Breed Description American Cocker Spaniel
The American Cocker Spaniel is the more popular of the two Cocker breeds in the United States. It differs from the English Cocker in being smaller, having a shorter muzzle and a more dome-shaped head. It is a direct descendent of the English Cocker but the Americans preferred a dog with a more refined-looking appearance and so selective breeding caused the American dogs to look differently. Today the two breeds are registered and shown separately.
The American Cocker is a stocky and sturdy dog that stands 13-15.5 inches tall and weighs 20-28 pounds. It has a dome-shaped head, a well-pronounced stop and a short, square shaped muzzle. Its ears are long and covered with silky hair. It has round eyes that are very expressive and even though it is a small dog, it is powerful and muscular for its size. It has the same silky coat that the English Cocker has and can come in all-black, black with tan points, various creams, reds, and browns, and particolors. American Cockers are popular in the show ring and the show clip involves trimming the coat very short on the upper part of the body and letting it grow long on the underparts, ears, and legs. This gives the dog an appearance of having a skirt, which accentuates their cuteness. The tail is customarily docked.
Though the American Cocker was bred for appearance, many still retain the working ability for which the breed was created. They are used for flushing upland game birds, following their flight, and pinpointing where they fall if the hunter shoots them. American Cockers are bred to find the downed birds very quickly because the hunter's code of honor does not allow for wounded birds to be left on the field. Thus the American Cocker, like its English cousin actually makes hunting more efficient and also more humane.
The American Cocker Spaniel also makes an admirable pet. These dogs make excellent watchdogs and are boisterously amusing. Owners of one American Cocker usually end up getting another one. A pair of Cockers is a delightfully merry experience. They love to play in the house and outside as well. American Cockers can be very good city dogs, so long as they are allowed plenty of exercise and a romp in the park. They also get along well with other dogs and with cats. As long as children treat them well, they will be playful with children in the family. They enjoy playing with balls and frisbees and compete well in flyball, frisbee, obedience and agility competitions. Cockers have developed a reputation for not being intelligent dogs and for being vicious. This is an unfounded reputation. American Cockers are easy to train, very eager to please, and are submissive dogs that do not challenge their owners for dominance and are very willing to accept their place in the home. While it is true that they have the highest rates of biting of any dog breed in the United States, this is only because they are extremely popular and have been extremely popular for many decades. This means that there are lots of poor breeders that breed dogs with unstable temperaments and health problems. However, there are also plenty of good breeders and if one gets a dog from one of these, one will get a jolly, eager to please, and very friendly companion with an extremely reliable temperament. Well-bred American Cockers also have a long lifespan and will delight their owners very well into their teens.
Perhaps no story illustrates the unique appeal that American Cockers have than the following story
I read on a message board. A woman owned a very friendly Cocker, which was best friends with her neighbor's Rottweiler. The first time the two dogs met was when she was walking her dog and the neighbor, her Rottweiler. The Rottweiler growled and showed his teeth. The Cocker went over to the Rottweiler, looked at the bare teeth and began cleaning them with its tongue. Ever since then the
two dogs were inseparable. This story shows just how cute and friendly these dogs can be.
However, they also are willing to defend their turf and won't let a larger dog boss them around.
I can not emphasize enough the need to find a well bred Cocker, especially if one has children.
American Cockers are less popular than their English cousins in other countries are, but they do have strong fancies in Britain, Scandinavia, and other countries. There, the American Cockers
tend to be of good stock, though it is always a good idea to ensure the soundness of any breeder.