English Cocker Spaniel

Continental dwarf spaniel
Yorkshire Terrier

English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel is the ideal companion for sporty people, because this beautiful hunting dog with the fine nose and long ears is in his profession on long tours through the countryside.

The origin of the English Cocker Spaniel

The first dog images that are similar to the English Cocker Spaniel can be found on silver coins from the reign of Philip II of Macedonia from 382 – 366 BC, the coins of which depict hunting scenes.

Thereafter, the career is in the historical darkness except for a reference from the 14th century, in which E. de Langley claims in his book “Maystre of game” that the forerunner of the spaniel came from Spain to Great Britain. However, this statement does not agree with Spanish hunting records. The name spaniel could also be derived from the French word “espanier” (duck, lie down), which corresponds to the use of spaniels as a poke dog when hunting small game.

When casting the nets when hunting birds, the spaniel lay flat so as not to obstruct the hunters. Later records describe dogs that, according to the description, clearly indicate today’s Springer Spaniels. Until the end of the 16th century, the dog breed did not have a name of its own, but was named after its purpose, for example pheasant dog or partridge dog. The current name appears for the first time at the court of Henry VIII: There was a Robin, King’s Majesty’s Spaniel Keeper by profession. The breed was apparently popular everywhere, because these dogs appear in several plays by Shakespeare and on paintings by old masters, and the common people simply called their white-spotted dogs spaniels.

Old and new categorization

There was previously a difference between land spaniels and water spaniels, but from 1800 onwards they are classified according to their different sizes. The Welsh Springer Spaniel is the oldest line that finds game when hunting with a falcon or net hunting, drives it outside to shoot it and then retrieves the hunted animal from land or water. This is where the name “gundog”, gun dog, comes from. The larger Field Spaniel (English Spaniel) is also a punting and retrieving dog, which is suitable for particularly rough hunting missions on land. The English Cocker Spaniel (also called Cocking Spaniel) was created by crossing with a miniature poodle and got its name after the woodcock, the smallest of all spaniels specialized in tracking in the thicket. Furthermore, the Sussex Spaniel was known, a regional breed from the county of the same name.

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Delimitation of the species

In 1873 the first breed club in Great Britain, the Kennel Club, started its work. A separation of the individual lofts is realized from 1902 with pure breeding. With the establishment of the breed standard, the crossbreeding of other breeds and the mating of different spaniel breeds came to an end. From 1886 lovers and hunters in continental Europe, especially in Germany, discovered the English Cocker Spaniel. The first Jagdspaniel Club was founded in 1907 and around 1930, the exact time is unknown, the American Cocker Spaniel breed emerged after it was introduced to the USA. Since the stature, the round shape of the head and the very lush coat of hair are very different from the original English Cocker Spaniel, a separate standard was set in 1940. The current appearance of the head is said to have originated from 1967 through the crossing of an Irish setter. At the turn of the century, parallel to the setter type, there was still the much more powerful Cob type, which, however, could not prevail. There was also a slow shift in use from hunting dogs to family dogs: the English Cocker Spaniel are now one of the ten most popular domestic dog breeds.

Body type and coat

The head is finely and elegantly cut, with a long foreface, flat cheeks and a pronounced stop. The long, low set droop ears reach to the tip of the nose. The thin leather is densely covered with silky hair fringes. Softly looking expressive eyes match the coat color hazel brown or dark. The angular muzzle shows a complete scissor bite with teeth standing vertically in the jaw and the nose is big enough to absorb even weak weather. A medium-length neck without a dewlap goes over into sloping shoulders. The physique is muscular and stocky with a well arched chest and strong croup, slightly sloping back line. The low-set tail extends to the hocks and is carried at rest at the height of the back, otherwise it is always in motion. The constant wagging is characteristic of the English Cocker Spaniel. The cropping of the tail and ears has been forbidden in Germany since the change in the animal welfare law. Straight forelegs with relatively large paws and strong pads. The fur is silky smooth and close-fitting. The hair is longer on the stomach, tail and ears. Permitted coat colors are brown, blue and orange mold, red and white, black and white, brown and white, black, brown, red or tricolor throughout. All nuances can also have badges in sable or tan colors.

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The character of the English Cocker Spaniel

With a cheeky, lively disposition, the English Cocker Spaniel quickly waves its way into the hearts of the family. He is very playful and needs a lot of activity. Nose work and fetching suit him particularly well, running next to the bike puts him under full load and he cuts a fine figure as a jogging partner. An early visit to a dog school is recommended for puppies so that the high intelligence is not used to do stupid things or to enforce stubbornness with the proverbial stubbornness. Before buying a rental apartment, you should also consider that this breed likes to bark. This is due to its nature as a hunting dog, displaying hares or wild birds that have been found. The English Cocker Spaniel is friendly and affectionate, but needs enough space for long daily walks.


As a breed typical disease of the English Cocker Spaniel, a hereditary disorder of the inner ear can cause balance problems or deafness. The owner should pay attention to balanced and appropriate feed portions, as there is a tendency to become overweight. So that the long ears do not get dirty when eating wet food, pet markets offer long-eared bowls with an extra high rim. With stainless steel bowls, the risk of lip dermatitis, which can arise from contact with plastics, is lower. More rarely, but mostly in males, occurs the so-called cockeranism, which is noticeable in baseless, surprising aggression. Symptoms such as an epileptic seizure followed by total exhaustion are observed, but the cause has not yet been fully clarified.

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The English Cocker Spaniel at a glance

Origin: Great Britain FCI Breed Standard No. 5, Group 8, Section 2: Retriever dogs, water dogs, rove dogs Size: medium Height at the withers: male 39 – 41 cm, bitch: 38 – 39 cm Weight: 12 – 15 kg Coat color: tricolor, solid red, black, brown, brown, orange, blue mold, black-white, brown-white, orange-white, markings in sable and tan permitted.Eye colors: dark brown, hazelnut brownUse: family dog, hunting dog, drug detection dogCharacter: attentive, happy, spirited, happy to playHealth risks: tumors , Obesity, cocker’s anger, lip dermatitis Life expectancy: approx. 12 – 15 years

Image: © Depositphotos.com / cynoclub