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The Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized, long-haired dog that originated in the UK as hunting dogs. There are two breeds of Cocker Spaniels: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel.
The English Cocker Spaniel has a long, silky coat which is usually straight or slightly wavy, and its legs, chest and belly are covered in longer hair called “feathering”. The Cocker Spaniel does require a lot of grooming and is an average shedder. Its coat is either a solid colour (usually black, light cream, red or brown) or multi-coloured (one of the previously mentioned colours mixed with white). The American Cocker Spaniel tends to be smaller with a shorter back, shorter muzzle and a domed head.
The average weight of the Cocker Spaniel is between 13 and 15 kg, with males standing at 38 cm tall and females at 36 cm.
Like most dogs, Cocker Spaniels love exercise and will take as much as you can give them. Usually a daily walk and a couple of hours of playtime are sufficient.
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The Cocker Spaniel is easy to train and very talented in the areas of obedience, agility, hunting, flyball and more. They also make fantastic therapy dogs.
As pets, Cocker Spaniels are affectionate, loyal and energetic dogs. They are great with children, the elderly and other pets, as long as they are socialised and trained from a young age. They are very intelligent and trainable, and are average barkers. They love spending time with their family and make great companions for their owners.
Because of their roots as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels need lots of exercise and mental stimulation. If not exercised regularly, the dog may develop behavioural issues.
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The Cocker Spaniel we see today is descended from the Spaniel family which dates back to ancient times. The word “Spaniel” means “Spanish dog”, so it is probable that the dog originated in Spain. The word “Cocker” comes from the dog’s use as Woodcock hunters.
By the 1800s, Spaniels were divided into two categories: hunting dogs and companion dogs, and hunting dogs were further divided into land and water spaniels.
Spaniels had existed in England for many centuries but the Cocker Spaniel was not recognised as a breed until 1892.
English Cocker Spaniels were brought to the US in the late 1870s and the American Spaniel Club was established in 1881, making it the oldest breed club in America. It later split up into different divisions for each different Spaniel breed.
American Cocker Spaniels arose out of breeding the smallest English Cocker Spaniels, as American Woodcocks were smaller than those in England.
The AKC recognised the Cocker Spaniel as a breed in 1878 but only registered the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed in 1946. As of 2013 Cocker Spaniels are the 29th most popular breed in the US and English Cocker Spaniels 62nd.