Learn 7 Fun Facts About Cocker Spaniels

Learn 7 Fun Facts About Cocker Spaniels

Author WDF Staff


The Cocker Spaniel is a popular family pet, and we believe it is one of the most elegant dog breeds out there. They are adaptable and charming, making them ideal companions that fit well in all sorts of living environments. Before their companion status, these adorable dogs were active hunters. There are apparent traits they carry with them to this day.

There is a lot more to these lovable rascals, and there are plenty of facts casual owners don’t know about them. Stick with us if you are interested in learning fun facts about the fascinating Cocker Spaniel.

1. Named after they prey

Spaniels were used for hunting for hundreds of years, and they were split into two groups - land and water. Each group was carefully developed to excel at hunting specific prey. Land Spaniels were focused on hunting and “springing” waterfowl from their hideouts. Each Spaniel breed was focused on a particular type of bird, and the Cocker Spaniel excelled in hunting the Woodcock.

cocker spaniel english

Initially, these dogs were considered skilled Woodcock hunters, and eventually, they were named after the prey they were hunting. The “Cocker” part of the name refers to the noble Woodcock, who stand little to no chance when a skilled Cocker Spaniel went hunting. Even to this day, these small, elegant hunters cannot be trusted around pet birds; their hunting instinct remains very strong.

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2. Mayflower

Only a few ships in human history hold such a special place, especially in US history, as does the Mayflower. This ship took the first “Pilgrims” across the Atlantic ocean and into the “New World,” which we know today as the United States of America. In 1620, 102 passengers and a crew of 30 sailors embarked upon a perilous journey through treacherous waters to reach their promised land. Aboard this historic ship were two dogs.

cocker spaniel smiling

One was a large Mastiff, and the other was a small Spaniel specialized in hunting Woodcock. They weren’t classified yet, but it is pretty clear that it was a Cocker Spaniel. This dog was a valuable resource that helped original settlers hunt, and they wouldn’t have survived that first winter if it wasn’t for the Indigenous people and their little helper.

3. Cocker cousins

Like with many other breeds, the Cocker Spaniel was split into two different varieties. The original Cockers come from England, where their standard was carefully written. The breed was primarily developed for hunting, and the breeders were focused on their superb sporting and hunting abilities. In the 19th century, American and English breeders had different ideas regarding how the breed should develop and look.

cocker spaniel with blanket

The English and American Cocker Spaniels are very similar. Still, there are subtle differences that are easily noticeable if you know where to look. Americans wanted to breed smaller dogs with a milder character. The two varieties became so different that they were eventually split into separate breeds. American Cockers are smaller, and they have shorter muzzles and rounder heads.

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4. Loved by presidents, royals, and celebrities

Presidents, royals, and celebrities are all people, just like the rest of us. It is no wonder there are some among them that were mesmerized by this adorable little hunter. The Cocker Spaniel was a breed of choice for many prominent historical figures and celebrities. President Nixon had a Cocker Spaniel called Checkers, and President Truman’s Cocker was called Feller.

english cocker spaniel laying

This breed is popular among celebrities. Some known owners are George Clooney (had an older Cocker Spaniel he saved from a shelter), Oprah Winfrey, Kate Middleton, Victoria and David Beckham, Charlize Theron, Simon Baker, and Sir Elton John.

5. Pop culture

Dogs have been included in pop culture for more than 100 years. Humans have celebrated their friendship with dogs by including them in different works of art. Dogs have been a motive for statues, paintings, songs, and movies, and one of the most famous Disney movies is “Lady and the Tramp.” The 1955 animated Disney movie was an instant hit among children and adults, and one of the main characters is Lady.

english cocker spaniel puppy

Lady is an adorable Cocker Spaniel who lives with an upper-middle-class family. Along the way, she meets Tramp, the lovable mutt, and she falls in love with him. Lady was voiced by Barbara Luddy, and Tramp was voiced by Larry Roberts.

Interested in more Spaniels? Check out this article with our favorite Spaniel breeds - Best Spaniel breeds.

6. Cockers have inspired first boat shoes

First-ever boat shoes were called Sperrys after their inventor, Paul Sperry. Sperry was a Cocker Spaniel owner, and his Cocker was called Prince. One day, he watched his dog run across the ice with absolutely no problem and had an amazing grip. He was baffled and decided he wanted to create something that will enable people to walk on slippery surfaces with ease.

english cocker spaniel

Sperry examined his dog’s paws and noticed they have wave-like grooves. He cut a similar groove-like pattern in the shoe’s soles and noticed they provided fantastic traction. The shoe was first introduced in 1935, and nearly a hundred years later, his company is one of the biggest shoe companies in the world, all thanks to his little Cocker friend called Prince.

7. First cancer-detecting dogs

We know that dogs have exceptional skills. They are empathic, they can be our eyes and ears, and they will love you no matter what. Detecting cancer is another skill that can be added to this impressive list of accomplishments. The most successful cancer-detecting dog was called Tangle, and he was a Cocker Spaniel. Without any training, he could detect 6/10 cancer samples.

english cocker spaniel closeup

After the 2004 study, English scientists worked with Tangle and managed to get his success rate up to 80%. To this day, they are not sure what is it exactly dogs can smell in cancerous samples, but there is no denying that Tangle could detect it. Dogs can detect different diseases like malaria, bacterial infections, and even neurological diseases.

If you want to learn more about the Cocker Spaniel, check out their full profile here - Cocker Spaniel breed profile.

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