American Cocker Spaniel Dog Breed Guide | Gundog Journal
American Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniel

Main sporting role:
Show, Pet
Over 10 years
1 to 2 hours a day
Coat length:
Vulnerable status:

The American Cocker Spaniel descends from the same root stock as working cocker spaniels; these dogs were originally bred in the US as a continuation of the English Cocker Spaniel line. By the 1920s, a US variety with noticeable differences was beginning to emerge, and it was primarily bred for the show ring and as a family pet. This cocker spaniel breed was first recognised as a distinct breed in the US in 1946.

American Cocker Spaniel: Key Characteristics

This beautiful breed is more suitable as a show dog or affectionate family pet than as a working dog. Although it’s not as well-suited to the field as other spaniel breeds, the US breed still ranks highly in intelligence tests and does demonstrate some working aptitude. 

The breed is smaller and lighter than the English Cocker Spaniel, with a domed head, long ears, short muzzle, round eyes, and a long silky coat in varying colours. The American Cocker Spaniel is actually the smallest of the cocker spaniel breeds, but has a longer, more exuberant coat than its English cousin, as well as smaller ears and a shorter muzzle.

This spaniel breed is generally a gentle, friendly dog around people and other animals, but it can be sensitive and easily stressed, so is not always best suited to homes with young children. 

Owning An American Cocker Spaniel: Pros And Cons

Pros Of Owning This Breed

  • The American Cocker Spaniel life span is relatively long, coming in at an average of 12-15 years
  • Relatively easy to train
  • Naturally playful nature
  • Beautiful silky smooth coat
  • Generally a very healthy dog
  • Loves long walks
  • Has a natural tendency to want to please its owner

Cons Of Owning This Breed

  • High-maintenance coat requires a lot of grooming
  • Can sometimes display aggressive behaviour
  • Sheds a lot, particularly during the spring and autumn
  • Can be naturally timid, meaning early socialisation is key for building confidence
  • Requires a good deal of daily exercise and mental stimulation to maintain a good-natured temperament

Grooming Tips

These dogs can require a lot of grooming to keep their coats in the best possible condition. However, this isn’t the only grooming they require:

  • Bathe your spaniel at least once a week, if not twice, using a specialist shampoo and conditioner to help make brushing their coat easier
  • Regular coat brushing is essential to prevent matting - if matting does occur, shaving may be necessary
  • Cocker spaniels have heavy ears that can be prone to problems, so take the time to clean their ears regularly, particularly after messy walks
  • Skin problems can also be common for cocker spaniels, but can be prevented by making sure the dog is thoroughly dry after bathing and walks

Learn more about other spaniel breeds here.


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