By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 6th February 2023

American Cocker Spaniel


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 6th February 2023

A sporting breed of spaniel kind, the American Cocker Spaniel, is a close cousin of the English Cocker Spaniel, which developed in the United States in the 20th century. The smallest of the AKC recognized sporting breeds some of the distinct physical features of the American Cocker Spaniel include a compact, sturdy body, well-proportioned chiseled head, almond-shaped eyes with an alert, intelligent expression, longish, leathered, well-feathered ears, broad, deep muzzle, and a well set docked tail. Its merry temperament and brilliant hunting skills make it an adept companion and working dog.

American Cocker Spaniel Pictures

Quick Information

Pronunciationuh-MAIR-ih-kuhn KAH-kur-SPAN-yuhl
Other namesCocker Spaniel
Common nicknamesCocker, Merry Cocker
CoatSilky, flat, wavy
ColorBlack, black and tan, black and white, black, white and tan, brown, brown and tan, brown and white, brown, white, and tan, buff, buff and white, red, red and white, silver, blue roan, blue, roan and tan, cream, golden, red roan, sable, sable and white (markings merle, roan, ticked and white)
Breed typePurebred
GroupSporting, Spaniel
Average lifespan 10 to 14 years
Size (How big do they get)Small
Height of a full grown American Cocker SpanielMale: 14.5-15.5 inches; Female: 13.5 – 14.5 inches
Weight of a full grown American Cocker SpanielMale: 25 to 30 pounds; Female: 20 to 25 pounds
Litter size1 to 7 puppies
Behavioral traitsMerry, devoted, active, trustworthy
Good with childrenYes
Barking tendencyModerate (increases when they are stressed or anxious)
Climate compatibility Intolerant to extreme heat and cold
Shedding (Do they shed)Excessive
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationFCI, CKC, AKC, ANKC, NZKC, UKC,  KC (UK)

American Cocker Spaniel Puppies Video

History and Origin

Assuming the name cocker or cocking spaniels since they were employed with the task of flushing woodcock, they became immensely popular all over England. They were gradually imported to the United States of America, with the first recorded Cocker named as Captain, which had a liver and white coat. The AKC registered Captain in 1878, after which the American Cocker Spaniel Club evolved, in the year 1881. Efforts began separating it from the English variant as well as other land and water spaniels. After years of hard work, this endeavor was met with success and the ones bred in America was shorter and smaller in size, also having a lightweight and softer coat. In the first half of the 1940s the English and Cocker Spaniels were identified as separate breeds by the English and Canadian Kennel Clubs respectively, and in 1946 the AKC did the same. Brucie, a Cocker Spaniel of black color, was instrumental in popularizing this breed after winning the Westminster’s Best in Show for two consecutive years.

Temperament and Personality

Their happy and cheerful nature earns them the nickname “merry dogs.” Having an affectionate disposition, they love to be cuddled and participate in activities about their family. They are highly intelligent dogs ranking 20th in The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren. However, they are not adept enough when it comes to using objects using their paws like pulling a string or removing the cover from a platter of food. These cute, cuddly dogs share a good rapport with children especially if they are brought up with them. However, they are sensitive hence you need to supervise their interaction with kids. Though the Cocker is friendly with other dogs and pets of the family, keeping their hunting and flushing instinct in mind cats and smaller creatures should be kept at a distance from them.

Click here for the list of popular Cocker Spaniel mixes



Though they are sporting dogs, the American Cocker Spaniel, does not need too much of exercise to let out their energy and would be physically and mentally contended if worked out on a moderate basis. They do well in apartments; hence, besides taking them for a short walk, you can also take them for a game of fetch and retrieving.


Since they are high shedders, the American Cocker Spaniel needs brushing using a finely spaced metal brush followed by combing with a slicker comb to remove mats and tangles besides ensuring a healthy and shiny coat. Bathe it using a vet-approved dog shampoo, also make it a routine to clean its ears and eyes using a damp cotton ball, trim its nails as well as brush its teeth to keep any infections at bay. They have a touchy and sensitive attitude which makes them uncooperative with groomers. Hence grooming should begin since their puppy days with an implementation of positive reinforcements so that they may get accustomed to the clipping, trimming, cleaning, and noise made by a host of equipment.

Health Problems

They are most prone to ear infections as well as problems pertaining to the eyes like cataract, glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy. Cockers also suffer from autoimmune problems such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Other common health issues that they may be plagued with are hip dysplasia, luxating patella, dilated cardiomyopathy, sick sinus syndrome, and canine epilepsy. Phosphofructokinase deficiency and rage syndrome (leads to behavioral problems) are also observed in these dogs.


They are sweet tempered but could sometimes be strong-willed, needing an experienced and firm taskmaster to get the best out of them.

  • Training the Cocker puppies on socialization would help them get along with any guest coming to their homes as well as other dogs or pets. By being exposed to people with different physical features, voice textures, alongside a host of new situations would make the Cocker understand what could be a threat for them and their family and what could not.
  • Obedience training especially teaching them to follow commands would help your pet to be disciplined particularly when it is at a job or in for a grooming session. A “No” or “Quiet” command from your end would perhaps help it to mend itself when it gets too fussy about doing something.


The National Research Council of the National Academies mentions that an adult American Cocker Spaniel weighing about 25 pounds, needs 780 kilocalories per day. However, those employed as a sporting dog engaged in hunting and other activities could require about 900 kilocalories on an average.

Good quality dry dog food of a reputable brand divided into two equal meals would suit them well. Homemade food can be added to its kibble at the advice of the veterinarian. Avoid giving it grains like wheat and corn, instead replace it with barley and oats. Refrain from giving it too much snacks in the form of treats as this could make it obese.

Interesting Facts

  • The animated American musical of 1955, the Lady and the Lamp features an American Cocker Spaniel in the role of Lady.
  • Several presidents of the United States like Richard Nixon, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Bill Clinton were known to have owned an American Cocker Spaniel.

American Cocker vs. English Spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel American Cocker Spaniel
Large and tallComparatively shorter
Straight, wavy coatFull and lustrous coat
Dome shaped headFlat head
Function better as a sporting dogFunction better as a companion dog
Have an increased energy levelHas comparatively lesser energy level

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