Kennel Antaleks - small breeding of American Cocker Spaniel, Russia


Standard For The American Cocker Spaniel

(Effective June 30, 1992)

General Appearance

The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the Sporting Group. He has a sturdy, compact body and a cleanly chiseled and refined head, with the overall dog in complete balance and of ideal size. He stands well up at the shoulder on straight forelegs with a topline sloping slightly toward strong, moderately bent, muscular quarters. He is a dog capable of considerable speed, combined with great endurance. Above all, he must be free and merry, sound, well balanced throughout and in action show a keen inclination to work. A dog well balanced in all parts is more desirable than a dog with strongly contrasting good points and faults.

Size, Proportion, Substance

SizeThe ideal height at the withers for an adult dog is 15 inches and for an adult bitch, 14 inches. Height may vary one half inch above or below this ideal. A dog whose height exceeds 15½ inches or a bitch whose height exceeds 14½ inches shall be disqualified. An adult dog whose height is less than14½ inches and an adult bitch whose height is less than 13½ inches shall be penalized. Height is determined by a line perpendicular to the ground from the top of the shoulder blades, the dog standing naturally with its forelegs and lower hind legs parallel to the line of measurement.

ProportionThe measurement from the breast bone to back of thigh is slightly longer than the measurement from the highest point of withers to the ground. The body must be of sufficient length to permit a straight and free stride; the dog never appears long and low.


To attain a well proportioned head, which must be in balance with the rest of the dog, it embodies the following:

ExpressionThe expression is intelligent, alert, soft and appealing.

EyesEyeballs are round and full and look directly forward. The shape of the eye rims gives a slightly almond shaped appearance; the eye is not weak or goggled. The color of the iris is dark brown and in general the darker the better.

EarsLobular, long, of fine leather, well feathered, and placed no higher than a line to the lower part of the eye.

SkullRounded but not exaggerated with no tendency toward flatness; the eyebrows are clearly defined with a pronounced stop. The bony structure beneath the eyes is well chiseled with no prominence in the cheeks. The muzzle is broad and deep, with square even jaws. To be in correct balance, the distance from the stop to the tip of the nose is one half the distance from the stop up over the crown to the base of the skull.

NoseOf sufficient size to balance the muzzle and foreface, with well developed nostrils typical of a sporting dog. It is black in color in the blacks, black and tans, and black and whites; in other colors, it may be brown, liver or black, the darker the better. The color of nose harmonizes with the color of the eye rim.

LipsThe upper lip is full and of sufficient depth to cover the lower jaw.

TeethStrong and sound, not too small and meet in a scissors bite.

Neck, Topline,Body

NeckThe neck is sufficiently long to allow the nose to reach the ground easily, muscular and free from pendulous "throatiness". It rises strongly from the shoulders and arches slightly as it tapers to join the head.

ToplineSloping slightly toward muscular quarters..

BodyThe chest is deep, its lowest point no higher than the elbows, its front sufficiently wide for adequate heart and lung space, yet not so wide as to


The shoulders are well laid back forming an angle with the upper arm of approximately 90 degrees which permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner with forward reach. Shoulders are clean cut and sloping without protrusion and so set that the upper points of the withers are at an angle which permits a wide spring of rib. When viewed from the side with the forelegs vertical, the elbow is directly below the highest point of the shoulder blade.

Forelegsare parallel, straight, strongly boned and muscular and set close to the body well under the scapulae. The pasterns are short and strong. Dewclaws on forelegs may be removed.

Feetcompact, large, round and firm with horny pads; they turn neither in nor out.


Hips are wide and quarters well rounded and muscular. When viewed from behind, the hind legs are parallel when in motion and at rest. The hind legs are strongly boned, and muscled with moderate angulation at the stifle and powerful, clearly defined thighs. The stifle is strong and there is no slippage of it in motion or when standing. The hocks are strong and well let down. Dewclaws on hind legs may be removed.


On the head, short and fine; on the body, medium length, with enough undercoating to give protection. The ears, chest, abdomen and legs are well feathered, but not so excessively as to hide the Cocker Spaniel's true lines and movement or affect his appearance and function as a moderately coated sporting dog. The texture is most important. The coat is silky, flat or slightly wavy and of a texture which permits easy care. Excessive coat or curly or cottony textured coat shall be severely penalized. Use of electric clippers on the back coat is not desirable. Trimming to enhance the dog's true lines should be done to appear as natural as possible.

