The Cocker Spaniel - one of America's favorite pure-bred dogs - is known as the "smallest member of the sporting-dog family," and has been exhibited
in the United States since the early 1880s.
Grooming is essential and may require the help of a professional. The Cocker
Spaniel can live happily in a small apartment and will also take full advantage
of any open space where he can run. The Cocker easily adapts to any climate or
living space. They love people and make wonderful companions for the elderly
and equally love and enjoy the company of children.
The Spaniel family is a large one of considerable antiquity. As far back as 1368,
we find mention of the Spanyell, which came to be divided into two
groups, the land spaniel and the water spaniel. A further division separated the
land spaniels on a basis of size, when the "cockers" and the very
small or toy spaniels were separated from spaniels of larger dimensions. Then,
as the cockers and the toys were used for markedly different purposes, these two
were once more divided. The toys eventually became the English Toy Spaniels
which were maintained principally as pets or comforters, while the Cockers
retained their early classification as sporting dogs. That is why the Cocker
is called the smallest member of the sporting-dog family.
As a valued helpmate to the huntsman, this dog was known in his early days by
various names, among them "cocker," "cocking spaniel," and
finally Cocker Spaniel, the name deriving, according to some authorities, from
especial proficiency on woodcock. Not until 1883 was he given breed status in
England's Kennel Club stud book.
The Cocker has been exhibited in the United States since the early 1880s. As
developed here, however, the American Cocker has evolved somewhat differently
in type, size, and coloring from the breed now recognized as the English Cocker
Field trials for the breed in this country were started by the Cocker Spaniel
Field Trial Club in 1924. The Cocker's inherent desire to hunt renders him a
capable gun dog when judiciously trained. The usual method of hunting is to let
him quarter the ground ahead of the gun, covering all territory within gun range.
This he should do at a fast, snappy pace. Upon flushing the game he should stop
or preferably drop to a sitting position so as not to interfere with the shot,
after which he should retrieve on command only. He should, of course, be so
trained that he will be under control at all times. He is likewise valuable for
occasional water retrieving and as a rule takes to water readily.
Many of the qualities that make it a valued hunter have served to make it a
highly treasured companion for the home. Almost from the moment it appeared in
the show rings, the Cocker achieved great popularity. Energetic, readily
trainable, intelligent, affectionate, and - as their constantly wagging tails
tell us - quite merry, the handsome Cocker is today one of America's favorite
The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group. He has a
sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head, with the
overall dog in complete balance and of ideal size. He stands well up at the
shoulder on straight forelegs with a topline sloping slightly toward strong,
moderately bent, muscular quarters. He is a dog capable of considerable
speed, combined with great endurance. Above all, he must be free and merry,
sound, well balanced throughout and in action show a keen inclination to
work. A dog well balanced in all parts is more desirable than a dog with
strongly contrasting good points and faults.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size - The ideal height at the withers for an adult dog is
15 inches and for an adult bitch, 14 inches. Height may vary one-half inch
above or below this ideal. A dog whose height exceeds 15½ inches or a bitch
whose height exceeds 14-1/2 inches shall be disqualified. An adult dog whose
height is less than 14-1/2 inches and an adult bitch whose height is less than
13-1/2 inches shall be penalized. Height is determined by a line perpendicular
to the ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the dog standing naturally
with its forelegs and lower hind legs parallel to the line of measurement.
Proportion - The measurement from the breast bone to back of
thigh is slightly longer than the measurement from the highest point of
withers to the ground. The body must be of sufficient length to permit a
straight and free stride; the dog never appears long and low.
To attain a well proportioned head, which must be in balance with the
rest of the dog, it embodies the following: Expression--The expression is
intelligent, alert, soft and appealing. Eyes--Eyeballs are round and full
and look directly forward. The shape of the eye rims gives a slightly
almond shaped appearance; the eye is not weak or goggled. The color of the
iris is dark brown and in general the darker the better.
Ears - Lobular, long, of fine leather, well feathered, and
placed no higher than a line to the lower part of the eye.
Skull - Rounded but not exaggerated with no tendency toward
flatness; the eyebrows are clearly defined with a pronounced stop. The bony
structure beneath the eyes is well chiseled with no prominence in the cheeks.
The muzzle is broad and deep, with square even jaws. To be in correct
balance, the distance from the stop to the tip of the nose is one half the
distance from the stop up over the crown to the base of the skull.
Nose - of sufficient size to balance the muzzle and foreface,
with well developed nostrils typical of a sporting dog. It is black in color
in the blacks, black and tans, and black and whites; in other colors it may
be brown, liver or black, the darker the better. The color of nose harmonizes
with the color of the eye rim.
Lips - The upper lip is full and of sufficient depth to cover
the lower jaw. Teeth--Teeth strong and sound, not too small and meet in a
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck - The neck is sufficiently long to allow the nose to
reach the ground easily, muscular and free from pendulous "throatiness."
