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American Cocker Spaniel: Breed Info, Pictures, Temperament, Facts & Care

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized dog breed that’s known for its friendly, outgoing personality. They have very long, silky ears and curly tails, making them very adorable. They’re well known for being quality family dogs, as they are typically great with other dogs and children.

They’re descended from the English Cocker Spaniel. However, after being brought to the United States, they eventually developed into a separate breed. Like other Cocker Spaniels, they were originally utilized for hunting. However, they are now kept largely as companion dogs.

Height: 15–18 inches
Weight: 20–30 pounds
Lifespan: 10–12 years
Colors: Black, brown, red, golden, parti-color
Suitable for: Families with children, active adults
Temperament: Friendly, outgoing, affectionate

American Cocker Spaniels are relatively low-maintenance dogs. However, they do require regular grooming to keep their coat looking its best. They have soft, gentle mouths that were bred that way to prevent them from damaging game. This trait also works very well for homes with children.

American Cocker Spaniel Breed Characteristics



American Cocker Spaniel Puppies

american cocker spaniel puppies
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstpck

American Cocker Spaniels are absolutely adorable and make wonderful family pets. They’re playful and affectionate on top of being easy to train. They have long, silky hair and curly ears, making them perhaps one of the most adorable puppies out there. You can also find them in a variety of colors from brown to red.

These puppies are often friendly and affectionate. They’re good with children and other pets, though socialization does help them grow into more well-adapted dogs. Luckily, these dogs are relatively easy to train, though they can be stubborn at times.

American Cocker Spaniel puppies require regular grooming to keep their long coats looking their best. They should be brushed at least once a day and bathed as needed. Just because they are puppies doesn’t mean they don’t need grooming.

Temperament & Intelligence of the American Cocker Spaniel

These canines are known for being friendly and outgoing. They’re very intelligent and relatively easy to train, as well. They love to be around people and other animals, and they make great family pets. They are also known for being gentle and playful, and they are good with children. However, they can be barky at times, so it is important to train them early to stop this behavior. Often, an unconfident Cocker Spaniel is very noisy.

This breed is eager to please and often responds well to positive reinforcement training. However, they can be stubborn at times, so it’s important to be patient and consistent with training. They were bred as hunting dogs, and hunting dogs are notoriously difficult to train.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?👪

American Cocker Spaniels make great family pets. They love to be around people, including children and other pets. However, they do have high grooming needs which may make it challenging for some families to keep up with.

It’s important that you do the proper research and ensure you can meet their needs before adopting one.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Yes, American Cocker Spaniels are generally good with other pets. They are friendly and outgoing dogs that love to be around people and other animals. However, it is important to introduce them to other pets slowly and carefully and to supervise them closely at first.

This breed always does best when socialized with other dogs and pets from a young age. While they are generally pretty friendly, socialization is still required to ensure they are used to the other dog’s presence.

Always introduce your Spaniel to new pets properly and slowly. You cannot simply throw your dog into a room with another animal and expect everything to go well. Instead, you have to supervise them closely and start with very little contact. The introduction is the most important part of your Spaniel getting along with other dogs.

ameriacan cocker spaniel and cat together
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning an American Cocker Spaniel:

Food & Diet Requirements🦴

These dogs are generally healthy and do not require a special diet. However, it is still important to feed your dog a quality diet that will help prevent health problems. Choose foods with high-quality protein, especially if your dog is on the more active side. Select healthy fats, as well. While fats have gotten a bad reputation, they are essential for health and energy.

American Cocker Spaniels also need a diet that includes vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits provide essential vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to stay healthy. Make sure whatever dog food you choose is nutritionally complete by looking for the AAFCO seal. You want to ensure it has all the necessary nutrients.

Avoid grain-free foods unless your dog is sensitive to grain (which is rare). Often, grain-free foods are actually just higher in peas and lentils, which may be linked to certain heart conditions in dogs.


These dogs are pretty active. Therefore, they require a decent amount of exercise to thrive. You need to provide them with at least an hour of exercise a day, though there are many dogs who need more or less of this.

You can exercise these dogs just like any other breed. For instance, walking is a great, basic option. However, you can also incorporate some other activities, such as playing fetch or going for a swim. Cocker Spaniels often love just about anything as long as it is active and with their humans. Be careful to not over-exercise these dogs. If you do, they may be more at risk of hip dysplasia and similar issues, especially as puppies.

