The American Cocker Spaniel is an energetic, friendly and medium-sized dog that forms part of the popular gundog group.
This breed was created to produce an efficient working dog to hunt woodcock on the shoot. The first Spaniel was taken to America on board the Mayflower from Plymouth in 1620, where it was developed into the dog we know and love today. It was recognised as the ACS by the American Kennel Club in 1878.
It only became recognised as the American Cocker Spaniel in the UK in its own right in 1970.
The breed is friendly and normally a good family dog. It mixes well with other dogs and enjoys the company of humans. If socialised well at an early age American Cocker’s tend to be fine around cats, although care should be taken around smaller pets in the family home.
American Cockers can become hyperactive if they are not given the mental stimulation and attention they require.
The American and English Cocker Spaniels are often confused, which is not surprising as attention is often drawn to the magnificent dense coat of both breeds.
So, just how do you tell the difference between the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel?
Double trouble? Here’s how to spot the difference between the American and English Cocker Spaniel
On the left we have the American Cocker Spaniel, and on the right is the English Cocker Spaniel.
The English Cocker is a little heavier than the American Cocker, but that’s not always helpful, considering the often dense coats that cover and hide the actual size of these dogs, and to confuse matters even more both breeds share similar colourings, markings and the same long pendant ears coated with silky thick feathers.
The American Cocker Spaniel has a different shaped skull which is recognisable by its distinctive rounded, protruding forehead, and distinctive round eyes. The English Cocker Spaniel has a longer, more elongated muzzle, that slants gently back to the skull, lacking the prominent and bulbous forehead of the American Cocker Spaniel.
The coat of the American Cocker Spaniel is long and silky and prolific on the legs and body and the coat can be either flat or wavy. The soft fur on the head is short and flat.
The breed is not as popular as it once was with just 223 registered with the Kennel Club in 2015 compared to just under 600 dogs 10 years ago.
The American Cocker is also known as the Merry Cocker.
This compact and friendly gundog is available in a large variety of colours and markings:
• Black and Tan
• Black and White
• Black and White Particolour
• Black White and Tan
• Brown and White
• Chocolate and Tan
• Chocolate and White Particolour
• Chocolate Tricolour
• Red and White
• Red & White Particolour
• Sable and White
• Silver Buff
United States of America
Height bitch 34-37cms
Height dog 37-39cms
Weight (kilos) bitch 11-14kgs
Weight (kilos) dog 11-14kgs
Medium to high. The ACS requires at least an hour of good vigorous exercise daily, ideally off the lead. This is a dog with an impressive amount of stamina and endurance for its size, and not a breed content to living a sedentary life.
Yes. The breed is easy to train and a quick learner, and one of the few smaller breeds in the gundog group. Prospective owner must appreciate the very high grooming levels this dogs require and be prepared to budget for regular professional grooming sessions to maintain the magnificent long coat of the American Cocker Spaniel.
Long. The straight or wavy coat with its fine silky featherings can grow literally to the ground. The featherings on the ears may make meal and water times a messy event.
Some heavy coated dogs may struggle in the heat in summer months and if not a show dog may appreciate a professional tidy up from a professional groomer.
The ACS requires daily regular brushing with a soft slicker brush to remove any tangles or matts from the long, silky coat. The feathers on this breed can grow very thick and long in some dogs and may need professional grooming to keep manageable. The ACS should be dried off after walks in wet weather and after swimming sessions.
Ears should be cleaned with a specialist ear cleaner to keep clean and prevent hotness or infection. Ear furnishings should be checked daily for food deposits, burrs and thorns and any matts or tangles gently teased out.
No. The breed sheds quite prolifically throughout the year and therefore not suitable for allergy sufferers.
The breed is generally fairly healthy, but the following health issues have been noted in the breed, so do consult your breeder:
• Ear problems
• Eye problems
• Hip dysplasia
• Heart problems
• Canine epilepsy
A healthy dog should enjoy a life expectancy of between 12-15 years.
Puppies are normally available and pedigree puppies cost in the region of £600-£800. Litters tend to be produce between 1-7 puppies. There were 223 puppies registered with the Kennel Club in 2015.
A bitch weighing 12kgs requires 190gms of complete dry food per day.
A dog weighing 14kgs requires 221gms of complete dry food per day.
The weekly cost of feeding a bitch is around £4.00
The weekly cost of feeding a dog is around £4.50
Our estimates are based on feeding a slightly above average qualitycomplete food bought from a popular supermarket on the high street.
This is an estimate only, and doesn’t allow for higher activity levels of working dogs who may need above average amount of food due to higher exercise levels. Remember to deduct the appropriate amount of kibble if offering treats between meal times.
Remember to budget for other necessary routine treatment costs and procedures for your American Cocker Spaniel that are not covered by general pet insurance including:
• Worming preparations
• Flea treatments
• Annual vaccination boosters
• Dental treatments
Many veterinary practices now operate monthly budget schemes to allow you to spread the cost over the year.