American Cocker Spaniel Club
THE ORIGIN OF THE COCKER SPANIEL
and THE AMERICAN SPANIEL CLUB
by Elaine E. Mathis
Donated to ASC Archives by Carol RutherfordSpaniels in America can be traced back to 1620 and the landing of the Mayflower. This vessel carried two dogs on her voyage to New England, a Mastiff and a Spaniel. However, it is impossible to trace the ancestry of the blooded dogs of today to these two dogs since pedigrees and stud books were not available prior to the early nineteenth century.
In those early days, the Spaniels were divided into two varieties, land and the water spaniels, and from those early specimens have sprung the many varieties of spaniels we have today, including the toys. After that, the terms Springer, Springing Spaniel, Cocker, Cocking Spaniel, Field, English Type, etc. seem to have applied to Spaniels of all sizes and the division we have today in the Spaniel family developed from that period. Another bit of history was that since the spaniels all derived from the same bloodlines and litters, the top weight limit of 28 lbs. was the dividing line between the cocker spaniel and the field spaniel, for the ones over 28 lbs. were adjudged a field spaniel. The term "Cocker" was given to the smallest, more compact of this family and it came about because they were being used for woodcock shooting.
Cocker registrations can be traced to 1879. The first Cocker strain to become well known and to make definite strides toward the Cocker's recognition as a separate and distinct breed in England, was the "Obo" kennel of Mr. James Farrow. The National American Kennel Club (now the present American Kennel Club) published their first stud book in St. Louis Missouri. The very first Cocker registered was a liver and white named Captain and assigned No. 1354. The first black and tan registered was Jockey, No. 1365. Not until Volume 2 was published in 1885 did a black cocker make his appearance. This was registered as Brush II, No. 3124 and was imported by Commings Cocker Spaniel Kennel of Asworth, New Hampshire.
It was about this time that the founders of the American Spaniel Club were becoming actively interested in the dog that characterized as a Cocker, but not yet recognized as an entirely separate breed of Sporting Spaniel.
The American Spaniel Club is the parent club of the Cocker Spaniel and was established in 1881. When the American Spaniel Club joined the American Kennel Club, which the American Spaniel Club antedated by several years, it was accepted and thereafter recognized as the parent club of sporting spaniels, a role and responsibility it assumed.
The American Kennel Club recognized the separation of the "cocker" breed in September 1946, but it was not until January 1947 that breed registration appeared in the stud book under their own heading.
With time the popularity of the Cocker Spaniel increased by leaps and bounds, and sporting spaniels of other breeds becoming better known, spaniels rapidly grew in favor. With the increase in the number of breeders of Cocker Spaniels and of other breeds of sporting spaniels, the American Spaniel Club recognized its inability to do full and equal justice to all of them. The English Springer Spaniel was the first to crowd the parent club's nest, and this emphasized the propriety of the American Spaniel Club surrendering and transferring its jurisdiction over English Springer Spaniels to a new club organization qualified to assume the responsibility of parenthood for the English Springer Spaniel. Through the good offices of the American Kennel Club, this happy result was brought about, and by mutual consent the English Springer Spaniel passed to the jurisdiction of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, Incorporated. The popularity of the Cocker Spaniel ever increasing, coupled with the introduction and winning favor of the English Type of Cocker Spaniel, again invited a change in the rules governing Sporting Spaniels. Once more, through the sympathetic understanding and appreciation of conditions by the American Kennel Club, the English Cocker Spaniel was recognized as a distinct type of Cocker Spaniel, separate classes were set up for it, and in due time it was deservedly admitted to the Sporting Group. Negotiations were opened with the American Kennel Club to affect a transfer of jurisdiction over all breeds of sporting spaniels other than Cocker Spaniels to clubs to be organized as parent clubs dedicated to the furtherance of these several breeds of sporting spaniels. The American Kennel Club approving and consenting this was brought about, the American Spaniel Club retaining its right without consultation or permission of any Specialty Club to offer classes for all breeds of sporting spaniels at its American Spaniel Club Specialty Show.
The American Spaniel Club stands out today, of all the specialty clubs in this country, and perhaps including the Old World as well, the first and original club devoted to one breed of dogs, with steady devotion to the sporting spaniel.