English cocker spaniel, breed of compact sporting dog perfected in England, whose development may be traced back to the original spaniels of Spain. It stands about 16 in. (40.6 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs about 30 lb (13.6 kg). Its medium-length coat is silky and slightly wavy and forms fringes of longer hair, or feathers, on the dog's underside, ears, chest, and legs. It may be any of various colors or parti-colored. The tail is docked. Until its official recognition by the Kennel Club of England in 1892 as a separate breed, it and the larger springer spaniel were distinguished by size only. Thus, the same litter could produce both dogs, the cocker being used to hunt smaller game, such as woodcocks. It is still trained for that purpose today and is also widely kept as a house pet. The smaller cocker spaniel of America, derived from it, has been established as a separate breed. See dog.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.