Also known simply as the Cocker Spaniel, the American Cocker Spaniel is a small dog breed that shares a heritage with the English Cocker Spaniel. This merry dog is quite handsome and has a pleasant temperament.


The Spaniel family of dogs originated in Spain where they were used as companion toy dogs and hunting dogs. 

Hunting dogs were divided into water and land spaniels. 

The Cocker Spaniel was an excellent land hunter of woodcock and recognition of the breed was in 1892 by the English Obo Kennel. 

It is believed that the American Cocker Spaniel is descended from a liver and white dog named Captain, registered with the American Kennel Club in 1878. 

Three years later, the American Cocker Spaniel Club was formed and later changed its name to American Spaniel Club. It would later be known as one of the oldest dog breed clubs in the United States of America.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the breed was popular as a working dog and family pet in Canada and America.

The American Kennel Club registered the Cocker Spaniel in 1946. 


Physical Characteristics

The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of sporting dogs. He has a rounded domed skull, upturned nose and his long ears drop down the sides of his face. 

What differentiates the American Cocker Spaniel from his English cousin is:

* Rounder eyes

* Domed skull

* Shorter muzzle

* More pronounced eyebrows

* Smaller in size

His sometimes-wavy coat is thick, shorter around his back and head and longer on his ears, chest, abdomen and limbs. Coat colours include:

* Solid black

* Solid light cream

* Solid red

* Solid brown

* Two or more colours including white (particoloured)


A fully grown Cocker Spaniel stands 14 – 15 inches  (34 and 39cm) high at the withers and weighs 24 to 28

pounds (11 to 14kg).


Character & abilities

The American Cocker Spaniel is nicknamed the Merry Cocker because of his sweet gentle nature. He is cute, cuddly and affectionate.

He is friendly and enjoys being involved in any family activities, whether it is playing games, walking or working in the field. 

The Cocker is a sensitive dog. He does not like loud noises or being spoken or handled roughly. 

He gets along well with the children that he has been brought up with. Interactions should be supervised to make sure he is treated with kindness and respect. 

When this Spaniel is fearful or in pain, he will usually respond by growling or snapping. He can be nervous and suddenly pee when he is excited. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The Cocker Spaniel is ranked highly as an intelligent breed, is highly trainable and eager to please. He can be found working as a therapy dog. 

He can be trained to perform in dog sports like conformation, obedience, agility and fieldwork. 

Leash training is important for this dog because of his hunting instincts. Walking on a leash will make sure he doesn’t run off to chase birds or other small animals. 

Because of his sensitive nature, he should be trained with a soft touch. Consistent use of positive reinforcement techniques will produce favourable results. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This small dog breed is active and needs daily physical exercise such as playing in the yard or taking a brisk walk around the neighbourhood.  

A hunter at heart, he enjoys any physical activity which also keeps him from getting bored and destructive. 

The Cocker Spaniel loves to eat and given the chance can eat half his body weight. He can be manipulative, using his beautiful face to plead for table scraps. 

To prevent obesity, his bowl should only have food during his scheduled meals. Limit his intake of training treats.

An adult Cocker can have 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of dog food per day. The best dog food provides complete and wholesome nutrition without needing supplementation. 


Maintaining the Cocker Spaniel’s long flowy coat is time-consuming and expensive. Some owners prefer to outsource to professional dog groomers.

Coat care in the home involves daily brushing to untangle knots and prevent matting. Monthly baths will help to keep him clean and trimming will keep a short coat. 

He can be uncooperative during grooming because of his touchy nature. It is advisable to make the process a regular part of his life by being kind and patient. 

It is not unheard of for a Cocker Spaniel to jump off a grooming table because of a noisy trimmer or blow-drier. 

His beautiful long ears should be kept clean and dry, and checked regularly for any signs of infection. they can be cleaned with a cotton ball moistened with a dog ear cleaning solution. 

Part of his daily routine should include dental hygiene. Do not use human toothpaste which can be harmful to the dog. 

Instead, use vet-approved dog toothpaste and toothbrush to prevent gum disease and bad breath. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

This adorable Spaniel prefers to be around his family and is not suited for outdoor living. He fits perfectly in an apartment or a small home. 

The Cocker can be a nuisance barker but can be trained to be quiet. If he is left alone in the yard he can dig, bark or chew. 

With proper socialization and introduction, the Cocker will get along well with other dogs, cats and small animals. 

As a popular breed, it is important to microchip him and supervise his outdoor activities because he can be targeted by dog thieves. 



The American Cocker Spaniel is generally a healthy dog. He is however predisposed to the following health concerns:

* Hip dysplasia

* Patellar luxation

* Progressive retinal atrophy

* Cataracts

* Glaucoma

* Eye abnormalities

* Ear infections

* Allergies

* Hypothyroidism

* Epilepsy and rage syndrome

* Primary seborrhoea

* Haemolytic anaemia

* Dilated cardiomyopathy

Some crooked breeders are more interested in producing litters of this popular dog and have no regard for maintaining the breed standards.  

This means there are more Cocker Spaniels who have serious health problems. 

A well-bred Cocker Spaniel has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. 


If you have watched the animated movie Lady and the Tramp, then you must have fallen in love with the American Cocker Spaniel. This small dog is a loving, gentle and wonderful addition to any family.  

Choosing a dog for your home can be a daunting task, so here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we have compiled a fully detailed and comprehensive small dog breed description list to help you find your match.


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