American Cocker Spaniel

Canis lupus

Last updated: January 24, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© lkoimages/

Merry, outgoing, and eager to please!


American Cocker Spaniel Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

American Cocker Spaniel Conservation Status

American Cocker Spaniel Locations

American Cocker Spaniel Locations

American Cocker Spaniel Facts

Fun Fact
Merry, outgoing, and eager to please!
Distinctive Feature
Long, dropped ears and feathered feet
Friendly, happy and enthusiastic
Average Litter Size
Gun Dog
Common Name
American Cocker Spaniel
Merry, outgoing, and eager to please!

American Cocker Spaniel Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type

American Cocker Spaniel as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
25-30 lbs
Female weight
20-25 lbs

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American Cocker Spaniels are very happy and affectionate dogs that make an excellent family pet.

They are the smallest sporting dog that has gained recognition from the American Kennel Club. These dogs feature a rounded skull, squared lips, and long, low ears. The breed is separated into three different groups based on their coats, including black or black and tan, solid colors (aside from black), and parti-color. They have an average life expectancy of between 10 and 14 years.

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Owning an American Cocker Spaniel: 3 Pros and Cons

Affectionate: These dogs are very loving and affectionate to their family members.Require frequent grooming: The coat of an American Cocker Spaniel will get tangled and matted if it is not brushed every day.
Easy to train: This breed aims to please its owners, which makes them relatively easy to train.Some bark a lot: Some American Cocker Spaniels may bark a lot.
Playful: American Cocker Spaniels can be very playful.Health concerns: When not purchased from a reputable breeder, these dogs can have a lot of potential health concerns.
american cocker spaniel dog running outdoors


History and Origins

The beloved American Cocker Spaniel has long been one of the most popular dog breeds, topping the American Kennel Club’s rankings from the 1930s to the 1950s and again in the 1980s. This breed is descended from dogs that were once bred to hunt and provide food in Europe and the British Isles.

In 1884, a 23-pound son of Farrow’s Obo, named Obo II, was brought to the United States. By 1936, four varieties were being shown: Black, Parti, English, and a fourth that was added later. The two types of cockers were eventually separated into different breeds in 1947. The American version became known as the American Cocker Spaniel in the U.S., while the English type is known as the English Cocker Spaniel.

American Cocker Spaniels are descendants of the English Cocker Spaniel.

©Funkymint / CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository – License

Health and Entertainment for your American Cocker Spaniel

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Size and Weight

These are small to medium-sized dogs. They are actually the smallest sporting dog. Males are between 14.5 and 15.5 inches tall and typically weigh between 25 and 30 pounds. Females are just a little smaller, standing between 13.5 and 14.5 inches tall and weighing between 20 and 25 pounds. Puppies typically weigh only 2 pounds when they are one month old. At four months, puppies weigh around 17 pounds. When the puppies are 12 months, they will reach their maximum height, and when they are 24 months, they will reach their full weight potential.

Height (Male)14.5 inches to 15.5 inches
Height (Female)13.5 inches to 14.5 inches
Weight (Male)25 pounds to 30 pounds
Weight (Female)20 pounds to 25 pounds
American Cocker Spaniel standing near lake

American Cocker Spaniels weigh between 20-30 pounds.


Lifespan and Reproduction

American Cocker Spaniels typically live between 10 and 11 years, according to surveys in the UK and USA, and Canada. This is at the lower end of the range for purebred dogs, with other breeds of similar size tending to live one or two years longer. It is important that owners be aware of this when considering adding a Cocker Spaniel to their family and take steps to ensure they are giving their beloved pet the best quality care possible throughout its life. Proper nutrition, exercise, veterinary checkups, parasite prevention, and dental hygiene can all help extend your American Cocker Spaniel’s lifespan.

Before the puppies are born, it is important to make sure the mother dog has a safe and comfortable environment. She should have plenty of soft bedding and be kept away from loud noises or any other potential stressors. During this period, her body will expand outwards as the puppies grow inside her belly. As delivery gets closer, gravity takes effect, and you may notice a sag in her stomach area. If there are lots of pups, this can be quite pronounced, with her belly practically dragging on the ground! It is common for American Cocker Spaniels to give birth to anywhere between three and twelve puppies at once. After their birth, they need to be monitored closely by an experienced vet or breeder who can provide them with any necessary care, such as vaccinations or deworming treatments.

Puppies are born 63 days after mating. Each puppy weighs between one and one and a half pounds when they are first born. During the initial 8-12 weeks, babies nurse from their mothers for nutrition while they continue to grow and develop. It is important that puppies stay with their mother until they naturally become weaned. When puppies reach two weeks old, their eyes open and begin to see the world around them. By three weeks old, hearing develops so canines can start responding to sounds like barking.

cocker spaniel puppy running with stick in mouth

Cocker spaniels should stay with their mothers for 8-12 weeks.

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Common Health Issues

If you’re planning to adopt one of these dogs, it is important to be aware of some of the common health issues faced by this breed. While these health issues are not present in all dogs, knowing what to look for can help make sure you address any potential issues with your veterinarian right away.

