THE ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL
(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)
The English Cocker Spaniel is an active,
merry sporting dog, standing well up at
the withers and compactly built. He is
alive with energy; his gait is powerful and
frictionless, capable both of covering
ground effortlessly and penetrating
dense cover to flush and retrieve game.
His enthusiasm in the field and the
incessant action of his tail while at work
indicate how much he enjoys the hunting
for which he was bred. His head is
especially characteristic. He is, above all, a dog of balance, both standing
and moving, without exaggeration in any part, the whole worth more than
the sum of its parts.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size-Height at withers: males 16 to 17 inches; females 15 to 16 inches.
Deviations to be penalized. The most desirable weights: males, 28 to 34
pounds; females, 26 to 32 pounds. Proper conformation and substance
should be considered more important than weight alone.
Proportion--Compactly built and short-coupled, with height at withers
slightly greater than the distance from withers to set-on of tail.
Substance--The English Cocker is a solidly built dog with as much bone
and substance as is possible without becoming cloddy or coarse.
General appearance: strong, yet free from coarseness, softly contoured,
without sharp angles. Taken as a whole, the parts combine to produce
the expression distinctive of the breed.
Expression--Soft, melting, yet dignified, alert, and intelligent.
Eyes--The eyes are essential to the desired expression. They are medium
in size, full and slightly oval; set wide apart; lids tight. Haws are
inconspicuous; may be pigmented or unpigmented. Eye color dark brown,
except in livers and liver parti-colors where hazel is permitted, but the
darker the hazel the better.
Ears--Set low, lying close to the head; leather fine, extending to the nose,
well covered with long, silky, straight or slightly wavy hair. Skull--Arched
and slightly flattened when seen both from the side and from the front.
Viewed in profile, the brow appears not appreciably higher than the
back-skull. Viewed from above, the sides of the skull are in planes
roughly parallel to those of the muzzle. Stop definite, but moderate, and
slightly grooved. Muzzle--Equal in length to skull; well cushioned; only as
much narrower than the skull as is consistent with a full eye placement;
cleanly chiseled under the eyes. Jaws strong, capable of carrying game.
Nostrils wide for proper development of scenting ability; color black,
except in livers and parti-colors of that shade where they will be brown;
reds and parti-colors of that shade may be brown, but black is preferred.
Lips square, but not pendulous or showing prominent flews.
Bite--Scissors. A level bite is not preferred. Overshot or undershot to be
Neck, Topline and Body
Neck--Graceful and muscular, arched toward the head and blending
cleanly, without throatiness, into sloping shoulders; moderate in length
and in balance with the length and height of the dog. Topline--The line of
the neck blends into the shoulder and backline in a smooth curve. The
backline slopes very slightly toward a gently rounded croup, and is free
from sagging or rumpiness. Body--Compact and well-knit, giving the
impression of strength without heaviness. Chest deep; not so wide as to
interfere with action of forelegs, nor so narrow as to allow the front to
appear narrow or pinched. Forechest well developed, prosternum
projecting moderately beyond shoulder points. Brisket reaches to the
elbow and slopes gradually to a moderate tuck-up. Ribs well sprung and
springing gradually to mid-body, tapering to back ribs which are of good
depth and extend well back. Back short and strong. Loin short, broad and
very slightly arched, but not enough to affect the topline appreciably.
Croup gently rounded, without any tendency to fall away sharply.
Tail--Docked. Set on to conform to croup. Ideally, the tail is carried
horizontally and is in constant motion while the dog is in action. Under
excitement, the dog may carry his tail somewhat higher, but not cocked
The English Cocker is moderately angulated. Shoulders are sloping, the
blade flat and smoothly fitting. Shoulder blade and upper arm are
approximately equal in length. Upper arm set well back, joining the
shoulder with sufficient angulation to place the elbow beneath the highest
point of the shoulder blade when the dog is standing naturally.
Forelegs--Straight, with bone nearly uniform in size from elbow to heel;
elbows set close to the body; pasterns nearly straight, with some
flexibility. Feet-- Proportionate in size to the legs, firm, round and catlike;
toes arched and tight; pads thick.
Angulation moderate and, most importantly, in balance with that of the
forequarters. Hips relatively broad and well rounded. Upper thighs broad,
thick and muscular, providing plenty of propelling power. Second thighs
well muscled and approximately equal in length to the upper. Stifle strong
and well bent. Hock to pad short. Feet as in front.
On head, short and fine; of medium length on body; flat or slightly wavy;
silky in texture. The English Cocker is well-feathered, but not so profusely
as to interfere with field work. Trimming is permitted to remove
overabundant hair and to enhance the dog's true lines. It should be done
so as to appear as natural as possible.
Various. Parti-colors are either clearly marked, ticked or roaned, the white
appearing in combination with black, liver or shades of red. In parti-colors
it is preferable that solid markings be broken on the body and more or
less evenly distributed; absence of body markings is acceptable. Solid
colors are black, liver or shades of red. White feet on a solid are
undesirable; a little white on throat is acceptable; but in neither case do
these white markings make the dog a parti-color. Tan markings, clearly
defined and of rich shade, may appear in conjunction with black, livers
and parti-color combinations of those colors. Black and tans and liver and
tans are considered solid colors.
The English Cocker is capable of hunting in dense cover and upland
terrain. His gait is accordingly characterized more by drive and the
appearance of power than by great speed. He covers ground effortlessly
and with extension both in front and in rear, appropriate to his angulation.
In the ring, he carries his head proudly and is able to keep much the
same topline while in action as when standing for examination. Going and
coming, he moves in a straight line without crabbing or rolling, and with
width between both front and rear legs appropriate to his build and gait.
The English Cocker is merry and affectionate, of equable disposition,
neither sluggish nor hyperactive, a willing worker and a faithful and
Approved October 11, 1988
Effective November 30, 1988
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