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  • Temperament: Energetic, Merry, Responsive
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 56 of 194
  • Height: 16-17 inches (male), 15-16 inches (female)
  • Weight: 28-34 pounds (male), 26-32 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

English Cocker Spaniel standing sideways in grass facing left
English Cocker Spaniel standing sideways facing left
English Cocker Spaniel head facing left
English Cocker Spaniel coat detail
English Cocker Spaniel sitting in three-quarter view
English Cocker Spaniel

Find a Puppy: English Cocker Spaniel

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, merry sporting dog, standing well up at the withers and compactly built. He is alive with energy; his gait is powerful and frictionless, capable both of covering ground effortlessly and penetrating dense cover to flush and retrieve game. His enthusiasm in the field and the incessant action of his tail while at work indicate how much he enjoys the hunting for which he was bred. His head is especially characteristic. He is, above all, a dog of balance, both standing and moving, without exaggeration in any part, the whole worth more than the sum of its parts.

HEAD

General appearance: strong, yet free from coarseness, softly contoured, without sharp angles. Taken as a whole, the parts combine to produce the expression distinctive of the breed.
Expression – Soft, melting, yet dignified, alert, and intelligent.
Eyes
– The eyes are essential to the desired expression. They are medium in size, full and slightly oval; set wide apart; lids tight. Haws are inconspicuous; may be pigmented or unpigmented. Eye color dark brown, except in livers and liver parti-colors where hazel is permitted, but the darker the hazel the better.
Ears – Set low, lying close to the head; leather fine, extending to the nose, well covered with long, silky, straight or slightly wavy hair.

BODY

Neck – Graceful and muscular, arched toward the head and blending cleanly, without throatiness, into sloping shoulders; moderate in length and in balance with the length and height of the dog.
Topline – The line of the neck blends into the shoulder and backline in a smooth curve. The backline slopes very slightly toward a gently rounded croup, and is free from sagging or rumpiness.
Body – Compact and well-knit, giving the impression of strength without heaviness.

FOREQUARTERS

The English Cocker is moderately angulated. Shoulders are sloping, the blade flat and smoothly fitting. Shoulder blade and upper arm are approximately equal in length. Upper arm set well back, joining the shoulder with sufficient angulation to place the elbow beneath the highest point of the shoulder blade when the dog is standing naturally. Forelegs-Straight, with bone nearly uniform in size from elbow to heel; elbows set close to the body; pasterns nearly straight, with some flexibility.

COAT

On head, short and fine; of medium length on body; flat or slightly wavy; silky in texture. The English Cocker is well-feathered, but not so profusely as to interfere with field work. Trimming is permitted to remove overabundant hair and to enhance the dogs true lines. It should be done so as to appear as natural as possible.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation moderate and, most importantly, in balance with that of the forequarters. Hips relatively broad and well rounded. Upper thighs broad, thick and muscular, providing plenty of propelling power. Second thighs well muscled and approximately equal in length to the upper. Stifle strong and well bent. Hock to pad short. Feet as in front.

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english cocker spaniel illustration

About the English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel is a compactly built sporting dog standing between 15 to 17 inches at the shoulder. The softly contoured head, with its dark, melting eyes that convey an alert and dignified expression, is framed by lush, close-lying ears. The medium-length coat, seen in a variety of striking colors and patterns, is silky to the touch. “Balance” is a key word in understanding the breed: The EC is balanced in temperament, construction, and movement.

Beneath the EC’s physical beauty beats the heart of a tireless, eager-to-please hunter’s helper, famous the world over for his ability to flush and retrieve gamebirds. For those who prefer more domestic pursuits, there is no more charming and agreeable household companion.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
English Cocker Spaniel

Find a Puppy: English Cocker Spaniel

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find English Cocker Spaniel Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The English Cocker should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Some English Cockers are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

Most English Cockers have a fairly profuse coat that requires regular care, including a thorough brushing and combing at least once a week to keep the dog looking his best and to prevent the formation of mats and tangles. In addition the dog is usually trimmed every month or so in certain areas—around the feet, on the face, under the neck, on the underside of the ears, and under the tail. The owner can learn to use scissors, thinning shears or a stripping tool, and clippers to do an overall trim and help keep up the English Cocker’s neat appearance. The ears should be checked weekly for debris and excess wax, and the nails should be trimmed at least monthly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

An upbeat, active sporting dog, the English Cocker Spaniel requires daily exercise for his physical and mental well-being. He will do well with activities such as long walks or hikes with his owner or playing ball in the backyard. As his hunting instincts remain strong, he should be on a leash for walks, and a fenced yard is recommended. Merry and affectionate, the English Cocker Spaniel is an excellent family companion and easy to train. Whether he is working in the field or at home lounging on the sofa, his tail rarely stops wagging.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

With a merry, devoted disposition, the English Cocker was developed to follow instructions in the field, and the breed is still very eager to please. He is easy to train and enjoys working with his person so long as only positive methods are used. The EC will react poorly to a harsh or negative training approach; he must love and respect his person, never fear them. Early socialization is recommended to ensure a well-adjusted companion who is adaptable to a variety of situations.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Although the English Cocker is overall a healthy breed, some genetic health conditions are known to occur occasionally. These include progressive retinal atrophy, hip dysplasia, familial nephropathy, and adult onset neuropathy. A responsible breeders will have their breeding stock tested for conditions that can affect the breed. The English Cocker’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

English Cocker Spaniel
English Cocker Spaniel
English Cocker Spaniel

History

The breeds of the AKC Sporting Group were all developed to assist hunters of feathered game. These “sporting dogs” (also referred to as gundogs or bird dogs) are subdivided by function—that is, how they hunt. They are spaniels, pointers, setters, retrievers, and the European utility breeds. Of these, spaniels are generally considered the oldest.

