No one can resist a spaniel’s warm, gentle eyes and long floppy ears! They’re simply adorable! Historically, bred to be compact, athletic, and enthusiastic hunting companions, today they’re a popular family breed. Being smart, loyal, and affectionate, they’re welcomed in every home.
We can say with certainty, spaniels are here to please! But do we know everything about this gentle, easy-going, and lively breed? Let’s do a bit of research with these interesting facts about spaniels and see why this breed always puts a smile on our faces…
As the name suggests, spaniels come from Spain. They were bred as early as the 1400s as hunting dogs.
Spaniels were eventually broken up into land and water categories, with cocker spaniels becoming used mostly for land hunts.
The name ‘cocker’ comes from the woodcock, a game bird that these dogs efficiently flushed out for hunters.
The Cocker Spaniel, often referred to as the American Cocker Spaniel, descends from the English Cocker Spaniel.
Spaniels first came to the USA in 1620 on the Mayflower.
Cocker Spaniels were introduced to the United States in the late 1800s and were still considered the same breed as the English Cocker Spaniel.
The first official Cocker Spaniel registered by the AKC was Captain, a white-and-liver colored dog that was recognized in 1878.
American fanciers selected for the smaller size, greater coat, and a rounder head.
Today, the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel are considered separate breeds.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The American Cocker Spaniel is smaller than its English counterpart and is the smallest of sporting dogs.
Although still considered a proficient hunter and sporting breed, Cocker Spaniels are more often family pets.
The Cocker Spaniel is also the smallest dog classified in the AKC Sporting Group.
Another spaniel native to the United States is the Boykin, but it’s not as nearly famous as its Cocker Spaniel relative.
Despite only being recognized officially by the AKC in 1995, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a long and noble heritage. Today, they’re the most popular spaniels in the US.
English Springer is another very popular spaniel type. It’s one of the busiest, driven, and active of all spaniels.
The biggest spaniel, the Clumber is known for being less busy and calmer than many of their other working relatives.
You might be surprised to learn that the Papillon is part of the spaniel group. It’s also referred to as the Continental Toy Spaniel.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is closely related to their English counterpart.
When breeders were first separating the spaniel varieties, they determined which dogs would be called Cocker Spaniels and which dogs would be called Field Spaniels based on weight. Twenty-eight pounds was the maximum weight for a cocker spaniel.
Males are about 15 inches tall and weigh about 28 pounds (13 kilograms). Females are about 14 inches tall and weigh about 25 pounds (11 kilograms).
The Cocker Spaniel has a round, graceful head and a broad, square muzzle. The ears are long and feathered, and the back slopes toward the tail, giving the dog a regal appearance.
Most notable, however, is the Cocker Spaniel’s long, silky coat with feathering not just on the ears but also on the legs, chest, and underside. The tail is usually docked.
Cocker Spaniels can have a variety of colors. Some are solid black, red, or tan. Others are bi-colored or tri-colored. Some of the mixes you might see are black and tan, black and white, or black and white with tan flecks.
The life expectancy of the Cocker Spaniel is good, about 14 to 16 years.
Spaniels are generally considered good for children. They tend to be non-aggressive toward other animals and people, but that also means they are not particularly good watchdogs.
At one point, Cocker Spaniels became so popular they were overbred, which resulted in some high-strung dogs and dogs with health problems.
Cocker Spaniels enjoy the attention, so this is a breed for people who like to lavish affection on their pets.
They are average shedders. They do have an elaborate coat, which requires grooming at least a couple of hours weekly to keep it in good shape.
Cocker Spaniels can adapt to living just about anywhere, as long as they are given daily walks on a leash or are allowed to have play sessions in a fenced yard.
A Cocker Spaniel was the first cancer-detecting dog! This idea was confirmed by a study done with six dogs in England in 2004. In that study, a Cocker Spaniel named Tangle had the best success rate at detecting cancer, with 56% accuracy. Researchers continued to work with Tangle, and his success rate improved to 80%.
Spaniels are very smart! They’re capable of accomplishing all sorts of impressive feats. Fudge is a Cocker Spaniel, who graduated from the Edinburgh Napier University in matching robes as his owner. Another Cocker named Ginger took a Gaelic class with her owner and mastered basic commands in the language in only three weeks.
President Nixon’s spaniel Checkers might be the most famous First Dog because Nixon mentioned him in an hour-long newscast in which he defended himself against accusations of corruption. It came to be known as ‘the Checkers speech.’
In the famous logo with the Coppertone baby getting her bathing suit bottoms pulled down, the dog responsible is actually a Cocker Spaniel.
Lady From ‘Lady and the Tramp’ is a Cocker Spaniel. The Cocker’s long, silky coat makes her a natural choice for a character that is so prim, pampered, and elegant.
Paul Sperry got the inspiration for his famous line of Sperry shoes from his Cocker Spaniel, Prince.
So you have any fun or interesting facts about spaniels that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!