English Cocker Spaniel

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English Cocker Spaniel
EnglishCockerSpaniel simon.jpg
Red English Cocker Spaniel
Other namesCocker Spaniel
NicknamesCocker, Cocker Spaniel
Country of originEngland
Traits
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
 
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English Cocker Spaniel
EnglishCockerSpaniel simon.jpg
Red English Cocker Spaniel
Other namesCocker Spaniel
NicknamesCocker, Cocker Spaniel
Country of originEngland
Traits
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The English Cocker Spaniel is a breed of gun dog. The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, good-natured, sporting dog [1] standing well up at the withers and compactly built.[2] There are "field" or "working" cockers and "show" cockers. It is one of several varieties of spaniel and somewhat resembles its American cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel, although it is closer to the working-dog form of the Field Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel.

Outside the US, the breed is usually known simply as the Cocker Spaniel, as is the American Cocker Spaniel within the US. The word cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock.[3]

History[edit]

A black coloured English Cocker Spaniel
A sable coloured English Cocker Spaniel
Red solid colour English Cocker Spaniel
English Cocker Spaniel


Spaniel type dogs have been found in art and literature for almost 500 years.[4] Initially, spaniels in England were divided among land spaniels and water spaniels. The differentiation among the spaniels that led to the breeds that we see today did not begin until the mid-19th century. During this time, the land spaniels became a bit more specialised and divisions among the types were made based upon weight. According to the 1840 Encyclopedia of Rural Sports, Cockers were 12–20 lb (5.5–9 kg).[4] At this time it was not uncommon for Cockers and Springers to come from the same litter. Even a puppy from a “Toy” sized lineage could grow to be a springer.[4]

There is no indication from these early sources that spaniels were used to retrieve game. Rather they were used to drive the game toward the guns.[4]

During the 1850s and 1860s, other types of Cockers were recorded. There were Welsh Cockers and Devonshire Cockers. Additionally, small dogs from Sussex Spaniel litters were called Cockers.[4] In 1874 the first stud books were published by the newly formed kennel club. Any spaniel under 25 lb (11 kg) was placed in the Cocker breeding pool, however the Welsh Cocker was reclassified as a Springer in 1903 due to its larger size and shorter ear.[4] "...in those days only those dogs up to a hard day’s work and sensible specimens were allowed to live, as absolute sporting purposes were about their only enjoyment and dog shows were hardly heard of...".[4]

The sport of conformation showing began in earnest among spaniels after the Spaniel Club was formed in 1885. When showing, the new Springer and Cocker, both were in the same class until The Spaniel Club created breed standards for each of the types. The Kennel Club separated the two types eight years later. Since then, the Springer and Cocker enthusiasts have bred in the separate traits that they desired. Today, the breed differ in more ways than weight alone.

At Crufts, the English Cocker Spaniel has been the most successful breed in winning Best in Show, winning on a total of seven occasions between 1928 and 2009, with wins in 1930, 1931, 1938, 1939, 1948, 1950 and 1996. In addition, the breed make up three of the four winners who have won the title on more than one occasion with all three coming from H.S. Lloyd's Ware kennel. Due to World War II, the English Cocker Spaniel managed to be the only breed to have won the title between 1938 and 1950, although the competition was only held on four occasions during that period. The most recent best in show was Sh. Ch. Canigou Cambrai in 1996.[5][6]

Field Spaniel[edit]

In the late 19th century with the increase in popularity of dog shows and the creation of standards for various breeds, the Spaniel family began to split into various different breeds. A group of enthusiasts decided to create a large black spaniel breed. Four dogs would act as progenitors for this new breed, of which two were Cocker Spaniels, one was a Cocker Spaniel/English Water Spaniel cross and one was a Norfolk Spaniel. This new breed was named the Field Spaniel, and was recognised by the Kennel Club in 1892.[7]

American Cocker Spaniel[edit]

The American Cocker Spaniel was developed from the English Cocker Spaniel in the 19th century to retrieve quail and woodcock. They were originally divided from the English Cocker solely on a size basis, but were bred over the years for different specific traits.[3] The two Cocker Spaniels were shown together in America until 1936, when the English Cocker received status as a separate breed. The American Kennel Club granted a separate breed designation for the English Cocker Spaniel in 1946.[2] The American breed has a shorter snout, is more likely to get ear infections, and is groomed differently from the English Cocker.

