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English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: What’s The Difference?

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: What’s The Difference?

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Are you thinking of getting a Cocker Spaniel? If so, you might be researching the breed, which is wise. It’s always a great idea to find out as much as possible about any breed of dog before going ahead. You must be sure that your chosen breed is a good fit for you and that you are the right fit for them.

If the Cocker Spaniel is on your mind, you’ll want to learn all about it, including the difference between the English and American types. You might not even be aware that there are two different breeds!

You can find the differences between them here and discover more about both breeds along the way.

Both breeds are simply called Cocker Spaniel in their respective countries, so we’ll use their nationalities to help keep track of which one we’re talking about.

When you’re ready, we’ll begin our study of Cocker Spaniel: American Vs. English.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Size

American Cocker Spaniel standing near lake

There’s a tendency to believe that Americans like everything supersized!

In this instance, however, the American Cocker Spaniel is smaller than its English rival:

 WeightHeight
American Cocker Spaniel (ACS)20 to 30 pounds13.5 to 15.5 inches
English Cocker Spaniel (ECS)26 to 34 pounds15 to 17 inches

Okay, so there’s not a lot of difference: not enough to make you pick one breed over the other if space is limited in your home.

We should note that males are generally larger, so there could be a marked contrast between a female American Cocker and an English male Cocker.

Both breeds are frequently mistaken for each other, so how can you tell between them?

Here are a few tips:

ACS – longer than it is tall, with a domed skull and a shorter muzzle. The eyes are rounder and placed forward on the skull.

ECS – taller, with a squarer appearance. A longer muzzle with oval eyes set slightly to the side of the head.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Temperament

Dog cocker spaniel training process

The word merry often turns up when you ask about the Cocker’s character. This word sums them up well, as they are happy and lively dogs!

They’re also playful and excitable, happy and full of life.

But, concerning English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel, are there any fundamental differences?

The ECS is highly trainable, faithful, quiet, affectionate, friendly, and playful. And the ACS is more sociable and outgoing, even-tempered, and a little more trusting than its cousin.

Both breeds are sensitive and thrive on companionship, forming a solid bond with all family members. They hate being alone and will become vocal if this happens.

Harsh punishment and scolding are a big mistake as they are so sensitive, so positive reinforcement is the best way to get them to cooperate. Training shouldn’t be a problem anyway, as they are so intelligent and willing to please you.

Interestingly, the AKC suggests that the English Cocker is more affectionate than the American one.

Happily, both breeds are excellent family dogs and are great with kids, though it’s always best to supervise them and never leave young kids alone with your dog.

Finally, some sources suggest that English Cocker Spaniels have a higher prey drive, especially working dogs. Spaniels are still widely regarded as sporting dogs in the United Kingdom as well as family pets.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Grooming

English cocker spaniel on green grass in the fruit garden

Both breeds have double coats, but the ACS is always long and silky, while the ECS can be medium-length or long.

However, they both require regular grooming to avoid tangles and matting. Ideally, they’ll need brushing every three days, but once a week at the least. Don’t think that you can skip a couple of grooming sessions, as you’ll soon regret it, and your furry friend will suffer.

You might want to invest in a metal comb to ensure that you don’t miss any knots.

The American Cocker Spaniel takes more work to groom as it has a longer, fuller coat with a lot of feathering on its legs and sides. This fur should be clipped or trimmed frequently to keep its shape and avoid the hair picking up dirt.

It’s also advisable to take your puppy to a professional dog groomer every 6 to 8 weeks to keep their coat looking great.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Health Problems

Beautiful cocker spaniel on the green grass

Like any dog breed, both Cocker Spaniel types are at risk of common health issues:

Hip dysplasia – poorly formed hip joints make the bones rub together, causing pain and discomfort when the dog walks. In many cases, this leads to arthritis. Surgery is required if the condition is severe.

Cataracts – Cockers are particularly prone to these between 2 and 8 years, leading to blindness if not treated.

Glaucoma – a build-up of fluid in the eye due to lack of drainage, eventually leading to blindness.

PRA – progressive retinal atrophy is a group of eye conditions that lead to blindness. Good breeders test for this to reduce the risk.

Cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart that makes it harder to pump blood around the body. Heart failure is possible in severe cases.

Ear infections – long, floppy ears are a breeding ground for bacteria if you don’t clean them regularly! Dirt and debris become trapped in the hair and any wax deposits. Ear infections can be bad news if not treated in time.

Epilepsy – Sadly, Cockers are prone to idiopathic epilepsy, meaning that there’s no external cause, such as head trauma or disease. Thankfully, the condition can usually be managed with medication.

Although these conditions can affect either Cocker Spaniel breed, the AKC suggests that the English Cocker is more prone to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and PRA. While the American Cocker is also a high risk for hip problems, eye conditions are of particular concern.

Your breeder should test for the most common conditions. You need to play your part by getting your dog checked at the vet a couple of times a year.

