American Cocker Spaniel Facts & Dog Breed Information

With elegance, beauty, and grace, the American Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.

Her quality doesn’t end in beauty, though. She has the intelligence and skills to match.

She started out as a sporting breed and plays that role today. Coupled with that, she has integrated into families.

Many have loved and sought for her before breeds like the Labrador Retriever came along.

A breed with a soft heart, she cares a lot about those she loves. Her numerous family qualities and people-friendly traits have sealed her place as a reputable family companion.

Cocker Spaniels do have their drawbacks, and they may not be everyone’s cup of coffee. Some may like the taste, others may find it too creamy. 

We would cover the needs, characteristics, history, temperaments, and other important details in this American Cocker Spaniel facts and dog breed information

Key American Cocker Spaniel Facts and Information

Gold and Black American Cocker Spaniel Dog Breeds
Dog Breed GroupSporting Dogs
Height1ft 2 inches to 1ft 3 inches
Weight24 to 28 pounds
CoatMedium, thick, long
Color(s)White, black, brown, tan, gray, red
Life Expectancy12 – 15 years
Temperament / BehaviorJoyful, extroverted, sociable, trusting
OriginSpain, United States
Bred ForBird hunting
Nickname(s) / Other Name(s)Cocker Spaniel, Merry Cocker, Cocker
Recognized by the AKC, ANKC, CKC, KC, FCIYes

American Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

General Health4/5
Grooming Needs4/5
Exercise Needs3/5
Energy Level4/5
Tendency to Bark3/5
Tendency to Drool2/5
Tendency to Snore2/5
Tendency to Dig4/5

Interesting facts about American Cocker Spaniel dog breeds

American Cocker Spaniel Facts and Dog Breed Information

Fact #1: The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest sporting breed

According to the American Kennel Club, the Cocker Spaniel is the smallest dog under the sporting group as classified by the club. 

Sporting dogs started as hunters and field workers before turning into companions.

They are categorized into four basic types: Retrievers, Pointers, Setters, and Spaniels. 

Fact #2: Cocker Spaniels can detect Cancer

Studies and new discoveries have proven that dogs can pick up on cancerous cells through their sense of smell.

A 2004 study in Britain confirmed this. Six pets were used in this study: Three Cocker Spaniels, a Papillon, a Labrador, and a Mongrel.

The two best dogs were both Cocker Spaniels named Tangle and Biddy. They started out with an initial 56% accuracy.

Fact #3: The Cocker Spaniel has two varieties

There are two main varieties of the Cocker Spaniel today: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel. 

The major difference between these two is the size. The English Cocker Spaniel is larger than the American Cocker Spaniel.

They both share the same heritage, though, which leads to the close resemblance. 

Fact #4: The Cocker Spaniel has been on TV and celebrity homes

Ever seen the Disney animated movie Lady and the Tramp? It was released in 1955 and quickly rose to become one of the best Disney animated films. 

What many don’t know is that ‘Lady’— the female dog protagonist in the movie—is a Cocker Spaniel. Her elegance and long ears are defining traits of this breed. 

They have also been owned by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney. 

Fact #5: They got their name from Woodcock

Cocker Spaniels were bred to be hunters, especially of birds. A bird they frequently hunted was the Woodcock, and the name ‘Cocker Spaniel’ came from this bird. 

American Cocker Spaniel History & Origin

Cocker Spaniels in general are believed to have originated from Spain.

Indeed, ‘Spaniel’ stands for ‘Spanish Dog’ while ‘Cocker’ refers to this breed’s predatory fascination with the Woodcock. Cocker Spaniels have been in existence since the 12th century. 

In the 14th century, records showed that selective breeding already took place. As a result, the breed had two types: water and land spaniels.

Further breeding led to the development of toy breeds in the 1800s. 

Spaniels first got into England from Spain and were regarded as a type, not a breed.

This continued until the Obo Kennel of Mr. James Farrow recognized the Spaniel as a breed. In 1892, this recognition became formal in England.  

The first Cocker Spaniel came into America via the Mayflower.

