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Cocker Spaniel Breed Summary

Cheery, Loving, Adoring and Playful

The word ‘Spaniel’ translates to ‘Spanish Dog’, so it’s no surprise that the Spaniel family originates from Spain! These dogs were originally bred to hunt Woodcock during the 1800s but were only registered in the UK, as a breed in 1892. The Cocker Spaniel quickly gained popularity with ‘hoomans’, both breeders and the public! A smaller variation of this breed was favoured and performed particularly well in the show ring. In 1939, Brucie, also a member of this breed, won ‘best in show’ at a prestigious show and they continued to grow in popularity. These particular doggies are known as ‘the darlings’ of many pet owners, so it is not surprising that the female lead in Lady and The Tramp, is also a Cocker Spaniel. Even today, these fluffy dogs remain in the top 15 dog breeds of all time!

Kennel Club Group Gundog
Lifespan 11-12 years
Height (at the withers) Males 39cm - 41cm, Females 38cm - 40cm
Weight Males and Females 13kg - 14.5kg
Coat Flat, Silky Coats
Colour Various including Black, Golden, Chocolate, Lemon, Liver, any Combination of These, or Mixed with White
Eye colour Brown
Common health issues Progressive Retinal Atrophy; Glaucoma; Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA); Hypothyroidism; Primary Seborrhea; Prone to Allergies
Other Names Cocker

These gorgeous dogs are well known for their cheery nature and love nothing more than to make their ‘hooman’ family happy. Whether that be running around in the garden or having a cuddle on the sofa, they are full of adoration. They also have excellent temperaments, which makes them great for families with kids. Both this and their size makes them suitable for living in apartments.

Spaniels are one of the oldest types of dogs in the world. There are clear mentions of the spaniels in the literature of Chaucer, who wrote in the 14th century, and the plays of Shakespeare. However, there is some evidence that spaniels arrived in England following the Roman invasions of 54 and 55BC, and perhaps originated from Spain. This is based on the fact that the word Spaniel may originate from the word ‘Hispania’, which means Spain, or from the French name ‘Chiens de l'Espagnol’, which literally translates as Spanish Dogs. 

For a long time, Spaniel was a name for a dog that carried out a particular function, rather than a description of a breed. Spaniel dogs were bred specifically to flush out game for hunters to pursue. They were particularly useful on difficult terrains, including marshland and even water, and by the 16th century, good working Spaniels were highly regarded. Over time, Spaniels became separated into those bred for working on the land, and those working in the water. The Cocker Spaniel gained its name from its particular ability in hunting woodcock. By the 1800s, the Spaniel had divided further into those bred for companion dogs (known as toys), and those for working. 

It was some time before the Cocker Spaniel was recognised and registered as a separate breed. This was due to the fact that Springer Spaniels could produce Sussex and Cocker Spaniels, as well as Springer Spaniels, in a single litter. In 1874, when the Kennel Club was established in the UK, any Spaniel dog weighing less than 11kg was deemed to be a Cocker Spaniel. The first recognised modern English Cocker Spaniel was registered in 1879, from the Obo Kennel, owned by James Farrow.  In 1892, the Cocker Spaniel was officially recognised as a breed by the Kennel Club, but it was not until 1885 that a breed standard was finally established.

In the late 1870s, the Cocker Spaniel was imported to the United States, with a liver and white spaniel known as Captain first registered. In 1881, the American Spaniel Club was founded, which included all Spaniel types. In the States, different breed standards were applied, and so the breed became split into English Cocker Spaniels, and American Cocker Spaniels, which have been shown as separate breeds since 1946. 

In 1939 and 1940, a Cocker Spaniel with the kennel name CH My Own Bruce, won the Best American Bred in Show at the Westminster Dog Show. This victory led to a significant increase in the popularity of the breed, especially amongst American breeders, and a further separation of the breed standards. English Cocker Spaniels have won more Crufts’ Best in Show rosettes than any other breed, seven times in total, helping to maintain their popularity.