Showsight Presents The Cocker Spaniel

COCKER SPANIEL

Oakley is an AKC Conformation Champion and also a Master Hunter—he also has a UKC HRC Started Retriever title—he likes ducks! He is one of only a few Champion/ Master Hunter Cocker Spaniels

A hackney or side wheeling motion shows an improper shoul- der. This shoulder is often too straight for a strong rear. The move- ment in front should be long, low, and smooth. The rear pads should be seen clearly as the Cocker drives forward. This is effort- less movement, making it easy for Cockers to sustain working in the field all day. Remember, fast does not mean efficient. I would like to pause here to include issues about the docked tail, because whenever I give a seminar, there are always questions about the tail being docked or undocked. The Board of Directors of the American Spaniel Club (ASC), on February 28, 2018, made this directive on the tail: The Cocker Spaniel is a docked, hunting breed. The characteristic incessant merry action of the tail while working in thick, dense cover that is sometimes deeper than the dog is tall, necessitates docking to prevent injury. The member- ship voted not to change the standard in regards to docked tails. Thus, the ASC continues to support an important characteristic required by the breed’s function as a hunting dog. But, according to AKC rules, a judge may either choose to judge a Cocker Spaniel with an undocked tail, considering the tail to be a fault, or excuse the dog after examination. The ASC will support your decision to judge or excuse an undocked tail. In judging the undocked tail, it is expected that you would prioritize your judging by virtues, and factor in faults lastly. This is not a disqualification. Lastly, I would like to talk about coat. In spite of the function of the Cocker Spaniel, the breed has become increasingly heavy- coated. Therefore, texture and proper length of coat has become exceedingly important for his dual role. Excessive and/or cottony coats must be discouraged. A coat that knots quickly or drags on the ground makes the dog very undesirable for fieldwork.

The Cocker Spaniel standard does not end there when it comes to those features needed for field work. They need a nose with capac- ity to sufficiently find game. Thus, a large, open nostril becomes very important for finding game. Interestingly enough, this large, dark nose is also an important factor in giving the Cocker head its beautiful, soft, appealing look. Eyes that are almond-shaped and deep-set (not bulging) are definitely needed when working in dense areas. The eyelids should fit tightly around the eye for protection when working in the field. Again, function comes into play with the muzzle, which should have a clean appearance and be long enough to be able to pick up and carry a bird. The ears should be fine and reach at least to the end of the nose. They should fold forward to frame the face. Their placement allows the ears to direct the scent of the bird more read- ily toward the dog’s large nose. The mouth is large with good-sized, well-formed teeth that enable the Cocker to carry a game bird. Another functional feature is the neck, which should be suf- ficiently long enough to allow the nose to reach the ground. Just as important is a neck that fits well into the sloping shoulders, to enable the Cocker to cover ground efficiently. A Cocker with a short neck and a straight front assembly is unable to reach with full exten- sion, and the gait will be constricted, hindering good field work.

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JUNE 2021 | 285

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