Spaniel (American Cocker)

American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spanie dog breed has its own distinct look from its English Cocker cousin, with a rounder skull and more profuse, glamorous coat. He weighs approximately 11kg when fully grown, and adult males measure 37-39cm in height, and females 34-37cm. The coat comes in a range of colours and combinations, with specific markings. See the breed standard for full details.

  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys vigorous walks
  • Enjoys walking more than two hours a day
  • Medium dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog


The first Cocker Spaniel in America is said to have arrived with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. Settlers in subsequent centuries brought more with them to help explore and exploit the country's wildernesses. American Cockers were developed from the English Cocker dog breed in the 19th century, to retrieve quail and woodcock. They still retain some of their hunting instincts, but most are now commonly found in the show ring or as companions.


Merry is a word often used to describe this breed. He should be equable, confident and cheerful. Early, thorough socialisation is recommended to ensure he doesn't grow up to be fearful of strangers or novelty. He may not be as large as many gundogs, but this intelligent dog likes being busy and enjoys playing games and spending time with his family. He usually dislikes being left alone for long periods of time.


One of the most common problems encountered in the American Cocker Spaniel dog breed is recurrent ear infections, due to their large ear flaps. As with many breeds, they can suffer from kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas), various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.


The American Cocker dog breed ideally needs around two hours a day to exercise his body and mind. He enjoys retrieve games and often likes swimming in safe water. Do check his coat and ears after a walk to remove any grass seeds, twigs or other debris that might have been picked up.


Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.


The American Cocker dog breed's coat is glamorous – and high-maintenance. It is short and fine on the head, medium length on the body, but longer on the ears, chest, tummy and legs (known as feathering). The coat should be silky, flat or slightly wavy. Daily grooming is needed, together with regular trimming. Check ears, eyes, lip folds and feet daily.

Best Dog Breeds for Children

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children , all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.


Is this the right breed for you?

All dogs have their own, unique personality, but there are some instincts and behaviours hat they’re born with. Try our Dog Breed Selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle.

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What to consider next


It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption. Click here for more information.

Finding a good breeder

If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed. Click here for more information.

Welcoming your dog home

Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information.