Cocker Spaniels are dogs belonging to two breeds of the spaniel dog type: the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel, both of which are commonly called simply Cocker Spaniel in their countries of origin. In the early 20th century, Cocker Spaniels also included small hunting Spaniels.
Cocker Spaniels were originally bred as hunting dogs in the United Kingdom, with the term cocker deriving from their use to hunt the Eurasian Woodcock. When the breed was brought to the United States, it was bred to a different standard, which enabled it to specialize in hunting the American Woodcock. Further physical changes were bred into the cocker in the United States during the early part of the 20th century.
Dog breeds are groups of closely related and visibly similar domestic dogs, which are all of the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris, having characteristic traits that are selected and maintained by humans, bred from a known foundation stock. The term dog breed is also used to refer to natural breeds or landraces, which arose through time in response to a particular environment that included humans, with little or no selective breeding by humans. Such breeds are undocumented, and are identified by their appearance and often by a style of working. Ancient dog breeds are some of the modern (documented) descendants of such natural breeds.
Dog breeding is the practice of mating selected dogs with the intent to maintain or produce specific qualities and characteristics. When dogs reproduce without such human intervention, their offsprings' characteristics are determined by natural selection, while "dog breeding" refers specifically to the artificial selection of dogs, in which dogs are intentionally bred by their owners. A person who intentionally mates dogs to produce puppies is referred to as a dog breeder. Breeding relies on the science of genetics, so the breeder with a knowledge of canine genetics, health, and the intended use for the dogs attempts to breed suitable dogs.
Humans have maintained populations of useful animals around their places of habitat since pre-historic times. They have intentionally fed dogs considered useful, while neglecting or killing others, thereby establishing a relationship between humans and certain types of dog over thousands of years. Over these millennia, domesticated dogs have developed into distinct types, or groups, such as livestock guardian dogs, hunting dogs, and sighthounds.
The American Cocker Spaniel is a breed of sporting dog. It is a spaniel type dog that is closely related to the English Cocker Spaniel; the two breeds diverged during the 20th century due to differing breed standards in America and the UK. In the United States, the breed is usually referred to as the Cocker Spaniel, while elsewhere in the world, it is called the American Cocker Spaniel in order to differentiate between it and its English cousin. The word cocker is commonly held to stem from their use to hunt woodcock in England, while spaniel is thought to be derived from the type's origins in Spain.
The first spaniel in America came across with the Mayflower in 1620, but it was not until 1878 that the first Cocker Spaniel was registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). A national breed club was set up three years later and the dog considered to be the father of the modern breed, Ch. Obo II, was born around this time. By the 1920s the English and American varieties of Cocker had become noticeably different and in 1946 the AKC recognised the English type as a separate breed. It was not until 1970 that The Kennel Club in the UK recognised the American Cocker Spaniel as being separate from the English type. The American Cocker was the most popular breed in the United States during the 1940s and 50s and again during the 1980s, reigning for a total of 18 years. They have also won the best in show title at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on four occasions, and have been linked to the President of the United States on several occasions, with owners including Richard Nixon and Harry S. Truman.
Discovered and further developed by South Carolina hunters for hunters in the 1900s, the Boykin Spaniel is a medium-sized breed of dog, a Spaniel bred for hunting wild turkeys and ducks in the Wateree River Swamp of South Carolina, in the United States. It is the state dog of South Carolina.
The Tibetan Spaniel is a breed of assertive, small, intelligent dogs originating over 2,500 years ago in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet. They share ancestry with, and some believe are the foundation breed for, the Pekingese, Japanese Chin, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, and Pug.
This breed is not a true spaniel; its breeding and role differs quite a bit. (Spaniels are gun dogs.) The spaniel name may have been given due to its resemblance to the bred-down lapdog versions of the hunting spaniels, such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.