One of the most popular pets for pet lovers in US, an American cocker spaniel or Cocker Spaniel is a capable sporting dog. Blessed with a amenable, cheerful and affectionate disposition, a Cocker Spaniel is one of the smallest sporting dog breed and also the smallest of the Spaniel family. American Cocker Spaniels are often confused with their British cousins - The English Cocker Spaniel, however there is a stark difference between the two. A well bred and socialised Cocker Spaniel is gentle, loving, sweet, affectionate and playful and a joyous little bundle. Cocker Spaniels are also one of the most popular breeds in various Dog Shows where they are a part of show dogs and also a part of agility and obedience activities. In modern times, cocker spaniels make wonderful therapy dogs due to their sweet disposition and also are a part of various research teams that are studying cancer.Some of the famous celebrities such as President Nixon, President Truman, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey are the proud owners of a Cocker Spaniel. In the Disney movie, The Lady and the Tramp, the beauty of a Cocker Spaniel has been most aptly described.If you are a proud owner of this gorgeous breed or if you are planning to get a Cocker Spaniel as a family pet, you are making an exciting decision. We bring to you all the aspects that you will have to keep in mind before getting a Cocker Spaniel so that you are able to provide an environment that develops a healthy dog and a long lasting companionship.History
Historically, the word Spaniel means a Spanish Dog and the history of a Cocker Spaniel dates back to 14th century. By 1800, Cocker Spaniels were categorised into two - toy dogs and hunting dogs. Cocker Spaniels have long been used as a hunting dogs for a game bird called woodcock. It is believed that a Cocker Spaniel was one of the few dogs that crossed the ocean in the Mayflower to America. It was in 1870 that the Americans began importing English Cocker Spaniels to the United States. In early 1881, the first American Spaniel Club was formed by Clinton Wilmerding and James Watson. It was only in 1946 that the American kennel Club recognised the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel as two separate breed of dogs.Unique Aspects
One of the most unique aspect of an American Cocker Spaniel is its long, floppy, silky ears that fall gracefully to the side of the face. Cocker Spaniels have a beautiful silky coat and they are quite popular for their ever wagging tails. Another special distinctive feature of a cocker spaniel is that they are one of the most stunning dogs to look at with their silky coats, adorable facial expressions and melting dark almond ring eyes. One cannot escape the beauty of a Cocker Spaniel and neither can one not get mesmerised by their friendly nature.
Cocker Spaniels are an energetic and merry breed that love the human companionship and are considerably easy to train. Though, the American and English counterparts have the same behavior, it is just the looks that make the difference and so has the tinsel town. There are not many movies or celebrities that have this breed.
The American Cocker Spaniel has not featured in many movies but is still one of the favorite breeds when it comes to pets. They feature in the Gone with the Wind
Celebrity American Cocker Spaniel owners
Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney are the proud owners of an American Cocker Spaniel each.
Grooming a Cocker Spaniel is one of the most tedious and time consuming tasks. Their long silky fur has to be brushed and groomed regularly else it will get tangled and become extremely painful for the dog. If you stay in a place where there is a garden or a yard, it will be a good idea to trim or shave the leg fur so that it does not get dirty.Dental grooming is also a must for the Cocker Spaniels. Regular brushing will ensure that there is no tartar or plaque buildup and the mouth of the Cocker Spaniel remains clean and there are no chances of the onset of any periodontal problems.To avoid any injury to the feet especially during running or playing, it will be advised that the nails of the dog are regularly trimmed and kept short. Since the Cocker Spaniels have long flowing ears, cleaning of ears using a ear wipes will also help avoid any ear infections or wax buildup will be imperative. To avoid any onset of ear infections, many vets advice the trimming of the hair in the inside of the ear so that there is ventilation under the ears. While grooming, check for any rashes or redness in the skin, especially between the paws and the ears. A good grooming regime begins from an early age. Introducing your dog to dental, grooming and bathing regimes will ensure that the puppy gets accustomed to the routine and is comfortable with it.
Cocker Spaniels are generally a healthy breed of dog. However, before getting a new puppy it will be advised that all medical history of the parents of the pup is referred to rule out any genetic or hereditary disorder that might inflict the pup. Some of the common health issues that Cocker Spaniels might be prone are:
Hip Dysplasia - Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disorder where the hip bone has a defect in connecting with the hip joint as a result of which the dog may experience pain or lameness in either of the rear legs. As the dog grows, he / she may also develop arthritis. Before getting a puppy, check the medical documents of the parents to rule out hip dysplasia.
