This breed is known as the ‘merry’ Cocker, and the name is most fitting. He is playful, cheerful, amiable, sweet, sensitive, willing to please and responsive to his family’s wishes. He is not known for retaining his hunting instincts, but is inquisitive and will appreciate a country outing. He is equally at home in the city and will happily walk on leash for his exercise needs. Some bark a lot; some are overly submissive.
The American version of the Cocker Spaniel is derived from the English Cocker Spaniel. In the late 1800s, many English Cockers were brought to America, but American hunters preferred a slightly smaller dog to hunt quail and other small game birds. Just how this smaller Cocker was developed is not entirely clear; some credit the dog Obo 2nd, born around 1880, as the first true American Cocker. But other evidence points to crosses of the English Cocker with even smaller toy spaniels (that nonetheless arose from the same ancestral stock). Initially the English and American Cocker Spaniels were considered varieties of the same breed, but they were officially separated by the AKC in 1935. Although Cockers were already popular, after the separation the American Cocker surged in popularity and has remained one of the most popular breeds of all time in America. In fact, he was the most popular breed for many years. So popular that he was eventually divided into three color varieties: black, particolor and ASCOB, which stands for ‘any solid color other than black’. Only recently has his popularity spread to England, where he was recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1968, and he has gained admirers steadily since.
Although he enjoys a romp, the Cocker can receive adequate exercise with a long daily walk on leash. The coat of the Cocker requires a greater commitment than that of most breeds, although pets can be clipped short. In order to maintain a nice coat, he will need to be brushed and combed two to three times a week, in addition to professional clipping and scissoring every two to three months. Special attention must be paid to ear and eye cleanliness in this breed. The profusely coated feet tend to carry debris. The Cocker is not mentally able to live outside; this is such a social dog that to banish him outdoors would not be acceptable. Cockers have a tendency to become overweight.
Major concerns: cataracts, glaucoma, patellar luxation
Minor concerns: CHD, ectropion, entropion, PRA, allergies, seborrhea, lip fold pyoderma, otitis externa, liver disease, urolithiasis, prolapse of nictitans gland, CHF, phosphofructokinase deficiency, cardiomyopathy
Occasionally seen: gastric torsion, elbow dysplasia
Suggested tests: eye, knee, DNA for phosphofructokinase deficiency, (hip)
Life span: 12-15 years
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