If you’re looking for the perfect companion, you don’t have to look much further than the American Cocker Spaniel. This breed has been a favorite for decades—and for a good reason! Here are all the things you need to know about these loving, adorable bundles of friendliness before bringing one home.
Basic Characteristics of American Cocker Spaniels
The American Cocker Spaniel is a perfectly sized companion at about 13 inches tall for females and up to 15 inches for males. They weigh an average of 20 to 25 lbs. or 25 to 30 lbs. for the breed’s female and male members. This makes them sturdy enough for their original breeding purpose of hunting but also small and loveable enough for plenty of snuggles and companionship without feeling like you’re getting trampled. This lovable breed has an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, giving their pet parents plenty of time to enjoy their fun, affectionate, and wonderful personalities.
Plenty of people have heard of Cocker Spaniels. Still, not many know the history of this breed and how the two very similar variations of English Cocker Spaniel and American Cocker Spaniel came to be. In 1946, the American Kennel Club finally began listing the two breeds as separate entities despite their close similarities. However, the American Cocker Spaniel is known for having a more profuse coat and a shorter and noticeably smaller muzzle compared to its English counterpart. This breed rapidly became an American favorite after it was introduced and refined, even finding itself included as the main star of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.
Grooming and Varieties
These dogs can be numerous shades of beautiful and unique! American Cocker Spaniels’ beautiful, silky coats come in a wide range of colors: red, white, lemon, blue, golden, black, tan, chocolate, and liver. There are even more coat variations once you throw in the Cocker Spaniels that have markings instead of just a solid coat!
Particolored Cocker Spaniels have a mix of two colors such as black and white, orange and white, red and white, and more. There are even Cocker Spaniels with “roan” coloring that leaves them speckled with white hairs to create a unique and gorgeous appearance alongside their standard, solid-colored fellow Spaniels. Many Cocker Spaniels are also prone to tan markings mixed in with nearly any of the primary base colors.
This breed has a double coat that can grow quite long, and it needs to be consistently brushed with a comb to remove all of the knots and prevent any mats or tangles. However, their beautiful coats come with a price: these precious pups require a lot of grooming, and you better be thorough! One missed grooming session can result in a lot of snarls later. If a pup parent slips up and finds their comb snagged, they should carefully pick any knots apart and certainly not try to use force to brush through aggressively. Pet parents will also need to be cautious when brushing their American Cocker Spaniel’s ears as the skin on their ears is very sensitive and can easily be damaged.
American Cocker Spaniels require high-quality dog shampoo for their baths to keep their skin and fur healthy. They are sensitive to any left-behind soap residue, which can cause a lot of irritation, so bathing and especially rinsing one of these beauties needs to be done carefully yet thoroughly. They will also need to be dried with a blow-dryer on a setting that isn’t too hot for them, and their ears will need to be cleaned too, just as with any other breed of dog. A vet tech will generally be glad to show you the ropes if you need help learning how to clean your pup’s ears properly and safely.
This is such a generally happy breed that American Cocker Spaniels have become known for how much they love their families, have lovely and entertaining personalities, and are great with children. Thanks to their friendly nature, they often get along well with other pets, animals, and even strangers. They can sometimes get excitable, bark wildly, and not follow directions too well because they’re so thrilled to see everyone. This is a small price to pay for what a fun and loveable dog you’ll be sharing your time with if adopting one of these lovely Spaniels.
Due to their people-pleasing personalities, American Cocker Spaniels are easily motivated to learn whatever their pet parents ask them. All they want is to make their favorite person happy, and they will go above and beyond to do so. They typically excel when enrolled in puppy training classes and are pleased to perform with the promise of praise and treats waiting for them. This breed is also sensitive to praise and disapproval, so you’ll need to be extra careful in how you speak to your gentle pup when helping them learn tricks and other challenges.
In some members of this breed, pet parents have noticed significant levels of submissive behavior, including submissive urination. This is not the case with all American Cocker Spaniels, but it’s something to keep in mind when adopting your new fur baby.
