The Cocker Spaniel resembles the English Cocker Spaniel, one of his peers in Sporting Group, and formerly the two breeds were considered one. However, a number of Spaniel fanciers noticed the different strains of Cocker and sought to preserve separate breeds and discourage the interbreeding of the English and American varieties. The American Kennel Club recognized the two breeds as separate in 1946.
Cocker Spaniels are extremely people-oriented, even the best-bred and socialized dogs tend to be a bit unhappy when left alone. For some, this takes the form of full-blown separation anxiety, with the barking, crying, and destructive behavior that usually accompanies it. Accustom your dog from puppyhood to being left alone from time to time. However, if you expect long hours left on his own to be part of your dog’s usual routine, this is probably not the breed for you.
The well-bred Cocker Spaniel has a sweet temperament. He is affectionate and cuddly and loves to participate in family activites. He is playful, alert, and active, enjoying any exercise from a brisk walk to hunting in the field.
The Cocker is known to be a sensitive dog, mentally and physically. He has a "soft" personality and does not respond well to harsh treatment, sometimes turning to growling or snapping when he's in pain or afraid. Early socialization and training is essential to teach the Cocker appropriate canine manners. He needs to be handled carefully and kindly to bring out the best in his personality.
Cockers are generally healthy, but, like all breeds of dogs, they're prone to certain conditions and diseases.
Eye problems can strike the Cocker in a number of ways, including progressive retinal atrophy, a degenerative disease of the retinal cells that progresses to blindness; cataracts, a cloudy film that forms over the eye; glaucoma, a condition in which pressure builds up inside of the eyeball; and eye abnormalities. If you notice any redness in your Cocker's eyes, or if he starts rubbing his face a lot, take him to the vet for a checkup.Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is a condition in which a dog's immune system attacks its own blood cells. Symptoms include pale gums, fatigue, and sometimes jaundice. A swollen abdomen is also indicative, since it signals an enlarged liver. Most affected Cockers do well with treatment, but they should not be bred.Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland that's thought to cause conditions such as epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, lethargy, dark patches on the skin, and other skin conditions. It's treated with medication and diet.Primary seborrhea is a skin problem caused by overproduction of skin cells, including the sebaceous (oil) cells. The skin becomes greasy and scaly and has a foul odor. Treatments include medication and medicated baths.Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and Cockers can be especially prone to them. The three main types are food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.Idiopathic epilepsy is often inherited and can cause mild or severe seizures. It's important to remember that seizures can be caused by many other things than idiopathic epilepsy, such as metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more. Therefore, if your dog has seizures, it's important to take him to the vet right away for a checkup.Canine hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can cause pain and lameness. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.Patellar luxation involves dislocation (luxation) of the kneecap (patella). In this condition the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling.