American cocker spaniel

A close relative of an English Cocker Spaniel. At first, the breed was developed for hunting birds. However, because of intelligence and nice appearance, it became a popular family companion.

Energy level
Level of affection
Level of friendliness
female: 7—14 kg
male: 7—14 kg
female: 34—36 cm
male: 36—39 cm
require average time
Gives birth to
Gives birth to:
3—6 puppies
United States
in 1880
Life span
Life span:
12—14 years


American Cocker Spaniels are affectionate and communicative pets. They like people, especially family members. Interaction with them if very important for these dogs. These pets do not get easily through being lonely for a long time. Isolation can badly affect dog`s health and damage their psyche. That is why this breed is not for busy people. When guests come to house, Spaniels will not hide anywhere. Instead, they will come up to every new person. They like being the center of attention. These curious pets always investigate the world around them. 

Cocker Spaniels like games. Even adult dogs can behave like small puppies. That is why this dog will become a faithful and playful friend, that will not do any harm on purpose, for a child. However, it is better to watch their games. During the game, Spaniels might bite the kid. However, that will not be the result of aggression.

Spaniels get on well with other cats and dogs, especially if they have grown up together. However, these pets like hunting birds because of their origination. That is why it is not recommended to let a bird out of its cage when a Spaniel is close by.


American Cocker Spaniels are smart dogs. However, if it is not trained, its behavior might become uncontrollable: it will stop listening to commands, start damaging furniture and other things, run around and behave intrusively. When you bring a Spaniel up, you should take into consideration the fact that they are emotional dogs. They cannot be beaten or shouted at. Patience and love are key instruments in communicating with the dog.

Right after the purchase, the pet needs to accept house rules and its owner`s authority. Then, you can start working on your dog`s socialization, so that it gets used to the street, noises and other animals. The training process can start after the dog turns 3 months old. Spaniels learn quickly. There will not be many problems while training the dog. First commands that Spaniels need to learn are «go to your place», «no» and «sit down». They are important to learn so that the dog does not come up to other people. For street walks, your dog needs to be taught such commands as «no» and «come here». It is recommended to train your pet in a playful way. That is how your Spaniel will be more interested in them. You should spend 15–20 minutes, not more, on the training process every day. That is how the dog will not lose interest in learning commands. If you do not manage to get on well with your Spaniel, you should take it to basic courses of dog training.

In the USA, Spaniels participate in sport events, most often — agility, which means running on a track with obstacles. For this, your pet needs to be taken to special courses. Less often, these pets are used for hunting. Despite the fact that Spaniels were initially representatives of the hunting breed, Spaniels became dogs-companions with time, especially in Europe. Spaniels are mostly used for hunting in America. A well-trained pet brings shot game. Only a skilled hunter can teach Spaniels this command.


American Cocker Spaniels are of medium size. They are the smallest pets in their hunting subgroup. Their body is compact, with well-developed posture. Spaniels walk gracefully. According to the standard of the breed, there are no restrictions considering their weight.
Long and wavy. It feels silky and soft when touched. A thick undercoat is present. 
Solid and multicolored coats are acceptable. The pattern might include tanned patches. Main colors include: black, chocolate, creamy and fawn.
Rounded, with well-noticeable arches above eyebrows. The snout is wide, square in shape. It is set deeply.
Almond-shaped, deeply-set, only of dark color.
Long and floppy, covered with thick hair.
Long and athletic. 
Proportional to body length, muscular.
Short, can be docked.

Basic Care

American Cocker Spaniels require much time to be groomed. Their thick hair needs to be brushed every day. If you do not take care of it, it will get matted, and these mats will have to be cut. For brushing dog`s hair, use slickers and combs. It is better to take you pet to a groomer once a month, so that he will cut its hair on ears, snout and legs. Pets molt a lot in spring and fall. During that period, it is recommended to cut their hair more often. Spaniels do not like this procedure, that is why they need to get used to getting their hair cut starting from a young age: 1,5–2 months.

