The English Cocker is no doubt one of the oldest types of land spaniel. Their origins can be traced back to 14th century Spain. Prior to the 1600's all types of spaniels were categorised together; the larger ones being used to spring game and the smaller ones to flush out woodcock. Hence the names Springer and Cocker were derived. In 1892, the Kennel Club of Great Britain differentiated the two breeds separately. In the 1930's, the Cocker was the most popular breed of dog in Britain and there he stayed for almost 20 years! On the other side of the Atlantic, Americans were using the same breeding stock to develop a slightly different Cocker. In 1940, the Kennel Club then split these Spaniels into American and English.
English Cocker Spaniel American Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel has a delightful personality with a mischievous side that reflects a mind of its own. Typically described as jolly, sweet, smart, sociable and eager to please, the cocker has a spirited curiosity and makes an ideal companion.
Cockers are a medium-size dog breed with long ears and a happy disposition. The name Cocker comes from their use to hunt woodcock in England, although English Cockers have been used to hunt many other types of birds as well. They make great companion dogs for people who can give them the exercise they need.
Active dogs with much substance and bone, English Cocker Spaniels are well-balanced, compact little dogs. Their coats are flat and silky with plenty of feathering on the front legs. They cover the ground well, their great drive coming from their muscular back legs. The cocker has a characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness. They are highly intelligent dogs who are very easily trained. However, cockers can be easily stressed by by rough treatment or handling. Cockers are best suited to training with a soft hand and with lots of rewards and by this method, the Cocker Spaniel will be an obedient and loving companion with a happy, cheerful personality.
Spaniel type dogs have been found in art and literature for almost 500 years. 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. 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.