoff anything they can get their paws on! So keep a close eye on your food when at the dinner table if there’s a Cocker around!

Because of their love of food they are prone to putting on weight so regular exercise may be needed to keep this cheeky chappie in tip top health. These Cocker spaniels have a low level of aggression, are one of the best breeds for temperament and are suitable for multi-pet families.

Breed History

A fawn colored American Cocker Spaniel lying down asleep on the couch
Young Puppy (American Cocker Spaniel)

Cocker Spaniels or “cockers” get their name from their original job, which was to flush out the Woodcock (a type of wood pigeon) for the huntsman to shoot. Although they remain a popular sporting dog, they are also extremely popular house pets.

All spaniels came from the Spanish Spaniel which is one of the oldest breeds in the world.

This was then crossed with Setters to begin a new breed which was subsequently then broken down into Water and Land Spaniels.

In the late 1800’s a new standard was set by the newly formed Spaniel Club – that any spaniel over the weight of 25lbs was to be classed as a Field Spaniel and anything under was classed as a Cocker Spaniel.

American Cocker Spaniels are incredibly closely related to English Cocker Spaniels. In fact, they were the same breed until the late 1870s when they began diverging due to differing standards by the Americans and the British.

Initially the American Cocker Spaniel was just smaller but eventually it differed significantly enough that it became a breed in it’s own right in 1945/46.

At this time not only was the American Cocker Spaniel smaller than it’s English counterpart, it had a much more domed head, a shorter muzzle and a much thicker, more luxurious coat. This thicker coat resulted in a lot more feathering around the abdomen, ears and legs.

Where the English Cocker Spaniel was bred more for hunting, the American Cocker Spaniel was bred more for show, hence the more elaborate hair.

Vital Statistics

Weight: 22 – 31 lb (10 – 14 kg)

Height: 14 – 15 in (36 – 38 cm)

Life Expectancy: 10 – 11 yrs


  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • A variety of solid colors from light cream through to dark red
  • Parti-color (white with patches of another color)
  • Roan
  • Merle (not recognized by the American Kennel Club)

Ease Of Training

American Cocker Spaniels are highly intelligent which makes them very easy to train.

They are fast learners and learn very quickly what is expected of them. Consistent and firm positive training will ensure these dogs do not try to take over your role.

A white American Cocker Spaniel sitting down indoors
Parti-color American Cocker Spaniel

In fact, you can see how quickly they pick up commands and tricks in this short video about a very clever little Cocker Spaniel Called Suki.

My favorite bit is where she “plays dead” – she lies perfectly still….except for her frantically wagging happy little tail!

Also, remember that this is a gun dog breed so they will require around 40 minutes to one hour of exercise per day.

Spaniels are excellent swimmers so beware when near a body of water as they will naturally jump in for a quick paddle around!

You might want to keep one of these highly absorbent doggy towels in your pocket or car glove box, just in case!


If you’re looking for a dog to protect yourself and your home…then keep looking! Cocker spaniels are friendly dogs who want to be best mates with everyone.

Although they may bark like crazy when your doorbell rings, as soon as a stranger enters your home they’ll want to be best buddies with them.

Cocker spaniels do not have the temperament to be any sort of guard dog!

A straw basket with 4 American Cocker Spaniel puppies in it
American Cocker Spaniel Puppies


A brown American Cocker Spaniel lying down with a tennis ball under its paw
Grooming the Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels have hair – lots of hair so you’re going to find it all over your home and your self. They are beautiful dogs but that beauty does come with a price tag – hard work!

There are two ways in which to keep your Cocker spaniels coat. Either in a what’s known as a Puppy Cut (which is shorter hair) or encouraging the long hair to grow.

Puppy cuts require brushing, bathing and trimming your spaniel once every fortnight and if you decide to keep your Cocker in a longer style of coat then this will require brushing, bathing and trimming on a weekly basis at the very minimum.

The hair beneath the ear and around the ear passages must be trimmed anyway to keep the ear free from obstructions and infections and they should be hand stripped 3 or 4 times a year to keep their luxurious coat looking gorgeous.

FURminator deShedding Tool

We have found that the absolute best way of grooming any long haired dog breed is to use the FURminator grooming tool! We highly recommend this unique brush from Amazon to keep your dog in tip top shape. Click on the image below to find out more…

FURminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool for Dogs
Three American Cocker Spaniels sittting down outdoors
Three Show Cocker Spaniels

Health Considerations

Despite their cute appearance, American Cocker spaniels are a lot tougher than they look. Although they can suffer from the following afflictions:

american cocker spaniel
flickr image courtesy of mikebaird
  • Eye / Ear infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
  • Hypothyroidism,
  • Cataracts
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Slipping stifles
  • Canine epilepsy
  • Various heart conditions (dilated cardiomyopathy, sick sinus syndrome, phosphfructokinase deficiency)

Famous American Cocker Spaniels

Lady From “Lady And The Tramp”

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