The Cocker Spaniel got its name from its proficiency in flushing woodcock, which separated it from the Field and Springer Spaniels. It was first called the Cocking Spaniel, and is sometimes called the English Cocker Spaniel now, to distinguish it from the American Cocker Spaniel. Obo, the accepted foundation of the breed, was bred to a female who was shipped to America while pregnant; a male from the resulting litter is said to be the foundation of the American breed.
The term "spaniel" came about because spaniel breeds are thought to have originated in Spain. In the mid 1800s, any spaniel smaller than 25 pounds was classed as a cocker, while larger spaniels were called Springers. In 1892, the Kennel Club finally made the distinction between Cocker and Springer spaniels official.
The body of the Cocker is well-balanced and square-looking from the side. The measurement from shoulder to tail is roughly the same as from shoulder to ground. His facial expression is an appealing one of friendly intelligence. Size does not vary much for show dogs, males and females tend to be around 15-16 inches in height.
In America, English Cockers are permitted to be slightly larger. Weight should be 28 to 32 pounds. His ears are long, hanging to the point of the shoulder, and covered with silky hair. He can be any color, but in the case of solid colors, white should be found only on his chest.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a popular family dog because he is generally cheerful and easy to train, though he may occasionally present a stubborn streak. He is affectionate and excellent with children. He is a friendly, outgoing dog, polite to strangers and not an excessive barker.
As always, proper socialization will keep him from becoming shy or overly protective, and a daily walk should keep him calm and content. A firm but gentle hand should see responsive behavior from this eager-to-please breed. His personality and manageable size make him a good first dog for a young family.
Dogs generally need more sleep than humans, so a few naps during the day is not unusual. However, during waking hours the English Cocker Spaniel should be alert and affectionate. If he seems hyperactive, he is probably in need of more exercise. Though his breed was not originally used for retrieving, he will still likely enjoy a game of fetch in the back yard, if his human is not up to a walk.
Because he is small and a bit happy-go-lucky, he can have a tendency to overeat. The Cocker's food should be rationed carefully, and treats kept to a minimum. He is at an appropriate weight when the outline of his ribs does not show through his hair, but can be easily felt. Attention should also be given to his coat on a daily basis to prevent matting. Particular care should be taken of the ears, which are susceptible to parasites which can cause ear infections and hearing loss.