Description[edit]

The English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy, compact, well-balanced dog. It has a characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness. Its eyes should be dark and its lobular ears should reach "a bit past" the tip of the nose when pulled forward.[2] Today, a significant difference in appearance exists between field-bred and conformation show-bred dogs. The Cocker's tail is customarily docked in North America.[2] In countries where docking is legal, the tail is generally docked at about 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) in field-bred dogs while show dogs generally are docked closer to the body. Docking is now illegal in Australia, South Africa and Scotland. In England and Wales, docking can only be carried out on dogs where the owners have proved that the dogs will be used as working or shooting dogs.[8]

The breed standard indicates that the males of the breed are on average between 15.5–16 inches (39–41 cm) at the withers with the females a little smaller, growing to between 15–15.5 inches (38–39 cm). Both males and females of the breed weigh approximately 13–14.5 kilograms (29–32 lb).[9] American Cocker Spaniels are smaller, with the males being on average between 14.25–15.5 inches (36.2–39.4 cm), and females again being smaller on average at between 13.5–14.5 inches (34–37 cm), both weighing approximately 11–13 kilograms (24–29 lb).[3] The closely related English Springer Spaniels are larger than either types of cockers, growing to between 19–19.75 inches (48.3–50.2 cm) for the females, and 19.25–20 inches (48.9–50.8 cm) for the males, and weighing between 23–25 kilograms (51–55 lb).[10]

The English Cocker Spaniel is similar to the English Springer Spaniel and at first glance the only major difference is the larger size of the Springer. However English Cockers also tend to have longer, and lower-set ears than English Springers. In addition Springers also tend to have a longer muzzle, their eyes are not as prominent and the coat is less abundant.[11]

Colour[edit]

Solid black coloured English Cocker Spaniel

Breed standards restrict dogs to certain colours for the purposes of conformation showing (dependent on country), whereas working Cockers can be any of a wide variety of colours. For instance, the breed standard of the United Kingdom's Kennel Club states that in solid colours, no white is allowed except for on the chest.[9]

They come in solid (or "self"), particoloured, and roan types of markings. Roan is similar to merle, but consists of solid patches and white patches speckled or "ticked" with the same colour as the solid patches.

The colours themselves in the breed consist of black, liver with brown pigmentation, red with black or brown pigmentation, golden with black or brown pigmentation,[12] sable, silver, ash, black and tan, liver and tan,[13] blue roan, liver roan, orange roan with black or brown pigmentation, lemon roan with black or brown pigmentation, black and white ticked, liver and white ticked, orange and white ticked with black or brown pigmentation, lemon and white ticked with black or brown pigmentation,[14] black and white, liver and white with brown pigmentation, orange and white with black or brown pigmentation, lemon and white with black or brown pigmentation.[15]

Of the solid colours, sable is considered rare, and is classified by some countries as being a type of particolour on account of its mixed hair shafts. White is black/brown pigmentation is also considered rare, and is also usually classified as a particolour too. In addition a silver/ash colour, usually associated with the Weimaraner breed of dog, is considered genetically possible but is yet to be recorded by the United Kingdom's Kennel Club.[13] Of the roan varieties, lemon roan with a light brown pigmentation is the most recessive of all the roans.[14] Plain white Cockers are rarely born, and are thought to be more prone to deafness than those with more pigmentation. As such they are generally not encouraged in the breed.[15]


Temperament[edit]

Cockers are athletic, alert and make great family pets.

Cockers are compassionate, determined, kind, intelligent, athletic, alert and resilient and make great family pets.[16] The breed does not like being alone,[17] and will bond strongly to an individual person in a family, usually the one who feeds it. Known for optimism, intelligence and adaptability, the breed is extremely loyal and affectionate. The English Cocker Spaniel has a cheerful nature. They rank 18th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being of excellent working/obedience intelligence.[18] Due to the breed's happy disposition and continuously wagging tail, it has been given the nickname "merry cocker".[19] They can also be dominant but loyal to their companion.

With a good level of socialisation at an early age, Cocker Spaniels can get well along with people, children, other dogs and other pets.[20] This breed seems to have a perpetually wagging tail and prefers to be around people; it is not best suited to the backyard alone. Cockers can be easily stressed by loud noises and by rough treatment or handling. When trained with a soft hand and with lots of rewards, the Cocker Spaniel will be an obedient and loving companion with a happy, cheerful nature.[21]

Health[edit]

English Cocker with puppies


English Cocker Spaniels in UK and USA/Canada have an average lifespan of 11 to 12 years,[22] which is a typical longevity for purebred dogs, but a little less than most other breeds of their size.[23] The English Cocker Spaniel typically lives about a year longer than the smaller American Cocker Spaniel.[22]

