Although both belonging to the spaniel group, the Cavalier King Charles and the cocker are two distinct dog breeds with marked differences. While they can both make great family pets, the ways in which they vary from one another could mean that one is more suited to your lifestyle than the other.
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are a relatively recent breed, but originate from the original King Charles spaniels. During the 1600s, King Charles spaniels were bred with pugs to create the breed we know today, giving them shorter flatter noses. However, in the 1920s, a lady named Roswell Eldridge wanted to revert to the classic, pre-1600s type, with longer and more defined snouts. The new types were called Cavalier King Charles spaniels and were recognized by the American Kennel Club during the 1940s. Cocker spaniels have a very different history. Bred as working dogs, their lines date back to the 14th century. The breed as it is today has been shown in the United States since the 1880s.
Although both cocker and Cavalier King Charles spaniels should have silky, medium-length coats, they differ a lot when it comes to color. Cavalier King Charles spaniels have a much more limited color range and can only come in Blenheim -- chestnut markings on white, tricolor, ruby, or black and tan. Cocker spaniels exhibit a wider range of coat colors and markings: black, black and tan, parti-color, tan points and any other solid color, from light cream to dark red.
You can differentiate between these two breeds by their size. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are slightly shorter and lighter than their cocker cousins, measuring between 12 and 13 inches to the shoulders and weighing in at between 13 and 18 pounds. Cocker spaniels should be between 14 and 15 1/2 inches at the shoulder, with females not exceeding 14 1/2 inches, according to American Kennel Club breed standards. On average, they should weigh from 20 to 30 pounds.
According to the AKC, Cavalier King Charles spaniels should be happy, friendly and non-aggressive dogs, without any shyness or nervousness. Cocker spaniels should be calm and even-tempered, without being timid. However, bear in mind that all dogs are individuals with different temperaments and personalities. The surest way to produce a good-natured dog is by early socialization and positive-reinforcement training.
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