Finally, parti-color Spaniels (at least 50% white with one or two other colors in solid patches) carry an increased risk of deafness.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Lifespan

English cocker spaniel lying on the grass

The day you collect your beautiful puppy, the last thing on your mind is that dreaded day in the future when your precious pet crosses the rainbow bridge. It’s the last thing on your mind!

Even so, it’s sensible to have an idea of how long they’re likely to be with you.

So, for our American versus English Cocker Spaniel investigation, how do they compare when it comes to their lifespan?

As is often the way, it depends on who you ask.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests that the English Cocker Spaniel lives for between 12 and 14 years, while its American counterpart is between 10 and 14 years.

However, other sources claim they are equal, living between 12 and 15 years, while a few experts state that they all have a median lifespan of 10 or 11 years.

It’s not easy to find a definite answer, which isn’t at all helpful to our cause.

The best solution is to take a broad view of the results overall. From the mountain of data available, it seems that the ECS generally lives longer, usually between 12 and 15 years. They are more likely to outlive their American cousins, sometimes reaching their teens, and some have even made it into their early twenties!

In comparison, the American Cocker Spaniel usually lives for between 10 and 14 years, with a median lifespan of around ten years. Even so, they have been known to reach well beyond this, sometimes reaching the age of 17.

Tips For Increasing Your Pup’s Lifespan

To help your pup live to a ripe old age, follow these steps:

• Buy from a reputable breeder, as this ensures that your pup will be as healthy as possible.

• Feed your pup good quality dog food, especially during its puppyhood, and never give them unhealthy treats. These include fried, fatty, salty human foods (hotdogs, chips, cheese, bacon, table scraps, fries, etc.) that put your dog at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, salt poisoning, digestive problems, and allergies.

• Meet your dog’s exercise needs according to its energy levels, age, and size.

• Groom your dog frequently to keep its coat in good condition and reduce skin infections. Keep its teeth clean with frequent brushing, as this will limit the chance of cavities and decay. Long toenails can lead to mobility problems as it will be painful to walk, so be sure to clip those nails!

• Get your pooch a general health check at the vet at least once or twice a year, as it’s an excellent way to catch potential health problems early.

Both Spaniel breeds deserve the best chance of a long and happy life, whether English or American. By following the advice above, you can boost your furry friend’s lifespan, so there’s a good chance that they’ll be with you for fourteen years or more!

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Coat Colors

blue roan cocker spaniels

Photo from: @dex_and_diesel

Both breeds come in a great variety of colors!

Here are the AKC standard colors to show you what we mean:

American Cocker SpanielEnglish Cocker Spaniel
BlackBlack
Black & white Black & white
Black & tanBlack & tan
Black, white & tanBlack, white & tan
BrownBlue roan
Brown & whiteBlue roan & tan
Brown & tanGolden
Brown, white & tanLiver roan & tan
Brown roanLiver roan
Brown roan & tanLiver
Buff & whiteLiver & tan
RedLiver, white & tan
Red & whiteOrange roan
SilverOrange & white
Red roan
Lemon roan
American Cocker Spaniel MarkingsEnglish Cocker Spaniel Markings
RoanTicked
MerleWhite
Tan

As you can see, the English Cocker wins by a whisker! Even so, several non-standard colors can appear, like sable or sable and white. And to make things interesting, some colors might appear in both breeds, whether standard or non-standard, because they are closely related.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Energy Levels

cocker spaniel in nature

Photo from: @vino_thecocker

The Spaniel was designed as a gundog, meaning that it had to be alert and ready to race off to flush out birds from the undergrowth at the given command.

They were then sent out to retrieve any fallen birds. As a result, these dogs are energetic and excitable. Even though some are still working dogs, most are family pets and companion dogs these days, and they still retain that sense of alertness and enthusiasm.

But which has the highest energy levels when it comes to English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel?

It seems that the American dog has the edge here by all accounts. All the evidence points to ACS being the more energetic of the two. This dog will need a little more exercise than the English one, which tends to be slightly more laid back.

Although there’s not much in it, this fact could influence your choice between the two breeds.

All dogs need regular exercise. Not only is it good for their health, but it also provides mental stimulation. Cocker Spaniels are smart dogs that need to keep their brains busy. Both breeds need about an hour of exercise each day, preferably split into a couple of sessions, including a long walk to allow the dog to have a good sniff around.

Puzzle toys, games, obedience classes, and agility courses are ideal ways of stimulating your dog’s mind. Cocker Spaniels love anything like this and will be in their element.

Most dogs fall into bad habits and become destructive and aggressive without adequate exercise and stimulation.

Speaking of aggression, we should explore this topic in more detail.

Are American Cocker Spaniels Aggressive?

Dog sitting near river

You might wonder why we picked on the American dog here, seeing as this is a study comparing the American Vs. English Cocker Spaniel.

The truth is, more people have asked about this dog than the English one.

So, what’s the answer?

The Cocker Spaniel, whether English or American, is a gentle, happy, friendly dog. However, studies over the years have revealed some potentially disturbing facts. It seems that this happy little dog may have a dark side!

