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The smallest member of the sporting group, the cocker should be compact and sturdy. Its gait is ground-covering, strong and effortless. The coat is silky, flat or slightly wavy, not overly long. Excessive coat can hinder the dog in the field.
The head and expression are hallmarks of the breed; the expression is soft and appealing. Though seldom used for its original purpose, the cocker should still be able to spend a day in the field and should be balanced and athletic. It is true, however, that most cockers now have too much coat for field work.
This breed is known as the "merry" cocker, and the name is most fitting. It is playful, cheerful, amiable, sweet, sensitive, willing to please and responsive to its family's wishes. It is not known for retaining its hunting instincts, but it is inquisitive and will appreciate a country outing. It is equally at home in the city and will happily walk on leash for its exercise needs. Some bark a lot; some are overly submissive.
History The Cocker Spaniel originates in England and was brought to North America in the 1800's. Since the 1930's, the American Cocker Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel are recognized as distinct breeds (the American Cocker Spaniel is smaller). The Cocker Spaniel was reared to flush small prey from the brush for hunters. The name 'Cocker' is derived from woodcock, a bird the Cocker Spaniel was particularly adept at finding. Today, the breed is used to hunt game bird and water fowl. Famous Cocker Spaniels include Richard Nixon's dog Checkers and Lady from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”.