The wavy coat of the Cocker Spaniel is the envy of many who pay dearly to achieve those waves in the form of a salon perm. But in the case of the Cocker Spaniel, the wavy hair is completely natural and only one of the notable features and characteristics of this loving dog. There are two types of Cocker Spaniel generally recognized by canine organizations - the English Cocker Spaniel and the American Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker is the older of the two breeds and the American Cocker is the result of selective breeding of the English version.
The English Cocker group was eventually divided into several breeds that are now each officially recognized in their own right. The dogs most people today refer to as "Cocker Spaniel" refers to the American version of this ancient breed. The Cocker Spaniel is most often used today as a show dog or companion dog, but this hasn't always been the case. Remember that this is a spaniel. As such, these dogs were bred for performing specific tasks.
In this case, the dog was initially used primarily as a hunting dog. The name comes from this dog's ability to hunt and flush a particular kind of bird - the woodcock. In hunting circles, the dogs were often called simply "cockers." Today, the Cocker Spaniel is still an avid hunter and those trained to hunt are more than willing to follow those natural instincts.
There are two fairly distinct lines - one bred primarily for hunting and a separate line for show and companion. The show/companion lines typically have coats that achieve longer length. Even dogs that are kept indoors and remain only companion dogs are seldom to be trusted with feathered members of the household, so strong is that instinct to chase these birds for their hunters. As a rule, these dogs have coats of a single color, though some markings of different colors are allowed by canine clubs. Light tan (typically called buff) and black are probably the two most common colors for Cocker Spaniels. The natural wavy hair requires grooming, though the extent of that grooming depends entirely on the length of the hair and the activities of the dog.
Most families choose to keep their Cocker Spaniel trimmed fairly short to make this task easier. Though Cocker Spaniels aren't recognized as the smartest of the canines, their intensity and determination to please make them better-than-average family pets. If they're well socialized and treated kindly, they seldom snap and will become close friends with anyone who has time to be pals. From playtime to bedtime, they'll choose to be close to their people if given a choice. As a rule, Cocker Spaniels will perform whatever task they're assigned. These dogs seldom want to challenge authority.
This makes housebreaking the Cocker easier than some breeds. Repetitive training is usually the best teacher for this breed. Any behavioral problems are usually the result of poor training or mistreatment. In that case, the Cocker Spaniel is likely to become shy and sneaky.
For more information on Cocker Spaniels and other Popular, and not-so-popular breeds of dogs, visit The Sporting Dog Directory