Cocker Spaniel  Sporting Group
Breed Standard
The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting
Group. He has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and
refined head, with the overall dog in complete balance and of
ideal size. He stands well up at the shoulder on straight forelegs
with a topline sloping slightly toward strong, moderately bent,
muscular quarters. He is a dog capable of considerable speed,
combined with great endurance. Above all, he must be free and
merry, sound, well balanced throughout and in action show a
keen inclination to work. A dog well balanced in all parts is more
desirable than a dog with strongly contrasting good points and
Size-- The ideal height at the withers for an adult dog is 15 inches
and for an adult bitch, 14 inches. Height may vary one-half inch
above or below this ideal. A dog whose height exceeds 15½
inches or a bitch whose height exceeds 14½ inches shall be
disqualified. An adult dog whose height is less than 14½ inches
and an adult bitch whose height is less than 13½ inches shall be
penalized. Height is determined by a line perpendicular to the
ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the dog standing
naturally with its forelegs and lower hind legs parallel to the line
of measurement. Proportion--The measurement from the breast
bone to back of thigh is slightly longer than the measurement
from the highest point of withers to the ground. The body must be
of sufficient length to permit a straight and free stride; the dog
never appears long and low.
To attain a well proportioned head, which must be in balance with
the rest of the dog, it embodies the following: Expression--The
expression is intelligent, alert, soft and appealing. Eyes--Eyeballs
are round and full and look directly forward. The shape of the eye
rims gives a slightly almond shaped appearance; the eye is not
weak or goggled. The color of the iris is dark brown and in general
the darker the better. Ears--Lobular, long, of fine leather, well
feathered, and placed no higher than a line to the lower part of the
eye. Skull--Rounded but not exaggerated with no tendency
toward flatness; the eyebrows are clearly defined with a
pronounced stop. The bony structure beneath the eyes is well
chiseled with no prominence in the cheeks. The muzzle is broad
and deep, with square even jaws. To be in correct balance, the
distance from the stop to the tip of the nose is one half the
distance from the stop up over the crown to the base of the skull.
Nose--of sufficient size to balance the muzzle and foreface, with
well developed nostrils typical of a sporting dog. It is black in
color in the blacks, black and tans, and black and whites; in other
colors it may be brown, liver or black, the darker the better. The
color of nose harmonizes with the color of the eye rim. Lips--The
upper lip is full and of sufficient depth to cover the lower jaw.
Teeth--Teeth strong and sound, not too small and meet in a
scissors bite.
Neck--The neck is sufficiently long to allow the nose to reach the
ground easily, muscular and free from pendulous "throatiness." It
rises strongly from the shoulders and arches slightly as it tapers
to join the head. Topline--sloping slightly toward muscular
quarters. Body--The chest is deep, its lowest point no higher than
the elbows, its front sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung
space, yet not so wide as to interfere with the straightforward
movement of the forelegs. Ribs are deep and well sprung. Back is
strong and sloping evenly and slightly downward from the
shoulders to the set-on of the docked tail. The docked tail is set
on and carried on a line with the topline of the back, or slightly
higher; never straight up like a Terrier and never so low as to
indicate timidity. When the dog is in motion the tail action is merry.
The shoulders are well laid back forming an angle with the upper
arm of approximately 90 degrees which permits the dog to move
his forelegs in an easy manner with forward reach. Shoulders are
clean-cut and sloping without protrusion and so set that the upper
points of the withers are at an angle which permits a wide spring
of rib. When viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical, the
elbow is directly below the highest point of the shoulder blade.
Forelegs are parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular and
set close to the body well under the scapulae. The pasterns are
short and strong. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed. Feet
compact, large, round and firm with horny pads; they turn neither
in nor out.
Hips are wide and quarters well rounded and muscular. When
viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel when in motion and
at rest. The hind legs are strongly boned, and muscled with
moderate angulation at the stifle and powerful, clearly defined
thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of it in motion
or when standing. The hocks are strong and well let down.
Dewclaws on hind legs may be removed.
On the head, short and fine; on the body, medium length, with
enough undercoating to give protection. The ears, chest, abdomen
and legs are well feathered, but not so excessively as to hide the
Cocker Spaniel's true lines and movement or affect his
appearance and function as a moderately coated sporting dog.
The texture is most important. The coat is silky, flat or slightly
wavy and of a texture which permits easy care. Excessive coat or
curly or cottony textured coat shall be severely penalized. Use of
electric clippers on the back coat is not desirable. Trimming to
enhance the dog's true lines should be done to appear as natural
as possible.
Black Variety--Solid color black to include black with tan points.
The black should be jet; shadings of brown or liver in the coat are
not desirable. A small amount of white on the chest and/or throat is
allowed; white in any other location shall disqualify.  Any Solid
Color Other than Black (ASCOB)--Any solid color other than black,
ranging from lightest cream to darkest red, including brown and
brown with tan points. The color shall be of a uniform shade, but
lighter color of the feathering is permissible. A small amount of
white on the chest and/or throat is allowed; white in any other
location shall disqualify.  Parti-Color Variety--Two or more solid,
well broken colors, one of which must be white; black and white,
red and white (the red may range from lightest cream to darkest
red), brown and white, and roans, to include any such color
combination with tan points. It is preferable that the tan markings
be located in the same pattern as for the tan points in the Black
and ASCOB varieties. Roans are classified as parti-colors and may
be of any of the usual roaning patterns. Primary color which is
ninety percent (90%) or more shall disqualify.  Tan Points--The
color of the tan may be from the lightest cream to the darkest red
and is restricted to ten percent (10%) or less of the color of the
specimen; tan markings in excess of that amount shall disqualify.
In the case of tan points in the Black or ASCOB variety, the
markings shall be located as follows: 1) A clear tan spot over each
eye; 2) On the sides of the muzzle and on the cheeks; 3) On the
underside of the ears; 4) On all feet and/or legs; 5) Under the tail;
6) On the chest, optional; presence or absence shall not be
penalized. Tan markings which are not readily visible or which
amount only to traces, shall be penalized. Tan on the muzzle which
extends upward, over and joins shall also be penalized. The
absence of tan markings in the Black or ASCOB variety in any of
the specified locations in any otherwise tan-pointed dog shall
The Cocker Spaniel, though the smallest of the sporting dogs,
possesses a typical sporting dog gait. Prerequisite to good
movement is balance between the front and rear assemblies. He
drives with strong, powerful rear quarters and is properly
constructed in the shoulders and forelegs so that he can reach
forward without constriction in a full stride to counterbalance the
driving force from the rear. Above all, his gait is coordinated,
smooth and effortless. The dog must cover ground with his
action; excessive animation should not be mistaken for proper
Equable in temperament with no suggestion of timidity.
Height--Males over 15½ inches; females over 14½ inches. Color
and Markings--The aforementioned colors are the only acceptable
colors or combination of colors.  Any other colors or combination
of colors to disqualify. Black Variety--White markings except on
chest and throat. Any Solid Color Other Than Black Variety--White
markings except on chest and throat. Parti-color Variety--Primary
color ninety percent (90%) or more. Tan Points--(1) Tan markings
in excess of ten percent (10%); (2) Absence of tan markings in
Black or ASCOB Variety in any of the specified locations in an
otherwise tan pointed dog.