In 1878, the American Kennel Club registered a Cocker Spaniel named Captain, making him the first Spaniel to be recorded in the United States.

In 1881, the American Cocker Spaniel Club was formed with the aim of distinguishing the Cocker Spaniel from related land Spaniel breeds.

The Club later took on the name The American Spaniel Club and succeeded in setting a standard for the Cocker Spaniel in 1905.

The Cocker Spaniel quickly became popular for his ability to play both roles of worker and companion.

American breeders soon developed a breed smaller than the usual Cocker Spaniel.

At first, the new Cocker could pass off as a variant of the known Cocker Spaniel.

However, the differences became overt. In 1936, some English Cocker breeders formed the English Cocker Spaniel Club and canvassed for the separation of breeds.

They succeeded in 1946 when the American Kennel Club recognized both the American Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel as different breeds. 

American Cocker Spaniel Temperament, Behavior, and Intelligence

A softie at heart, the American Cocker Spaniel is a sensitive, elegant breed with a beautiful coat and affection for all.

With her sweet personality, friendliness, and love for cuddles, she makes you feel loved and appreciated.

The sensitivity of the Cocker Spaniel makes her respond to pain vocally. She’d either growl or snap as a reaction to pain.

Harsh treatment from owners will affect Cockers more than many dog breeds. Be calm and gentle, even when issuing commands.

Ever ready for fun and companionship, they can be found snuggling with their owners on the couch or playing a game with children in the playground.

They are eager to please, to the point of submissiveness. Though some might portray stubbornness, they are generally cooperative and trusting of their owners. 

Be ready to make enough time for the Cocker as this breed is prone to separation anxiety. It is ideal to keep them indoors and around family.

Those living in an apartment will do good with the Cocker because of her ability to adapt to a living room environment. She also does well in a large yard.

If you live in an apartment with neighbors, control your Cocker’s barking tendencies. 

Cockers are suitable for first-time owners and make good first dogs due to their gentleness and people-loving nature.

Do note that some carry neurotic traits which leads to bad behaviors. When buying or adopting a Cocker Spaniel, ensure it is one with a nice disposition.

Are American cocker spaniels good family pets?

American Cockers score high as good family dogs. They are ideal companions with an ability to adapt to different settings. They are playful, friendly, and loving with both family members and strangers.

If you need a cuddle buddy as you read a novel or take a nap, the Cocker is your pet.

If you want a playmate for your kids, she’s ready to go outdoors. It’s no wonder she was nicknamed the ‘Merry Cocker’. 

A trainable and pleasant breed, the Cocker is suitable for new and veteran owners.

Their docile, gentle nature makes it easy to train them, though you should take note of their sensitivity and avoid being harsh.

While they do have challenges like their separation anxiety and a tendency to get nervous, the Cocker is an excellent family dog.

Are American Cocker Spaniels good with kids?

The American Cocker Spaniel is a good playmate for kids, old and young. They love kids and get along with them. They won’t hold back from being affectionate towards your little ones and are great options for families with children.

However, because of their sensitivity to pain, be sure to supervise any activity they share with kids, especially younger ones.

Smaller children may be over eager with a dog, leading to rough play. The Cocker Spaniel doesn’t appreciate the rough play and may react negatively to it. 

So, if you want to get a Cocker Spaniel, your kids should learn how to treat a dog right. If your kids are too young to understand, perhaps it is best to wait till they grow a little.

Are American Cocker Spaniels good with other dogs and pets?

With proper socialization, the American Cocker Spaniel can get along with other dogs. They are not prone to aggressiveness and have nothing to prove by attacking another dog.

When they grow up alongside cats and other pets, they can also get along with them. However, it may not be a good idea to have them around birds.  

Male vs Female American Cocker Spaniel

A pet search is not complete if you haven’t considered gender. If this is your first time being a pet parent, the thought may lead to some dilemma.

If you already have a dog at home, gender is an issue as well: Is it better to have two same-sex dogs or of different genders? 

Chances are you may be trying to decide on whether or not you want a male or a female Cocker Spaniel. The temperament alone would facilitate such a decision.

