They’re one of the UK’s most popular dog breeds, but how much do you know about the lively Cocker Spaniel?
The last few years have seen many of us welcome a new four-legged friend into our homes, as the Kennel Club has seen dog ownership soar to record levels.
But with 221 different breeds of pedigree dog to choose from, there’s plenty of thinking to do before you select your perfect pup.
There’s even academic guidance to seek out, with Psychologist Stanley Coren’s book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs’ ranking breeds by instincts, obedience, and the ability to adapt.
One dog that often appears at the top of people’s canine wishlists is the Cocker Spaniel – they were the UK’s third most popular pet in 2020 (only bested by the Labrador Retriever and French Bulldog) and have a range of positive attributes that make them a great family pet.
Here are 10 fun and interesting facts about the breed.
1. A historic journey
A Cocker Spaniel, or at least one of its descendents, was a passenger on the Mayflower - the ship that carried the Pilgrims from England to the New World in 1620. There were two dogs recorded on the crossing - a Mastiff and a Spaniel (at this point there were no distinct breeds of spaniel). Photo: Canva/Getty Images
2. Clever canines
Cocker Spaniels are the 18th most intelligent species of dog according to behavioural experts. In 2015 a four-year-old Cocker Spaniel cocker named Ginger from Strone, near Dunoon. took Gaelic classes with her owner and mastered basic commands like suidh (sit) and fuirich (stay) in only three weeks. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
3. What's in a name
The 'Cocker' part of the Cocker Spaniel's name refers to the reason they were originally bred in the UK - to hunt woodcock. They were then exported to the US to hunt the American woodcock, bred to have slightly different attributes to enable it to specialise in tracking down the different type of bird. Photo: Canva/Getty Images
4. Sniffing out illness
In 2004 researchers successfully showed that dogs could identify cancer by scent alone. The English study used six dogs and a Cocker Spaniel called Tangle had the best success rate - after training Tangle was able to correctly identify cancer 80 per cent of the time. Photo: Canva/Getty Images