Exercising Your American Cocker Spaniel
Cocker Spaniels were bred for hunting before people realized how amazing they were at being companions, so these lovely pups come with a bit of energy they’ll need to expend. Luckily, it’s nothing excessive, so you can enjoy their fun personalities and companionship without worrying about your daily inability to run a marathon, impacting their need for exercise.
American Cocker Spaniels are plenty content with simply going on a walk with their favorite people or even just playing around and fetching a toy or ball that their pet parents or other family members have tossed for them. They also do pretty well playing and getting their exercise if another pet is in the home and willing to play and engage with them. This breed is an excellent fit for visits to the local dog park.
Most American Cocker Spaniels eat 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food daily. If you manage to give them a bit extra, though, be aware that this breed is prone to overeating and gaining too much weight. It’s best to keep an eye on your companion’s food intake and ensure you’re providing them with food with the best nutritional value possible to meet their dietary needs.
Your dog’s specific amount of food provided each day will vary based on age, weight, and other potential health issues that may impact what you’re feeding them as well as how much. You should always consult your veterinarian about their recommendations for the healthiest possible food for your fur baby, and be sure to ask any questions if you’re uncertain about serving sizes.
Suppose you’re adopting an American Cocker Spaniel. Although this breed is relatively healthy compared to others, it still comes with common ailments found in members of the breed. In that case, you’ll need to speak to your veterinarian about any screening, testing, or eventual treatment that may be necessary if your pup were to develop any of these issues.
- Allergies (i.e., contact allergies, food allergies, inhalant allergies)
- Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA)
- Canine hip dysplasia
- Cherry eye
- Congestive heart failure
- Elbow dysplasia
- Eye problems (abnormalities, cataracts, glaucoma, progressive retinal atrophy)
- Gastric torsion
- Idiopathic epilepsy
- Liver disease
- Otitis externa
- Patellar luxation
- Phosphofructokinase deficiency (precursor to anemia)
- Primary seborrhea
- Urinary stones
Quite a few of these are hereditary, so if you can get a medical history of your Spaniel’s parents or siblings, this can be very helpful for determining the future health of your sweet pup.
Bringing Your New American Cocker Spaniel Home
If you’re looking for a loving companion but worried about space, the smaller size and reasonable energy level of the American Cocker Spaniel make them a perfect choice for those who may live in an apartment, condo, or other smaller living space. The fact that they don’t have excessive energy to burn means that a large yard or constant workouts and extensive levels of training are not a requirement pet parents need to worry about with this breed.
If you do have a yard, your new Spaniel will love to run and play, but they are not a breed that should ever be left alone outside during the day. As long as you play with your pup or older adoptee and take them for regular walks, they will be happy to spend the rest of their time relaxing in your home and showering you affectionately.
When you’re ready to bring home your new American Cocker Spaniel, there is another important factor you may want to keep in mind. This breed is known for its delightful personality and high level of friendliness. Still, the breed’s popularity has resulted in some disreputable breeders focusing solely on trying to make money instead of focusing on the health of the dog parents and puppies they are breeding to sell.
Be sure to thoroughly check out any potential breeders if purchasing a pup from them, lest you may end up with a Spaniel with some unfortunate behavioral issues. This may also apply to any American Cocker Spaniels up for adoption at your local shelter—you never know what these fur babies have been through or where they’ve come from, so it’s best to exercise caution and prepare yourself in the event that your next fur baby may need a little extra TLC to function well and behave as desired.
If you’re looking for an American Cocker Spaniel and not sure where to begin, you can always start by checking out the American Spaniel Club as well as the Cocker Spaniel Rescue to help you find a dog of this breed that needs a good home.
Once your new Spaniel has arrived at its brand new home and needs to settle in, we’ve got you covered here at Space Coast Pet Services, whether it’s for family-style boarding, in-home pet visits, or even walking your fur baby. We are available to provide care for all sizes and breeds of dogs, and American Cocker Spaniels are a breed that we would be thrilled to help you care for.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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