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Breed standard for the English Cocker Spaniel: issued by FCI

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 FCI website for details of any such current issues. If a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as undesirable or highly undesirable it is strongly recommended that it should not be rewarded in the show ring. 

ORIGIN: Great Britain.
UTILIZATION: Flushing dog.
FCI-CLASSIFICATION: Group 8 Retrievers, Flushing Dogs, Water Dogs. Section 2 Flushing dogs. With working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: Cocker Spaniels were recognized as a separate breed from Field and Springer Spaniels soon after the formation of the Kennel Club in 1873. He originated as the ‘cocking spaniel’, and derived this name from flushing woodcock. As with a number of gundog breeds there is nowadays a difference between those used for work and those used for show: the show Cocker is a sturdier, heavier version of his working counterpart.
GENERAL APPEARANCE: Merry, sturdy, sporting; well balanced; compact.
IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS: Measuring approximately the same from withers to ground as from withers to root of tail.
BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT: Merry nature with everwagging tail shows a typical bustling movement, particularly when following scent, fearless of heavy cover. Gentle and affectionate, yet full of life and exuberance.



Skull: Well developed, cleanly chiselled, neither too fine nor too coarse.
Stop: Distinct, set midway between tip of nose and occiput.


Nose: Sufficiently wide for acute scenting power.
Muzzle: Square.
Jaws/Teeth: Strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Cheek: Not prominent.
Eyes: 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 harmonize with coat; with expression of intelligence and gentleness but wide awake, bright and merry; rims tight.
Ears: Lobular, set low on level with eyes. Fine leathers extending to nose tip. Well clothed with long, straight silky hair.
Neck: Moderate in length, muscular. Set neatly into fine sloping shoulders. Clean throat.
Body: Strong, compact.

Topline: Firm, level, gently sloping downwards to tail from end of loin to set on of tail. Loin: Short, wide.
Chest: Well developed and brisket deep; neither too wide nor too narrow in front. Ribs well sprung.
Tail: 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.
Gait / Movement: True through action with great drive covering ground well.


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

English Cocker Spaniel Colour varieties: 

Colour: Solid colours: Black; red; golden; liver (chocolate); black and tan; liver and tan; No white allowed except a small amount on chest.

Particolours: Bicolours; Black and white; orange and white; liver and white; lemon and white. All with or without ticking.
Tricolours: Black, white and tan; liver, white and tan.
Roans: Blue roan; orange roan; lemon roan; liver roan; blue roan and tan; liver roan and tan.

Colour sable is not a recognised colour by FCI and The English Kennel Club


Height approximately: Males 39 – 41 cms – Females 38 – 39 cms
Weight approximately 13 – 14, 5 kgs


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 its ability to perform its traditional work.


• Aggressive or overly shy.
• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.


• Male English Cocker Spaniels should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.