Did you know there are two kinds of Cocker Spaniels, English and American? (The English ones bark with an English accent! No, not really.) We are celebrating the American Cocker Spaniel, a close cousin to their English line, but a distinct and separate AKC breed. The American CS is the smallest of the 'sporting breeds', it stands up to about 15 inches tall, and about 30lbs. They have a happy dispostion, and are often referred to as 'Merry Dogs'! Let's learn more about this sweet and smart breed!
The English Cocker Spaniels were actually thought to be from Spain! 'Spaynels' were mentioned in writings dating to the 14th Century. Later, they were brought to England, and bred to hunt for 'woodcocks', a small type of bird. They were brought to the USA around 1878, and the Cocker Spaniel breed was recognized by the AKC with the first member, named Captain. Selective breeding began by dedicated breeders, to create a smaller version. In the 1940's, the American Spaniel breed was recognized by the AKC. The American Cocker Spaniels were smaller, with a lighter and softer coat. By 1946 an American Cocker Spaniel named Brucie won the Westminster's 'Best in Show' for two years in a row. From then on, America fell in love with the American Cocker Spaniel, typically just called a Cocker Spaniel. It was ranked as the most popular dog in America from 1936 until 1952, when the Beagle took it's spot- but the American Cocker Spaniel still remains one of America's most popular and loved breeds.
Looks & Personality:
As mentioned, these are the smallest of the sporting dogs, at about 15 inches tall and 25 to 30 pounds. Their coats are soft and silky, and require daily brushing and regular grooming. It is recommended to get them used to grooming as puppies, as it will be a regular part of their lives. They can be trouble for some groomers if the pup hasn't been trained to accept these needed groomings. Their longer ears are prone to infections, so special care is needed for those ears!
The American Cocker Spaniels are better suited than their English cousins to be companion dogs- they are not typically used for sport here in the US. They can be sensitive, known as 'soft', and in tune with their owners emotions, so only gentle training is needed and will be more effective than harsh training. They love to be close to their families, and don't do well left alone. Because of their loving nature, wanting to please and being easy to train, and knack for being 'in tune' with humans, they make excellent therapy dogs. They are friendly, and as mentioned are 'happy' dogs, who gained the nickname 'Merry Dogs'. Because they were bred to chase birds, care must be taken with other small animals in the house, so that these dogs don't hunt them. Training and patience are the key! They can be destructive (like most dogs!) if bored or lonely. They need to be handled and trained with love to bring out the very best in this devoted breed.
Coat Grooming & Health:
Their coats are silky and thick, and sometimes wavy. Typically a solid color, but some are multicolored, but always with some white. Some owners leave the silky coat long, but dedicated grooming is required! Otherwise, these dogs have a close trim, (often called a 'Puppy Cut') which keeps them cool and free from matting. Either way, grooming is going to be an important part of their daily care. Training is needed from puppyhood so they are comfortable getting groomed and handled by groomers, and vets too. Daily combing is needed, in the direction of the coat, or matting can occur and that is no fun to comb out for you or your dog. The face hair should be trimmed away from the eyes, and shampoos and conditioning are also essential to keep that silky coat clean and soft.
American Cocker Spaniels are sturdy dogs, but are prone to some health issues. Their longer ears can get dirty and infected, so cleaning the ears often is recommended. Allergies, both food and contact, are also common with these lovely pups. Hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism are also common for this breed, but symptoms can be reduced with care from a vet.
The American Cocker Spaniel makes a wonderful and loving companion who will want to be involved with every moment of your life. They love to be close to you, and with the right gentle training, regular groomings, exercise and health checkups, they can prove be a special and dedicated member of your family!
If you would like expert grooming for your canine friends, call us today!