American Cocker Spaniel Dog


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amercian cocker spaniel

Breed Information guide

The American Cocker Spaniel, a delightful companion known for its merry and frolicsome nature, has consistently held its charm among dog enthusiasts. According to the Kennel Club, 232 American Cocker Spaniels were registered in the UK in 2022. Meanwhile, the AKC, a recognized authority on breed standards, ranks the American Cocker Spaniel as 29th out of 200 breeds and highlights the breed’s rich history as hunting dogs that have transitioned into beloved all-around companions.

Jump into this article to learn more about the American Cocker Spaniel. From its fun nature to its long history, we’ll cover everything. Whether you are thinking of getting one or just curious, this guide will tell you about this amazing dog breed.

Quick Facts:

  • Size: The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group.
  • Weight: 11.3-13.6 kg (male, approx. 25-30 pounds), 9.1-11.3 kg (female, approx.20-25 pounds).
  • Height: 37-39 cm (male, approx. 14.5-15.5 inches), 34-37 cm (female, approx. 13.5-14.5 inches).
  • Lifespan: 10-14 years.
  • Types: The breed’s name comes from its woodcock hunting skills. They were recognized by the AKC in 1878 and have since become successful in conformation, obedience, agility, and hunting tests.
  • Families: They generally get along well with children and other pets if socialised properly.
  • Allergies: While no dog breed is completely hypoallergenic, the American Cocker Spaniel does produce dander and can shed moderately. 
  • Movies: Notably featured in “Lady and the Tramp.”
  • Appearance: Medium-long silky fur, distinct head shape, and variety of colours, including white, black, brown, tan, grey, red, and fawn.
  • Temperament: Lively, people-oriented, and known for being ‘happy’ dogs. They are very adaptable and can live in both the city and the countryside.
  • Other pets: American Cocker Spaniels are generally amiable and can get along with other dogs, cats, and larger pets. However, due to their hunting background, it’s advisable to supervise them around smaller animals like hamsters or birds.
  • Barking: American Cocker Spaniels can be vocal, especially if they are bored or left alone for extended periods.
  • Training: They are intelligent dogs and benefit from early training and socialisation.
  • Exercise required: Minimum 1-2 hours per day.
  • Owner requirement: Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for this breed. They also require regular grooming.
  • Grooming: They require daily brushing and might need professional grooming every three months.
  • Health: They can suffer from hip dysplasia, atopy, ear problems, eye problems, and some auto-immune conditions.
  • Nutrition: A balanced diet is crucial for their health and well-being.
  • Accommodation: Adaptable to various living conditions but prefers indoor living.
  • Cost: £600–£800; ongoing costs of owning an American Cocker Spaniel are between £80 and £90 a month and £13,000 across their lifetime.
  • Kennel Club Group: Gundog

Breed History and Traits:

The American Cocker Spaniel and its origins – now that’s a tale for you! Stemming from a sporting dog lineage, its roots trace back to the United States. While you might know it simply as the “Cocker Spaniel” if you’re in the States, in other parts of the world, they like to call it the “American Cocker Spaniel”. Why? To set it apart from its older sibling, the English Cocker Spaniel. Ever wondered where the term “cocker” came from? Here’s a bit of trivia for you: It’s believed to have sprung from their role in hunting woodcock in England.

Key historical events related to the American Cocker Spaniel include:

  • The first spaniel arrived in America with the Mayflower in 1620.
  • The first American Cocker Spaniel was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1878.
  • A national breed club was established three years later.
  • The dog is considered the father of the modern breed, Ch. Obo II was born around this time.
  • By the 1920s, the English and American varieties of Cocker had become noticeably different.
  • The AKC recognized the English type as a separate breed in 1946.
  • The Kennel Club in the UK recognized the American Cocker Spaniel as separate from the English type in 1970.
  • The American Cocker Spaniel was the most popular breed in the US during the 1940s, 1950s, and again in the 1980s.

Temperament and Personality:

To describe the American Cocker Spaniel in one word, it’d be “cheerful.” Their disposition? Just so sunny and bright! They’re known for their friendly nature, which makes them great companions for families, children, and even other pets. But it’s not just their temperament. Their intelligence and trainability – something to truly marvel at. They have a tail that seems never to stop wagging and they truly prefer human company. So, think twice if you’re thinking of leaving them in your garden alone. They can easily get stressed by loud noises and rough handling. But with the right techniques, they’re quick learners.

