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Old 11-12-2009, 04:25 PM   #18
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The American Cocker Spaniel is a medium size breed of dog. It is one of the Spaniel type breeds, similar to the English Cocker Spaniel, and was originally bred as a gun dog. In the United States, the breed is usually referred to as the Cocker Spaniel, while in Canada and elsewhere in the world, it is called the American Cocker Spaniel. The word cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock in England. Although the Cocker Spaniel type originated in the United Kingdom, by the 1940s the American breed was recognized as distinct from the English breed.


The American Cocker Spaniel is a medium sized dog of normal proportions, with medium long silky fur on the body and ears, hanging down on the legs and belly (feathering). The head has a rounded look and the ears hang down (drop ears). The tail is often docked, though is only required for show, and is recommended for American Cocker Spaniels who hunt. Coat colors are described extensively in the Standard.[1] The English Cocker Spaniel has a more rectangular head, a shorter coat, and is larger.[2]
[edit] Height and Weight

American Cocker Spaniels have an ideal size of 14.2-15.4 inches (36-39 cm) at the withers for male dogs and 14.2-15.4 inches (34-37 cm) for females. The breed standard states that size over 15.5 inches for males and 14.5 inches for females is a disqualification at a breed show, in order to discourage the breeding of oversize dogs.[1] Both sex weigh to approximately 11-13 kgs (24.3–28.6 lbs).[3]
[edit] Head

The head of an American Cocker Spaniel makes the breed immediately recognizable, with the rounded dome of the skull, well-pronounced stop, and square lip. The drop ears are long, low set, with long silky fur, and the eyes are dark, large, and rounded.[4]

A Buff Parti-color and an ASCOB American cocker spaniel.
A red merle american cocker spaniel.

The American Cocker Spaniel is usually kept as a companion dog, since "very few are used for hunting any more."[5] As pets and showdogs, the breed's coat and the colors of the coat have taken on great importance, as they are very beautiful if well groomed and cared for.[4] The coat should never be curly or have a cottony texture, but should be silky and flat, short on the head and medium length on the body, with an undercoat.[6] Colors are divided in to categories:

* Black, including
o Solid black
o Black with tan points
* ASCOB (Any Solid Color Other than Black), defined as any color with or without tan points, and only a very small amount of white
o Buff (Most common color, looks like a very light tan usually.[7])
o Brown (Chocolate)
* Parti-color and other colors
o Tricolor, including
+ black and white with tan points
+ black and white
+ brown and white
+ brown and white with tan points (brown tri)
+ red and white.
o Roan (individual colored hairs mingled in with white hairs), with or without tan points
+ blue roan or black
+ orange roan or red
+ liver or chocolate roan, shades of brown
* Sable (no longer recognized by the American Spaniel Club, meaning that breeding dogs of this color is discouraged by the American Spaniel Club.)
* Merle (not recognized by the American Spaniel Club, meaning that breeding dogs of this color is discouraged by the American Spaniel Club.)(see below for more information.)
o Blue Merle (Also known as a black merle)
o Blue Merle Parti
o Blue/Black, Chocolate/Brown Merle Parti with tan points
o Chocolate/Brown Merle Parti
o Buff/Red Merle
o Brown Merle (Also known as chocolate merle)

The merle gene is actually a gene that controls color. A merle dog (M) bred to a dog of any other color (X) will result in a dog of color X with dappled, lightened patches of the coat and possible blue eyes. A merle bred to another merle, however, will usually produce white, possibly deaf and blind puppies. [8] A merle cocker spaniel can be registered but not shown. Merle is sometimes referred to as a "deadly gene", in that it causes various ailments; this is only true when breeding two merles together. [9]

The location and size of tan points for black and ASCOB dogs is described in detail in the Standard.

