English Cocker Spaniel Description:
The exact origin of the English Cocker Spaniel is unknown. However, it is believed to be one of the oldest types of Spaniels which was brought to England almost five centuries ago. Until 1892, the Cocker Spaniel or the English Cocker Spaniel was regarded as the same breed as the Springer Spaniel. In the olden days, it was primarily used as a gundog used for flushing small game such as birds, rabbits etc. In fact, the breed derives its name from a bird named Cocker, since the breed is known to be adept at flushing out the bird.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a medium sized dog with a compact, athletic frame. It has a proportionate head with a keen expression; medium size, oval shaped eyes which are dark brown or hazel in colour; low set ears which are carried close to the head and are feathered; a black nose with flared nostrils; a strong, square muzzle; square lips which are black in colour with teeth which meet in scissors bite. This breed has a docked tail which is carried in line or slightly higher than the level of the back. It has short legs which strong boned, with straight forelegs and angulated hindlegs and catlike feet. This breed has a straight or slightly wavy and silky coat with short hair on the head, and hair of medium length covering the rest of the body. It has feathering on the ears, chest, legs and abdomen. The colour of the coat can be a solid colour like black, liver or various shades of red with a little white on the chest, or can also be parti-colours like white with black, liver or red; black and tan; liver and tan etc.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a gentle, playful and an obedient breed. It is excellent with kids as well as other pets, including dogs, and thus, makes for an excellent companion breed. It is friendly with strangers if socialized at an early age. This breed has a tendency to bark when it sense danger which makes it a good watchdog. Although easy to train, the English Cocker Spaniel is a sensitive breed which does not respond well to harsh training methods. A calm and consistent approach is required when training this breed. If exercised sufficiently, it is well suited to an apartment life but this active breed is more comfortable in large area.
Sables come as solids and parti-colours. The identifying characteristic of this colouring is an "overlay" of coloured hairs on a cream to red undercoat. This "overlay" is actually a layer of guard hairs that are interspersed with the undercoat. These guard hairs are generally longer than the undercoat (when left to grow out) and this gives the appearance of a darker colour "overlay" on portions of the dog. The undercoat can be from the lightest cream to the deepest red and the overlay (interspersed hairs) may be black, brown or red. On parti-colours, the overlay and undercoat are only on the parts of the dog that are coloured. The white areas are the same as on a regular parti-colour.
The colour of the overlay is the genetic base-coat colour of the dog and is the colour used to identify the dog:
- Black overlay = black sable
- Chocolate overlay = chocolate sable
- Red overlay = red (or clear) sable.
On a solid dog, the sable colouring is generally most noticeable on the face, ears and back. Sable parti-colours will only have the overlay on the coloured areas of the coat and the sable colour will be most noticeable when their dark markings are on the face, ears and back. Clear sables look just like a red, buff or red/white unless you really get them down and look for the lighter coloured undercoat. Many clear sables are incorrectly registered as breeders that are not familiar with the colour may not notice the subtle shading.
Puppies from a sable parent should be evaluated and their colour identified at birth as this may be when sable colouring is most noticeable. Sometimes a clear or regular sable puppy can be identified by the fact that they have offset "eyebrows", rather like a black/tan or brown/tan, except that the eyebrows are over the outside corners of the eyes instead of being over the inside corners of the eyes. It kind of looks like they have on light coloured eye-shadow above the outside corners of the eyes. For those of you that are interested in sable Cockers, you should keep in mind that the colouring of a sable dog can change dramatically with shedding, grooming and age. Since a regular "Cocker cut" trims a majority of the places where sable markings are at their darkest, an owner may not recognize their own dog after a good grooming!