Top 5 Personality Traits of the American Cocker Spaniel:

  1. Affectionate: These dogs, they’re absolute lovebugs. They thrive on human interaction and love being part of family activities.
  2. Lively: Their energy? Contagious! Whether playing fetch or just going for a walk, they’re always up for fun.
  3. Gentle: Despite their lively nature, they’re so gentle, especially with kids. It’s amazing!
  4. Intelligent: Give them a command, and you’ll see – they pick it up pretty quickly.
  5. Adaptable: Whether you live in a flat or a house with a big garden, they fit right in. They do!

Now, we know there’s always a debate about the English vs. American Cocker Spaniel. They do share some similarities, but there are distinct differences in their appearance and temperament. 

Comparing Physical Features of American vs. English Cocker Spaniel:

FeatureAmerican Cocker SpanielEnglish Cocker Spaniel
SizeSmaller, more compactSlightly larger frame
CoatSilky and wavyDenser and straighter
ColoursA wider range of colours: Buff, Chocolate and Tan, Red and White, Silver Buff, Black and White Particolour, Chocolate, Sable, Black and Tan, Red, Chocolate Tricolour, Black, Tricolour, Sable and White, Chocolate and White Particolour, Black White and Tan, Brown and White, Particolour, Black and White, Red and White ParticolourLimited colour palette: Black and White, Liver and White, Black White and Tan, Liver White and Tan
EarsSet lower and longerSet higher and shorter
MuzzleShorterMore pronounced

Remember, whether you’re considering getting an American Cocker Spaniel or just curious about the breed, understanding their history and personality is key. It not only helps you connect with them but also ensures you provide them with the best care possible. These furballs are worth every bit of love and attention you shower on them!


Training an American Cocker Spaniel? You’re in for a treat! Their intelligence and eagerness to please makes them quite trainable. But, like with any dog of yours, it’s all about finding the right techniques. In our experience of owning spaniels, we’ve picked up a few tricks you might find handy. 

Recommended Training Techniques for New Owners:

  • Positive Reinforcement: Always reward good behaviour. Whether it’s a treat, a pat, or verbal praise, let them know they’ve done well.
  • Consistency is Key: Stick to your commands. If “sit” means “sit,” don’t change it up. It’ll only confuse the poor thing.
  • Start Early: The earlier you start training, the better. Puppyhood is a great time to instil good habits.
  • Socialisation: Introduce them to different environments, people, and animals. It helps them become well-rounded adults.
  • Short and Fun Sessions: Keep training sessions short to hold their attention. And always end on a positive note.


If there’s one thing about the American Cocker Spaniel, it’s their zest to move! Chasing a ball or a morning stroll, they’re in. A good exercise session doesn’t just keep them in shape but sharpens their mind, too.

Top 5 Activities We’d Recommend for the Breed:

  • Fetch: It’s a classic for a reason. They love it, and it’s great exercise.
  • Agility Training: With their intelligence and energy, they excel in agility courses.
  • Hide and Seek: A fun game that also stimulates their mind.
  • Tug-of-War: Just ensure it’s played safely and doesn’t encourage aggressive behaviour.
  • Nature Walks: They love exploring new scents and sights. Plus, it’s a treat for you too!

So, remember, an active American Cocker Spaniel isn’t just a fit one – it’s a joyful one. Lace-up those trainers, get a ball and cherish the moments with your fur buddy.

Ideal Home and Owner:

Thinking of making an American Cocker Spaniel a part of your family? You’re onto something good! But, it’s super important to ensure your home vibes with their needs. Sure, these pups are adaptable, but there’s stuff they really dig.

Ideal Home Environment Characteristics:

  • Space to Play: They can live in apartments, but having a garden or a park close by? That’s a big win. Apartment living means more walks for the dogs.
  • Family Environment: For these guys, family is where the heart is. More folks around? More love for them!
  • Regular Exercise: Be it daily walks or just some fetch, they’ve got to move.
  • Training and Socialization: They’ve got brains and love using them. So, regular learning sessions? Top-notch.
  • Love and Attention: At the end of the day, they want to be loved. These affectionate buddies bond strongly with their families.

