Origin and Brief History
Cocker Spaniels are part of the wider Spaniel family, with the modern Cocker Spaniel including most notably the English and American breeds. The Spaniel breed is first thought to have originated in Spain. When they arrived to England isn’t clear, but it’s possible that they arrived as early as 54 BC when Julius Caesar led an invasion by Rome into Britain during the Gallic Wars. The modern Cocker Spaniel first appeared in Britain in the late 19th century, and it quickly made its way to North America shortly after.
Cocker Spaniel are very intelligent and loyal dogs. They are also very patient, which is credited to their history as hunting dogs. While hunting woodcocks (from which the name Cocker is derived) in 19th century Britain, the Spaniel would have to freeze and wait for commands from its owner to flush out the birds. They are very social as well, getting along with both people and other pets alike. The American Cocker Spaniel has been bred more as a show dog since arriving in North America, while the English variant remains closer to its hunter past.
The two main things that need to be done when grooming the Cocker Spaniel is to brush the coat and clean the ears. These are perhaps the two main characteristics of the breed, and both can present problems if not taken care of. Generally a slicker brush is used first when combing, followed by a fine to medium tooth comb.
Specification of Breed
The American version of the Cocker Spaniel is generally smaller than its English counterpart. The American male has a height of between 14.5-15.5 inches and a weight of around 25-30 pounds, while the English version is between 15-16 inches tall and weight in between 28-32 pounds. Both female versions are slightly smaller than the males, with American females being between 13.5-14.5 inches tall and weighing 20-25 pounds, while English females are 15-15.5 inches tall and weigh 24-28 pounds.
Due to their long ears, Cocker Spaniels are predisposed to ear problems. The length of the ears can prevent air from getting in, leading to a good environment for bacteria to grow. Otitis externa is an inflammation of the ear canal, which can be caused by parasites or bacteria. Cocker Spaniel are also susceptible to Progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRCD), which is a specific type of Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). PRCD can cause night blindness, which is turn can lead to total blindness while the dog is still relatively young (three to five years old).
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