The English Cocker Spaniel has a rich history. It is one of the oldest spaniel breeds, originating from the broader category of spaniel dogs that originated in Spain, hence the name "Spaniel". There are various types of spaniels, and their differentiation mainly comes from the tasks they were bred for. English Cocker Spaniels, specifically, were bred for hunting woodcocks in the United Kingdom, which is where they get their name. The breed is commonly referred to simply as the "Cocker Spaniel" in the UK, but in the U.S. and other parts of the world, it's specified as the "English Cocker Spaniel" to differentiate it from the American Cocker Spaniel, a separate breed.
English Cocker Spaniels can suffer from familial nephropathy, glycogen storage disease (type VII), phosphofructokinase (PFK) deficiency, and acral mutilation syndrome. Genetic testing can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
English Cocker Spaniels are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They make excellent family dogs due to their love of children and their sociable nature. However, they do require plenty of exercises and mental stimulation due to their high energy levels and intelligent minds.
They also have a natural instinct to chase and retrieve due to their hunting background, and they are known to be excellent swimmers. Their adaptable nature means they can thrive in various living conditions, but they prefer to be in close contact with their family.
The term "cocker" comes from the breed's original purpose of hunting woodcock, a type of bird.
English Cocker Spaniels have a unique "roaning" coat pattern, which is a mix of colored and white hairs.
They have a history of royal approval; English Cocker Spaniels were beloved pets of various British monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth II.
An English Cocker Spaniel named "Whisky" won the prestigious "Best in Show" at Crufts, the world's largest dog show, in 2020.