Now, on to the ideal owner, With love and dedication, anyone can be a star pet parent, there are a few ticks that go hand in hand with an American Cocker Spaniel’s mojo.

Type of Owners Best Suited for the American Cocker Spaniel:

  • Patient and Understanding: Training and socialisation require patience. It’s all about understanding their needs and working with them.
  • Active Lifestyle: If you’re someone who enjoys outdoor activities, they’ll be more than happy to accompany you.
  • Committed to Grooming: Their beautiful coat requires regular grooming. If you’re ready to invest the time (or money for a professional groomer), that’s a big plus.
  • Loves to Socialise: If you’re outgoing and often have guests over, your American Cocker Spaniel will love the extra attention and interaction.

Other Animals:

Have other fur babies at home? That’s cool! American Cocker Spaniels are usually buddies with other pets, be it dogs, cats, or even the tinier critters. But, like with any new pals, first meets should be slow and watched over. 

Steps for Successful Socialisation with Other Pets:

  1. Start Early: The younger they are, the easier it gets to make friends with others.
  2. Supervised Hangouts: When they first meet, keep an eye out. Safety first for all your pets.
  3. Positive Reinforcement: Reward good behaviour during these interactions.
  4. Regular Exposure: The more they interact with other animals, the more comfortable they’ll become.
  5. Know Their Limits: Every dog is different. If you notice any signs of stress or aggression, it’s essential to step back and reassess.

In our experience, with the right introduction and a bit of patience, American Cocker Spaniels can be thick as thieves with other pets. Seeing them play, cuddle, and even share toys is heartwarming. Just remember – every dog is an individual. While most might love the company, some might prefer being the only pet. And that’s okay, too. It’s all about understanding and respecting their preferences.

Appearance and Colours:

 It’s hard not to fall in love with those soulful eyes and that silky coat. Their medium-long fur can appear in multiple shades – from solid colours like black or cream to mixed ones such as black and tan or even tri-coloured. There’s a shade for every preference.

Regarding the debate of English vs. American Cocker Spaniel in appearance – there are distinct differences to take note of. Both breeds have an undeniable allure, but their physical characteristics are what distinguish them.

Comparing Physical Features of American vs. English Cocker Spaniel:

FeatureAmerican Cocker SpanielEnglish Cocker Spaniel
SizeMore compact, ideal for smaller living spacesSlightly larger, robust build
CoatSilky, wavy, and can be a bit dense and sometimes longer around the dog’s legs.Shorter, straighter, and a tad coarser
ColoursWide range from solid colours to multi-coloured patternsTypically solid colours or two-toned
EarsSet a bit lower, longer, and more flowingSet higher, a bit shorter, and less wavy
MuzzleShorter and more refinedLonger and more squared

Size and Weight:

When it comes to size and weight, the American Cocker Spaniel takes the title of smallest sporting dog, as recognized by the American Kennel Club. On average, these charming furballs stand 13.5 – 15.5 inches high at the withers. In terms of weight, they usually fall between 24 and 30 pounds, with females often weighing a bit less than males.

Now, let’s look at a comparison between the American Cocker Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel – two breeds closely related and sometimes mistaken for the American Cocker Spaniel.

BreedAverage Height (cm)Average Height (inches)Average Weight (kg)Average Weight (lbs)
American Cocker Spaniel34.3 – 39.413.5 – 15.510.9 – 13.624 – 30
English Cocker Spaniel38.1 – 43.215 – 1711.8 – 15.426 – 34
English Springer Spaniel48.3 – 50.819 – 2018.1 – 22.740 – 50

The English Cocker Spaniel is a bit taller and heavier than the American one. It stands out for its active nature and strong hunting instincts. The English Springer Spaniel, on the other hand, is the largest among the three, famous for its endless energy and amiable nature.

When deciding between these breeds, it’s key to think not only about size but also temperament, exercise needs and grooming demands. Each breed has its special charm, but all three are sure to bring happiness and friendship to any home.

