Sometimes you’ll see them referred to as the “merry” cocker, which also brings to mind the phrase “Merry Old England”; right? Hence, the name English cocker spaniels? Wrong. They originated in Spain! They earned the “cocker” part of their name because they were able to get in the cockle burrs to make a retrieve where other dogs couldn’t.
This is basically the same dog as an English springer spaniel, but about ten pounds lighter and a little shorter. Our male English cockers are about 26 to 32 pounds and are about 16 to 17 inches tall, while our females range from 24 to 30 pounds and go from 15 inches to 16 inches in height.
English cockers have webbed feet, a water-resistant second coat, and a powerhouse body that gives them amazing strength. By leaving their tails slightly longer, as the British do, it acts as a rudder, making them even more powerful swimmers. Even as short as they are, they’re still able to retrieve ducks and geese by dragging them to you once they get out of the water. Often times the goose will weigh more than they do!
English cocker spaniels are super-smart fast learners that are eager to please. This makes them a delight to train — although, occasionally, one can be bull-headed. These dogs do NOT respond well to harsh discipline; that only sets them back, and will make them timid and cower. They are super eager to please. So, if you’ll use that to your advantage when working your pup, along with lots of repetition, you’ll have him trained in no time. It’s not the length of time spent training but the frequency that gets results. They’re naturally birdie and natural born retrievers. The only training really needed is basic obedience: sit, come, stay, heel. The British combine “sit” and “stay” into one command; they say “hup.” Because most of the dogs are from England, that’s the command they were trained with. All are excellent hunters. Christopher hunted with them when we lived in Georgia. Some of them were occasionally used by local plantations for wagon dogs on quail hunts. Since moving to Florida, they haven’t had an opportunity to go on any hunts.
For people not looking for a hunting dog, but want a well-rounded, nice size family dog, this is the perfect breed for you. They’re very affectionate, and get along well with children, as well as other animals. They “blow” their coat twice a year, which takes about two weeks, in the spring and fall. Their coats are not all the same. Some have a flat coat that does not need cutting. Others with more of a wooly coat do well to be cut twice a year in the spring and fall. They do not require a lot of grooming. A field-bred English Cocker Spaniel will make an excellent addition to any family. They are such a fun-loving, sweet breed, you won’t be able to imagine your family not having at least one — and if you get two, they make great companions for one another while you’re at work or school!
English Cocker Spaniels are not even the same breed as an American Cocker Spaniel. Do not get them confused. American Cockers often have health problems. They are also known to snap and bite. They are the cockers most often associated with “Rage Syndrome.”