These dogs are best for active families, as they require plenty of exercise.

american cocker spaniel
Image Credit: lkoimages, Shutterstock


Luckily, these dogs are pretty easy to train. They are intelligent and eager to please, allowing them to be trained easily with positive reinforcement training. However, they are hunting dogs and can be stubborn at times. It’s important to be patient and consistent with training.

You should start training your American Cocker Spaniel relatively early. Puppies are more receptive to training than adults and must be taught how training works. Always use positive reinforcement training and make sure any trainers you work with do, too.

It takes time and patience to train any dog. Don’t get discouraged if your American Cocker Spaniel doesn’t get it right away. Just keep practicing and be consistent with your training. It’s important that you make it fun too, though. If your dog doesn’t enjoy training, they’re less likely to want to participate.


While these dogs are generally low-maintenance, they do require a little bit of grooming. It’s important to brush them at least once every few days to remove dead fur and mats. Otherwise, they may develop health issues. You should also bathe your dog about once a month, but some may need to be bathed more. Don’t bathe too often, as this can lead to their skin drying out. If this happens, they may develop skin problems and shed more than normal. Some dogs are more sensitive to baths than others.

You should use a slicker brush or pin brush to brush your dog’s coat. These are designed for the type of fur a Cocker Spaniel has, so they often work the best. Plus, they aren’t that expensive, either.

American Cocker Spaniels have long, floppy ears that are prone to infection. It’s important to clean their ears at least once a week to prevent infection. Use cotton balls or a soft cloth to clean the ears. In some cases, your dog may need a special ear cleaner to keep their ears clean.

These dogs need their nails trimmed regularly to prevent them from becoming overgrown. You can trim your dog’s nails yourself or take them to a professional groomer. Don’t forget about brushing their teeth regularly, too—tooth brushing is important to prevent health issues.

american cocker spaniel dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: Lenkadan, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions 🏥

These dogs are relatively healthy, thankfully. However, they are prone to a few health issues that you may want to keep an eye on. For instance, they are often prone to ear infections due to their large, floppy ears. This is why ear cleanings are so important.

It also seems that American Cocker Spaniels are also prone to allergies, including both food allergies and environmental allergies. Both of these allergy causes can lead to skin problems, such as itching and scratching. Sometimes, even respiratory problems may occur.

Hip dysplasia is another common condition. It affects the joints in the hips, causing pain and lameness. It often occurs earlier than arthritis, as it develops when the puppy is growing. Most dogs display symptoms by the time they are two. Diet and medications can help, but surgery is sometimes required.

American Cocker Spaniels are also prone to a few eye problems, such as cherry eye and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Cherry eye is harmless and more of an aesthetic problem, while PRA is a degenerative eye condition that causes blindness eventually. It doesn’t have a cure, unfortunately.

Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • PRA
Minor Conditions
  • Allergies
  • Cherry eye
  • Ear infections

Male vs. Female

Male American Cocker Spaniels are typically slightly larger than female American Cocker Spaniels. Males stand 15–17 inches tall at the shoulder, while females stand 14–16 inches tall. Males also weigh slightly more than females, typically weighing 24–30 pounds, while females weigh 20–26 pounds.

However, beyond the same size difference, both of these dogs are very similar. Both are about as healthy, though they may be prone to gender-specific health conditions.


3 Little-Known Facts About the American Cocker Spaniel

1. They were originally bred for hunting

Today, most Cocker Spaniels are kept as companion animals. However, they were originally utilized for hunting small game, such as rabbits and squirrels. They were able to flush out game without sending it flying into the distance, and their soft mouths allowed them to pick up the game without harming it.

2. They were almost split into two breeds

The working Cocker Spaniels and the companion Cocker Spaniels are both very different. In the early 1900s, the breed was almost split in two: a show breed and a working breed. However, in the end, the breeds weren’t split. You’ll still find plenty of differences within the breed, though.

3. They aren’t that popular

Despite being well-loved by many, American Cocker Spaniels are not hugely popular in the United States. They ranked 29th in popularity in 2022, according to the American Kennel Club.

American cocker spaniel on green grass (Princess Haircut)
Image Credit: Aneta Jungerova, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

American Cocker Spaniels can be great companion and hunting dogs. They’re known for being extremely gentle and great with children. For this reason, they are somewhat popular within the United States, though they are far from being the most popular dog.

These canines are easy to train and require regular grooming to keep their long coats looking their best. They are typically low-maintenance dogs, besides their grooming needs. They’re also quite healthy, especially if well cared for.

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Featured Image Credit: Rin-Seiko, Shutterstock

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