The English Cocker Spaniel is the most successful breed at the most popular dog show in the UK, Crufts, with seven best-in-show wins since the prize was first awarded in 1928. This was mostly due to the success of dog breeder H.S. Lloyd’s Ware Kennel, dogs of which won best-in-show on six occasions between 1930–1950. They are the second most popular dog breed in the UK according to statistics released by the KC
This is a lively, cheerful, gentle yet playful dog that responds well to obedience training. Be careful not to allow yourself to become manipulated by the Cocker charm – they are tail waggers by nature, so use the happy enthusiasm as a high reward in training, rather than allowing them to train you.
Cocker Spaniels are often known to be sensitive and submissive, therefore train persuasively, never sharp or harsh at risk of owning a snappy, defensive dog. The English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy, compact, well-balanced dog. It has a characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness.
As with all hunting breeds, exercise often and incorporate as much obedience into your activities as possible. Fetch is an excellent game that Cockers love to play, not to mention that it promotes recall.
Cocker spaniels coats come in a variety of colors including black, liver, red and golden in solids There are also black and tan, and sometimes liver and tan, as well as a variety of color mixtures of those solid colors including roans, roan and tans, tricolors and those solid colors with additional white markings.
Spaniel type dogs have been found in art and literature for almost 500 years. Initially, spaniels in England were divided among land spaniels and water spaniels. The differentiation among the spaniels that led to the breeds that we see today did not begin until the mid-19th century. During this time, the land spaniels became a bit more specialised and divisions among the types were made based upon weight. According to the 1840 Encyclopedia of Rural Sports, Cockers were 12–20 lb (5.5–9 kg)] At this time it was not uncommon for Cockers and Springers to come from the same litter. Even a puppy from a “Toy” sized lineage could grow to be a springer.
There is no indication from these early sources that spaniels were used to retrieve game. Rather they were used to drive the game toward the guns.
Today, this breed is experiencing a resurgence in usage as a working and hunting dog. Dogs from working lines are noticeably distinct in appearance. As is the case with the English Springer Spaniel, the working type has been bred exclusively to perform in the field as a hunting companion. Their coat is shorter and ears less pendulous than the show-bred type. Although registered as the same breed, the two strains have diverged significantly enough that they are rarely crossed. The dogs that have dominated the hunt test, field trial and hunting scene in the United States are field-bred dogs from recently imported British lines. Working-dog lines often have physical characteristics that would prevent them from winning in the show ring. This is a result of selecting for different traits than those selected by show breeders. The longer coat and ears, selected for the show ring, are an impediment in the field. Worldwide authorities train and use English Cocker Spaniels as sniffer dogs to check for drugs or food products in passengers’ baggage at international airports and ferry ports.