In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (30%), old age (17%), cardiac (9%), and "combinations" (7%).[24]

In 1998 and 2002 USA/Canada Health Surveys, the leading causes of death were old age (40%) and cancer (22%).[25][26]

Common health issues with English Cockers are bite problems, skin allergies, shyness, cataracts, deafness (affecting 6.3% of the dogs of this breed[27]), aggression towards other dogs, and benign tumours.[26]

Some uncommon health issues that can also have an effect on English Cocker Spaniels include canine hip dysplasia, patellar lunation, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, and heart murmurs. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint which is the most common cause of canine arthritis in the hips.[28] Patellar Lunation, also known as luxating patella, refers to the dislocation of the kneecap. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is an adult onset condition which occurs when the heart muscle is weak and does not contract properly. It can lead to congestive heart failure, which is where fluid accumulates in the lungs, chest, abdominal cavities, or under the skin.[29][30] Dilated cardiomyopathy is often accompanied by abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias which can complicate treatment.[29]

Rage Syndrome[edit]

Rage syndrome is most often associated with the Show Cocker Spaniel breed, although cases have been found in other breeds and cases are relatively rare even within the Cocker Spaniel breed. Rage Syndrome is described as when a dog attacks suddenly and savagely, without any warning and during the attack the dog often has a glazed look and appears to be unaware of its surroundings. Rage Syndrome can affect any and all breeds. Though not a common ailment, studies have found it is more common in solid coloured Cockers than in particolours and also more common in darker coloured Cockers than lighter coloured Cockers, being most common in solid gold and black coloured spaniels. Their health issues are typical for a purebred dog breed; however they are closely associated with rage syndrome even though cases are really quite rare. Rage syndrome cannot be accurately predicted and can only be diagnosed by EEG or genetic testing and these tests are not conclusive.[31][32] A link between coat colour and temperament has been proposed.[33] This link could be the colour pigment melanin, which is biochemically similar to chemicals that act as transmitters in the brain. A study made by the University of Cambridge involving over 1,000 Cocker Spaniel households throughout Britain concluded that solid colour Cockers were more likely to be aggressive in 12 out of 13 situations. Red/golden Cockers were shown to be the most aggressive of all, in situations involving strangers, family members, while being disciplined, and sometimes for no apparent reason.[34][35] A study by Spanish researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona revealed a similar link between golden Cockers and aggression. Males were also more likely to be aggressive. The study found the English Cocker Spaniel to have the highest level of owner- and stranger- directed aggression compared to other breeds.[35][36]

Working Cockers[edit]

A field-bred English Cocker Spaniel
Field Cocker Spaniel

This breed, like many others with origins as working dogs, has some genetic lines that focus on working-dog skills and other lines that focus on ensuring that the dog's appearance conforms to a breed standard; these are referred to as the "working" (or "field-bred") and "conformation" strains, respectively. After World War II, Cocker Spaniels bred for pets and for the sport of conformation showing increased enormously in popular appeal, and, for a while, was the most numerous Kennel Club registered breed. This popularity increased the view that all Cockers were useless as working dogs.[37] However, for most dogs this is untrue, as even some show-bred Cockers have retained their working instinct.[38]

Today, this breed is experiencing a resurgence in usage as a working and hunting dog. Dogs from working lines are noticeably distinct in appearance. As is the case with the English Springer Spaniel, the working type has been bred exclusively to perform in the field as a hunting companion. Their coat is shorter and ears less pendulous than the show-bred type. Although registered as the same breed, the two strains have diverged significantly enough that they are rarely crossed.[37] The dogs that have dominated the hunt test, field trial and hunting scene in the United States are field-bred dogs from recently imported English lines.[39] Working-dog lines often have physical characteristics that would prevent them from winning in the show ring. This is a result of selecting for different traits than those selected by show breeders. The longer coat and ears, selected for the show ring, are an impediment in the field.[2] Cuban authorities train and use English Cocker Spaniels as sniffer dogs to check for drugs or food products in passengers' baggage at Cuban airports.[40]

Skills[edit]