The male and female Cocker Spaniel have some physical and personality distinctions that can make one a better fit for you than another.

It all depends on what you want from a pet, your personality, lifestyle, environment, and energy level.

Physically, the male Cocker Spaniel is bigger than the female. The difference in size isn’t much, though.

While the males grow as tall as 20 inches, the females stop at 18 inches. Both weigh 24 to 28 pounds. 

Another physical difference is in their coat. Females have a coat that’s smoother to touch, something to consider if you want a dog to snuggle with. Also, females shed lesser than males.

Personality-wise, males are more aggressive, territorial, and prone to wonder.

If you want a Cocker Spaniel who’d be a good outdoor companion, the male is better at that job.

Females are friendlier towards strangers, better with children, and prefer sitting indoors. They make better apartment pets than the male Cocker Spaniel.

Caring for an American Cocker Spaniel

How do you take care of an American Cocker Spaniel?

If you’ve had a dog before, you might have an idea. Bear in mind, though, that different breeds come with different needs.

If this is your first shot at pet parenting, you may be clueless as to what steps to take. 

In this section, we’ll focus on the indisputable aspect of owning a dog: caring. Remember that dogs, even independent ones, never grow out of reliance on you. You are responsible for their well-being.

The first way to care for a Cocker Spaniel is to feed her. With high nutrients, the Cocker Spaniel thrives.

Food is a good training tool, as well. Take note of the age, size, individual differences, and even gender when feeding your Cocker Spaniel. 

They do well in an apartment but need some outdoor activities to stay happy and in shape.

Exercise is necessary for the Cocker Spaniel, but she should not be left outside and alone for long.  She doesn’t like solitude, or she’d keep herself busy by barking or digging.

Training comes easy to Cocker Spaniels because of their intelligence, submissiveness, and gentleness.

They tend to trust their owners and would be convinced you know what’s best for them. Having said that, be consistent with their training.

Some Cockers come with bad temperaments—a consequence of poor breeding—that should be worked on. They are also sensitive and won’t respond well to harsh reprimands. 

They do have a high grooming need because of their luscious coat. Be sure you have the time to take care of them, or the money to hire a groomer.

Regular checkups and counsels from the vet are also needed to keep Cockers in good health. 

American Cocker Spaniel Food and Diet

Before feeding your pet, we advise that you get counsel from a veterinarian or nutritionist.

There’s a lot to feeding than we can cover. What we offer here is a guideline and should not be taken as a rule. 

Feeding the Cocker Spaniel puppy

The Cocker pup is a growing, fragile and soft being. She needs nutrients that would help with her development.

For her well-being, do not feed her adult meal, neither should you give her human food.

Nutrients that would be beneficial to the Cocker include protein, calcium, and some healthy fat.

Put your Cocker pup on a feeding schedule to get her used to the diet and times you want to feed her.

A schedule equally establishes a routine, which helps in training. Puppies at 8 to 12 weeks who just got weaned require like 4 meals daily.

From 12 weeks to 6 months, it should reduce to about 3 meals. After 6 months, keep them at 2 meals. 

Feeding the Cocker Spaniel adult

The Cocker Spaniel adult requires about 1.5 to 2.5 cups a day. Use deep bowls to avoid staining their ears.

Also, avoid feeding them human food as that may turn them into beggars and affect their bodies. Remember, the Cocker Spaniel has a huge appetite.

They may want to entice you with those large, cute eyes. As hard as it may be, resist their pleas. They are prone to obesity if you indulge them. 

Feeding a Senior Cocker

Senior Cocker would be found most times indoors lying on the carpet. At that old age, they won’t be willing to move around too much.

They are more prone to obesity than both the puppy and adults. Feed them with these factors in mind. 

American Cocker Spaniel Exercise

An American Cocker Running

While Cockers are good apartment dwellers, they should get regular exercise. As sporting dogs, they need activities to stay fit and in good shape.

Exercise equally wards off obesity, a condition the Cocker is vulnerable to because of her soft demeanor and a strong appetite.