See the article dog terminology for an explanation of terms.
[edit] History

Spaniels were hunting dogs brought from Spain to England, where the type was developed into a gun dog for hunting small game, especially birds, and the name Cocker was described in 1904 as having been derived from its use in hunting woodcocks.[10]

The Cocker Spaniel was recognized as a breed in England in 1892, separating it from Springer Spaniels; until that time, Cockers and Springers would be born into the same litter, and were only separated out into the distinct types when fully grown.[4] Another dog used in the development of the early Cockers was the English Setter, resulting in the roan coats still seen in the breed. Brought to North America in the late 1800s, the development of Cockers in England and Cockers in North America began to diverge into two different breeds, although breeding between the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel was permitted until 1946, when the stud book was closed.[4]

The first Cocker Spaniel registered in the United States' American Kennel Club was "Captain", in 1878, and the American Spaniel Club was formed in 1881, although both the English and American varieties were very similar at that time. The Westminster Dog Show was won in 1921 by a parti-color Cocker (black and white), Ch. Midkiff Seductive.[11]

Over time, the Cocker Spaniels in the United States became smaller than the English dogs, and, in dog shows, separate categories (called 'classes') were created in 1935 for the English variety and the American variety of Cocker Spaniel. In 1938, the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America decided to discourage breeding between the varieties, and defined the English Cocker Spaniel as those whose pedigrees included dogs that were or were eligible to have been registered with The Kennel Club (UK) before 1930. Much research of pedigrees was done by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge and others, and in June, 1946, the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel were recognized by the American Kennel Club as separate breeds.[12]
[edit] Health
[edit] Mortality

American Cocker Spaniels in UK and USA/Canada surveys had a median lifespan of about 10-11 years,[13] which is on the low end of the typical range for purebred dogs, and 1-2 years less than other breeds of their size.[14] The larger English Cocker Spaniel typically lives about a year longer than the American Cocker Spaniel.[13] In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (23%), old age (20%), cardiac (8%), and immune-mediated (8%).[15] In a 2003 USA/Canada Health Survey with a smaller sample size, the leading causes of death were cancer, hepatic disease, and immune-mediated[16]
[edit] Morbidity

American Cocker Spaniels are susceptible to a variety of maladies, particularly infections affecting their ears and, in some cases, their eyes. An unknown percentage of the breed may require medical attention. Although the number or percent of afflicted dogs is not known the following eye conditions have been identified in some members of the breed: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), glaucoma, and cataracts. The American Spaniel Club recommends annual eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist for all dogs that are bred. Autoimmune problems in Cockers have also been identified in an unknown number or percent of the breed, including autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA). Ear inflammations are common in drop-eared breeds of dog. Luxating patellas and hip dysplasia have been identified in some American Cocker Spaniels. Puppy buyers should make sure that breeders have checked their sires and dams for these conditions. Dogs free of hip dysplasia can be certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
[edit] "Rage Syndrome"

Rage Syndrome is described as when a dog attacks suddenly and savagely, without any warning and during the attack the dog often has a glazed look and appears to be unaware of its surroundings. A study in the 1990s of English Cocker Spaniels in Britain found it is more common in solid colored Cockers than in particolors and also more common in darker colored Cockers than lighter colored Cockers, being most common in solid black colored spaniels. Rage syndrome is most often associated with the English Cocker Spaniel breed, although cases have been found in other breeds. Cases are relatively rare even within the English Cocker Spaniel breed. Rage syndrome cannot be accurately predicted and can only be diagnosed by EEG or genetic testing and these tests are not conclusive. There are no studies linking 'rage syndrome' to the American Cocker Spaniel. [17][18]
[edit] Temperament

The American Cocker Spaniel breed standard defines the ideal dog of the breed as having an outgoing, friendly temperament. They tend to be soft dogs who do not do well with rough or harsh training. The breed ranks 20th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, a rating that indicates good "Working or Obedience Intelligence", or trainability.[19]
[edit] Activities

Although primarily companions and pets, the hunting instincts of American Cocker Spaniels can be tested in Spaniel Hunting Tests offered by the American Kennel Club. The American Spaniel Club also offers a Working Certificate for American Cocker Spaniels.[20]
[edit] Notability
[edit] Famous American Cocker Spaniels

* Ch. My Own Brucie, won two Westminster Kennel Club Dog Shows (1940, 1941), and greatly influenced the breed.
* NFCH Prince Tom III CD, UD, owned by Tom Clute, author of the 1958 children's book,Champion Dog Prince Tom
* Checkers, owned by Pat Nixon and Richard Nixon (see Checkers speech)
* Lucky Bundy from Married... with Children
* Solomon and Sophie, pets of Oprah Winfrey
* Lady from Lady and the Tramp
* Freckles, owned by Robert Kennedy
* Snooper Dawg from Channel Chasers
* Butch, Albert Staehle's Cocker, who inspired his 25 Saturday Evening Post covers and his 30 covers for the American Weekly magazine
* The dog who appears in the original Coppertone ad.
* Whitey Hoover, who appears in several Tim Hortons testimonials.
* Tubby, the only victim in the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in Tacoma, Washington on November 7, 1940
* Doodles, Holly Hobbie's dog from the American Greetings franchise[21]
* Acer, from Cheaper By The Dozen