A field-bred cocker spaniel is first and foremost an upland flushing dog. In performing this task there are some skills the dog must be trained to perform.[41]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Google books Cocker Spaniel
  2. ^ a b c d e "American Kennel Club: English Cocker Spaniel". Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c "Dog Breeds:American Cocker Spaniel". www.petplanet.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Kolehouse, Bobbie. "Dusting off History to Look at Cocker Hunting Tradition Part I". Spaniel Journal. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Cruft's Past Supreme Champions". Pub Quiz Help.com. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  6. ^ "Besti hundur sýningar á Crufts, frá árunum 1928-2002" (in Icelandic). Hvuttar.net. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "The History of the Field Spaniel". Lyndongraey. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Defra, UK - Animal Health and Welfare". Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  9. ^ a b "The Cocker Spaniel Club: Breed Standard". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "English Springer Spaniel". Petplanet.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  11. ^ Gormish, Denise. "A comparison of English Springer Spaniels, American Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels". English Cocker Spaniel Club of America. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  12. ^ Davis, Jinty Gill (9 September 2000). "Understanding Cocker Colours, Patterns and Markings Page 1". The Cocker Spaniel Club. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Davis, Jinty Gill (9 September 2000). "Understanding Cocker Colours, Patterns and Markings Page 2". The Cocker Spaniel Club. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Davis, Jinty Gill (9 September 2000). "Understanding Cocker Colours, Patterns and Markings Page 3". The Cocker Spaniel Club. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Davis, Jinty Gill (9 September 2000). "Understanding Cocker Colours, Patterns and Markings Page 4". The Cocker Spaniel Club. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  16. ^ "English Cocker Spaniels". TerrificPets.com. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "English Cocker Spaniel Secrets". Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  18. ^ Stanley Coren. "The Intelligence of Dogs: Ranks 11 to 26". 
  19. ^ "English Cocker Spaniel". PuppyDogWeb.com. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  20. ^ Coile, D. Caroline (2006). The Cocker Spaniel Handbook. Barron's Educational Series Inc. ISBN 978-0-7641-3459-3.
  21. ^ Coile (2006): p. 13
  22. ^ a b Cassidy, Kelly M. (2007). "Dog Longevity Web Site, Breed Data page". Retrieved 5 July 2007. 
  23. ^ Cassidy, Kelly M. (2007). "Dog Longevity Web Site, Weight and Longevity page". Retrieved 5 July 2007. 
  24. ^ "Summary results of the Purebred Dog Health Survey for English Cocker Spaniels". Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee. 2004. Retrieved 5 July 2007. 
  25. ^ Slater, Margaret horrid henry !R. (1998). "English Cocker Spaniel Health Survey Final Report". English Cocker Spaniel Club of America. Retrieved 8 July 2007. 
  26. ^ a b Slater, Margaret R. (2002). "The 2002 English Cocker Spaniel Health Survey Report". English Cocker Spaniel Club of America. Retrieved 8 July 2007. 
  27. ^ "Breed-Specific Deafness Incidence In Dogs (percent)". Lsu.edu. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  28. ^ "Workingdogs.com Canine hip dysplasia". Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  29. ^ a b "Pets.ca Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs". VetCentric.com. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  30. ^ "Proceeding of the NAVC (North American Veterinary Conference)". www.ivis.org. 8–12 January 2005. Retrieved 14 July 2007. 
  31. ^ Ward, Linda (2002). "Rage Syndrome in Cocker Spaniels". Dogstuff.info. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  32. ^ "Rage Syndrome Information Centre". Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  33. ^ "Smith College: Research on pleiotropy in dogs". friendlypettraining.com. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  34. ^ Podberscek AL & Serpell J A (1996) The English Cocker Spaniel: preliminary findings on aggressive behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 47: 75-89 cited by Linda Ward (2002). "Rage syndrome". self-published. 
  35. ^ a b Viegas, Jennifer (22 May 2009). "World's Meanest Dog: The English Cocker Spaniel?". Discovery News. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  36. ^ Amat, Marta; Xavier Manteca, Valentina M. Mariotti, José Luís Ruiz de la Torre, Jaume Fatjó (May 2009). "Aggressive behavior in the English cocker spaniel". Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra: School of Veterinary Medicine) 4 (3): Pages 111–17. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2008.08.010. Retrieved 13 September 2009. 
  37. ^ a b "Show Bred vs Working Cockers". Petwave.com. Retrieved 5 September 2009. [dead link]
  38. ^ Moxon, P.R. (1960s). "The Cocker Spaniel as a Gundog". Felsteadgundogs.com. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  39. ^ Thoms, Jerry (December 2002). "Pocket Rockets". Gun Dog Magazine. [dead link]
  40. ^ "Travel research, planning and reports: Cuba". Darshama.net. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 
  41. ^ "English Cocker Spaniel: Temperament". Petwave.com. Retrieved 5 September 2009. 

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