A Total Package in the Field
M any articles, and judges’ education, might start with the Cocker Spaniel being a “total package.” Standing, a Cocker should give a total picture of type, size, proportions, and balance. This picture should be appar- ent when the dog moves. Topline, balance, and the abil- ity to cover ground should be taken into consideration. The same picture, moving and standing, should be seen. All of this is true. However, many judges forget that the standard is based on the Cocker’s ability to function in the field. Finding, flushing, and retrieving birds is all in a day’s work for the breed. “Form follows function” is a key to good judging, and judges should never forget this as they go over these dogs. The Cocker’s coat is impres- sive and beautiful. So, seeing this, a judge might think that the breed could not succeed in the field. But this is why they were bred originally and it is what many Cock- ers continue to do today. What is under the coat—and the make-up of the headpiece—are all important to pro- ducing a Cocker Spaniel that can function in the field. One of these important functional features is the breed’s height. A Cocker is disqualified if it is over 15-1/2 inches for males, and 14-1/2 inches for bitches. The rea- son for this goes back to their function. They are the smallest member of the Sporting Group for good reason. They hunt where there is underbrush and dense vegeta- tion, areas where bigger dogs cannot maneuver. They are bred to hunt in tough, tight terrain. Their size fits with the job of this remarkable breed.
BY NANCY GALLANT ( PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR )
Oakleys son, Stetson (Blue Roan) Ch. Bow-k’s & Gardian Cowboy Up, is ready to start working in the field.
284 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021
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