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The American Cocker Spaniel is a Spaniel type sporting dog initially bred for hunting but today is a popular companion animal, particularly in the United States. This particular Spaniel breed developed in the USA but is the ancestor of the English Cocker Spaniel. Although both Spaniels are similar in many ways, the American Cocker is noticeably smaller, with a rounder head and shorter muzzle.
The American Cocker Spaniel’s appearance is elegant and adorable, with oversized floppy ears and long silky fur that feathers on the belly and legs. They are cheerful, outgoing, responsive, and super sweet, making them a fabulous furry companion and lifelong friend.
Meet the American Cocker Spaniel
The American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest sporting dog recognised by the American Kennel Club, typically weighing between 20 and 30 pounds and standing 14 to 15 inches tall. Their bodies are compact and sturdy, and their small heads make them instantly recognisable. They have square-shaped lips, upturned noses and oversized ears that hang down low, giving a soft impression. Adding to this is their big, round and dark eyes.
The American Cocker Spaniel’s medium-long coat is silky and sometimes slightly wavy. It is noticeably longer on the ears, chest, belly and legs where it hangs down (known as feathering). If kept long, your American Cocker Spaniel will need regular baths and haircuts to keep its beautiful coat in top tip condition. In addition, you’ll need to brush or comb them multiple times a week.
American Cocker Spaniels can be a wide variety of shades but are usually within one of three coat colour categories. These categories are black or black with tan points, any solid colour other than black, and parti-colour (white with patches of another colour).
Because of their heavy-coated droopy ears, American Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections. Therefore, you’ll need to inspect them every few days and clean them once a week. This breed is also prone to a few genetic conditions such as hip dysplasia and eye disorders. However, healthy and well-cared for Cocker Spaniels will live for 10 to 13 years.
The temperament of an American Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniels are a lot of fun with a very cheerful disposition. They are playful and can be boisterous at times but generally act gentle and affectionate towards their owners. They love to be around their humans at all times, which is displayed by their continuous wagging tails.
Providing they receive proper socialisation as puppies, an American Cocker Spaniel will get along well with strangers, children and other animals. However, they can be pretty sensitive and get stressed easily by loud noises, shouting and rough handling. Moreover, being left alone for too long will cause them great distress as they are so people-oriented.
Their temperaments can vary as some American Cocker Spaniels bark a lot, whereas others are very submissive. Even so, they are a very trainable breed as they are intelligent and eager to please, so you can easily teach them the “quiet” command to loud Spaniels. However, always use gentle and consistent over harsh training methods with this breed because of their sensitivity.
Many Cocker Spaniels have a strong hunting instinct from their history as hunting dogs. They love to go for walks but may chase birds or small animals, so always keep them on their leash when out and about.
10 reasons to add an American Cocker Spaniel to your family
- They are charming and adorable - Their cheerful disposition, heart-warming dark eyes and cute floppy ears make the American Cocker Spaniel an irresistible breed.
- They are easy to train - Your Cocker Spaniel will always be up for a training session, and their intelligence means they learn commands quickly.
- They play on their own - These dogs are so playful that they find almost anything entertaining. Therefore, they are happy to play independently and love receiving new toys.
- They do well in cold weather - Because of their long hair and English ancestors, they are well suited for the cold climate of the UK and Northern Europe.
- They will keep you warm, too - Moreover, because their fluffy coats retain heat, they always feel warm, even on the coldest days. Thus, they make excellent personal heaters and bed warmers!
- They are small - Choosing a small dog like a Cocker Spaniel means they are easier to handle, travel with, and have lower energy than large dog breeds.
- They are sociable - A well-socialised American Cocker Spaniel enjoys interacting with humans and will be warm and friendly towards new people.
- They are cuddly - When you get home from work and sit down on the sofa, this affectionate canine will greet you by jumping on your lap for kisses and cuddles.
- You can find them in a wide range of colours - An American Cocker Spaniel can be any solid colour. Alternatively, they can have a mixture of two (or even three) colours with beautiful patches.
- They are a fantastic breed for children - Their playful yet gentle nature means they are an excellent choice for families looking for a furry friend for their child. A Cocker Spaniel will happily play with kids and develop loving bonds with them.
Best homes for a American Cocker Spaniel
As American Cocker Spaniels are small dogs, they don’t need a tonne of space. Thus, they are a good choice for people with smaller houses or flats, providing they get plenty of walks and exercise. However, while they can adapt to any physical environment, they need an owner who is at home often. They do not do well when left alone for long periods, so they are not a good choice for empty homes. Therefore, they will do well with large families with a stay-at-home parent or retired couples who have previous experience with dogs.