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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > American Cocker Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel & Spring Spaniel Mix): Pictures, Info & Care

American Cocker Spaniel (English Toy Spaniel & Spring Spaniel Mix): Pictures, Info & Care

American Cocker Spaniel standing near lake

It’s hard to resist the big, brown eyes of an American Cocker Spaniel. You take one look into them and immediately want to bring them home to cuddle up with for the rest of their life. It is the smallest of all the Spaniels which are believed to have originated from Spain.

Breed Overview


13.5 – 15.5 inches


20 – 30 pounds


10 – 14 years


 Black, white, red, tan, brown, silver

Suitable for:

Families who are active during the day and enjoy lounging at night


Highly intelligent, gentle, loving, happy

Spaniels were bred to assist bird hunters. These dogs are the smallest of all sporting dogs and made by breeding English Toy Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels. There are now two varieties of Cocker Spaniels in America: American and English.

The American Cocker Spaniel wasn’t always the most popular dog breed. Still, over time their adaptability and friendliness has brought them into more households and made them a breed loved by many.

American Cocker Spaniels Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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American Cocker Spaniel Puppies

american cocker spaniel puppy dog sitting on grass outdoors
Image Credit: Eudyptula, Shutterstock

You won’t like an American Cocker Spaniel at home if you want a dog that dozes the day away. These dogs were made to complete a job, and they enjoy having both physical and mental stimulation. Although it isn’t as high as other breeds, keeping them moving leads to better behavior and health later on.

It’s normal to want a companion that is going to stick around for a significant part of your and your family’s life. American Cocker Spaniels don’t have the longest lifespan of all breeds, but they do rank on the higher side.

As if you didn’t already know, this breed is famous for its friendliness. They are affectionate and kind to family, kids, and other dogs. Because they are so loyal, they do tend to get a little less comfortable around strangers, but it all depends on how they were brought up.

Parent_breeds_American Cocker Spaniel
Image Credit: Left-  Volker Glätsch, Pixabay | Right – D_Theodora, Pixabay

Temperament & Intelligence of the American Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels have softer personalities than other breeds. Even though they are friendly, they are also a bit nervous at times.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Most families are worried about how the dog breed is going to do with their children. One of the characteristics that makes this breed a good family dog is their tolerance for children and wanting to play all the time. Like all dogs, they like to be treated with respect, so if you have kids that might not treat them with kindness, you may want to find a different pet to bring home. Even though Cocker Spaniels tend to do well with children, they are highly sensitive and should always be supervised around young kids.

Does This Dog Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Introducing your Cocker Spaniel to other dogs and pets the right way is the key to having a dog with social skills. The earlier you allow your dog to interact with other animals, the less likely an altercation will occur in the future. They don’t do the best in new, unfamiliar situations, so if you do plan to bring another pet into the house, take some time and socialize them properly before leaving the two animals unsupervised together.

American Cocker Spaniel sitting on the bench
Image By: Carola Kpunkt, Pixabay


Things to Know When Owning an American Cocker Spaniel:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

American Cocker Spaniels are relatively small animals. Even though they’re active, they don’t require a lot of food. Give them 1 to 2 cups of high-quality kibble every day and ensure they always have plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Cocker Spaniels don’t need a lot of food, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want a lot of food. This breed is always ready to eat, so you have to be careful not to overfeed them or let them snack. They quickly become overweight, which leads to serious health issues in the future.

Exercise 🐕

Cocker Spaniels have an active history. They don’t have the same activity demands as they used to, but they still enjoy taking at least 30 to 60 minutes every day for some sort of activity. A brisk, 30-minute walk is a suitable exercise for your Spaniel. If you bring them home and they still have some energy, take them outside to run around or play with them indoors to get rid of some of their excess energy.

Training 🎾

This breed is highly-trainable using positive reinforcement and repetitive action. Yelling loudly while training them and not properly socializing them could lead to behavioral issues down the road. Be gentle but consistent with this breed to award good behaviors and show them what you expect of them.

American Cocker Spaniel playing by the beach
Image By: Carola Kpunkt, Pixabay

Grooming ✂️

Grooming an American Cocker Spaniel is one of the biggest challenges to owning these dogs. They have thick, wavy coats that are shorter on their head and longer on their backs, sides, chest, legs, and belly. Unless you have the training, taking them to a groomer is a necessity. These dogs require a bath, brush, and nail trim every 6 weeks. On top of that, they benefit from daily brushes at home.

Some dog owners choose to cut their dog’s hair short to prolong visits between each grooming appointment. Even if you do this, they must still be taken every 6 to 8 weeks to keep them used to being groomed, so they don’t shy away from it for future appointments.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Though Cocker Spaniels are excellent dogs, they have a few more health conditions than other breeds. These conditions are sometimes unavoidable and could require you to pay some hefty vet bills in the future.

Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Primary seborrhea
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia
  • Patellar luxation


Male vs Female

Male Cocker Spaniels may be bigger and heavier than the females, but the females tend to have more dominant personalities than the males. Female spaniels often have independent personalities and are usually more stubborn than boys.

With that said, the males are more focused and get less distracted. This focus means that males are usually easier to train and are a better choice if using them as working dogs.

3 Little-Known Facts About the American Cocker Spaniels

1. They were one of the first of all breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The Cocker Spaniel was within the first nine breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club when it started in 1884. Even though they became recognized, they weren’t popular house pets. It wasn’t until a black Cocker Spaniel named Brucie won Westminster’s Best in Show for two years in a row, 1940 and 1941, that American households started buying these breeds and welcoming them as their new family pets.

2. They are named after birds.

Cocker spaniels were once used in hunting birds and other small animals. The dog’s job was to locate the prey and push them towards to hunter to help make the kill. Because of this job, they became incredibly intelligent and a master at teamwork.

Over time, this breed became known for hunting Woodcocks, an especially difficult prey to hunt. They became masters at flushing out this species, and eventually, they were gifted a name that would remind all owners of the future what they were once best at.

3. They excel at sports.

Cocker Spaniels may be the smallest of all sports breeds, but that doesn’t mean they are the underdog. American Cocker Spaniels are quick, agile, and intelligent enough to follow directions. These skills make them great for both sport and show.

Cocker Spaniels used to flush out Woodcocks, but they’ve now turned their focus towards speed, agility, and obstacle courses, and their skills have awarded them considerably. They are natural athletes and deserve a family who can keep up with them.

american cocker spaniel
Image By: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

American Cocker Spaniels weren’t always as famous as they are today. It wasn’t until they started winning awards at major dog shows that people took an interest in the companion abilities instead of their hunting abilities. Thankfully, dog owners now have a deep appreciation for this breed, and they have become one of the most well-known dog types around the world.

If you’re looking for a best friend who is friendly, trainable, and loving, the American Cocker Spaniel could be the perfect fit. These dogs love to be by their owner’s side, and their loyalty is unmatched compared to some other spaniel breeds.

Featured Image Credit: lkoimages, Shutterstock

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