While the exact origin of the Cocker Spaniel is unknown, “spaynels” are mentioned in literature that dates back to the 14th century. It is thought that these dogs originated in Spain.
It was documented in the year 1801 that there were two types of “Land Spaniel”, the springing/springer and the cocking/cocker. The term “cocker” comes from the use of the dogs in hunting Woodcocks. During the 19th century, the Cocker Spaniel fell under the Field Spaniel type. There were several other Spaniels under this type as well.
During the 1870’s, the Cocker Spaniel was separated from the King Charles Spaniel. Then, in 1892, the Cocker Spaniel was seen as a separate breed than the English Springer Spaniel by the Kennel Club thanks to efforts which began in 1873.
Two dogs are credited with the foundation of the modern day Cocker Spaniel. Ch. (Champion) Obo I is credited as the father of the modern English Cocker Spaniel while his son, Ch. Obo II, is credited as the father of the modern American Cocker Spaniel. Obo II’s mother was shipped to the United States in 1879 while pregnant. He is the offspring of a Sussex Spaniel and a Field Spaniel during a time in which classification as a Cocker Spaniel was only by size and not ancestry. They had to be under 25 pounds in order to classify.
The modern breeds of Cocker Spaniel, English and American, were originally bred as gun dogs and retriever dogs.
One very interesting feature of the Cocker Spaniel, and partly the reason for their original job, is that they have a very acute sense of smell.
Between the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel there are a few differences. The American version is slightly smaller and has a shorter back. It also has a domed head and a shorter muzzle. The English version, on the other hand, is slightly taller and has a narrower head and chest. Both share the common features of droopy ears and dark, round eyes that are somewhat deep set.
The American Cocker Spaniel male usually ranges between 14.5 and 15.5 inches, while the female measures between 13.5 and 14.5 inches. English Cocker Spaniel males measure between 15.5 and 16 inches, 15 and 15.5 inches for females.
Cocker Spaniels have long, silky coats. Some wave or curl is allowed by the standard model, but it will always appear around the legs and chest. The ears are also much curlier or wavier in contrast to the rest of the body. They can also have what is called “feathering” on their feet. Furthermore, their coats can come in a wide variety of colors, including black, liver, red, golden. On rare occasions, all white Cocker Spaniels can occur, either by selective breeding or completely unexpectedly. Color mixtures also occur frequently, where they have more than one color. They include black and tan, liver and tan, roan, roan and tan, tricolor, and white markings.
Whether talking about the American version or the English version, the Cocker Spaniel is a very happy and affectionate breed of dog. It is usually very loyal to their owners and love to be around them. They also do well around people of all ages, including both children and the elderly, as well as other animals.
Not only are they loyal and affectionate, but they are also excitable and playful as well. Families with children love owning these dogs for this particular reason. They are very good at interacting with the children, being playful but also gentle and not overly aggressive. While these dogs do enjoy their rough housing every now and then, they are also great at learning their limits around children. Very rarely does a child or another animal get hurt while playing with the Cocker Spaniel because they got overzealous or aggressive.
While the Cocker Spaniel can be a stubborn breed from time to time, they are generally very easy to train. Because of their loyalty to their owners and eagerness to please, they can be taught to do many different things. They are very cooperative and obedient in numerous situations. They are also intelligent, which helps in understanding and learning commands. These dogs are also adaptable, meaning they can live well in several different environments.
Lastly, they are very energetic and love to get their exercise. Owners should be diligent in this area, particularly, since behavioral issues could arise if boredom sets in. These include barking, chewing on furniture, acting out, being aggressive, etc. However, many activities will suffice them, including running, swimming, and retrieving toys, so owners need not worry too much.
One other area that behavioral issues can arise in is separation anxiety. Because these dogs do form such strong bonds with their owners, they may exert the same behaviors as listed above when left alone or with somebody else for an extended period of time.
This dog is most often used as a companion animal in today’s society. Because they are so loyal, gentle, and easily trainable, these dogs can fit in well to almost any family structure. Again, families with young children especially love to have these dogs in the house. Unlike many other breeds, they also do well with other pets in the house, including cats and other small animals.
Owners may also choose to use this dog in other activities as well, though. For example, many Cocker Spaniels get entered in dog shows and competitions where they are judged based on appearance and conformity to breed standards. They also perform well in obedience trials and athletic competitions, such as swimming or racing. Some retrieval competitions are also available to these dogs.
Lastly, they do tend to make wonderful therapy dogs, visiting people in hospitals, nursing home, retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, and more. Here, their main purpose is to provide comfort to the patients or residents. Dogs have been used for many years to console people in rough situations. Again, this is because of their personality; gentle, loving, and very obedient.