It rises strongly from the shoulders and arches slightly as it tapers to join
Topline - sloping slightly toward muscular quarters.
Body - The chest is deep, its lowest point no higher than the
elbows, its front sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung space, yet
not so wide as to interfere with the straightforward movement of the forelegs.
Ribs are deep and well sprung. Back is strong and sloping evenly and slightly
downward from the shoulders to the set-on of the docked tail. The docked tail
is set on and carried on a line with the topline of the back, or slightly
higher; never straight up like a Terrier and never so low as to indicate
timidity. When the dog is in motion the tail action is merry.
The shoulders are well laid back forming an angle with the upper arm of
approximately 90 degrees which permits the dog to move his forelegs in an
easy manner with forward reach. Shoulders are clean-cut and sloping without
protrusion and so set that the upper points of the withers are at an angle
which permits a wide spring of rib. When viewed from the side with the
forelegs vertical, the elbow is directly below the highest point of the
shoulder blade. Forelegs are parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular
and set close to the body well under the scapulae. The pasterns are short
and strong. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed. Feet compact, large, round
and firm with horny pads; they turn neither in nor out.
Hips are wide and quarters well rounded and muscular. When viewed from
behind, the hind legs are parallel when in motion and at rest. The hind
legs are strongly boned, and muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle
and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no
slippage of it in motion or when standing. The hocks are strong and well
let down. Dewclaws on hind legs may be removed.
On the head, short and fine; on the body, medium length, with enough
undercoating to give protection. The ears, chest, abdomen and legs are well
feathered, but not so excessively as to hide the Cocker Spaniel's true lines
and movement or affect his appearance and function as a moderately coated
sporting dog. The texture is most important. The coat is silky, flat or
slightly wavy and of a texture which permits easy care. Excessive coat or
curly or cottony textured coat shall be severely penalized. Use of electric
clippers on the back coat is not desirable. Trimming to enhance the dog's
true lines should be done to appear as natural as possible.
Color and Markings
Black Variety - Solid color black to include black with tan
points. The black should be jet; shadings of brown or liver in the coat are
not desirable. A small amount of white on the chest and/or throat is allowed;
white in any other location shall disqualify.
Any Solid Color Other than Black (ASCOB) - Any solid color other
than black, ranging from lightest cream to darkest red, including brown and
brown with tan points. The color shall be of a uniform shade, but lighter
color of the feathering is permissible. A small amount of white on the chest
and/or throat is allowed; white in any other location shall disqualify.
Parti-Color Variety - Two or more solid, well broken colors,
one of which must be white; black and white, red and white (the red may range
from lightest cream to darkest red), brown and white, and roans, to include
any such color combination with tan points. It is preferable that the tan
markings be located in the same pattern as for the tan points in the
Black and ASCOB varieties. Roans are classified as parti-colors and may be of
any of the usual roaning patterns. Primary color which is ninety percent
(90%) or more shall disqualify.
Tan Points - The color of the tan may be from the lightest
cream to the darkest red and is restricted to ten percent (10%) or less of
the color of the specimen; tan markings in excess of that amount shall
disqualify. In the case of tan points in the Black or ASCOB variety, the
markings shall be located as follows:
1) A clear tan spot over each eye;
2) On the sides of the muzzle and on the cheeks;
3) On the underside of the ears;
4) On all feet and/or legs;
5) Under the tail;
6) On the chest, optional; presence or absence shall not be penalized.
Tan markings which are not readily visible or which amount only to traces,
shall be penalized. Tan on the muzzle which extends upward, over and joins
shall also be penalized. The absence of tan markings in the Black or ASCOB
variety in any of the specified locations in any otherwise tan-pointed dog
The Cocker Spaniel, though the smallest of the sporting dogs, possesses
a typical sporting dog gait. Prerequisite to good movement is balance between
the front and rear assemblies. He drives with strong, powerful rear quarters
and is properly constructed in the shoulders and forelegs so that he can
reach forward without constriction in a full stride to counterbalance the
driving force from the rear. Above all, his gait is coordinated, smooth and
effortless. The dog must cover ground with his action; excessive animation
should not be mistaken for proper gait.
Equable in temperament with no suggestion of timidity.
Height - Males over 15-1/2 inches; females over 14-1/2 inches.
Color and Markings - The aforementioned colors are the only
acceptable colors or combination of colors. Any other colors or combination
of colors to disqualify.
Black Variety - White markings except on chest and throat.
Any Solid Color Other Than Black Variety - White markings
except on chest and throat.
Parti-color Variety - Primary color ninety percent (90%)
Tan Points - (1) Tan markings in excess of ten percent
(10%); (2) Absence of tan markings in Black or ASCOB Variety in any of the
specified locations in an otherwise tan pointed dog.
This standard was approved May 12, 1992, effective June 30, 1992.
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