American Cocker Spaniel

Lifestyle Needs

American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is a remoulded version of the English Cocker.  He is smaller, his skull rounded and his eyes more forward facing.  His back is shorter and slightly sloping.  He also has copious hair on his ears and body.  All of these characteristics, as well as his (usually) friendly temperament, make the American Cocker a popular family dog.  He needs plenty of fun and exercise.  His very long, silky coat needs careful and frequent grooming.

Genetic Diversity
(Known as Coefficient of Inbreeding: 'COI'. It should be as low as possible.)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 4.0% - See 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Gene Pool Size
(Known as Effective Population Size: 'EPS')


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

  • The American Cocker’s long coat will cause him problems if not groomed regularly and professionally trimmed from time to time.
  • His over long ears are likely to be stepped on when he tries to follow a scent
  • Long ears and excessive hair can cause ear canal inflammation and infection which can be painful

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

  • Hip dysplasia : breed 5 year mean score 10.8
  • Eye disease: Primary glaucoma (G) (annual testing); Multi-focal retinal dysplasia (litter screening); Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing); Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) (annual testing)

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) : No EBVs are currently available for this breed

DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (pcrd-PR)
  • Glycogen Storage Disease V11
  • Familial Nephropathy
  • Exercise -Induced Collapse (EIC)
  • Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK)
  • Iron Refractory Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IRADA)

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Patellar luxation
  • ‘Cherry Eye’
  • Temperomandibular joint dysplasia
  • Immune mediated thrombocytopenia
  • Cancer: ceruminous gland carcinoma; perianal gland tumours; basal cell tumors; histiocytoma; lymphoma
  • Corneal dystrophy
  • Distichiasis
  • Entropion/Ectropion
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry eye)
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Heart disease: Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Cruciate ligament disease
  • Haemophilia B
  • Thyroid disease
  • von Willebrands disease

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):

The breeder should also be familiar with the CFSG/DBRG Code of Practice for Dog Breeding

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

Breed Health Information