October 22, 2019

Breed Profile: American Cocker Spaniel

By Lauren Tharpe

With their ever-wagging tails and bubbly personalities, it’s no wonder that the American Cocker Spaniel has held the title of America’s most popular breed for a total of 18 years! Their love for people and animals has endeared them to several presidents, including Richard Nixon (who could forget his famous “Checkers Speech”), Rutherford B. Hayes, and Bill Clinton.  Originally bred as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels are now generally bred as family pets, and make great companion animals.

Physical Traits

Size & Weight: The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group of dogs, measuring around 13-15 inches at the shoulders (with females being at the shorter end of the scale). Cockers weigh in between 15-30 pounds, making them a medium-sized dog. Their distinctly shaped heads make them immediately recognizable.

Coat & Color: Cocker Spaniels have medium length silky fur on the body and ears, with feathering down the legs and bellies. Color can be any solid or multi-color variety.

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years


Often referred to as the “Merry Cocker,” these are cheerful, gentle dogs that are equally well suited for life as a household pet or gundog. Known for their happy dispositions, Cockers are social butterflies who love everyone, and are extremely devoted to their pet parents. They are best suited for living indoors, where they can spend most of their time with the people they love.

Something to Bark About: The term “Cocker Spaniel” actually refers to two different breeds of dogs, the American Cocker and the English Cocker. Both are simply referred to as Cocker Spaniels in their home countries. While similar in stature, American Cockers generally have shorter backs and muzzles than their English cousins. Since their official recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1878, the American Cocker Spaniel has won Best in Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on four separate occasions.

English Cocker Spaniels


  • Cockers are great with adults, children, and other animals.
  • They are generally easy to train.
  • Fiercely loyal, Cockers remain faithful to their human families for life.


  • Cockers who are left to their own devices for too long can become bored and destructive, so if you’re out of the house most of the day, this may not be the dog for you.
  • Because of their popularity, Cockers have frequently been bred in puppy mills, leading to increased numbers of breed-related health problems in certain bloodlines.  These include ear infections, eye problems, and heart conditions.
  • Because of their unique coats they require regular grooming.

Do you think the American Cocker Spaniel would be the perfect addition to your family? Check your local animal shelter or contact Cocker Pals Rescue, servicing upstate NY.


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