It also builds confidence, something many Cockers need as they get nervous with ease. 

Puppy Cocker Exercise

In general, Cocker Spaniels don’t require intense activities. Puppies need even fewer activities. They require just enough to grow, and too much of it will hurt them.

An indoor play will do your puppy good, but do not let her run around. For outdoor exercises, you can start with 5 minutes walk and increase as your puppy grows.

Adult Cocker Exercise

A simple walk of 45 to 90 minutes is enough to meet the adult Cocker’s exercise needs. Light jogs help too, but be sure not to get your dog too tired.

Remember, the Cocker doesn’t do well with pain. Be observant while exercising and stop if your Cocker shows signs of exhaustion.

Other physical activities that get them engaged include fetch, frisbee throws, and flyball.

You can spice things up with games like hiding and seek, puzzles, scenting games, and some brain training.

Senior Cocker Exercise

At this stage, the Cocker Spaniel needs just as little exercise as the puppy and much less than the adult.

Exercise helps manage their weight, prevents arthritis, and keeps them balanced.

Keep the activities gentle, but regular, stick to familiar routes, be mindful of the weather and keep them moving. 

American Cocker Spaniel Training and Socialisation

Are Cocker Spaniels hard to train?

The American Cocker Spaniel is easy and fun to train. They are suitable for first-time pet parents and don’t have rebellious tendencies.

Like the Labrador Retriever, novice owners see them as a favorite pick. If you’ve never owned a dog before, consider the Cocker Spaniel.  

Their intelligence and people-pleasing nature are good advantages to their owners. They are gentle as well and would do what they are told. Do remember that their sensitivity level is high.

If you don’t think you can cope with a dog who’d shrink at the slightest raise of your voice, the Cocker Spaniel may not be a good fit for you. 

Meanwhile, their easy-going nature doesn’t give you a negligent pass. They need your attention, consistency, patience, and commitment to good training.

Like other dogs, lack of training will make them portray bad habits such as excessive barking, biting of furniture, and even untypical aggressiveness. 

Like other dogs, they need a leader. While they are not dominant, they won’t do well without regulations, boundaries, and good leadership. Your confidence will go a long way towards making them safe and secure. 

It is never too early to start training. In fact, the best time to begin training is when your dog is a puppy. This is where you start setting boundaries, take your place as the leader, put routines and teach them basic commands.

They need socialization as well, especially with dogs and other pets. 

Positive reinforcements work well with the American Cocker Spaniel, especially due to her sensitivity. Praises, treats, and encouragements keep them compliant.

Conversely, they’d get antagonistic and withdrawn if you use harsh treatments or punish them for any slight mistake.

American Cocker Spaniel Grooming Needs

Grooming an American Cocker Spaniel is often where the challenge lies. The smooth, beautiful coat doesn’t just happen.

It needs a lot of maintenance, and if you don’t feel you can handle it, perhaps you should look for another breed. You can hire a groomer, but it doesn’t come cheap for a breed like the Cocker.

They require daily brushing, trimming, and regular baths. While some owners opt for cutting the coat to make grooming easier, it still takes a lot of work. 

The American Cocker Spaniel sheds a lot too, especially during spring and autumn. Outdoor Cocker Spaniel is more susceptible to shedding.

During these periods, they require more attention. Give them extra brushing to clear off dead hair and keep your environment neat with a vacuum cleaner. 

Bathing should be done once or twice a week. A good rule of thumb is to divide bathing time into segments:

The first segment gets initial dirt off their coat. 

The second segment is more specific. Check out for fleas and skin infections, regulate the oil on their skin, and use shampoo when needed. End the bath with a conditioner. 

Keep their teeth clean with the help of a toothbrush and approved toothpaste.

Dental care prevents tooth decay, bad breath, loss of teeth, and any serious dental complications.

The American Cocker Spaniel has long ears and is prone to ear infections. Thus, take care of their ears with a cotton ball and an approved ear cleaner. Don’t use any other objects for their ears, including a Q Tip.

Be observant of their nails too. They need to be trimmed before they become a burden to your Cocker Spaniel.

