American Cocker Spaniel: Breed Information

July 31, 2022

An American Cocker Spaniel is a small sporting group dog from the United States. Although, due to the popularity of the dog breed, in the US the breed is just called Cocker Spaniel.

American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest dog that is part of the sporting group. The dog was originally bred for hunting. However, this breed type is also great as a loving companion for pet owners.

For anyone looking for an affectionate and loving pet who has plenty of playfulness, this is just the right dog breed.

Also, American Cocker Spaniel is a dog with a very distinctive coat and shape. These beautiful creatures are just hard to miss.

This article will give an overview of this hunting dog, and cover American Cocker Spaniel's personality, health as well as daily exercise and grooming needs.

About The Breed

American Cockers are favoured by many as they can be excellent family dogs and have a great nature.

If you are looking for a gentle dog who loves spending time with its owner, look no further as this is the dog for you.

They are relatively small for sporting dogs, with heights up to 15.5 inches and American Cocker Spaniels weigh up to 30 pounds.

They have a medium-length silky coat. Their head has an upturned nose. They have long floppy ears.

The breed has an easily recognisable head shape. The dome of the skull is round and their eyes are large and round. The nose is normally black or brown.

The American Cocker comes in a variety of colours. The roan colours that are well known with English Cockers are very rare with Americans.

There are some differences in both weight and height, with females a bit smaller than the males. However, this also depends on the individual dog as well as how much they exercise.

Cockers live about 10 to 14 years, however, there are always expectations.

In California, a Cocker Spaniel Uno lived to 22 years which would be 105 in human years.

This breed is also known for their body being well-balanced, so they can move quickly with a smooth easy gait.

Characteristics of American Cocker Spaniels

Group: Sporting

Height: 13.5 to 15.5 inches

Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

Litter size: 1 to 7 puppies

Cocker Coat: Long and silky coat

Grooming Needs: High

Temperament: Affectionate, loving, gentle

Suitable with: Families, other pets


The American Cocker Spaniel is derived from England and it took time until it was recognised as a distinct breed.

While spaniels have been known for centuries, they were originally divided between land and water spaniels. The main way to distinguish the breeds was by weight.

First, English Cocker Spaniel and American Cocker Spaniel were seen as the same breed. It was not until the 20th century, that the two dogs were seen as separate breeds.

American and English Cockers did have some differences. In America, the American Cockers were preferred as they were smaller, making them more suitable for hunters of small game birds.

Now both dog breeds are American Kennel Club recognized as separate breeds. They have also been recognised by English Cocker Spaniel Club as separate from English Cocker Spaniels.

While in many parts of the world the American version has been less popular, it is gaining popularity around the world.


Cocker spaniels are often referred to as "Merry Cockers". This gives an overview of what the American Cocker Spaniel's temperament is like.

American Cocker Spaniels are happy, but sensitive dogs who are well suited to be family pets.

These dogs love to please their owner and give them undivided attention. They love nothing more than being part of their pack.

If American Cocker Spaniel puppies are socialised well, they are happy to live with young kids as well as other animals.

Of course, any individual dog can have their own personality.

Cocker Spaniel is a sensitive breed, so he is not suited for harsh treatment or being left alone for long periods of time.

Puppy training classes are recommended to ensure you give your first Cocker Spaniel a good start to its life.

Living Needs

Cocker Spaniels are suitable companions if you live in an apartment or a house.

They will still require daily exercise to be healthy.


As American Cocker Spaniels were bred as hunting dogs, they can take part in dog sports and agility training.

However, they are moderately energetic and do not need many hours of exercise a day.

American Kennel Club suggests that even walking and throwing the ball will be good ways to keep your Cocker fit as they love spending time with their owner.

Around an hour a day will be enough to keep your dog happy and healthy. Having a local park around will help a lot.

Health Problems

While Cocker Spaniel is a very popular dog breed, these purebred dogs can have some health issues.

It is important to ensure your Cocker has been bought from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders ensure tests are done on the American Cocker Spaniel puppy to limit the occurrence of genetic health issues.

American Spaniel Club even has a health committee that has monitored common health issues and advises breeders on recommended health tests.

Cocker Spaniels can suffer from eye issues as well as problems with their hips. Some of the eye issues they can experience are progressive retinal atrophy as well as cataract.