Some of these dogs develop eye disorders as they age. These can include cataracts between the ages of 1 and 5, progressive retinal atrophy between the ages of 3 and 6, and glaucoma between the ages of 5 and 8. All three of these disorders may lead to blindness.

These dogs are also very prone to ear infections. They have a very narrow and long ear canal that can create a welcoming place for parasites and fungi, which can lead to ear infections.

Over 11% of these dogs also develop a luxating patella. This is a loose knee joint that can be very uncomfortable and may make it painful or difficult for the dog to walk. Often surgery is required to address this issue.

To review, some common health issues that these dogs face include:

  • Cataracts
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Glaucoma
  • Ear infections
  • Luxating patella

Cocker Spaniels are prone to ear infections.

©The original uploader was AjRagno at English Wikipedia., CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Temperament and Behavior

These dogs have very happy and cheerful personalities. This breed also aims to please its owners, which can make them easier to train than other dog breeds. Since they were bred to be sporting dogs, they also can possess very inquisitive behaviors and enjoy accompanying their family on walks and trips. Some of these dogs may bark frequently, while others have more submissive personality traits.

The Best Dog Food

Always select high-quality food for puppies and adults. Many of these dogs do well with chicken and rice-based food, but since each dog has specific needs and dietary concerns, consult with your veterinarian to select the ideal food for your dog. It is important not to overfeed these dogs as it can lead to obesity.

Puppies have smaller stomachs than adult dogs. This means they will require smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. eight-week-old puppies need to be fed four times a day. Once the puppies reach the age of four months, three feedings a day should be sufficient. And, once the puppies are eight months old, two feedings each day are fine.

With their elevated risk of glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal atrophy, plus patellar luxation, owners should find their American Cocker Spaniels a dog food tailored to the breed’s health needs.

A-Z Animals thinks American Cocker Spaniels will have a great shot at long-lasting health on Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Small Paws for Small Breed Dogs.

This small breed formula contains calcium that supports cartilage to keep joints in working order. Taurine, riboflavin, and vitamin A all help promote healthy, clear eyes.

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Best for Small Breeds
Hill's Science Diet Small Paws Chicken Meal & Rice Recipe
  • Chicken and rice formula for small breeds Adult 1-6
  • Omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E for healthy skin and shiny coat
  • Natural ingredients and antioxidants for immune health
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Maintenance and Grooming

These are not low-maintenance dogs. They will need to be brushed each day to prevent their hair from getting matted or too tangled. Using a medium-spaced professional comb to brush through their hair and effectively remove knots. You may also want to get a slicker brush.

When you give your dog a bath, be sure to thoroughly rinse the shampoo residue away to prevent it from irritating their skin. Dry their coat with a warm, but not hot, blow-dryer. You’ll also want to be sure to properly clean and dry their ear canals. Since these dogs have such high grooming needs, many individuals opt to schedule regular appointments with a professional groomer.


These dogs aim to please, which can make them easier to train than many other dog breeds. Most times, they respond well to more gentle corrections when they can tell that their owner is not pleased by their actions. They also enjoy agility and obedience competitions. Since they are so easy to train and have such an amiable personalities, they also make good therapy dogs.

White and black American Cocker Spaniel dog

Cocker spaniels respond best to positive reinforcement.



These dogs are sporting dogs and need regular exercise to keep their muscles toned. They are not very high-energy dogs, so they don’t need to run off energy, but they should still be given daily opportunities to play with their owners or go on a walk with them.


If you’re bringing home a new puppy, be sure to puppy-proof your home first. Make sure there is mothering that the puppy could get into that could harm him or her. Also, be sure to move any belongings that you wouldn’t want to be damaged by a playful new pup.

Consider crate training your new puppy. Crate training can help your puppy see their crate as a safe place and help them feel more secure when they are left alone. Try developing a routine with your dog and getting them used to going into their crate after eating or playing.

Begin the process of training and potty training your puppy right away as well. This will help him learn expectations and begin responding to cues and commands. Socializing your puppy from a young age is also important to encourage proper interaction with children, adults, and other dogs in the future.

red and white american cocker spaniel puppy

Some pet owners prefer crate training, and some don’t. Both techniques are acceptable.


American Cocker Spaniels and Children

These dogs make excellent family dogs. The dogs’ gentle temperament makes them a good choice for families with children. However, you’ll want to make sure that children are taught how to appropriately interact with a dog and how to be gentle to avoid injuring the dog. These dogs are also pretty sensitive dogs, so children, especially younger children, should always be closely supervised when they are with these dogs.

Dogs similar to American Cocker Spaniel

Three dog breeds that are similar to these dogs are English Springer Spaniels, American Water Spaniels, and Field Spaniels.

