The origin of the English cocker spaniel dog breed is very old, but it was only recognised as a separate breed in 1873. Originally, this dog was known as a cocking spaniel because of its ability to lift woodcocks into the air. In fact, the English cocker spaniel was originally a hunting dog and a very skilful one at that, but its character made it also an excellent companion dog.
The breed is mentioned as far back as the 4th century BC. The Macedonian coins of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, depict a hunting scene, and next to the hunters there are two different types of dogs, one taller and slimmer, most probably a greyhound, and one shorter and with a very long coat, which bears a striking resemblance to today’s English cocker spaniel.
Other theories believe that these dogs were brought to Europe by the Phoenicians, while the most credible version is that they came from continental Europe, probably brought by soldiers returning from the Crusades and where autonomous types of spaniels developed, including the Spanish ones which were among the most renowned.
However, the original dogs of this breed were bred by Mr Buddett who mated a black flaming male named Frank and a black and white female named Venus and on the 14th June that year a litter of puppies was born including a black coated male named Obo.
Obo was bought by James Farrow, a spaniel breeder, who presented him at shows and awarded him the title of champion, thus becoming the progenitor of the English cocker spaniel.
As with many other breeds, today there is a difference between the subjects destined for hunting and those destined for companionship or exhibition; the former are less robust and heavy. The former are less robust and heavier. In addition to hunting, this breed is also very good at truffle hunting.
Character of the English cocker spaniel dog breed
The English cocker spaniel is a very sensitive, affectionate, fearless, dynamic and also docile dog. It has a strong social instinct which makes it suitable for living in a family and with other animals, including cats. He is very cuddly, always tries to be the centre of attention and loves to play, making him a suitable dog for children, as long as they do not pull on his ears or shout very loudly, which annoys him greatly.
It has a great need for physical exercise, to be stimulated with agility games, it is therefore suitable for sporty and non-sedentary people. He needs on average at least one hour of exercise, including running and jogging.
Even with strangers, it makes friends very quickly, so it is not considered a guard dog even if it barks if it hears something it does not know, indeed it barks very often, so this should be considered if you live in a flat.
It is considered to be a somewhat stubborn dog, but it is intelligent and can be trained quite easily if one follows constant lines and does not break the rules, because with that expression which makes it always look sad, it is easily spoilt. By nature it is considered very brave and fearless, it does not care about dangers and exceeds in exuberance and vivacity. It becomes gloomy and suffers greatly when forced into a sedentary and solitary life.
Appearance of the English cocker spaniel dog breed
The English cocker spaniel is considered a small to medium-sized dog. Its height at the withers ranges from 39 to 41 centimetres and its weight is around 12 kilograms, with females usually weighing slightly less.
Its body is compact, robust and very elegant in its lines and with a well-developed muscular structure. The limbs are straight with a solid and well-proportioned bone structure and the paws are provided with very thick pads. The tail, which is always in motion, is slightly lower than the dorsal line, its gait is loose, decisive, ample and with great stride and grip.
The muzzle is square, the truffle is wide, the ears are set low at eye level and are covered with fur, they are long and drooping down to the truffle. The eyes are never clear, they are very sweet and give it a lively and cheerful expression, although when it wants something it is very good at making a sad face.
The coat is smooth, silky and long, a little wavy in some areas. The forelegs, trunk and hindlegs above the hocks are very well fringed. It can be bicoloured, tricoloured or uniform in colour, the colours being various: red, fawn, black, blue, brown, liver, lemon, orange.
Health and care of the English cocker spaniel dog breed
Unfortunately, this breed is prone to a number of genetic disorders, including hip dysplasia, familial nephropathy and progressive retinal atrophy. Congenital deafness is also a problem in this breed; it is estimated that around 6% of cockers are born deaf.
It is important that breeders do accurate genetic testing and keep track of the health of the parents. However, it is a long-lived breed, in fact the average life expectancy is about 14-15 years.
As far as the care of the coat is concerned, this must be frequent. It needs brushing to remove boils and other plant debris, and it needs shearing about every two months. The eyes and ears must also be carefully cleaned, as they are easily soiled due to their length.
It is a dog which, if it does not follow a correct diet and does not exercise daily, tends to put on weight easily.