Cocker Spaniel History and Domestication
The Cocker Spaniel is a small and cheerful Dog, originally bred as a hunting and gun Dog. The English Cocker Spaniel is the ancestor of the Cocker Spaniel and is thought to have arrived in North America as early as the 14th century. They were bred for hunting, tracking and as a watchdog, but in the 19th century, the want for a smaller version of the English Cocker Spaniel, gave rise to the Cocker Spaniel found today. Although the two were originally only different in size, over the years, they began to adopt very different traits leading to their listing as separate breeds in 1945. Today, the Cocker Spaniel is the smallest breed of gun Dog and is also one of the most popular Dogs in America.
Cocker Spaniel Physical Characteristics
The Cocker Spaniel is a small and compact Dog, known for its patience and agility when flushing out game (particularly birds). As with other Spaniels, the mouth of the Cocker Spaniel is soft and gentle, making them perfect for retrieving game-birds without causing them any further damage. One of the most distinctive features of the Cocker Spaniel is their rounded head, with long, fluffy ears that fall on either side. The Cocker Spaniel’s coat is medium-length, thick and is well-known for its softness. Their silky fur comes in a variety of colours depending on the bloodline, and requires daily grooming to avoid matting, particularly around the feet.
Cocker Spaniel Behaviour and Temperament
The Cocker Spaniel is a loyal and excitable breed, that has a typically joyful and trusting temperament. They are always eager to please their owner and are known to be both cooperative and fairly intelligent Dogs, listening to, understanding and obeying commands, but they are also known to be stubborn from time to time. Their gentle, obedient and affectionate nature means that they are often 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.
Cocker Spaniel Breeding
The Cocker Spaniel was originally bred from the English Cocker Spaniel to produce the same breed, but a little smaller. This meant that the Cocker Spaniel was the ideal size for flushing smaller game-birds such as Quails and Woodcock out of their hiding places with ease. Today, one of the Cocker Spaniel’s most notable features is their silky, feathered fur which is particularly prominent on their long, dropped ears and around their feet. Although they are still commonly used as hunting and gun Dogs, they are most commonly kept for show and companionship and are now one of America’s most popular domestic breeds.
Cocker Spaniel Interesting Facts and Features
Despite a number of variations within the breed, the Cocker Spaniel is known to still possess its original hunting streak and is commonly said to have such a great love of toys, that it will go to great lengths to obtain more, often hiding or destroying an old toy just to get a new one. They are however associated with a number of health problems including the generally life-threatening IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia). Cocker Spaniels are also prone to a number of both ear and eye conditions, but these can generally be much more easily treated.