Although similar to the American Cocker Spaniel in general overall traits, the English Cocker has more of a working dog background. English Cocker Spaniels are characterized as being intelligent, playful, happy, and usually friendly dogs, although some can have a high amount of energy. Commonly English Cocker Spaniels are quite food motivated, which makes learning and training easier, especially teaching the dog to relinquish rather than retrieve or guard items not intended for play. Reward-based training also helps to minimize the fearful behaviors occasionally seen in English Cocker Spaniels.
The English Cocker Spaniel was originally bred in Spain during the 1300's, although the modern traits were not incorporated into the breed until the 1890's. It is generally accepted that spaniels can be traced back to Spain for their development as a hunting and retrieving dogs. From Spain the dogs were transported, traded, given away as gifts, and travelled with their masters to England. Spaniels were used in England for hunting on the estates of the wealthy. Though it somewhat resembles its American cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel, it is closer to the working dog form of the Field Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel. The American Kennel Club granted specific breed designation in 1946.