The American Cocker Spaniel is a sporting dog that originated from the much older English Cocker Spaniel. Generally, the Cocker Spaniel has existed since the 14th century – the period when it was extensively used as a hunting dog.

American Cocker Spaniel running

The term ‘cocker’ was derived from the animal woodcock which were hunted before by these dogs in England.

Furthermore, the name ‘spaniel’ was taken from the word spanyell which was used to name a type of dog imported into England from Spain, with the span part of the word referring to the country of origin.

According to historical records, the first Cocker Spaniel, a liver and white dog named Captain, was brought to North America aboard the Mayflower which sailed from Plymouth, England and landed in New England in 1620.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the breed had become popular in America and Canada due to their dual use as a family pet and a working dog.

In the early 20th century, the Spaniels were then bred down in size and was given the name American Cocker Spaniels (officially called simply the “Cocker Spaniel” by the AKC).

The American Cocker Spaniel is more popular than the original English Cocker Spaniel, which is both slightly different from each other in appearance.

Traits and Behavior

Equally suited to live a life as a gundog or as a household pet, the American Cocker Spaniel is a loyal and excitable breed that has a typical joyful and trusting temperament.

American Cocker Spaniel close up

American Cocker Spaniels are always respectful towards their master’s authority and are known to be both cooperative and fairly intelligent dogs which make them very easy to train.

However, they are also known to be stubborn from time to time.

Their gentle, obedient and affectionate nature means that they are generally good as a family pet – interacting and responding well to both children and other animals.

They are known to be happy and merry for the majority of the time and love to exercise their wild hunting instincts through running, swimming and retrieving toys.

They should be socialized well when it is still young to avoid a tendency for shyness. They are mostly easy to train and get along well with other animals.

The dog has a normal level of activity that requires daily walks and activation to prevent restless behavior such as obsessive barking, wandering, and chewing all sorts of objects.

Pet Care and Diseases

The American Cocker Spaniel breed can have some major problems which may include:

  • Problems with the eyes (cataracts and glaucoma)
  • Patellar luxation
  • Elbow and hip dysplasia
  • Ectropion or entropion
  • Allergies
  • Seborrhea
  • Otitis externa
  • liver disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Gastric torsion

American Cockers have plenty of stamina and need regular exercise. They should be taken on daily long walks. When walking, avoid brushy thickets that can tangle the coat. Be sure to have the dog heeling beside or behind the person on the lead.

American Cocker Spaniel in the beach

The coat is smooth and silky on the belly, chest, legs and ears which requires very thorough brushing few times a week, as well as regular washing and trimming. Ears must be looked after carefully every day, like eyelids and lip folds must be kept clean. Wipe under the eyes often as they tend to tear.


The American Cocker Spaniel is medium in size and very sturdy. The males of this breed can have a height as tall as 15 ½ inches (38 cm) while the females can grow up to 14 ½ inches (36.8 cm). Both of the genders can weigh approximately 15-30 pounds (7-14 kg).

American Cocker Spaniel covered with snow

The head is round, as the muzzle is broad and deep with square, even jaws. The body is small and tight with short legs. There is heavy feathering that can be noted on the ears, chest, abdomen and legs. The silky fur comes in a variety of colors depending on the bloodline. It ranges from black, brown, cream to almost red.

General Information

American Cocker Spaniel playing in the snow

Life expectancy is about 12-15 years. One litter may have as much as 1-7 puppies and an average of 5. Other names include Cocker Spaniel (in the USA), Cocker, and Merry Cocker.

Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to American Cocker Spaniels. Click this link: http://www.asc-cockerspaniel.org/