American Cocker Spaniels need to be given a bath once in 2 weeks, using shampoo for longhair breeds. Then brush dog`s hair with a comb, but moisturize it with a citric acid solution. Wipe their paws with wet towels after each walk. Dog`s long ears have to be cleaned once in 2–3 days. Earwax and dust often get accumulated in them. Ticks like getting in there too. It is recommended to clean them with cotton sponges moistened with peroxide or boric alcohol. When a Spaniel is eating, it is recommended to tie its ears with a hairband, so that water and food do not get in them. Wipe pet`s eyes when needed, using cotton pads. Brush its teeth once in 2 weeks if it eats natural food. If your dog eats dry food — you can clean its teeth once a month, using a special brush and a zoo-paste. Claws of Spaniels need to be trimmed once in 1,5 months.

American Cocker Spaniels can be fed with either high-quality dry or natural food. It is better to give them natural ingredients. Spaniels like overeating. That is why their diet always needs to be well-balanced. Such products can be given to the dog: not greasy meat — chicken, beef and turkey; fat free dairy products — cottage cheese, sour cream and kefir; grains — buckwheat and rice; vegetables — carrot, pumpkin, beet and broccoli. Once a week, sea fish fillet can be fed to the dog. Dry and natural food can change one another. However, it is important not to mix them into one portion. A puppy under the age of 2 months needs to eat 6 times a day, under 4 months — 5 times a day, under 6 months — 3 times a day, then — twice a day: in the morning and in the evening.

American Cocker Spaniels need much space for comfortable life. It is important to understand that these pets are active. They need to find a way to spread their energy. Spaniels can only live inside. Despite having long hair, they are sensitive to coldness. It is recommended to create a play area for the dog. Put something warm close to your bed, so that your pet can sleep there. Cocker Spaniels need to be walked for 20 minutes, 2–3 times a day.

Health and Illnesses

American Cocker Spaniels can live up to 14 years if treated well. They have strong health. However, because of incorrect breeding work, American Spaniels are prone to same hereditary and acquired disorders.

Hip dysplasia — a common hereditary disorder which might lead to loss of dog`s ability to walk. Dysplasia develops because of structural disorders of the acetabulum, in which head of the femoral bone is located. Because acetabulum becomes flat, head of the femoral bone starts rubbing against the joint, destroying its structure. The pet starts limping and feeling pain. There is no cure for dysplasia. However, if you consult a vet in time, you can slow down its development.

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disorder that causes constant itching on the skin. It develops because of disturbed functioning of skin barriers. Because of it, allergens get from the external environment into the immune system, contacting with its cells. Having joined the reaction, they damage the skin by inflaming and making it dry. Dermatitis can be cured by special therapies.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures and convulsions. It appears because of disturbances in electrical and chemical reactions in the brain. Epilepsy cannot be cured. However, if it is diagnosed in time, and if correct treatment is found, seizures can be controlled.

Often, Spaniels suffer from ophthalmic disorders:

Cataract disrupts transparency of the lens, which focuses light rays on the retina. Cataract destroys its structure, making it become darker. This disorder can be inherited. However, most often, it develops because of age. Cataract can be surgically cured.

Glaucoma interferes with the circulation of pressure inside the eyeball, which causes it to swell. It affects functioning of retina and the optic nerve. The dog stops being able to see. Glaucoma can be either congenital or post-traumatic. It can be treated with medication.

Retinal atrophy — a hereditary disorder that leads to loss of eyesight. It cannot be cured. Atrophy destroys photoreceptor cells that transmit light rays through the optic nerve to the brain. The fewer cells are left, the worse is the eyesight. At first, the dog does not see well at night. Then, it loses ability to see even during the day.

Because of bad nutrition, English Cocker Spaniels often develop problems with the digestive system: they vomit, stop running around and eating. Their digestive system is sensitive to fatty products. That is why their diet needs to be controlled. Apart from this, you also need to keep an eye on dog`s long ears. If you do not clean them, they might start festering. This might lead to loss of hearing.

History of the Breed

American Cocker Spaniels are descendants of English Spaniels. There is no exact data of when the breed originated. However, 1880 is believed to be the official year. Dogs of this breed appeared in the USA with English immigrants. These pets were not paid any attention for around 100 years. They were simply used for hunting birds. Only at the end of the 19th century, dog owners started working on the breed: they conducted experimental mating, developed the appearance and selected the most beautiful representatives. 

In 1881, first American Spaniels participated in a show in the state of New Hampshire. They were smaller than English Spaniels, but had thick and smooth hair. These dogs caught much attention of people. Two years later, the first Club of American Spaniel Lovers was established. The official standard was developed only in 1921. However, world organizations took some time to divide the two breeds. It happened in 1946.