American Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel


Group: Sporting Dog Group

Origin: United States


    – Male: Ideal is 15 inches (38 cm) at the withers;
    – Female: Ideal is 14 inches (35.5 cm) at the withers.
    – May vary ½ inch (1 cm) above or below the ideal.
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Breed Profile

The American version of the Cocker Spaniel is smaller, has a shorter muzzle and more prominent eyes than the English Cocker Spaniel. The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest of the Sporting Group with a sturdy, compact body, long elegant ears and a silky and feathery coat. He has a cheerful and sweet personality which makes him a wonderful companion. He is playful, intelligent, trusting and loyal, and generally gets along well with other animals. He is a gentle and trusting dog, but early socialization is important with this breed as with all dogs.

The Cocker Spaniel is adaptable in that he is suited to being a household companion as well as living the life of a gundog. Today, the Cocker Spaniel is still a popular breed used as a hunting dog, to find, flush and retrieve upland game birds. In addition, he is also very popular in the show ring as well as competing in obedience and agility trials.

Note: The Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular breeds of dogs. Unfortunately, with this popularity comes the issue of irresponsible breeders attempting to cash in. Characteristics such as being timid, yappy, nervous, and high-strung are not natural to the breed and may be a result of poor breeding. If you are considering the purchase of a Cocker Spaniel puppy, be especially selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)


A Brief History of the American Cocker Spaniel Breed

The American version of the Cocker Spaniel was developed through breeding of English Cocker Spaniels that were brought to the United States from England. The Cocker Spaniel has been recognized by England’s Kennel Club since 1892 and has been shown in the US since the early 1880s. In the US, the breed evolved as a different type, size and colouring and thus was separated and named the American Cocker Spaniel. Today, the Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular American Kennel Club breeds and the most popular spaniel breed in the world. The United Kennel Club recognized the American version as a breed separate from the English Cocker Spaniel in 1947. In 1949, the American Kennel Club recognized a new distinct breed: Cocker Spaniel, known as the American Cocker Spaniel while the original Cocker was named the English Cocker Spaniel.


Health Issues

American Cocker Spaniels, as with other breeds, are susceptible to some health problems, some of a genetic nature, others viral. The Health Concerns for the American Cocker Spaniel document includes information on some of the known health concerns found in the breed.

If you are considering the adoption of a Cocker Spaniel puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the Cocker Spaniel, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screenings for:

  • Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist
  • Hip Dysplasia

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources


Additional Information

  • Is That A Labradoodle? — A must read article regarding the mixed-breed “Doodles” and “Poos”. These are not exotic new breeds!
  • Breeding World Class Gundogs by Geoffrey A. English, as published at
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.


*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

Breed Listing

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