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English Cocker Spaniel size

The English Cocker Spaniel is known as a merry and affectionate dog, slightly larger than the American Cocker Spaniel. The two breeds are closely related and were registered as one breed until the 1940s. Today the English Cocker is active and calm (as an adult) and still used in the field. They love to be with their people and they make very good family dogs.

History of the English Cocker Spaniel

Spaniels are believed to have originated in Spain, hence the name “spaniel.” There are references to spaniels in the British Isles dating back more than 1500 years. The dogs were originally divided into land spaniels (those that hunted on the land) and water spaniels (dogs that were used for water retrieving). Later spaniels became more specialized, mostly by size. The smallest spaniels were usually called cockers and were used to hunt woodcock. Larger spaniels were called springers and they were used to spring or flush birds from their cover. It was not unusual to have different size puppies/dogs in the same litters so the same litter could produce both cockers and springers in the past. Eventually breeders bred the dogs to be more specialized in work and appearance, producing Cocker

Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels, Field Spaniels, and other breeds that had previously all been land spaniels.

In the United States the appearance of the Cocker Spaniels began to change from the Cockers being bred in Britain in the 20th century. This led to a split in the breed in the 1940s and created the American Cocker Spaniel (usually called the Cocker Spaniel in the U.S.) and the English Cocker Spaniel (usually called the Cocker Spaniel in the UK). Both breeds are registered in kennel clubs in both countries. They are simply separate breeds now. The American Cocker Spaniel has been tremendously popular in the United States while the English Cocker has had a much smaller following.

Cocker Spaniels, before they split, were accepted by the AKC in 1878. They were one of the original nine breeds recognized by the AKC. Officially the English Cocker Spaniel was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1946. Today the breed is the 61st most popular dog breed in the United States, according to the AKC, out of about 200 breeds and varieties. The American Cocker Spaniel is the 30th most popular breed. For many years the American Cocker was the most popular breed in the U.S.

In Great Britain the English Cocker Spaniel is very popular. They are the second most popular breed registered with the Kennel Club with more than 22, 000 dogs registered per year. Only Labrador Retrievers are more popular. There are still working lines of English Cockers used for hunting. Dogs from the show bloodlines are typically sturdier and heavier, with more coat than the dogs used in the field.

English Cocker Spaniel Health-Related Issues

English Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy dogs. The most common health problems that crop up in the breed are not life-threatening. They include problems with the bite/malocclusion, cataracts, deafness (estimated to affect approximately 6.3 percent of dogs), skin allergies, benign tumors, shyness, and aggression toward other dogs.

Various health surveys have identified the leading causes of death as old age and cancer, followed distantly by cardiac disease.

Issues that can occur in English Cocker Spaniels but which are not common include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, and heart murmurs.

Temperament issues, namely Rage Syndrome, has been a concern in the breed. Rage Syndrome can occur in many breeds and even mixes. It is characterized by a sudden, violent attack by a dog, with a glazed-eye look, when the dog seems to not be aware of what he’s doing. While this condition is rare even in English Cocker Spaniels, when it does occur it seems to be more likely to be associated with solid-colored English Cockers, and more often with dogs that have darker coloring. It occurs most often in English Cockers that are solid black or solid red/gold. Male dogs were also more likely to be affected. Rage can be diagnosed by an EEG or by genetic testing but these tests are not definitive. There are theories and speculation about the condition and its causes but no answers yet. This issue is rare in English Cocker Spaniels (and all dogs), but it does occur.

If you are thinking of breeding your English Cocker Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America recommends the following health tests:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test
  • Patellar Luxation

ELECTIVE – TWO of the following:

  • OFA Thyroid Evaluation
  • Optigen Familial Nephropathy test results registered with OFA
  • BAER Test results registered with OFA
  • ACVO Eye Exam Results registered with OFA or
  • ACVO Eye Exam Results registered with CERF
  • OFA University of Missouri Adult Onset Neuropathy DNA test

Remember that most dogs do not major have health problems. Breeders work diligently to test and screen their dogs so they produce healthy puppies. But no one can completely guarantee that every dog will be healthy throughout their lifetime. If you are interested in getting a puppy or dog, be sure to talk to the breeder about their dogs and their health guarantees.

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