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American Cocker Spaniel Breed: Info, Pictures, Facts, Traits & More

Written by: Grant Piper

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

two young American Cocker Spaniel dogs

American Cocker Spaniel Breed: Info, Pictures, Facts, Traits & More

The American Cocker Spaniel is an iconic dog known for their doe eyes and luxurious coats. Most people can recognize a Cocker Spaniel at first glance, and well-groomed Cocker Spaniels will often turn heads. These dogs are adorable and extremely personable. This makes them ideal pets for almost anyone. If you are considering getting a Cocker Spaniel, you are in good company. These dogs are very popular and have been for multiple generations. Here is everything you need to know about the American Cocker Spaniel.

Breed Overview


13–16 inches


20–30 pounds


10–14 years


Black, silver, red, brown, brown and tan, black and white, red and white, brown roan, black and tan

Suitable for:

Those looking for an adorable companion but isn’t afraid to invest in regular grooming


Playful, gentle, loving and loyal

In the United States, the American Cocker Spaniel is just called the Cocker Spaniel. This can differentiate it from its cousin, the English Cocker Spaniel, which is always referred to as the English Cocker Spaniel. If you see the name Cocker Spaniel, you should assume it refers to the American Cocker Spaniel. We will use both terms interchangeably in this guide.

Cocker Spaniels are very popular dogs that used to be the most popular dog in the United States. People love them for their adorable appearance, lush coats, and friendly demeanor. While they were once hunting dogs, the Cocker Spaniel is primarily kept as a companion pet today.

American Cocker Spaniel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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American Cocker Spaniel Puppies

three American Cocker Spaniel puppies
Image Credit: Kebal Oleksandra, Shutterstock

The Cocker Spaniel is a fairly popular dog, so there is a chance that you can run into a Cocker Spaniel puppy at a shelter or rescue. However, this remains a rarity. There are special rescues dedicated specifically to Cocker Spaniels (and other Spaniels) that might occasionally get puppies to adopt out. If you cannot find a Cocker Spaniel at a local shelter or rescue, your best bet is to go through a breeder. There are breeders that are registered with both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Spaniel Club. It is a good idea to go through a registered breeder, so the health of your puppy is guaranteed through breed specific health screenings conducted by these breeders.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the American Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are people pleasers. That makes them excellent family dogs that strive to make their owners happy. Cocker Spaniels are not the most intelligent dogs, but they make up for their lack of wit with a deep well of love and affection. Cocker Spaniels are very attentive to their owners and respond to criticism well. They are also very food motivated, which makes them easy to train. This is a combination that makes Cocker Spaniels easygoing and very friendly.

black and tan american cocker spaniel dog
Image Credit: Ksenia Raykova, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Yes. Cocker Spaniels make fantastic family dogs due to their personality. These dogs love to be wherever the people are. They are also very playful and get along well with children. Cocker Spaniels like taking walks, playing with children, and hanging out in the living room during family time. This makes these dogs great for almost any type of family.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Yes. Cocker Spaniels will get along with almost anything. They do great with other dogs. Despite their background as hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels also get along with small animals such as cats and even rodents. You should always monitor interactions between your dog and any new pet or animal for signs of aggression, as each animal is different. In most cases, Cocker Spaniels will be more than happy to get along with almost any pet.

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Things to Know When Owning an American Cocker Spaniel:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Cocker Spaniels have no specific dietary requirements. It is recommended that you feed your Cocker Spaniel well formulated, high quality dry food. The AKC recommends starting your Cocker Spaniel on dry food based on chicken and rice. You can consult your veterinarian for recommendations for specific foods that will benefit your individual dog. For example, if your dog has skin allergies you might want to put your dog on an allergenic food that will help keep their skin healthy.

american cocker spaniel dog at the park
Image Credit: Roman Zaiets, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

Cocker Spaniels might not look like dogs that require a lot of exercise but looks can be misleading. Cocker Spaniels were once working hunting dogs and, therefore, have a muscular build that benefits from regular exercise. Cocker Spaniels like brisk walks, and they should be walked at least twice per day. They also enjoy outdoor play sessions and trips to the dog park. Do not neglect exercise for your Cocker Spaniel. They might seem chill and laid back, but they still need to get their legs moving and their blood pumping.

