English Cocker Spaniel

AKC Sporting Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Cocker and Springer Spaniels developed together, with only size differentiating them, until 1892, when the Kennel Club of England recognized them as separate breeds. Later, in the 1940s, the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs recognized the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed from the American Cocker Spaniel. The name “Cocker” comes from the woodcock, a bird this spaniel was originally bred to hunt. Cockers are also good at hunting other birds. They are excellent retrievers with delicate mouths. The English Cocker hunts well in difficult terrain. These days, the English Cocker is more often a companion dog due to his good-natured disposition.


The English Cocker Spaniel is an alert, compactly built, medium-sized dog, short-coupled but slightly longer than tall. It is solid, but not bulky, strong and well-balanced, but not coarse. The topline slopes slightly to the rear. The upper plane of the skull is almost parallel to the upper plane of the muzzle, and the muzzle is about the same length as the skull. The long ears are set on low, and reach at least to the nose when pulled forward. The dark, oval eyes should have a soft, melting, yet intelligent expression. The hair is medium length. The legs and underside of the body are well feathered. The nose is black or brown depending on coat color (black preferred). The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The topline is almost level, with only a slight slope down from the withers to root of the tail. The chest is very deep and well developed, but not wide enough to interfere with efficient movement. The tail is generally docked. The feet are round and catlike with tight, arched toes. The coat comes in the following: solid black, liver, red, black and tan, liver and tan, or any of these colors on a white background, either parti-color, ticked, or roan.

Key Facts

  • Height:  16 to 17 in. (male); 15 to 16 in. (female)
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight:  Averages 28 to 34 lbs. (male); 26 to 32 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Might take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Hunting, tracking, retrieving, watchdog, agility, and competitive obedience


The English Cocker is recommended over the American Cocker Spaniel as a pet because breeding has been less indiscriminate. Cockers should be trained very gently, but firmly, as they are sensitive but also independent and intelligent. Can do well with cats in the household. The breed is somewhat prone to ear infections. Clean out excess wax regularly. The coat needs attention. Some coats are particularly profuse, cottony, and prone to matting; others are more silky and flat-lying. Coat type varies substantially within the breed. Be careful not to overfeed, as the English Cocker puts on weight easily. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip-dysplasia clearance and current CERF or OFA eye clearance. Require BAER (hearing) test for all parti-color, ticked, or roan puppies. There are two types of English Cocker: field and show lines. The field types have a shorter coat.


Hardy, energetic, merry, lovable, sweet, and affectionate. Lively. Great dog for kids: gentle and playful, but does not tolerate teasing well. Superior companion dog. Generally an outgoing breed, but some individuals can be reserved. Temperament varies widely; research individual lines. Some bitches are fairly dominant and should not be placed with a non-dominant owner. Males tend to be more cooperative. Field lines might be too active to make good pets.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other dogs; do not trust with non-canine pets
  • Combativeness:  Not generally dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Average barker
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Skilled trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Docking:  The tail is customarily docked
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A good jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® English Cocker Spaniel Breed Standard


English Cocker Spaniel Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the English Cocker Spaniel


English Cocker Spaniel Gifts