Several studies even suggested that the English Cocker Spaniel is one of the most aggressive dogs in the world. Results showed they were more likely to attack their owners, strangers, and other dogs than any other breed.

Now, this is a gross exaggeration, to put it mildly. As you can imagine, stories like this can provoke a strong reaction, which is the intention. But the facts tell a different story.

The first thing to say is that any dog has the potential for aggression, but you need to look at the reasons behind this. Sickness, fear, abuse, pain, and anxiety are all possible causes of aggressive behavior, and these can affect all breeds.

On the whole, neither the ACS nor the ECS is naturally aggressive.

The studies mentioned above were by no means representative of either breed. Also, the authors of each study admitted that we need to look at the following issues:

Poor breeding

Mistreatment

Lack of training

Lack of socialization

Inexperienced owners

All of these factors can contribute to unwanted behavior, including aggression.

Interestingly, scientific results suggested that color and sex played a part. The research concluded that behavioral problems were more likely to occur in males and dogs with golden coats.

In addition, most of the aggression the scientists witnessed was dominance-based, and this is rarely a problem in dogs that have been well trained and have owners who act with authority.

Cocker Rage Syndrome

Finally, we should mention Cocker Rage Syndrome.

This condition is extremely rare but sadly overdiagnosed in far too many cases. The only treatment is euthanasia.

Cocker rage usually happens when the dog is dozing and is unexpectedly disturbed. They react violently, biting whatever is in front of them. It’s traumatic, distressing, and can lead to serious injury. Many experts believe it to be a neurological condition as dogs that suffer from Cocker rage often have low serotonin levels (a calming hormone).

Whether you get an American or English Cocker Spaniel, the best way to avoid the problem of aggression is to use a reputable breeder. We can’t stress this point strongly enough!

Poor breeding practices by inexperienced ‘backyard’ breeders have caused many problems over the years. Good breeders have worked hard to iron out these issues.

Next, train and socialize your pup correctly from the start. With the proper love and care, aggression should never be a problem.

English Vs. American Cocker Spaniel: Price

red and white american cocker spaniel puppy

Buying a dog can be expensive, making this an important topic in our study, English Vs. American Spaniel.

So, what should you pay for either breed?

Yet again, advice and information vary according to who you ask!

Prices for both breeds vary from $300 to $3,000, possibly more.

While the lower prices are attractive, the cheapest option is rarely a good idea when buying a dog. Anyone charging less than $800 is possibly either a backyard breeder or running a puppy mill. Money is their prime motivator, so they will cut costs as much as possible, even if it means that the dogs suffer.

In many cases, these dogs have health and behavior problems.

Good breeders frequently incur a loss on each litter, as breeding dogs properly costs a lot of money. Responsible breeders run health screening programs and give their dogs the best possible care. Some also begin training and socialization, producing healthy, well-adjusted pups. These add to the cost, which is reflected in the price of a Cocker Spaniel puppy.

Ideally, consider spending between $1,000 and $1,600 for a pet-quality pup. For this price, the puppy should come with limited AKC registration, a health guarantee, first vaccinations, a microchip, and a puppy starter pack.

For a show dog, expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,500.

If these prices are too high, you could consider adopting from a shelter or local Spaniel rescue group. Adoption fees are pretty reasonable, usually between $50 and $500 to cover costs connected with caring for the dog.

The Cocker Spaniel: A Brief History

Brauner Cocker Spaniel in einem Feld mit lila Heidekraut

We won’t bore you with a long history lesson, but here are a few details to help us understand the Cocker Spaniel and how it became two separate breeds.

Spaniels have been used since the 1300s, flushing prey out of the dense scrub and bushes. There were various hunting dogs known as Land Spaniels, and these developed into the Field, Cocker, and Springer Spaniels we know today.

The name Spaniel is believed to be connected with their Spanish origins. Cocker was derived from the dogs’ role in flushing out and retrieving the Woodcock, although they sought out other prey, including pheasant and partridge.

The Cocker Spaniel reached America in the mid-19th century, and by 1936 the AKC had recognized the American Cocker as a separate breed. Enthusiasts of the English Cocker were determined to preserve the breed, establishing the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America. Within a decade, the AKC also accepted the English Cocker Spaniel.

Which One Is Best?

This should read, which one is best for you?

After all, it’s not a competition! Both are happy, playful, affectionate, and loyal dogs. It all comes down to which dog is the better fit for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

Of course, you may have read through this guide and decided that you prefer one over the other, which is fine.

Interestingly, the AKC list of the 202 most popular (purebred) dog breeds shows that the American Cocker Spaniel’s popularity has steadily declined over the years, while the English Cocker Spaniel has gone the opposite way. Even so, the American Cocker still sits at #30, and its English cousin is down the list at #52. At one time, the American Cocker Spaniel was the most popular breed in North America.

Your choice might influence the trend!

It’s your job to weigh up the pros and cons of each and find the perfect companion for your home.

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