The following article was originally written to assist shelter workers identify ECS and those relinquishing English Cockers to rescue to understand the breed differences. This is not an exhaustive list of diffferences and sometimes similarites make it hard to be certain. Others may choose to use this article to learn about the breed differences. I hope it is helpful.
If you have a dog that you wish to relinquish to rescue, and you are uncertain as to which breed it is, first look at the registration papers from the American Kennel Club (AKC.) If the term “Cocker Spaniel” is used, it is an American Cocker Spaniel. An AKC-registered English Cocker will clearly say “English Cocker Spaniel.”
On the other hand, if the dog is registered with a country other than the United States, the term “Cocker Spaniel” will refer to the English Cocker Spaniel.
English Cocker Spaniels are most often confused with English Springer Spaniels and American Cocker Spaniels.
American Cocker Spaniels
American Cocker Spaniels have round eyes, a rounded skull, a more pronounced stop, and a shorter muzzle than English Cocker Spaniels. They come in many of the same colors as English Cockers, but are rarely seen in the roan colors. The classic “buff” color that is so popular among American cockers is not seen in the English Cocker, although there are “red” English Cockers that have a darker red color. English Cockers are a bit taller and heavier than the American breed and tend to have less coat. The head of the English Cocker is more setter-like than the American Cocker. Just because a dog has a longer muzzle or is bigger than the usual AC doesn’t make it automatically an EC. Often, it takes someone expert in the breed to tell the difference.
Below are pictures of some American Cocker Spaniels. Two are buff colored and one is a show groomed liver American Cocker.
Here is a picture of an American Cocker and an English Cocker side-by-side. Notice head and size differences!
English Springer Spaniels
English Springer Spaniels may have a similar coat pattern in open-marked (black/white, liver/white) English Cocker Spaniels. The English Springer Spaniel stands taller and heavier (average 25-35 lbs.) English Springer Spaniels have a longer muzzle, the eyes are not as prominent and the coat is less profuse than most Cocker Spaniels. English Cockers are smaller and have longer, and lower-set ears than English Springers. Field-bred English Springer Spaniels often have a lighter build, with a more moderate amount of coat and featherings than show-bred Springers. Their markings are frequently predominantly white, or white with varied patches of color.
English Cocker Spaniels
English Cocker Spaniels may be many coat colors. They may be parti-colored, with patches of black, liver, red, orange, or gold against a white or roan background. (“Roan” is when the white background is lightly to heavily speckled or mixed with hairs of a color listed above. Roan colors are common in English Cockers, while relatively rare in other spaniels.) English Cockers may be solid colors of black, red, liver, and golden; or any of the above colors accompanied by tan points on the eyebrows, muzzle, throat, rump, and feet. English Cocker Spaniels have a medium coat length. The average size is from 15 to 17 inches at the shoulder, and 25 to 35 lbs.
Picturesd below is a typical blue roan, a black, and a red. Notice the darker red coat on the red example.
For more information on English Cocker Spaniels, visit the Breed Information page.