Grooming and Care:

Grooming an American Cocker Spaniel? It’s not exactly a walk in the park. Their medium-long and silky fur – especially on the body, ears, legs, and belly – demands regular care. But the outcome? Pure satisfaction when they’re all brushed and looking top-notch!

Here are some essential grooming tools you’ll need for your American Cocker Spaniel:

  • Brush: Quality brush is key – helps detangle the fur and keep it sleek.
  • Comb: Useful for those tricky knots and for the feathering on their legs and belly.
  • Ear Cleaning Solution and Cotton Balls: Their droopy ears are adorable but can trap dirt and moisture. Regular cleaning is essential!
  • Nail Clippers: Those little paws need regular trimming to avoid overgrowth.
  • Shampoo and Conditioner: Opt for a gentle formula. Remember, their skin can be sensitive!

And here’s something to remember: grooming isn’t just about looks. It’s also prime time for you and your four-legged friend to bond. Regular grooming lets you spot potential health concerns, like skin issues or ticks, early on.

Nutrition and Food:

Feeding an American Cocker Spaniel right is key for their health and vitality. These little champs have a fast metabolism – they burn energy quickly. Yet, with small stomachs, they need to eat frequently but in small amounts. Giving them a balanced diet tailored to their needs is crucial.

Top 5 recommended foods for your American Cocker Spaniel:

  • High-quality kibble: Opt for brands that list real meat as the first ingredient and avoid fillers.
  • Lean meats: Chicken, turkey, and beef –  are excellent sources of protein.
  • Fish: Salmon and other fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for their coat.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, peas, and green beans – healthy treats, but just in moderation.
  • Rice and pasta: These can be good sources of carbohydrates, especially if your dog is more active.

However, not everything is good for them. Here are 5 foods to avoid:

  • Chocolate: Known to be toxic for most dogs – poses serious health threats.
  • Grapes and raisins: These can cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Onions and garlic: They can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anaemia.
  • Caffeine: Products with caffeine, like coffee, can be fatal to dogs.
  • Alcohol: It has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain as it does on humans, but in much smaller quantities.

Remember, every dog is unique. What’s good for one might not sit well with another. It’s wise to sync up with your vet about your dog’s diet specifics. And always ensure freshwater is available!


American Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. Being aware of these can help you take preventive measures and ensure your furry friend leads a long, happy life.

Here’s a table listing common health issues faced by the breed, their symptoms, and preventive measures:

Health IssueSymptomsPreventive Measures
Hip dysplasiaLimping, difficulty in rising, reluctance in running or climbing stairsRegular check-ups, weight management, specific exercises
Ear infectionsScratching the ear, head shaking, odour from the earRegular ear cleaning, keeping ears dry
GlaucomaRedness, tearing, eye pain, vision lossRegular eye check-ups, early detection
Hereditary cataractsCloudiness in the eye, difficulty in seeingRegular eye check-ups, surgery in severe cases
Progressive retinal atrophyNight blindness, bumping into things, dilated pupilsRegular vet visits, antioxidants

Key here? Regular vet visits and a keen eye for any behavioural or physical shifts in your dog. Catching and treating issues early? That’s vital. They’re not just pets – they’re family. Deserving nothing but the best!


When it comes to our furry friends, especially the American Cocker Spaniel, ensuring their well-being is paramount. One way to do that? Pet insurance. You might be thinking, “Why do I need insurance for my dog?” Well, let us break it down for you.

Top 3 motives to get pet insurance for your American Cocker Spaniel:

  • Unexpected Medical Expenses: Dogs, like humans, face sudden health snags. From ear issues to more serious ones, medical expenses can skyrocket. Insurance can help cover these costs, ensuring your dog gets the best care without breaking the bank.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing you have insurance can offer peace of mind. If anything were to happen, you’d be prepared financially to provide the best care for your fur baby.
  • Routine Check-ups and vaccinations: Some insurance plans cover routine check-ups, vaccinations, and even grooming.  This goes a long way in keeping the overall health of your American Cocker Spaniel.

Buying and Breeders:

So, you’ve decided to welcome an American Cocker Spaniel into your home? That’s fantastic! But finding the right breeder is crucial. You want to ensure your new pup comes from a loving, ethical and knowledgeable environment.

