English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: What Are The Differences?

Types of Retriever Dogs
© TCreativeMedia/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: October 11, 2023

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The English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel often referred to as simply a Cocker Spaniel, are two lovely dog breeds. Although they both have a shared heritage, breeding standards have resulted in two similar yet different dogs. Today, we’re going to compare the English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel, show you their differences, and tell you which one makes the better pet breed.

Let’s begin with a brief overview of the breeds and what makes them special.

Comparing an English Cocker Spaniel and an American Cocker Spaniel

Both breeds differ in size and origin.
English Cocker SpanielAmerican Cocker Spaniel
SizeWeight: 26 to 34 pounds
Height: 15 to 17 inches tall          
Weight: 20 to 30 pounds
Height: 12 to 13 inches
Morphology– Head is wider and flatter on the top but still roundish
– About as long as it is tall
– Long ears that hang low
– Wide-set eyes
– Thick fur
– Has a more dome-shaped head
– Narrow-set eyes
– Shorter muzzle
– Known for being longer than it is tall
– Relatively small ears compared to the English Cocker Spaniel, but still droopy
– Silky fur
TemperamentHigh prey drive
– Very energetic
– Cheerful
– Loving towards family members
– Prone to separation anxiety
– Intelligent
– A true people-pleaser
– Connects with family members
– Very trusting
– Cheerful  
Lifespan– 12 to 15 years– 10-14 years
– Usually between 10 to 11 years
Place of Origin– England– Canada and United States

The 5 Key Differences Between an English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel

A golden cocker spaniel with curly ears cocks its head

Cocker spaniels are known for their long, low-hanging ears.


The greatest differences between an English Cocker Spaniel and an American Cocker Spaniel include their morphology, size, and place of origin. The English Cocker Spaniel originates from England, measures up to 17 inches tall and weighs 34 pounds, and is known for having a wider, flatter head along with a square shape and wide-set eyes. The American Cocker Spaniel is from North America, measures 30 pounds and 13 inches long, and is known for having smaller ears, a shorter muzzle, and a more dome-shaped head than the English variety.

These differences are sort of small, but they help us tell the two animals apart from one another. We can dig deeper into the things that make them different.

English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: Size

The English Cocker Spaniel is a slightly larger dog breed than the American Cocker Spaniel. The average English Cocker Spaniel weighs between 26 and 34 pounds. That is not a very large dog, especially when you consider that they only stand about 17 inches tall. These dogs are known for being as tall as they are wide, so they are squarish.

Meanwhile, the American Cocker Spaniel stands about 13 inches tall and weighs between 20 and 30 pounds. This breed is known for being longer than it is tall. Also, this dog is on the small side of medium.

English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: Morphology

White and black American Cocker Spaniel dog

American Cocker Spaniels have a dome-shaped head.


These two animals have multiple differences in terms of their morphology. For example, the English Cocker Spaniel has a wider and flatter head compared to the American Cocker Spaniel. Moreover, their eyes are set wider than the American dog, and the dog has thick fur along with ears that hand low.

On the other side, the American Cocker Spaniel is known for having a rounder head than the English Cocker Spaniel, and its eyes are set narrower than those too. The American also has a shorter muzzle as well as silkier fur than its cousin.

English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: Temperament

The English and American Cocker Spaniels have somewhat different temperaments and behaviors. The English Cocker Spaniel is known for being very cheerful, loyal, and loving towards its family members. However, this dog also has a high prey drive, and that means it can show aggression towards smaller animals. Although they are very intelligent, they are also somewhat prone to separation anxiety.

The American Cocker Spaniel is known as a people-pleaser. They want nothing more than to be the best pet possible. They are trusting, easily connect with family members, and are very cheerful. However, they also have separation anxiety, so it can be hard for them to be alone in their owners’ homes.

Both breeds are known for being very vocal, and they may need supervision when with small children because of the size disparity and the potential for aggressive instincts to kick in.  

English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: Lifespan

The English Cocker Spaniel has a longer lifespan than the American Cocker Spaniel. On average, the English Cocker Spaniel’s lifespan is between 12 and 15 years. However, the American Cocker Spaniel is shorter-lived, and they only live between 10 and 14 years, but they most often live between 10 and 11 years.

They’re not a breed that lives the longest, but owners enjoy every precious year they have with these loving pets.

English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: Place of Origin

As the dog name suggests, the English Cocker Spaniel originates from England, and the American Cocker Spaniel originates from North America. These dogs have a common heritage, but they diverged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as new breed standards were established on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean.  

English Cocker Spaniel vs American Cocker Spaniel: What is the Better Breed?

Portrait of nice American Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels can have long, silky coats of fur.


All told, these two dogs are not that different from each other. The breeds are rather similar in size, shape, and temperament. That’s why it’s not really possible to say which is the better breed. Both animals get along well with family members, and they’re both loyal. Each breed wants to make its owner happy.

The only real difference is that the English Cocker Spaniel is a little more of a sporting animal than the American. As a result, if you want an active partner or a hunting partner, the English may be the way to go.

All in all, both breeds make perfectly acceptable pets once they are provided with the right boundaries and training.

Is an English Cocker Spaniel a Good First Dog?

Cocker Spaniels are good dogs for first-time owners.

©Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

Recognized for their lively, adaptable, and friendly nature, Cocker Spaniels can thrive in a variety of home environments. Their kind and gentle disposition makes them well-suited for first-time dog owners as they can be easy to train and have a kind demeanor. While they are generally good dogs, they do require regular grooming.

This breed is small but not overly tiny and exudes a gentle temperament. Spaniels are known for their elegance, attentiveness, and generally calm demeanor.

Their moderate energy level means that regular daily exercise is usually sufficient to keep them healthy, and they respond well to basic training.

Further, Clumber Spaniels are renowned for their excellent hunting skills and unwavering loyalty, standing out as one of the calmer breeds of spaniel.

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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