The Cocker Spaniel is part of the Gundog group who are often particularly affectionate dogs, having originally been bred to be co-operative and respond to human commands. First recognised as a distinct breed by the Kennel Club in 1893, it's name is derived from it's original function to hunt woodcock.
Today Cocker spaniels make great family pets as they are known for their happy temperament, and they are the third most popular pedigree breed registered with the Kennel Club, with over 23,000 puppies registered annually.
When searching for the perfect puppy, it is worth noting that two distinct strains for this breed exist - the 'show' type, and the 'working' type. They differ in both appearance and temperament, and it is important to match the characteristics with your requirements. The show type tends to have a more domed head and lower set ears than the working type, and generally their coats are longer and need more grooming. The working type tends to have higher energy and stamina and therefore needs a high amount of exercise and mental stimulation. As well as being used in the field as gundogs, they can excel at sports like dog agility and flyball, and are often used as assistance dogs.
Any reputable breeder will be able to tell you which strain their puppies are from, and it will also be displayed on the pedigree certificate. Any dogs with FTCh at the start of their name are working strain (Field Trial Champions), and any with SHCh are show strain (Show Champions). It is also possible to have one parent as a show type and one parent as a working type as ultimately they are all the same breed - Cocker Spaniel.