American Cocker Spaniel

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About American Cocker Spaniel

24-30 lb
12-15 years
AKC Sporting Group
Best Suited For
families with older children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with yards
Even-tempered, friendly, obedient, loyal
Comparable Breeds
English Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel
13.5-15.5 inches
American Cocker Spaniel Basics

If you are looking for a small, friendly dog then look no further than the American Cocker Spaniel. With its floppy ears, soft coat and friendly eyes, this breed makes the perfect pet. There are actually two different types of Cocker Spaniel – the American and the English. Both dogs were bred from the same breed but split during the 1920s.

Don’t let this dog’s silky coat fool you – this breed is a talented sporting breed, originally bred to hunt woodcock in England. In fact, the American Cocker Spaniel is the smallest dog recognized by the AKC in the Sporting Group. Though the American Cocker Spaniel can still be used for hunting, it is also very popular as a family pet, loved for its loyalty and intelligence.

If you are looking for a small, friendly dog then look no further than the American Cocker Spaniel.


The name “spaniel” refers to a type of dog that was imported into England from Spain during the late 1100s. Over time, selective breeding resulted in the development of the Cocker or Cocking Spaniel, a small dog used primarily to flush woodcock. The first English Cocker Spaniels arrived in the United States during the 1600s and, over time, an American variant of the breed began to emerge. In 1946, the American Kennel Club recognized the American Cocker Spaniel as a separate breed from the English Cocker Spaniel and added it to the Sporting Group. Years later, in 1968, the English Kennel Club did the same.


The American Cocker Spaniel originated from the English Cocker Spaniel which were bred down in size upon their arrival in the United States.


The American Cocker Spaniel is prone to obesity, so it is important that you provide a healthy diet but do not overfeed your dog. A dog food formulated for small breed dogs or healthy weight management is recommended.

The American Cocker Spaniel rated very high in trainability.


When tested against other breeds, the American Cocker Spaniel rated very high in trainability, particularly in its ability to show restraint and delayed response to a trigger. These dogs are very intelligent and eager to please, so they tend to do very well with obedience training and can even be successful in some forms of agility. The key to training these dogs properly is to use positive reinforcement and to maintain consistency throughout the training process. Early socialization is also important for this breed to ensure that it gets along well with children, other dogs and people.


The average weight for the American Cocker Spaniel is between 24 and 30 pounds – females of the breed usually weigh a little less than males.


The American Cocker Spaniel is known for its even temperament and trainability. These dogs are incredibly obedient when properly trained and they tend to be very friendly around people. This breed does require plenty of attention and interaction – an American Cocker Spaniel will not do well if left alone for long periods of time. They can also become stressed by loud noise and rough handling, so they may not be the right choice for a family with small children.

Common Health Problems

In comparison to other breeds of similar size, the American Cocker Spaniel has a slightly shorter average lifespan, partially due to certain common health problems. The American Cocker Spaniel is particularly prone to ear infections and several eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Unfortunately, the popularity of this breed in its early years led to irresponsible breeding by puppy mills and backyard breeders which also increased the proliferation of these and other health problems.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy of this breed is 12 to 15 years.

Exercise Requirements

The American Cocker Spaniel is an energetic dog, capable of working without tiring for long periods of time. This being the case, a long daily walk is recommended as well as plenty of time outdoors. Proper exercise will to prevent this dog from developing problems behaviors such as excess barking or chewing.

These dogs are incredibly obedient when properly trained and they tend to be very friendly around people.


The American Cocker Spaniel was recognized by the AKC in 1873 and continues to be a member of the Sporting Group.


Perhaps the most iconic feature of the American Cocker Spaniel is its medium-length, silky coat. The coat of this breed may be either wavy or flat and it comes in a variety of colors. Though many colors are possible, the three main colorations are divided into categories: black, ASCOB and parti-colors. The ASCOB group includes all solid colors other than black and the parti-colored group includes dogs with large areas of white accompanied by other colors. Due to the length and texture of the American Cocker Spaniel’s coat, frequent brushing and grooming is recommended. When taking the dog for walks, care should be taken to avoid burrs and brush getting stuck in the dog’s coat.


American Cocker Spaniel puppies can be a little clumsy and they can be more than a little curious, so you need to keep a close eye on them. Socialization is especially important from a young age because these dogs can become a little aggressive toward other dogs if not properly socialized. Due to the trainability of this breed, housetraining American Cocker Spaniel puppies is usually not much of a challenge.

Photo credit: Томасина/Wikimedia; Ryan Johnson/Wikimedia; Adam Johnson/Wikimedia

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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