The American Cocker Spaniel dog breed has its own distinct look from its English Cocker cousin, with a rounder skull and more profuse, glamorous coat. He weighs approximately 11kg when fully grown, and adult males measure 37-39cm in height, and females 34-37cm. The coat comes in a range of colours and combinations, with specific markings. See the breed standard for full details.
The first Cocker Spaniel in America is said to have arrived with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. Settlers in subsequent centuries brought more with them to help explore and exploit the country's wildernesses. American Cockers were developed from the English Cocker dog breed in the 19th century, to retrieve quail and woodcock. They still retain some of their hunting instincts, but most are now commonly found in the show ring or as companions.
Merry is a word often used to describe this breed. He should be equable, confident and cheerful. Early, thorough socialisation is recommended to ensure he doesn't grow up to be fearful of strangers or novelty. He may not be as large as many gundogs, but this intelligent dog likes being busy and enjoys playing games and spending time with his family. He usually dislikes being left alone for long periods of time.
One of the most common problems encountered in the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed is recurrent ear infections, due to their large ear flaps. As with many breeds, they can suffer from kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas), various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
The American Cocker dog breed ideally needs around two hours a day to exercise his body and mind. He enjoys retrieve games and often likes swimming in safe water. Do check his coat and ears after a walk to remove any grass seeds, twigs or other debris that might have been picked up.
Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
The American Cocker dog breed's coat is glamorous – and high-maintenance. It is short and fine on the head, medium length on the body, but longer on the ears, chest, tummy and legs (known as feathering). The coat should be silky, flat or slightly wavy. Daily grooming is needed, together with regular trimming. Check ears, eyes, lip folds and feet daily.