Basic Information

American Cocker Spaniel


The American Cocker Spaniel is a medium size breed of dog. It is one of the Spaniel type breeds, similar to the English Cocker Spaniel, and was originally bred as a gun dog. In the United States, the breed is usually referred to as the Cocker Spaniel, while in Canada and elsewhere in the world, it is called the American Cocker Spaniel. The word “Cocker” is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock in England. Although the Cocker Spaniel type originated in the United Kingdom, by the 1940s the American breed was recognized as distinct from the English breed.


Appearance: The American Cocker Spaniel is a medium sized dog of normal proportions, with medium long silky fur on the body and ears, hanging down on the legs and belly (feathering). The head has a rounded look and the ears hang down (drop ears). The tail is often docked. Coat colors are described extensively in the Standard. The English Cocker Spaniel has a more rectangular head, a shorter coat, and is larger.


Size: American Cocker Spaniels have an ideal size of 15 inches (38 cm) at the withers for male dogs, with females smaller. The breed standard states that size over 15.5 inches for males and 14.5 inches for females is a disqualification at a breed show, in order to discourage the breeding of oversize dogs.


Head: The head of an American Cocker Spaniel makes the breed immediately recognizable, with the rounded dome of the skull, well-pronounced stop, and square lip. The drop ears are long, low set, with long silky fur, and the eyes are dark, large, and rounded.


Coat: The American Cocker Spaniel is usually kept as a companion dog, since “very few are used for hunting any more.” As pets and show-dogs, the breed’s coat and the colors of the coat have taken on great importance, as they are very beautiful if well groomed and cared for. The coat should never be curly or have a cottony texture, but should be silky and flat, short on the head and medium length on the body, with an undercoat.


Colors are divided into categories:


Black, including


  • Solid black
  • Black with tan points
  • ASCOB (Any Solid Color Other than Black), defined as any color with or without tan points, and only a very small amount of white


Tricolor, including


  • Black and White with Tan points
  • Black and White
  • Brown and White
  • Brown and White with Tan points (brown tri)
  • Red and White


Parti-color and other colors
Roan (individual colored hairs mingled in with white hairs), with or without tan points


  • Blue Roan or Black
  • Orange Roan or Red
  • Liver or Chocolate Roan, shades of Brown


Sable (no longer recognized by the American Spaniel Club, meaning that breeding dogs of this color is discouraged).
Merle (controversial color that is linked to various ailments; not recognized by the American Spaniel Club, and not registrable with the American Kennel Club).

Before You Bring Home a Puppy


Puppies are (arguably) second only to kittens on the Animal Cuteness Scale. Don’t allow yourself to be prematurely seduced by that cute puppy at your local dog shelter, however, before considering these important questions about dog ownership.


Puppies from Birth to 12 Weeks
Giving Puppies as Gifts

How to Talk to Puppies


If you carefully follow these puppy-communication tips, within three months you’ll be able to carry on a discussion with him on the finer points of quantum physics, the theory of relativity, and the meaning of life–or maybe just be able to better understand each other.


How Puppies Talk to You
Understanding Puppy Body Language

Modern Puppy Training Techniques


The days of approaching puppy training like a hardened military sergeant are long gone: Modern training techniques are much less taxing on both the dog and the owner.


Teach a Puppy to Sit
Teach a Puppy to Lay Down

He’s Eating What? Gross!


There are few things more embarrassing than trying to keep a serial crotch-sniffing dog from committing his faux pas in public. This is one of those things that’s even worse.
Stop a Puppy from Digging
Curb a Puppy’s Excessive Barking