Here’s a numbered list of steps to ensure you’re buying from a reputable breeder:

  • Research – Start by doing thorough research. Look for breeders who’s recognized by national or regional breed clubs (AKC in the U.S. or Kennel Club in the U.K.)
  • Visit the Breeder – Always visit the breeder’s facility in person. This gives you a chance to see the conditions the puppies are raised.
  • Ask Questions – Don’t be shy! Ask about the puppy’s parents, their health history and any certifications.
  • Check References – A good breeder will have no problem providing references from other families who’ve purchased puppies from them.
  • Avoid Red Flags – Beware of breeders who have multiple litters available, won’t let you meet the puppy’s parents, or avoid answering questions.

Remember, a reputable breeder will be just as curious about you as you are about them. They’ll want to ensure their puppies are going to good homes. So, be prepared for questions about your home, family and how you plan to care for your new pup.

Lastly, when it comes to the price, the American Cocker Spaniel can vary based on factors like lineage, breeding and location. On average, you might find American Cocker Spaniel puppies for sale ranging from £600–£800. But remember, a higher price doesn’t always guarantee quality. Always prioritise the breeder’s reputation and the puppy’s health over the price tag.

Rescue and Re-homing: 

There’s something incredibly heartwarming about giving a dog a second chance at a happy life. Rescuing and rehoming an American Cocker Spaniel can be one of the most rewarding experiences for both you and your furry companion. Unfortunately, as a result of many dogs that were acquired during COVID-19 and then re-home after, there are now many lovely spaniel dogs in need of a good home.

Some benefits of adopting over buying:

  • Second Chances – Plenty of American Cocker Spaniels in shelters or rescue centres, well, they’ve had rough starts. Adopting them? It’s like giving them a new chapter in life.
  • Cost-Effective – Think of it this way – Adopting can often be more wallet-friendly than buying a fresh-out-the-box puppy. And bonus: a lot of rescue dogs? They’re already vaccinated, spayed, or neutered.
  • Supporting Shelters – By going the adoption route, you aren’t just giving a dog a home. Nope, you’re supporting the shelter and making space for other needy dogs.
  • Mature Companions – While puppies are adorable, they can be a handful. Many rescue dogs are older and past the hyper puppy stage, making them calmer companions.
  • Unconditional Love – There’s a saying that rescue dogs know they’ve been saved. The bond you’ll form with your rescue American Cocker Spaniel might just be the strongest you’ve ever felt.

If you’re considering adopting, we’d recommend – visiting local shelters or looking for spaniel breed-specific rescue organisations. For example, in the UK, this would be They can guide you through the process and help match you with the perfect American Cocker Spaniel for your family. If you’re not sure about a charity, check with your local breed clubs or national charity registers.

Mixed Breeds:

The American Cocker Spaniel, with its endearing appearance and affectionate nature, often gets mixed with other breeds, resulting in some truly delightful combinations. When you mix breeds, sometimes you get the best characteristics of both worlds.

Comparing the American Cocker Spaniel with some of its popular mixed breeds in terms of appearance and temperament:

American Cocker SpanielMedium-long, silky fur with a distinct head shapeFriendly, affectionate, adaptable
Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel + Poodle)Curly or wavy coat, often hypoallergenicIntelligent, affectionate, playful
Cockalier (Cocker Spaniel + Cavalier King Charles Spaniel)Medium-length coat, often with the Cavalier’s signature maskGentle, affectionate, sociable
Cockeranian (Cocker Spaniel + Pomeranian)Fluffy coat with a mix of Cocker’s silkiness and Pomeranian’s fluffEnergetic, alert, loyal

Each of these mixed breeds brings its own charm. They fuse the best attributes of the American Cocker Spaniel with the traits of their other half. So, if you’re on the hunt for a hypoallergenic buddy, a playful family dog, or a diligent watchdog, there’s probably a Cocker Spaniel mix out there tailored to your desires.

At the end of the day, it’s not about purebred vs. mixed. It’s about the boundless love and joy these canine companions infuse into our lives. Whether it’s mine or yours, the American Cocker Spaniel or its hybrid counterpart, the happiness they bring is unparalleled. All they ask in return? Some care, a bit of attention and heaps of love. They’ll be your loyal friends for a lifetime.


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