Spaniel (Cocker) Breed Standard

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A Breed Standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.

To view photos of this breed please visit the Kennel Club Picture Library


General Appearance
Merry, sturdy, sporting; well balanced; compact; measuring approximately same from withers to ground as from withers to root of tail.

Merry nature with ever-wagging tail shows a typical bustling movement, particularly when following scent, fearless of heavy cover.

Gentle and affectionate, yet full of life and exuberance.

Head and Skull
Square muzzle, with distinct stop set midway between tip of nose and occiput. Skull well developed, cleanly chiselled, neither too fine nor too coarse. Cheek bones not prominent. Nose sufficiently wide for acute scenting power.

Full, but not prominent. Dark brown or brown, never light, but in the case of liver, liver roan and liver and white, dark hazel to harmonise with coat; with expression of intelligence and gentleness but wide awake, bright and merry; rims tight.

Lobular, set low on a level with eyes. Fine leathers extending to nose tip. Well clothed with long, straight silky hair.

Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Moderate in length, muscular. Set neatly into fine sloping shoulders. Clean throat.

Shoulders sloping and fine. Legs well boned, straight, sufficiently short for concentrated power. Not too short to interfere with tremendous exertions expected from this grand, sporting dog.

Strong, compact. Chest well developed and brisket deep; neither too wide nor too narrow in front. Ribs well sprung. Loin short, wide with firm, level topline gently sloping downwards to tail from end of loin to set on of tail.

Wide, well rounded, very muscular. Legs well boned, good bend of stifle, short below hock allowing for plenty of drive.

Firm, thickly padded, cat-like.

Set on slightly lower than line of back. Must be merry in action and carried level, never cocked up. Previously customarily docked.
Docked: Never too short to hide, nor too long to interfere with, the incessant merry action when working.
Undocked: Slightly curved, of moderate length, proportionate to size of body giving an overall balanced appearance; ideally not reaching below the hock. Strong at the root and tapering to a fine tip; well feathered in keeping with the coat. Lively in action, carried on a plane not higher than level of back and never so low as to indicate timidity.

True through action with great drive covering ground well.

Flat, silky in texture, never wiry or wavy, not too profuse and never curly. Well feathered forelegs, body and hindlegs above hocks.

Various. In self colours no white allowed except on chest.

Height approximately: dogs: 39-41 cms (151/2-16 ins); bitches: 38-39 cms (15-151/2 ins). Weight approximately: 13-14.5 kgs (28-32 lbs).

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog, and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.

Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Last Updated - December 2008

Glossary of Canine Terms

Some links to health information and resources that may be relevant to this breed:

Veterinary screening schemes - The Kennel Club operates these with the British Veterinary Association.

DNA screening schemes - detect disease-causing mutations in a number of breeds.

Current Accredited Breeder Scheme health screening requirements and recommendations - for Kennel Club Accredited Breeders show what is required and recommended for the sire and dam of any litter of this breed bred by a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder.

Breed WatchBreed Watch - a tool aimed at dog show judges and exhibitors to highlight and tackle any current concerns in a breed

Health Test results Finder Tool - access results of any official KC health testing scheme for Kennel Club registered dogs

2004 Purebred Dog Health Survey Results - Individual summaries are available where the breed response rate was greater than 15%.

Recommended Reading

All the below publications are available from the Online Shop.

Breed Standards

Kennel Club Breed Standards

Kennel Club Breed Standards are available for most breeds indicating the qualities which competition judges normally take into account and the standard or model which breeders endeavour to achieve.

The Breed Standards can be purchased by group.

Breed Clubs and Societies

Find A Puppy

Search for Kennel Club registered Cocker Spaniel puppies for sale in the UK

Find A Rescue

Search for Cocker Spaniel rescue societies for adopting and re-homing rescue dogs


Date page created:
Gundog Group 

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