WITHOUT TYPE, THERE IS NO BREED
TYPE is what makes an English Cocker Spaniel an “English Cocker Spaniel” and not another BREED.
Many times, good intentioned breeders put more emphasis on health, or just specific parts of the dog, and think type is a
secondary element. Type, Temperament and Soundness are all equally important. A dog that is a good representative of the
breed cannot lack one of those 3 components. The purpose of breeding pure bred dogs should be to improve the BREED, and
without type, there is no breed. The ECS is a moderate, compact dog, the lines are rounded and soft, without sharp angles. A
long head, with sharp edges is not typical of the breed, a croup that is flat and a high tail set neither, the croup should be
rounded, and the tail set slightly below the topline, the angulations are about 90 degrees, like in the picture above. The
chest is rounded, we should feel the prosternum, but nothing should be exaggerated. When we look at the dog from the top,
it should not be straight either, we should be able to see good rib spring.
Serious breeders strive to preserve the correct breed type by only breeding the best examples of the breed. Excellent
temperament, and soundness are of equal importance than type, but temperament and soundness alone can be found in
any other breed or mix breed. Therefore, we should always remember, WITHOUT TYPE, THERE IS NO BREED, and take the
three elements into account:
TYPE, TEMPERAMENT AND SOUNDNESS.
A Little History and Excerpts of Breed Standards
Cocker Spaniels were originally bred as gundogs in the United Kingdom. In the 1930’s, the type preferred by many
Americans was different from the type preferred in England, which caused the separation of the breed in 1946 into
American Cocker Spaniels and ENGLISH Cocker Spaniels.
I firmly believe it is very important to preserve the ENGLISH breed type of the ECS in the world and to be all in the same
page, so we can continue to enjoy this wonderful breed. This will prevent further separations of the breed and benefit the
breed with a larger gene pool..Nowadays, with the advantage of improved communication and science, we have more
breeding choices, we are able to breed to dogs from overseas much easier than in the past.
The Breed Standard give us the guidelines of the “Breed Type”
Paraphrasing Mr. H.S.Lloyd, The standard of our breed was created by genuine sportsmen who really knew what was
necessary in an English cocker to be able to perform in the field as a gundog.
There have been attempts to redefine the English Cocker Spaniel to make it look like other breeds, sometimes like a Setter,
other times with an extreme sloping topline, like a German Shepherd and/or with a snipey head, but none of those
characteristics are described in the ECS Breed standard and do not serve the function of the breed.
The English Cocker Spaniel is not about hard angles, but about a soft, curvy silhouette. The following are excerpts from the
AKC, FCI and The Kennel Club standards. Pay attention to the words “smooth”, “curve”, “gentle”, “moderate” Those words
are repeated many times on both standards to describe the English Cocker Spaniel.
From the AKC standard:
“Topline.. .The line of the neck blends into the shoulder and backline in a smooth curve. The backline slopes very slightly
toward a gently rounded croup…”
“Hindquarters: Angulation moderate and, most importantly, in balance with that of the forequarters. Hips relatively broad
and well rounded…”
From the FCI standard:
“Topline: Firm, level, gently sloping downwards to tail from end of loin to set on of tail
Tail: Set on slightly lower than line of back.
HINDQUARTERS: General appearance: Wide, well rounded, very muscular; legs well boned.”
The FCI and AKC standards are almost the same in essence. The breed is ONE.
There are, however, slight differences but, If we take into consideration the ECS should be a moderate dog, these slight
differences should not affect the breed type. It is absolutely possible to breed a well balanced ECS that conforms to both
breed standards. The maximum height requirements differ in about half an inch for females and an inch for males. Another
small difference is in the proportions, explained below, which were the same before the current FCI standard was
changed from the 1950 Kennel Club version.
"Proportion--Compactly built and short-coupled, with height at withers slightly greater than the distance from withers to
set-on of tail"
FCI Standard, published in 2012:
"Proportions: Measuring approximately the same from withers to ground as from withers to root of tail"
The Kennel Club (UK) Standard, 1950 version:
General Appearance: “...That of an active, merry, sporting dog. The Cocker Spaniel does not follow in the lines of the larger
Field Spaniel, either in lengthiness, lowness or otherwise, but is shorter in back and rather higher on the legs”
"Body: Compact and firmly knit together, giving the impression of concentration of power and untiring activity. Short in
back. Immensely strong and compact in proportion to the size and weight of the dog; slightly drooping towards the tail"
"An untypical cocker that is sound is useless. A typical cocker that is sound is priceless"
Anne Rogers Clark
MEASURING THE ECS
When the ECS standard asks for a "Slighter shorter back than taller" ECS, can you see the inner square (or rectangle)
without measuring? Is the "moderate neck" of the dog pictured below giving you the wrong impression that the dog is "too
long"? Moderate or shorter necks, prominent chests, rear over angulations, toplines that are too slopey could give the
optical illusions that the dog is longer than it really is. If we think the dog is long because we are looking at the outer
rectangle, we are not measuring correctly!
Type and Balance
|St. Rock English Cocker Spaniels, home bred and
loved in WA, USA
We are members of the ECSCA,
The Cocker Spaniel Club of the UK,
The CKC, The CECSF, and the ECSCC
|Tail ideally carried level;
slightly elevated is acceptable.
|© St. Rock English Cocker Spaniels
|I will try to explain what I consider to be an ECS that is a good representative of the breed. First, we need to know and understand the ECS breed
standard. Observe the dog as a whole (none of the individual parts are more important than the whole), a well balanced ECS should have all its
body parts in moderate, harmonic proportion with the rest, like in the drawing below, none of the parts should be exaggerated. Their personality
should be merry, energetic, responsive, friendly, trainable. They should have a melting expression. Touch the dog and see the substance, rib
spring, the movement, soundness, appropriate height; all these components should be in accordance with the type and function of the breed
described in the breed standard. Do you see or feel sharp angles, coarseness, instead of soft, rounded shapes?
(The angles and proportions in the following drawing are approximate)