Training 🎾

Cocker Spaniels are fairly easy to train. Cocker Spaniels can easily learn the most basic commands. Training and socialization are recommended to be started at a young age. Cocker Spaniels are very food motivated, so the strategic use of treats can really help them along. Cocker Spaniels will usually not take to complex or advanced training regimens. Some specialized trainers still use Cocker Spaniels as hunting dogs, but this is no longer very common. With a little patience and some well-timed treats, you should be able to get a well behaved Cocker Spaniel with a few weeks of persistent training.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming is very important for Cocker Spaniels. Cocker Spaniels have long, silky double coats that require frequent maintenance. According to the AKC, Cocker Spaniel owners will require a “metal, professional-quality dog comb with fine and medium spacing for the teeth” to be used on a regular basis. You must be willing to groom your Cocker Spaniel on a regular basis. Some experts suggest grooming them every three days, others say once per week, and others say once per month.

Cocker Spaniels will need regular brushing and then intensive grooming, depending on their lifestyle. Skipping grooming duties can lead to mats, tangles, and skin allergies that can be hard to rectify. Therefore, do not neglect grooming for your Cocker Spaniel. You must either invest in high quality grooming tools for yourself at home or commit to taking your Cocker Spaniel to a professional breeder on a set schedule to keep them looking and feeling their best.

woman playing with american cocker spaniel in the snow
Image Credit: O_Lypa, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

American Cocker Spaniels are considered to be very healthy dogs. They have very few overriding health concerns, which allows them to have a very healthy lifespan. Responsible breeders should be able to screen and weed out any potential problems before they are passed to a registered puppy. The two biggest potential issues are hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (an eye condition). Be sure to consult your breeder about the health history of your Cocker Spaniel’s parents if you are going through a breeder. Minor issues include skin allergies, which can crop up due to the dogs’ coats, trapping dirt and allergens close to the skin and causing itching.

For more information, you can read the American Spaniel Club Breed Health Statement here.

Minor Conditions
  • Skin allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Male vs Female

Female Cocker Spaniels are slightly smaller than male Cocker Spaniels. Females stand an inch or two shorter and can weigh 5 to 10 pounds less than their male counterparts. If you are looking for a more petite Cocker Spaniel, you should consider getting a female. Conversely, if you want a stouter and more muscular Cocker Spaniel, consider getting a male.

  Male Cocker Spaniel Female Cocker Spaniel
Height 14–16 inches 13–15 inches
Weight 25–30 pounds 20–25 pounds

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3 Little-Known Facts About the American Cocker Spaniel

1. Spaniel Is Related to Spain

Spaniels are an ancient dog breed that can trace its history back for centuries. It is speculated that the Spaniel originated in Spain since the name Spaniel is linguistically connected to Spain. Spaniels have been around for many, many generations and go back so far into the past that no one really knows their true origins.

2. There Are a Variety of Different Cocker Spaniels

The American Cocker Spaniel is referred to as just the Cocker Spaniel in the United States. However, there are a variety of other types of Cocker Spaniels, including English Cocker Spaniels and Canadian Cocker Spaniels. Then, there are over a dozen other Spaniels, including the popular Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the American Water Spaniel. Spaniels were once grouped into two broad categories: land Spaniels and water Spaniels, which denoted which kind of animals they hunted (terrestrial or aquatic).

3. The Cocker Spaniel Was Once the Most Popular Dog in America

During the 1950s, the Cocker Spaniel was the most popular dog in America. Today, the Cocker Spaniel ranks just 29th out of 202 total breeds. The French Bulldog is currently the most popular dog in America. But in the 1950s, it was the American Cocker Spaniel. The popularity of the Cocker Spaniel was fueled by movies such as Lady and the Tramp as well as the popular vice-presidential dog Checkers that was owned by Vice President Richard Nixon during the Eisenhower presidency.

American Cocker Spaniel dog breed
Image Credit: janpla01, iStock/Getty Images Plus

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Final Thoughts

The Cocker Spaniel is a very versatile and well-rounded dog. They are amazing family dogs with fantastic coats. They are big enough to be fun to play with but small enough to throw in the car and take out in public without having to worry about them. Cocker Spaniels can be energetic hikers or chill home companions. They are very healthy and extremely friendly. The biggest thing to consider is their grooming needs, which are extensive due to their long flowing coats.


Featured Image Credit: Kebal Oleksandra, Shutterstock

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