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English Cocker Spaniel

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 theEnglish Cocker Spaniel withers and compactly built. 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".

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.

Description

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. 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. 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 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. 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).

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). 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).

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.

Color

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

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 (tricolor), 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. Of the solid colors, 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. Of the roan varieties, lemon roan with a light brown pigmentation is the most recessive of all the roans.

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. 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.

Temperament

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

A link between coat colour and temperament has been proposed. 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.

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.

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.

Health

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

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

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

Common health issues with English Cockers are bite problems, skin allergies, shyness, cataracts, deafness, aggression towards other dogs, and benign tumours.

Some uncommon health issues that can also have an effect on English Cocker Spaniels include 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. 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. Dilated cardiomyopathy is often accompanied by abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias which can complicate treatment

History

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 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). 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.

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.

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. 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. "...in 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...".

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.

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. 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.

 

 

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