notes on the Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel is an alert, compactly built, medium-sized dog with long ears, reaching at least to the nose when pulled forward. Solid, but not bulky. Strong and well-balanced, but not coarse. The upper plane of the skull is almost parallel to the upper plane of the muzzle, and the muzzle is about the same length as the skull. The dark oval eyes should have a melting yet intelligent expression. The hair is medium length. The legs and underside of the body are well feathered. The nose is black or brown depending on the coat color (black is preferred by breeders). It has a sturdy jaw with a scissors bite. The topline is almost level, with only a slight slope down from the withers to root of the tail. The chest is very deep and well developed, but not wide enough to interfere with efficient movement. The tail is generally docked. The feet are round and cat-like with tight, arched toes. The coat comes in solid black, liver or red or parti-color combinations of white with black, liver or red markings or ticking. Tan markings may appear on black liver or parti-color dogs. There are two types of English Cocker: field and show. The field types have shorter coats. Many colors are admissible, but on solid color dogs white is acceptable only on the chest.

The English Cocker Spaniel is a hardy, energetic, merry and lovable, sweet and affectionate dog. This lively dog is excellent with kids: gentle and playful, but does not tolerate teasing well. It is sociable with strangers, a moderate barker, and obeys respectfully the orders it is given. A superior companion dog. Generally an outgoing breed, but some individuals can be reserved. Temperament varies widely, research individual lines. Some bitches are fairly dominant and should not be placed with a non-dominant owner. Males tend to be more cooperative. Field lines may be too active to make good pets.

The first information we have of the existence of the spaniel comes from a description by Gaston Phebus in 1300. However, it was five hundred years later that the various English Spaniels were divided into seven breeds; the Clumber, the Sussex, the Welsh Springer, the English Springer, the Field, the Irish Water Spaniel, and the Cocker. All these Spaniels derive from a spaniel-type dog imported into England centuries ago. The Cocker and Springer Spaniels developed together, with only size differentiating them until 1892 when the Kennel Club of England recognized them as separate breeds. Later, in the 1940's, the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs recognized the English Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed from the American Cocker Spaniel. The name Cocker comes from the woodcock, a bird this spaniel was originally bred to hunt. Cockers are also good at hunting other birds. They are excellent retrievers with delicate mouths. The English Cocker hunts well in difficult terrain. These days, the English Cocker is more often a companion dog due to his good-natured disposition. The talents of this breed are tracking, hunting, retrieving, watchdogging, agility, and competitive obedience.

modern dog paintings

dog portrait of two cocker spaniels

"Srumpy" - Portrait of a Cocker Spaniel

Oil painting on canvas 16" x 20"
(gallery style canvas)

for more spaniel portraits and other dog breeds -
visit the dog painting gallery

basset dog painting dalmatian pup portrait fox terriers picture westie dog portrait


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