The Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized, long-haired dog with a merry, sound temperament whose name derives from this breed excellence at hunting woodcock, a type of wading bird. It is believed that Cocker Spaniels was first bred in the United Kingdom for hunting purposes and that the breed came to the United States on the Mayflower in 1620 but were not registered until 1878. Today, the Cocker Spaniel is the smallest dog in the Sporting Group.
FUN FACT: The first Cocker Spaniel registered by the American Kennel Club in 1878 was called Captain.
Cocker Spaniels are 14-15 inches tall and they weight 24-28 pounds. Females are slightly smaller and taller than males. The life span of Cocker Spaniel is 10 to 14 years. These dogs have a sweet temperament, are affectionate, cuddly and eager to please. They are alert, active and enjoy exercise. Cocker Spaniel's personality is soft and sensitive. Harsh treatment won't do the trick with this breed; they need to be handled carefully and kindly. Gentle treatment will bring out the best in your Cocker.
These dogs are suited to live in an apartment, but daily walks and exercises outside are a must – after all, this breed was bred as a hunting dog. The Cocker Spaniel enjoys spending time with his family. He loves to be a part of the team and is not pleased to be left alone. This breed gets along well with children and other family pets and this is one of the reasons why these dogs are so popular. Another reason for their popularity is the fact that they are incredibly loyal characters.
Cockers have medium to high prey drive, but consistent training can curb this trait. Teach your Cocker some basic rules and boundaries while the dog is still a puppy, and you will reduce the risk of your Cocker taking off while exploring around or running after another animal. Cocker Spaniels love water and will jump in whenever they can. They are excellent therapy dogs. They also love to participate in all sorts of canine sports and a lot of them still show a natural ability and a great potential to work with hunters.
The Cocker Spaniel has a thick, beautiful, sometimes wavy coat that can be a solid color (black, light cream, red, and brown) or part-color (two or more colors). They, like most breeds, shed. Some of them shed constantly, while others shed in spring and fall. But, if you own a Cocker Spaniel, the smart thing to do, is to brush your Cocker daily for dead hair to fall out and to keep the coat free of tangles and mats. It is important to keep that long Cocker coat in good order. Grooming is important! It can also be expensive.
Most Cocker Spaniels’ owners tend to have a professional groomer to take care (bathe, brush, trim) of their dog every six to eight weeks. But, keep in mind that most of the Cockers have a reputation with groomers that are not cooperative during treatment. To avoid inconveniences, train you Cocker to be still on the grooming table. The nails should be trimmed regularly.
Pay special attention to Cocker's ears. While sniffing around, their ears often sweep things off the floor. A common problem is a grass that gets tangled in the fur and pushed down the ear canal. This causes infections, which this breed is prone to.
TIP: It is very important to pay close attention to your Cockers ears – check them weekly for dirt, grass seeds, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. Make sure air can circulate in a dog’s ears, dry them whenever they get wet and remove build-up wax regularly because wax can also trigger an infection.
Cocker Spaniels are dogs belonging to two breeds of the spaniel dog type: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. They share a similar heritage, but there are a few differences between these types. They have a distinctive, but similar appearance. The American Cocker ears are places higher on the head and the snout is short. English Cockers ears are more low-slung. Another difference is the coat length. American Cocker Spaniel has longer and more lustrous coat. English Cocker Spaniel is slightly heavier and larger than American Cocker Spaniel. Also, English Cocker Spaniels tend to be more active.
Cocker Spaniels are, like all breeds of dogs, prone to certain health conditions. Eye problems are common with this breed. Progressive retinal atrophy that can cause blindness, cataracts, glaucoma… Cocker Spaniel owners are familiar with all these conditions. The breed is also prone to autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), which is a condition when dog’s immune system attacks its own blood cells; Familial nephropathy (FN) is a fatal hereditary condition that affects a Cocker's kidneys. Hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland disorder that can cause conditions such as epilepsy, lethargy, all kinds of skin conditions. Cockers are prone to allergies, too.
BUYING A COCKER
If you are considering purchasing a Cocker Spaniel, keep in mind that these dogs are pricey, especially when you calculate in all the costs of the groomer, good quality food that Cockers need to be fed, nutritious diet, etc. Also, when picking out a Cocker, you should avoid buying one with a docked tail because there are very heavy fines for having that done to a where permission has not been officially granted.
FUN FACT: Cosmetic tail docking has been banned in many countries because the procedure is unnecessary and compromises the welfare of dogs.
Cocker Spaniel in popular culture
Is there anyone that is not familiar with 1955 Disney film named Lady and the Tramp?! A dog named Lady is a female American Cocker Spaniel and that dog was the movie’s model for an affectionate and pampered pet. In those times, the Cocker Spaniel was the number one breed in America. There is also a Cocker Spaniel called Charkie in the Curious George – a popular children's book and TV series. The Coppertone sunscreen? Yes, that is a Cocker Spaniel on the bottle.
FUN FACT: George Clooney owns a Cocker Spaniel called Einstein that he rescued from a shelter back in 2010.
FUN FACT: Former talk show host Oprah Winfrey owns two Cocker Spaniels, Sophie and Solomon.
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