  • English Springer Spaniel: American Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels are both very intelligent and playful gun dogs. English Springer Spaniels are larger than American Cocker Spaniels. English Spring Spaniels weigh around 50 pounds, while American Cocker Spaniels weigh an average of 22 pounds.
  • American Water Spaniel: Both American Water Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels are easy to train and affectionate. American Cocker Spaniels, however, are more intelligent and sensitive than American Water Spaniels.
  • Field Spaniel: Field Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels are friendly and affectionate dogs that adapt easily to different situations. Field Spaniels have a dense and waterproof coat that is very easy to groom, whereas American Cocker Spaniels have a feathered coat that requires regular grooming by a professional.

American Cocker Spaniel has many cousins.

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American Cocker Spaniel vs English Cocker Spaniel

American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels both have shared ancestors. Smaller hunting dogs developed into Cocker Spaniels that were experts at flushing birds out from where they were hiding. Starting in the mid-1800s, Cocker Spaniels were brought to the United States. American breeders aimed to create Cockers with solid colors like black or tan. British breeders aimed to create roan or parti-colored Cocker Spaniels. American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels are both recognized by the American Kennel Club as two distinct breeds.

English Cocker Spaniels are a bit taller than American Cocker Spaniels and have a bit more of a square-shaped build. The tan, black, brown, or white coat of an American Cocker Spaniel is typically longer than the coat of an English Cocker Spaniel.

Famous American Cocker Spaniels

These dogs are the 30th most popular dog breed, so it shouldn’t be surprising that many are owned by celebrities. Here are a few famous ones:

  • Einstein was George Clooney’s dog.
  • Solomon was Oprah Winfrey’s dog.
  • Arthur was Elton John’s dog.
  • Lady, the animated dog in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, is an American Cocker Spaniel.

If you’re looking for the perfect name for your new dog, look for some inspiration in the list below:

  • Archie
  • Dexter
  • Leo
  • Murphy
  • Chester
  • Cassie
  • Annie
  • Lexie
  • Bella
  • Phoebe

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

American Cocker Spaniel FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are American Cocker Spaniels herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

American Cocker Spaniels are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do American Cocker Spaniels belong to?

American Cocker Spaniels belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What class do American Cocker Spaniels belong to?

American Cocker Spaniels belong to the class Mammalia.

What phylum to American Cocker Spaniels belong to?

American Cocker Spaniels belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do American Cocker Spaniels belong to?

American Cocker Spaniels belong to the family Canidae.

What order do American Cocker Spaniels belong to?

American Cocker Spaniels belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of covering do American Cocker Spaniels have?

American Cocker Spaniels are covered in Hair.

What genus do American Cocker Spaniels belong to?

American Cocker Spaniels belong to the genus Canis.

What are some distinguishing features of American Cocker Spaniels?

American Cocker Spaniels have long, dropped ears and feathered feet.

How many babies do American Cocker Spaniels have?

The average number of babies an American Cocker Spaniel has is 4.

What is an interesting fact about American Cocker Spaniels?

American Cocker Spaniels are merry, outgoing, and eager to please!

How much does American Cocker Spaniel cost to own?

The cost to purchase an American Cocker Spaniel puppy from a breeder can vary, but you should expect to spend at least $800 and possibly as much as about $1,500. Adopting an American Cocker Spaniel from a rescue organization will cost significantly less and should be a few hundred dollars.

In addition to the price you’ll pay for the puppy, don’t forget about the other costs associated with owning a dog, such as food, veterinary care, grooming, and supplies. Your first year owning the dog will likely be the most expensive, and you should budget between $1,000 and $1,500. For the subsequent years, budget between $500 and $1,000 to cover expenses.

Are Cocker Spaniels good family pets?

Yes, American Cocker Spaniels can make an amazing family dog. They are very gentle and happy dogs who enjoy the company of children. They also can be playful and a good companion for a child.

What is the life expectancy of an American Cocker Spaniel?

The average life expectancy of an American Cocker Spaniel is between 10 and 14 years.

What is the difference between the American Cocker Spaniel vs English cocker spaniel?

While English Cocker Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels look very similar, there are a few key differences between the breeds. English Cocker Spaniels are a bit taller than American Cocker Spaniels and typically have a roan-colored coat compared to the solid colors, such as tan, brown, black, or white, typically seen on an American Cocker Spaniels. The coat on an American Cocker Spaniel is generally longer than that of an English Cocker Spaniel.

Do American Cocker Spaniels bark a lot?

Some American Cocker Spaniels may bark quite a bit. Others are very submissive and rarely bark.

What is the scientific name for the American Cocker Spaniel?

The scientific name for the American Cocker Spaniel is Canis lupus.

What are the differences between the American Cocker Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel?

The differences between the American Cocker Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel include size, appearance, breeding group, behavior, health problems, and lifespan.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. American Kennel Club, Available here:
  2. Wikipedia, Available here:
  3. Petfinder, Available here:
  4. Dogtime, Available here:
  5. Cuttin Blue Farms, Available here:
  6. Embora Pets, Available here:
  7. The Nest, Available here:
  8. About Cocker Spaniels, Available here:
  9. Dogell, Available here:
  10. Your Pure Bred Puppy, Available here:

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