American Cocker Spaniel

Country of origin: USA
Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC
Occupation: Hunter, performance
Size: 13.5 to 15.5 in tall; 24
to 30 lbs
Longevity: 13 to 15 years
Exercise: Moderate
Training: Moderate
Grooming: Difficult
Colors: Variety of colours

In the 1930s, a conflict arose among Cocker Spaniel breeders in America. Some wanted to breed for working ability, while others wanted to breed for the show ring, emphasizing the drama of the coat and muzzle. Those who favoured working ability broke away to form a new club, leaving the original Cocker Spaniel Club, founded in 1881, to continue breeding selectively for the new, slightly smaller “Americanized” variety: shorter at the withers, with a smaller head and muzzle, longer, denser, silkier hair, and a more dramatic down-slope of the top line. In the United States, the name “Cocker Spaniel” refers to this new American Cocker Spaniel, while the older style is called the English Cocker Spaniel (see pp.150–151). In Britain, the older variety is the Cocker Spaniel and the newer, the American Cocker Spaniel. Cocker Spaniels appear almost invariably in every country’s top ten most popular dog breeds. All Cockers retain their hunting instincts, but the popularity of the American Cocker, particularly in North, Central, and South America, as well as Japan, is based squarely on its charm, striking looks, and gentle companionship. This is a truly loving breed that forms deep bonds with a human family. Unfortunately, it shares with its English relative a variety of inherited disorders, including epilepsy, eye conditions, skin complaints, and kidney problems. Responsible breeders will assess their dogs for each of these disorders before breeding from them.

The most popular breed with American dog owners from the late 1930s and for the next 50 years, the American Cocker Spaniel was the obvious choice of dog to portray the refined and gentle Lady in Walt Disney’s 1955 film, Lady and the Tramp. With her flowing ears, the pampered pooch personified the innocent abroad, taken under the wing of the scruffy, streetwise Tramp. Romance blossoms over spaghetti, and the rest is history.



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