The spaniel breeds of England were developed centuries ago from dogs of Spanish stock (the word “spaniel” deriving from “Spanish”). This was long before the invention of reliable hunting rifles, when bird hunters used dogs in tandem with nets, bows, and sometimes falcons.

Early authorities divided the spaniels not by breed but by type: either water spaniels or land spaniels. The land spaniels came to be subdivided by size. The larger types were the “springing spaniel” and the “field spaniel,” and the smaller, which specialized on flushing woodcock, was known as a “cocking spaniel.”

In the 19th century, the rise of dog shows, coupled with Victorian England’s mania for classification, led to designating the various spaniel types as official breeds. Thus, the English Springer Spaniel, Field Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, and on through all of today’s British spaniel breeds.

American dog fanciers of the early-20th century developed a companion-bred Cocker. It was smaller, with a more profuse coat, a shorter head, and a more domed skull, than its English cousin. Those who favored the old English hunting dog formed the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America in 1935. And in 1946, the AKC officially recognized the Cocker Spaniel (the U.S. type) and English Cocker Spaniel as separate breeds.

Did You Know?

The English Cocker Spaniel was recognized as a separate breed by the American Kennel Club in 1946.
As late as the early 20th century (after their official breed separation in England), the distinction between English Cockers and Springer Spaniels was one of height only; otherwise, Cocker and Springer developed side-by-side, born in the same litters.
For quite some time, English and American Cockers competed against each other in the show ring, even after the official American separation was made.
The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America was formed in 1935 to promote the interest of the English Cocker, which had already been recognized as a variety of Cocker Spaniel but not a separate breed.
The immediate aim of the ECSCA was to discourage the interbreeding of English and American varieties of Cocker Spaniel.
Not until January 1947 did breed registrations for the ECS appear in the stud book under their own heading.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, merry sporting dog, standing well up at the withers and compactly built. He is alive with energy; his gait is powerful and frictionless, capable both of covering ground effortlessly and penetrating dense cover to flush and retrieve game. His enthusiasm in the field and the incessant action of his tail while at work indicate how much he enjoys the hunting for which he was bred. His head is especially characteristic. He is, above all, a dog of balance, both standing and moving, without exaggeration in any part, the whole worth more than the sum of its parts.

HEAD

General appearance: strong, yet free from coarseness, softly contoured, without sharp angles. Taken as a whole, the parts combine to produce the expression distinctive of the breed.
Expression – Soft, melting, yet dignified, alert, and intelligent.
Eyes
– The eyes are essential to the desired expression. They are medium in size, full and slightly oval; set wide apart; lids tight. Haws are inconspicuous; may be pigmented or unpigmented. Eye color dark brown, except in livers and liver parti-colors where hazel is permitted, but the darker the hazel the better.
Ears – Set low, lying close to the head; leather fine, extending to the nose, well covered with long, silky, straight or slightly wavy hair.

BODY

Neck – Graceful and muscular, arched toward the head and blending cleanly, without throatiness, into sloping shoulders; moderate in length and in balance with the length and height of the dog.
Topline – The line of the neck blends into the shoulder and backline in a smooth curve. The backline slopes very slightly toward a gently rounded croup, and is free from sagging or rumpiness.
Body – Compact and well-knit, giving the impression of strength without heaviness.

FOREQUARTERS

The English Cocker is moderately angulated. Shoulders are sloping, the blade flat and smoothly fitting. Shoulder blade and upper arm are approximately equal in length. Upper arm set well back, joining the shoulder with sufficient angulation to place the elbow beneath the highest point of the shoulder blade when the dog is standing naturally. Forelegs-Straight, with bone nearly uniform in size from elbow to heel; elbows set close to the body; pasterns nearly straight, with some flexibility.

COAT

On head, short and fine; of medium length on body; flat or slightly wavy; silky in texture. The English Cocker is well-feathered, but not so profusely as to interfere with field work. Trimming is permitted to remove overabundant hair and to enhance the dogs true lines. It should be done so as to appear as natural as possible.

HINDQUARTERS

Angulation moderate and, most importantly, in balance with that of the forequarters. Hips relatively broad and well rounded. Upper thighs broad, thick and muscular, providing plenty of propelling power. Second thighs well muscled and approximately equal in length to the upper. Stifle strong and well bent. Hock to pad short. Feet as in front.

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english cocker spaniel illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 018
Black & White Check Mark For Standard Color 019
Black White & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 034
Blue Roan Check Mark For Standard Color 053
Blue Roan & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 054
Golden Check Mark For Standard Color 093
Lemon Roan Check Mark For Standard Color 289
Liver Check Mark For Standard Color 123
Liver & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 124
Liver & White Check Mark For Standard Color 125
Liver Roan Check Mark For Standard Color 126
Liver Roan & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 122
Liver White & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 127
Orange & White Check Mark For Standard Color 134
Orange Roan Check Mark For Standard Color 136
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Roan Check Mark For Standard Color 223
Lemon & White 115
Red & White 146
Sable 164
Sable & Tan 290
Sable & White 165

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
Ticked Check Mark For Standard Mark 013
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014

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