The English Cocker Spaniel is no doubt one of the oldest types of land Spaniel and their origins can be traced back to the 14th Century in Spain. Prior to the 1600's all types of Spaniels were categorised together; the larger ones being used to spring game and the smaller ones used to flush out woodcock, hence the names Springer and Cocker were derived. In 1892, the British Kennel Club recognised the two as seperate breeds. In the 1930's the Cocker was the most popular breed of dog in Britain and this remained the case for almost 20 years!
English Cocker Spaniels belong to the gundog group and are equally at home in the field, as loving companions or in the show ring. Cockers are highly intelligent dogs and very easily trained, they are eager to please and willing to learn. They adapt effortlessly to family life but as gundogs will need a reasonable amount of exercise every day. They are ideal pets where there are children about but will need supervision and gentle handling by younger members of the family. A Cockers looks can be very deceiving, who can resist those soft pleading eyes! Those sad eyes are however a misconception and cockers are really a very happy breed, with their constant wagging tail, hence the name 'Merry Cocker'.
A Cocker must have their coats brushed regularly. The excess hair should be removed around the ear canals and underneath the ears to ensure adequate air circulation and the ear canals should be checked at least once weekly and if necessary cleaned with a cotton wool bud and veterinary ear cleaner to help prevent infections, prevention is better than cure. Feet will need trimming quite regularly, the long hair taken off around the feet and their pads. They should be taken to a professonal groomer for trimming every couple of months or less frequently if the coat is stripped out properly, however many groomers just clip the coat, which is fine for a pet cocker but not if you wish to show.
The skull should be well developed and cleanly chiselled with a distinct stop. The jaws should be strong with a complete scissor bite. The eyes should be full and either dark brown or brown, although dark hazel is allowed in chocolate coloured varieties, with an intelligent, gentle, bright and merry expression. The ears should be lobular, set on low level with the eyes and covered with straight silky hair. The neck should be moderate in length, muscular and set neatly onto fine sloping shoulders, clean throat. The body should be strong and compact with a level topline which should gently slope downward to tail from the end of the loin to the set on of tail. The forelegs should be straight and well boned, and the hind legs well rounded, muscular and again well boned with a good bend of stifle, short below the hock allowing for plenty of drive. The feet should be firm , thickly padded and cat like. The tail should be set on slightly lower than the back. Merry in action and carried level never cocked up.
Height approximately: Dogs 15 1/2 to 16 inches to the shoulder and Bitches: 15 to 15 1/2 inches to the shoulder, weight approximately 28 to32 lbs.