Also, American Cockers Spaniels are more likely to suffer from ear infections compared to some other dogs.

Some Cockers can have sensitive skin, so it is important to ensure the shampoo for the Cocker is of high quality.

The National Breed Club recommended tests are usually hip and ophthalmologist evaluation.


Cockers can be very high maintenance for grooming.

You should discuss with a professional groomer if you are planning to have a show dog. There are many coat styles to choose from with the American Cocker Spaniel. Some owners opt for very extravagant coats that do take daily work to maintain.

Apart from regular groomer visits, it is also important to brush their coat weekly to avoid tangles or matted hair. This is particularly important if you are interested in taking your Cocker Spaniel to shows.

When bathing your Cocker, it is important that the ears are dried properly. This will help to limit the chance of any ear infections from moisture.

Also, after bathing it is important that all soap residue is properly washed out. The soap can also cause skin irritation in dogs with sensitive skin.

Teeth cleaning is also required as well as regular nail clipping.


Selecting a good dog food will take some trial and error. The main consideration with picking food for your Cocker Spaniel is to have nutritionally balanced food. Although some dogs can be very sensitive and require a special diet. You will quite quickly get to know what works for your dog though.

Dogs can also suffer from food allergies and food intolerances. If you notice any signs of food allergies like rashes or discomfort in the Cocker, it is important to seek help from a veterinarian.

Reading food labels is a good way to ensure that you are picking food with quality ingredients. If you do want more information on what a good American Cocker Spaniel diet looks like we have a great resource on that too.

It is important to main proper weight as overfeeding can result in health issues.

Puppies will require to be fed numerous times a day. However, an adult Cocker needs around 1.5 to 2.5 cups of food a day split over two meals. These should be spread out 12 hours apart.


American Cocker Spaniel likes to please their owner, which makes training easier. However, they are sensitive, so harsh words will not lead to success when training.

It is best to use positive reinforcement when training. And a few treats will always help speed up the process. Cockers love food and once they work out what they need to do to get it you can be sure they'll follow along.

They are really smart dogs. In fact, the American Cocker Spaniel is ranked 24th in Stanley Coren's dog intelligence rankings. A very respectable position considering its out of all dog breeds!

Praising the dog is a great method of positive reinforcement. Also, they can be motivated by food, so treats can be helpful for training sessions.

It is best to start from an early age with training for best results. Cocker Spaniel puppies are like sponges and absorb information very quickly. It is also easier to stop bad habits from forming.

Where To Get An American Cocker Spaniel?

There are few options when finding your American Cocker Spaniel.

Cocker Spaniel's dog breed can be listed in rescue groups. However, if you are looking for AKC recognised dog, it is worth finding a Kennel Club approved breeder.

You can also consider finding a local breeder online or looking at websites with litters listed for sale to see any puppies available. This is a great way to also pick up on any one-time breeders who bred a family pet. These are often the best litters too in my experience.

The price of the American Cocker Spaniel dog will vary based on appearance, sex as well as the breeder itself.

Should I Get An American Cocker Spaniel?

American Cocker Spaniels are great dogs to have. They do have pros and cons.


  • Affectionate and loyal
  • As they are smaller dogs they suit apartments
  • Good for families and with other dogs


  • High grooming requirement
  • Potential for some hereditary health issues
  • Do not like being alone

Fun Facts

Cocker Spaniels are a popular breed so there is no surprise there are some famous Cockers in the world.

  • In the famous film Lady and the Tramp character Lady is an American Cocker Spaniel.
  • Cocker Spaniels were originally bred for hunting birds. Their name is derived from a bird called the Woodcock.


American Cocker Spaniel is a great dog breed that is recognised by the Kennel Club. Not only are they relatively small, but they are also great companions.

The Cockers were originally bred for hunting birds. However, while they are still good hunting dogs, many are just happy to be family dogs.

When properly socialised, a cocker is well suited to live with kids as well as other pets.

They are prone to some health issues with hips as well as eyes. However, if you are planning to get one, a reputable breeder can provide you with test results of common genetic issues. Any good breeder will screen for these conditions before the parents are mated. It is still good to check though.

Overall, this breed is fantastic. Not only good companions, with their groomed coats, but they are also very beautiful.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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