[edit] Cockers in science

An early experiment was done with Cocker Spaniels and Basenjis in the 1950s and 60s by John Paul Scott and John l. Fuller, investigating how behavior and individual 'personality' traits are inherited. Simple genetics were shown to regulate complex behavior in the breeds.[22]

The English Cocker Spaniel is a breed of gun dog. The English Cocker Spaniel is an active, good-natured, sporting dog, standing well up at the withers and compactly built.[1] There are "field" or "working" cockers and "show" cockers. It is one of several varieties of spaniel and somewhat resembles its American cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel, although it is closer to the working-dog form of the Field Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel. Outside the US, the breed is usually known simply as the Cocker Spaniel, as is the American Cocker Spaniel within the US. Due to the breed's happy disposition and continuously wagging tail, it has been given the cute nickname "merry cocker".[2] They can be also dominant and loyal to their companion. Their health issues are typical for a purebred dog breed; however they are closely associated with rage syndrome even though cases are relatively rare. The word cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock.[3]

Field-Bred Cocker

The English Cocker Spaniel is a sturdy, compact, well-balanced dog. It has a characteristic expression showing intelligence and alertness. Its eyes should be dark and its lobular ears should reach the tip of the nose when pulled forward.[1] Today, a significant difference in appearance exists between field-bred and conformation show-bred dogs. The Cocker's tail is customarily docked in North America.[1] In countries where docking is legal, the tail is generally docked at about 4–5 inches (10–13 cm) in field-bred dogs while show dogs generally are docked closer to the body. Docking is now illegal in Australia, South Africa and Scotland. In England and Wales, docking can only be carried out on dogs where the owners have proved that the dogs will be used as working or shooting dogs.[4]

The breed standard indicates that the males of the breed are on average between 15.5–16 inches (39–41 cm) at the withers with the females a little smaller, growing to between 15–15.5 inches (38–39 cm). Both males and females of the breed weight approximately 13–14.5 kgs (28–32 lbs).[5] American Cocker Spaniels are smaller, with the males being on average between 14.2–15.4 inches (36–39 cm), and females again being smaller on average at between 13.4–14.6 inches (34–37 cm), both weighing approximately 11–13 kgs (24.3–28.6 lbs).[3] The closely related English Springer Spaniels are larger than either types of cockers, growing to between 18.9–19.7 inches (48–50 cm) for the females, and 19.3–20.1 inches (49–51 cm) for the males, and weighing between 23–25 kgs (50.7–55.1 lbs).[6]

The English Cocker Spaniel is similar to the English Springer Spaniel and at first glance the only major difference is the larger size of the Springer. However English Cockers also tend to have longer, and lower-set ears than English Springers. In addition Springers also tend to have a longer muzzle, their eyes are not as prominent and the coat is less abundant.[7]
Blue Roan coloured English Cocker Spaniel
[edit] Colour

Breed standards restrict dogs to certain colours for the purposes of conformation showing (dependent on country), whereas working Cockers can be any of a wide variety of colors.[2] For instance, the breed standard of the United Kingdom's Kennel Club states that in solid colours, no white is allowed except for on the chest.[5]

They come in solid (or "self"), particolour, and roan types of markings. The colours themselves in the breed consist of black, black and tan, black and white, black white and tan (tricolour), blue roan, blue tick, blue roan and tan, silver, chocolate, chocolate and tan, chocolate and white, chocolate white and tan, chocolate roan, chocolate roan and tan, sable, copper red, red, gold, buff, red roan, red and white, apricot, orange, orange and white, orange roan, lemon, lemon and white, lemon roan.[2] Of the solid colours, sable is considered rare, and is classified by some countries as being a type of particolour on account of it's mixed hair shafts. White is black/brown pigmentation is also considered rare, and is also usually classified as a particolour too. In addition a silver/ash colour, usually associated with the Weimaraner breed of dog, is considered genetically possible but is yet to be recorded by the United Kingdom's Kennel Club.[8] Of the roan varieties, lemon roan with a light brown pigmentation is the most recessive of all the roans.[9]