Hypothyroidism - Hypothyroidism is another condition that inflicts Cocker Spaniels. In hypothyroidism, the hormone gland of the dog does not function well and as a result, the growth and the development of the dog gets affected. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include dull fur, extreme lethargy, obesity / weight loss and mental dullness. A full blood check up will be required to diagnose the problem.
Progressive retinal atrophy - PRA or progressive retinal atrophy is a degenerative disease of the retinal cells that can cause blindness in the dog.
Cataracts and Glaucoma - Cocker Spaniels are highly prone to developing cataracts and glaucoma for reasons unknown. In case of cataract, a cloudy film forms over the eye of the dog while in case of glaucoma, there is a buildup of fluid pressure inside the eyeball.
Autoimmune Anemia - It is a serious condition where the dog’s immune system starts to attack its own blood cells. Visible symptoms include pale gums, fatigue and jaundice.
Epilepsy - Epilepsy is another disorder that may inflict Cocker Spaniels. Cocker Spaniels may experience mild or severe seizures followed by frantic and abnormal behaviour such as running or falling or even being unable to move their limbs. No real cause of epileptic seizures is known.
Patellar luxation is the dislocation of the kneecap and can cause crippling in the dog.
Cocker Spaniels are one of the most playful, loyal, affectionate, sturdy, stocky, friendly, protective, devoted and happy dogs. Their friendly nature makes them terrible watch dogs. They have been blessed with a patient yet protective temperament making them very good family dogs. Cocker Spaniels require at least an hour hours of vigorous exercise that will engage them physically and mentally. Owners who will not be able to spend adequate amount of time with their Cocker Spaniel should not consider this breed as a pet. The lack of exercise can lead to destructive behaviour and aggression in Cocker Spaniels Like all dog breeds, early socialisation with children, other human beings and pets will ensure a well developed and gentle temperament.Environment
Cocker Spaniels do extremely well in both apartment and large houses. However, pet parents who live in an apartment will have to ensure that their dog is getting ample amount of exercise everyday to expend the excess energy and to stay healthy.Due to their compact and sturdy size, Cocker Spaniels are wonderful pets even in small apartments. Cocker Spaniels are sensitive to extreme heat and cold. So if you live in areas with extreme temperatures, extra precaution will have to be taken for regulating temperature so that your dog does not fall ill.Training & Intelligence
Cocker Spaniels are an intelligent breed of dogs. They have been a part of various dog shows not only for their beauty but also for their excellence in agility, obedience and popularity as a sporting dog. Currently, Cocker Spaniels have been trained to assist scientists and researchers in the study of cancer by sniffing out cancer proteins from different samples.Due to their small and compact size and friendly nature Cocker Spaniels are also trained to be service and therapy dogs.All forms of training for your Cocker Spaniel puppy should start at an early age. It will be imperative for new pet parents to start house training as soon as the puppy arrives so that there are fewer incidents inside the house.
Cocker Spaniels are a healthy and sturdy breed and become mature by the age of 1.3 years. If you are going to mate and breed your Cocker Spaniel, make sure that you understand thoroughly the medical histories of his / her mating partner and also the medical history of the Cocker Spaniel’s parents so make sure that they are not suffering from any serious genetic disorder that may be deterrent to the overall growth of the new puppies. If you are a first time pet parent, seek medical advice to ensure that the mating and breeding process is comfortable for both the dogs.Puppies
An average litter size of a Cocker Spaniel varies between 4 - 6 puppies with an average life expectancy of 12 - 15 years. When the puppies are born, it will be imperative to vaccinate them and to train them from early own as they are extremely active and if not monitored may destroy furniture and other things that might catch their attention.
Cocker Spaniels are one of the smallest sporting dog breeds in the world and have been blessed with most the most expressive dark eyes. When one looks into their eyes its as if they understand everything that you are saying.A full grown Cocker Spaniel male will stand anywhere between 15 - 15 1/2 inches and weigh between 7 - 14 kgs while a fully grown female Cocker Spaniel stands anywhere between 14 - 14 ½ inches. The tail of a Cocker Spaniel is short and always wagging. The fur is long, silky and smooth and the ears of a Cocker Spaniel are one of its most distinct feature. The head of a Cocker Spaniel is round and broad with a deep muzzle. Cocker Spaniels are blessed with straight hind legs and strong soft paws.Cocker Spaniels come in four distinct colours - black, white, brown and red. Many Cocker Spaniels may have white fur patches in their fur.