Long nails that click on the floor make your pet uncomfortable and lead to injuries. 

American Cocker Spaniel Health Conditions

American Cocker Spaniels are considered healthy breeds, especially when taken care of. Their life span may be short, but they can boast of good health. 

However, they are vulnerable to certain illnesses. While it isn’t a guarantee that every Cocker suffers from these complications, it is important you take note of them. 

Some of the major health conditions that affect the Cocker Spaniel include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and seborrhea.

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition that happens when the joint gets loose.  Symptoms include abnormal movement, reluctance to move, and signs of pain. Left unchecked, it causes lameness. 

You can prevent hip dysplasia by getting a puppy with a hip dysplasia-free record. Feeding a puppy with calcium nutrients helps too.

Treatments for this condition include physical therapy and weight control. 


Epilepsy brings about continuous seizures that can be either mild or severe, depending on how serious the illness is.

Like hip dysplasia, it is often inherited. It tends to last throughout the dog’s lifetime.

Sadly, epilepsy doesn’t have a cure in most cases. The best way to manage it is to combat seizures and give your dog a normal life. 


Cockers are particularly prone to skin diseases, and seborrhea is one of them. Seborrhea has negative effects on the kerotin of a dog’s skin.

The kerotin is a protein that’s responsible for the hair and skin. 

Symptoms of Seborrhea include dandruff, a dry coat, itching, earwax in the ears, and crusted skin.

To treat Seborrhea, you can make use of fatty acids, antiseborrheic shampoos, antibiotics, and retinoids, amidst other forms of treatment. 


Golden Cute Cocker Spaniel Puppy

What are American Cocker Spaniels known for?

American Cocker Spaniels are very popular in America and around the world. They’ve featured in a Disney animated movie, been owned by celebrities and a president, and have been hunters for some time. Today, they are known for their companionship.

How big do Cocker Spaniels cost?

The Cocker is the smallest of sporting breeds. When fully grown, they weigh 24 to 28 pounds with a height of 1 ft 2 to 1 ft 3 inches.

Do American Cocker Spaniels like to cuddle?

Cockers are adaptable to both the outdoors and indoors. It all depends on factors like gender. Indoor Cockers like being close to their owners, cuddling.

Is it hard to care for Cocker Spaniels?

While Cockers are easy to train, they have a high maintenance need and are not easy to groom. Taking care of them requires a lot of effort from you. You may hire a groomer if you don’t have the time to do it yourself. 

How Long do American Cocker Spaniels live?

Sadly, Cocker Spaniels’ life span is not too long. They have a life span of 10 to 12 years.

How much do American cocker spaniels cost?

Because they are popular, Cocker Spaniels are expensive. Top Cocker puppy pedigree is sold at around $3,500. Normal Cocker puppies are sold at $1,000 to $2,000.

Do Cocker Spaniels shed?

Cocker Spaniels shed a lot, especially during some particular seasons. They need extra care during those periods. 

Is the Cocker Spaniel right for you?

The American Cocker Spaniel is a loving, elegant, and friendly dog breed that plays every role expected of her with ease. They are compassionate with adults and are highly adaptable. The Cocker Spaniel is easy to train, a fact that makes them suitable for first-time dog owners.

Of course, the American Cocker Spaniel doesn’t come fully formed and perfect. She has her challenges to look out for. If you can cope with her flaws, then the Cocker is right for you.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this American Cocker Spaniel facts and information is not only useful but will also help you decide if this dog breed is right for your household.

The Cocker Spaniel is an interesting breed that has played many beautiful roles in the world and people’s lives.

From sniffing cancer to catching birds, this breed has shown ingenuity throughout history. Now, they are much-loved companions.

Owning this famous breed is easy, but not without challenges. The first issue is popularity. Because they are well sought for, many breeders breed them. The problem is, some do a poor job at it.

If you plan on getting an American Cocker Spaniel, be diligent in your search. Do your best to avoid breeders who are not reputable.

Related: Complete Alphabetical List of Dog Breeds

Official Profiles — American Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Information:

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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