Plain white Cockers are rarely born, and are considered to thought to be more prone to deafness than those with more pigmentation. As such they are generally not encouraged in the breed.[10] Although field-bred and conformation dogs are found in largely the same colours, some hunters prefer to have white in the coat to make the dog more visible to gunners.[2]
[edit] Temperament

The English Cocker Spaniel can be stubborn, but can be easily trained and make a good medium-sized family pet.[2] The breed does not like being alone,[11] and will bond strongly to an individual person in a family. Known for optimism, intelligence and adaptability,[12] the breed is extremely loyal and affectionate. They rank 18th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being of excellent working/obedience intelligence.[13]
A Domestic Cocker Spaniel

A link between coat colour and temperament has been proposed.[14] This link could be the colour pigment melanin, which is biochemically similar to chemicals that act as transmitters in the brain. A study made by the University of Cambridge involving over 1,000 Cocker Spaniel households throughout Britain concluded that solid colour Cockers were more likely to be aggressive in 12 out of 13 situations. Red/golden Cockers were shown to be the most aggressive of all, in situations involving strangers, family members, while being disciplined, and sometimes for no apparent reason.[15][16] A study by Spanish researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona revealed a similar link between golden Cockers and aggression. Males were also more likely to be aggressive. The study found the English Cocker Spaniel to have the highest level of owner- and stranger- directed aggression compared to other breeds.[16][17]
[edit] Rage Syndrome
For more details on this topic, see Rage syndrome.

Rage Syndrome is described as when a dog attacks suddenly and savagely, without any warning and during the attack the dog often has a glazed look and appears to be unaware of its surroundings. Studies have found it is more common in solid colored Cockers than in particolors and also more common in darker colored Cockers than lighter coloured Cockers, being most common in solid orange and black colored spaniels. Male orange spaniels are not recommended as a family pet and should never be left alone with children. Rage syndrome is most often associated with the Show Cocker Spaniel breed, although cases have been found in other breeds and cases are relatively rare even within the Cocker Spaniel breed. Rage syndrome cannot be accurately predicted and can only be diagnosed by EEG or genetic testing and these tests are not conclusive. [18][19]
[edit] Health

English Cocker Spaniels in UK and USA/Canada have an average lifespan of 11 to 12 years,[20] which is a typical longevity for purebred dogs, but a little less than most other breeds of their size.[21] The English Cocker Spaniel typically lives about a year longer than the smaller American Cocker Spaniel.[20]

In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the most common causes of death were cancer (30%), old age (17%), cardiac (9%), and "combinations" (7%).[22]

In 1998 and 2002 USA/Canada Health Surveys, the leading causes of death were old age (40%) and cancer (22%).[23][24]

Common health issues with English Cockers are bite problems, skin allergies, shyness, cataracts, deafness, aggression towards other dogs, and benign tumours.[24]
3 month old gold English Cocker puppy

Some uncommon health issues that can also have an effect on English Cocker Spaniels ******* canine hip dysplasia, patellar lunation, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, and heart murmurs. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint which is the most common cause of canine arthritis in the hips.[25] Patellar Lunation, also known as luxating patella, refers to the dislocation of the kneecap. Canine dilated cardiomyopathy is an adult onset condition which occurs when the heart muscle is weak and does not contract properly. It can lead to congestive heart failure, which is where fluid accumilates in the lungs, chest, abdominal cavities, or under the skin.[26][27] Dilated cardiomyopathy is often accompanied by abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias which can complicate treatment.[26]
[edit] Skills
Field-bred Cocker, Note longer tail

A field-bred cocker spaniel is first and foremost an upland flushing dog. In performing this task there are some skills the dog must be trained to perform.[28]

