America’s Little Sweetheart!
Commonly known as the “Cocker Spaniel” in America, this breed is the smallest sporting dog of its kind. Now, it is more associated with dog shows and being used as a pet instead of hunting.
The Cocker Spaniel is fairly good with small children, families, and other pets, as long as it is exposed at an early age, and not handled too roughly or exposed to loud, sudden noises. It is also advised not to leave them alone in secluded areas, such as a backyard, since they tend to be more timid without the company of someone else.
Behavior common to the American Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels are not known for aggression, and are suitable as gentle, family pets. As long as this breed is exercised properly (as that it what it was bred for), it should indicate low stress levels and friendliness towards humans. Cocker Spaniels display an average amount of intelligence for what is expected of dogs.
To show the most of their intelligence, they display their best behavior when their training involves delayed response to a trigger, which plays in their history to show restraint when hunting down birds, such as woodcock.
Appearance of the American Cocker Spaniel
Unlike the English Spaniels, the American breed have the distinguishing features such as its small, rounded head, with a short, squared muzzle and round eyes. Their ears are long and drop down. And like the rest of its body, American spaniels have long locks of fur that drape down and feather past their belly and along their legs.
The colors of the American spaniel are very vast, but the typical variations include black and tan, solid creams such as light to dark red, and can also include white patches, particularly on spaniels that are dark brown.
The height at the shoulder for the spaniel is between 13 ½ to 15 ½ inches tall at the shoulder, and on average weigh 24 to 30 pounds.
Grooming your American Cocker Spaniel
Because of its long haired coat, this breed requires a degree of grooming that short-haired breeds do not. It is important for owners to pay special attention to the long hair that covers their ears, involving constant cleaning and cutting of fur. If this is not attended to, it is more than likely that the dog will develop severe ear infections.
Brush every couple of days, and be prepared to give a bath that will last several hours. If the Spaniel is going to be outdoors more frequently, ensure that it has a shorter coat. Otherwise, the long fur will catch on various plants and burrs, which are more trouble than they are worth.
It should also be noted that because the Cocker Spaniel is a purebred dog, it will have a shorter lifespan and may develop hip dysplasia.
Spaniels are also prone to having a lot of eye trouble, so checking frequently with a veterinarian is a must.
History of the American Cocker Spaniel
The word “cocker” was derived from the Woodcock birds that it was bred to hunt, while “Spaniel” is thought to come from Spain. Spaniels were later in the UK, and was introduced to America through the Mayflower in 1620.
While this breed settled in, it gained popularity in the 1940’s and 1950’s, then again in the 1980’s. It was particularly popular among American presidents, including President Nixon and Harry S. Truman.
It was not until 1970 that the American Kennel Club officially recognized the differences between the English and American cocker spaniel.