Archives for Nov. 4, 2013

Breed of the Week: English Cocker Spaniel

Breed of the Week: English Cocker Spaniel

Popular in both the U.S. and England, the cocker spaniel was originally bred as a gun dog that pushed game to hunters in the field. Originally, there were only two types of spaniels – those that hunted primarily on land and those that took to the water to retrieve game. Through time, those two classifications became more and more varied as specific breeds were developed. The cocker spaniel was used more on land (its name is derived from aptitude for woodcock hunting) and is among the oldest of gun-dog breeds – with its heritage dating to the first spaniels that came out of Spain more than 500 years ago.

As the happy-go-lucky cocker spaniel became more popular, and with the rise in conformation competition after 1885, a split took place in the breed – those dogs used for the field and those who competed in the ring. Most noticeably, field-bred cockers have a shorter coat and ears than conformation dogs, as well as a higher prey drive.

The cocker’s popularity soared in both realms, as well as in the pet world. In the show ring, the cocker has been the most successful breed at Crufts, winning Best in Show ...