The English Cocker Spaniel is a popular breed of hunting dog that is known simply as the Cocker Spaniel outside of the United States. It is differentiated from the American Cocker Spaniel in that it is considered to have more sporting dog characteristics. There are two groups of English Cocker Spaniels, commonly referred to as Show Cocker Spaniels and Working Cocker Spaniels. The word cocker is thought to originate from the hunting dogs’ use in the hunting of woodcock.
These hunting dogs were bred to have excellent noses and can find a scent at ground level in thick brush. They use air and ground scenting equally. Although more compact in build, the English Cocker Spaniel has all the stamina and strength of a much bigger hunting dog. Its smaller size may be a disadvantage in small cover, but this hunting dog breed makes an excellent marker and a good retriever. These hunting dogs are more suited for upland hunting than for water work, but can enter the water if necessary, usually in a cautious and deliberate way.
English Cocker Spaniels are considered to be very intelligent and trainable hunting dogs. They are very intelligent, so trainers should make sure to be flexible and switch up their training methods as smarter hunting dogs can get bored with the same old strategies and become willful or manipulative. Harsh training should be avoided with these hunting dogs, as it can cause behavior problems.
The English Cocker Spaniel is often coveted for its long, wavy, silky coat, which gives it a beautiful appearance. It demands more grooming than shorthaired bird dogs, but the results can be well worth it. These hunting dogs’ coats can come in a wide array of colors, from shades of black and brown to lemon or orange variants. This hunting dog breed has a sturdy and compact build, reaching up to 15-17 inches tall at the shoulder and up to 26-34 pounds in weight.
These hunting dogs make extraordinarily good family pets. They are warm and sociable and tend to bond strongly to one individual in a household. They do not do well when left alone and are prone to separation anxiety, so they do best in an environment with one or more people at home on a regular basis. They are also very athletic and need regular exercise in order to stave off boredom and bad behavior. The bird dog also has a habit of barking at anything new it sees or hears, but good training and daily activity should yield a healthy, well-behaved hunting dog.
This hunting dog has an average lifespan of 11-12 years. “Show” English Cocker Spaniels are associated with more health risks than those of the breed that are used for hunting. Rage syndrome is associated with these hunting dogs, which is a syndrome in which a dog attacks without provocation, often with a glazed look in their eyes and an unawareness of their surroundings. This is very rare, but it is associated with this gun dog. Common health issues with this dog breed include allergies, cataracts, aggressiveness, and deafness. Any hunting dog that one wishes to purchase or breed should be screened for heritable health issues such as hip dysplasia (less common with English Cocker Spaniels), eye conditions, and cardiac conditions.
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