Best known for their long hanging ears, Cocker Spaniels make wonderful house pets Obedient and playful, Cocker Spaniels are friendly pets, but can be shy around strangers. Most Cocker Spaniels are good with children, and this breed requires a lot of human interaction to be happy. Cocker Spaniels are hugely popular in the United States, and are adaptable to a variety of living conditions. They are suited towards apartment life, but require plenty of exercise. Cocker Spaniels have high energy levels and stamina, and need to move around.
Cocker Spaniels are considered a mid-sized dog, measuring about 38 cm and weighing 15-30 pounds. The name "Cocker" is derived from "woodcock" - a bird these dogs were bred to flush out so their masters could shoot them. They originated in the UK in the mid-1800s, and were brought over to the United Stated and Canada where, through selective breeding, earned a distinct enough look to become the "American" Cocker (the "original" Cockers are called English Cocker Spaniels). The American Cocker was recognized as a purebred by the AKC in 1946. Cockers have excellent retrieving, hunting and watch dogging abilities. They are beautiful dogs are commonly seen in the dog shows circuit.
American Cocker Spaniels
Cocker Spaniels are prone to cataracts and glaucoma, as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. Dog allergies and liver disease are another concern pet owners should watch for. Some bloodlines are prone to heat problems, ectropion and entropion. Another health concern, common to Cocker Spaniels, is Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). Symptoms often include lethargy, blood in dog urine, yellowish or pale gums, and loss of appetite. It is a common, swift disease with an almost 100% mortality rate. Sadly, by the time symptoms have become prevalent it may already be too late for the dog; many Cockers die from this disease even with early detection and the best treatment.
Healthy Cocker Spaniels can expect to live 12-15 years, and an average litter yields 5 puppies. This breed is an average shedder, and normally requires quarterly trimmings and daily brushings. The area around the eyes (and the eyes) should be cleaned regularly to avoid the onset of infection.
American Cocker Spaniel Puppies
Because IMHA is a hereditary disease, it is important to find a good breeder when purchasing Cocker Spaniel puppies. Ask potential breeders if the parent dogs have been tested for genetic defects. Ask to meet the parents - if the breeder refuses, this is a sign that you should look somewhere else (with the exception that the breeder has used a parent that does not belong to the breeder - in that instance, meeting both parents would be impossible). The happiest Cocker Spaniels are the ones who have been socialized early - so try to purchase a Cocker that has been raised in a well-socialized environment. Puppies that are kept isolated in cages for the first few weeks of life will have difficulty bonding with you and your family - and they never may. Do not purchase a puppy younger than 8 weeks. While puppies at 5-6 weeks are able to eat on their own, they require at least two more weeks before they are taken away from their mother.