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The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc. produces an illustrated breed standard. The booklet provides an excellent example of the breed as it should be judged in shows held by the American Kennel Club. Illustrations accompany the text of the standard throughout. Illustrations include head studies, bone structure and movement.
CLARIFICATION OF ECS COLORS
The Breed Education Committee and breeder-judges of English Cocker Spaniels have noticed an increase in the number of questions regarding acceptable color and markings. In order to provide information on color and markings in accordance with the Breed Standard, this clarification was drafted by the Committee.
The English Cocker Spaniel standard states under Color – “Various.”; then goes on to list the acceptable colors and markings in the breed.
The AKC guidelines (1994, amended 2006) for writing breed standards states: “In breeds where multiple colors or color combinations are acceptable, but not all colors are permitted, the complete list of all acceptable colors and color combinations must be included in the standard. In such cases, any color or color combinations not mentioned are unacceptable, and judges are to pass judgment on this basis.”
Please keep in mind when judging this breed, that color patterns occurring in breeds outside the Sporting group, such as brindle or sable, etc., are not described in the English Cocker Spaniel Breed Standard as they are neither parti-color (ticked, roaned, or open marked, with or without tan points) nor solid color (with or without tan points).
Issued by the E.C.S.C.A. Breed Education Committee and approved by the Board of Directors of the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc.
Issue Date: October 12, 2010
A DIRECTIVE FROM THE JUDGES’ EDUCATION COMMITTEE
When judging the English Cocker Spaniel, it is important to remember the original purpose of the breed, which is to hunt in very dense cover. It must be understood that the English Cocker pushes through the cover and does not leap over it like the larger Springer or Setter. To function efficiently in this type of terrain and in this manner, the correct “cockery” dog must have well sprung ribs that are deep and carried well back, a short, broad back, a well-developed forechest, generous bone, a short, broad loin, and broad and muscular hindquarters. He is a compact, broad, and very powerfully built dog for his size.
The English Cocker must be viewed from above to confirm that the well-sprung ribcage is the widest part of the dog, with an ample chest and a broad, “hammy” rear to support the body. An English Cocker lacking in substance that is long, narrow, refined, shelly, racy, and/or fine-boned, is “settery” in appearance, is atypical of the breed, and should not be rewarded.
Clarifications of the Breed Education Committee of the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America
BUSTLING MOVEMENT AS IT APPLIES TO THE ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL
By Breed Education Committee
“Bustling” is not included in the U.S. standard because it has been misinterpreted in the English standard. The English standard was written back in the day when standards were written by dog people for dog people, with many concepts mutually understood and assumed.
The first three paragraphs of the English standard are titled: “General Appearance”, “Characteristics”, and “Temperament”. It is under “Characteristics”, and only there, that the word “bustling” appears, and it reads: “Merry nature with ever-wagging tail shows a typical bustling movement, particularly when following scent, fearless of heavy cover.” The pursuit of game birds was the reason for the breed’s development and existence, and the above is a description of its hunting demeanor.
The English standard then goes on to describe the physical appearance of the breed in detail, beginning with “Head and Skull”. Ten paragraphs later is “Gait/Movement”, which states: “True through action with great drive, covering ground well.” That is pretty straight forward with no mention of “bustling”. When hunting, the English Cocker does indeed present a bustling movement, with a madly wagging tail, he busily darts here and there in a very active pursuit of bird scent In the show ring, his movement is evaluated as above in the English standard and as follows in the U.S. standard: “The English Cocker is capable of hunting in dense cover and in upland terrain. His gait is accordingly characterized more by drive and the appearance of power than by great speed. He covers ground effortlessly and with extension both in front and in rear, appropriate to his angulation. In the ring, he carries his head proudly and is able to keep much the same top line while in action as when standing for examination. Going and coming, he moves in a straight line without crabbing or rolling, and with width between both front and rear legs appropriate to his build and gait.”
The writers of the U.S. standard were wise to not include a hunting demeanor in the breed’s description, as the concept of “bustling” continues to occur occasionally in the wrong sense. It has been used for decades to forgive poor movement, steep croups, high rears, and incorrect tail sets.
JUDGING THE ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL WITH A NATURAL TAIL
The English Cocker Spaniel is a docked, hunting breed. The characteristic incessant, merry action of the tail while working in thick, dense cover, normally deeper than the dog is tall, necessitates docking to prevent injury. (Please refer to the directive here). The ECSCA does not intend to change the breed standard.
In accordance with A.K.C. rules (Chapter 7, Section 15), you may either choose to excuse an English Cocker with a natural tail as being inconsistent with the standard, or judge the dog, considering the tail to be a fault. The ECSCA will support your decision to excuse, as well as judge, an undocked dog. Should you choose to keep a natural-tailed English Cocker in the ring, it is expected that you would prioritize by virtues and factor in faults lastly.
The natural tail is thick at the root (consistent with the required generous amount of bone), tapering to the end, and ideally not reaching below the hock joint. As this has always been a docked breed, determine the tail carriage by observing the first quarter to third of the tail as the dog is being moved.
In order to aid your sweepstakes judges in their assignment, the Breed Education Committee has assembled a packet of information on judging our breed.
This information is specifically directed at people coming from other breeds, but contains information anyone judging a sweepstakes assignment would find pertinent and useful and more in-depth than they might find just reading the standard.
Please share this information with your future judges, it will also be available on the ECSCA website under the Judges Education page.
ECSCA Breed Education Committee
The Breed Quick Reference GuideThe ECSCA Inc. produces a “Quick Reference Card”. The card is 5-1/2″ x 8″ and is 3-hole punched to fit in the AKC Standards notebook. The card is available, free, to anyone that sends a 6″ x 9″ self addressed stamped (88 cents) envelope to:
9429 E McGill Ct.
Parker, CO 80134
Judges Education Seminars
The Breed Education Committee is pleased to take requests to conduct Judges Education Seminars. In these seminars, future and existing judges, are shown prime examples of the English Cocker Spaniel. Presenters explain the Illustrated Breed Standard, detail the history of the breed and provide hands-on experience.
For more information on holding a seminar or attending a seminar, please contact:
Chair – Genelle Joseph, (303) 805-1617, firstname.lastname@example.org