* Hup This is the traditional command to sit and stay. To be an effective hunter the dog must comply with this command absolutely. When hupped the dog can be given direction called to the handler. The ability to hup a dog actively working a running bird allow the handler and any gunners to keep up without having to run.
* Retrieve to Hand The majority of hunters and all hunt test or field trial judges require that a dog deliver a bird to hand, meaning that a dog will hold the bird until told to give it to the hunter directly.
* Quarter Dogs must work in a pattern in front of the hunter seeking upland game birds. The dog must be taught to stay within gun range to avoid flushing a bird outside of shooting distance.
* Follow Hand Signals Upland hunting involves pursuing wild game in its native habitat. Gun dogs must investigate likely covers for upland game birds. The dog must be responsive to hand signals in order for the hunter to be able to direct the dog into areas of particular interest.
* Steady When hunting upland birds, a flushing dog should be steady to wing and shot, meaning that he sits when a bird rises or a gun is fired. He does this in order to mark the fall and to avoid flushing other birds when pursuing a missed bird.

[edit] History
Black Show-type English Cocker

Spaniel type dogs have been found in art and literature for almost 500 years.[29] 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 1800s. During this time, the land spaniels became a bit more specialized and divisions among the types were made based upon weight. According to the 1840 Encyclopedia of Rural Sports, Cockers were 12–20 lb (5.5–9 kg).[29] At this time it was not uncommon for Cockers and Springers to come from the same litter. Even a puppy from a “Toy” sized lineage could grow to be a springer.[29]

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.[29]

During the 1850s and 1860s, other types of Cockers were recorded. There were Welsh Cockers and Devonshire Cockers. Additionally, small dogs from Sussex Spaniel litters were called Cockers.[29] In 1874 the first stud books were published by the newly formed kennel club. Any spaniel under 25 lb (11 kg) was placed in the Cocker breeding pool, however the Welsh Cocker was reclassified as a Springer in 1903 due to its larger size and shorter ear.[29] " those days only those dogs up to a hard day’s work and sensible specimens were allowed to live, as absolute sporting purposes were about their only enjoyment and dog shows were hardly heard of...".[29]
Cocker Spaniel circa 1915

The sport of conformation showing began in earnest among spaniels after the Spaniel Club was formed in 1885. When showing, the new Springer and Cocker, both were in the same class until The Spaniel Club created breed standards for each of the types. The Kennel Club separated the two types eight years later. Since then, the Springer and Cocker enthusiasts have bred in the separate traits that they desired. Today, the breed differ in more ways than weight alone.
[edit] American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel was developed from the English Cocker Spaniel in the 19th century to retrieve quail and woodcock. They were originally divided from the English Cocker solely on a size basis, but were bred over the years for different specific traits.[3] The two Cocker Spaniels were shown together until 1936, when the English Cocker received status as a separate breed. The American Kennel Club granted a separate breed designation for the English Cocker Spaniel in 1946.[1]
[edit] Famous owners

Famous people who owned English Cocker spaniels ******* Robert Kennedy, former U.S. President Richard Nixon, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning,[30] Oprah Winfrey,[31] and Charlize Theron.[32]
[edit] Working Cockers
Blue Roan coloured Working Type English Cocker Spaniel

This breed, like many others with origins as working dogs, has some genetic lines that focus on working-dog skills and other lines that focus on ensuring that the dog's appearance conforms to a breed standard; these are referred to as the "working" (or "field-bred") and "conformation" strains, respectively. After World War II, Cocker Spaniels bred for pets and for the sport of conformation showing increased enormously in popular appeal, and, for a while, was the most numerous Kennel Club registered breed. This popularity increased the view that all Cockers were useless as working dogs.[33] However, for many dogs this is untrue, as even some show-bred Cockers have retained their working instinct.[34]

Today, this breed is experiencing a resurgence in usage as a working and hunting dog. Dogs from working lines are noticeably distinct in appearance. As is the case with the English Springer Spaniel, the working type has been bred exclusively to perform in the field as a hunting companion. Their coat is shorter and ears less pendulous than the show-bred type. Although registered as the same breed, the two strains have diverged significantly enough that they are rarely crossed.[33] The dogs that have dominated the hunt test, field trial and hunting scene in the United States are field-bred dogs from recently imported British lines.[35] Working-dog lines often have physical characteristics that would prevent them from winning in the show ring. This is a result of selecting for different traits than those selected by show breeders. The longer coat and ears, selected for the show ring, are an impediment in the field.[1] Cuban authorities train and use English Cocker Spaniels as sniffer dogs to check for drugs or food products in passengers' baggage at Cuban airports.[36]

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