Color and Markings

Black VarietySolid color black to include black with tan points. The black should be jet; shadings of brown or liver in the coat are not desirable. A small amount of white on the chest and/or throat is allowed; white in any other location shall disqualify.

Any Solid Color Other than Black (ASCOB)Any solid color other than black, ranging from lightest cream to darkest red, including brown and brown with tan points. The color shall be of a uniform shade, but lighter color of the feathering is permissible. A small amount of white on the chest and/or throat is allowed; white in any other location shall disqualify.

Parti-Color VarietyTwo or more solid, well-broken colors, one of which must be white; black and white, red and white (the red may range from lightest cream to darkest red), brown and white, and roans, to include any such color combination with tan points. It is preferable that the tan markings be located in the same pattern as for the tan points in the Black and ASCOB varieties. Roans are classified as parti-colors and may be of any of the usual roaning patterns. Primary color which is ninety percent (90%) or more shall disqualify.

Tan PointsThe color of the tan may be from the lightest cream to the darkest red and is restricted to ten percent (10%) or less of the color of the specimen; tan markings in excess of that amount shall disqualify.

In the case of tan points in the Black or ASCOB variety, the markings shall be located as follows:

1..          A clear tan spot over each eye;

2.          On the sides of the muzzle and on the cheeks;

3.          On the underside of the ears;

4.    On all feet and/or legs;

5.          Under the tail;

6.    On the chest, optional; presence or absence shall not be penalized. Tan markings which are not readily visible or which amount only to traces, shall be penalized. Tan on the muzzle which extends upward, over and joins shall also


The Cocker Spaniel, though the smallest of the sporting dogs, possesses a typical sporting dog gait. Prerequisite to good movement is balance between the front and rear assemblies. He drives with strong, powerful rear quarters and is properly constructed in the shoulders and forelegs so that he can reach forward without constriction in a full stride to counterbalance the driving force from the rear. Above all, his gait is coordinated, smooth and effortless. The dog must cover ground with his action; excessive animation should not be mistaken for proper gait.


Equable in temperament with no suggestion of timidity.


HeightMales over 15½ inches; females over 14½ inches.

Color and MarkingsThe aforementioned colors are the only acceptable

colors or combination of colors. Any other colors or combination of

colors to disqualify.

Black VarietyWhite markings except on chest and throat.

Any Solid Color Other Than Black Variety- White markings except on chest

Parti-Color VarietyPrimary color ninety percent (90%) or more.

Tan points(1) Tan markings in excess of ten percent (10%); (2) Absence

locations in an otherwise tan pointed dog.

(As published in the March, 1992, issue of the AKC Gazette and approved by the Board of Directors of the AKC)







Now that you've read the Standard, let's apply it in our mind and try to visualize the ideal Cocker Spaniel. The most important thing to remember is that the overall dog must be completely balanced. No one part should stand out more than the rest. Keep in mind that the original purpose of this breed was to flush and retrieve upland game, and that he is the smallest of all Sporting dogs. He should be a sturdy, compact dog, yet stand well-up at the shoulders. This allows him to be capable of considerable speed combined with great endurance. Above all he must be a sound dog that is merry and shows a great enthusiasm to work. Remember that a dog that is well balanced in all parts is more desirable than a dog that exhibits some excellent points and some faults.


The head is a very important part of the Cocker Spaniel. It should be well proportioned with the eyes being the focal point. Those beautiful Spaniel eyes are the first thing that you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. They should be set in the head so that they look straight at you. The eyeballs are round and full, but the shape of the eye rims will give the eye a slightly almond-shaped appearance. The darker in color the better. The skull is round but not exaggerated. A clean skull with correctly set ears made of fine cartilage will add to that lovely expression. The muzzle is broad and deep, with square, even jaws. This is a very important part of the head as the purpose of the dog is to retrieve game birds, not parakeets. The strength of the under jaw is what gives the breadth to the muzzle and also helps the dog to have stronger teeth.

The Standard says that the neck must be sufficiently long to allow the nose to reach the ground easily. Again, this goes to the purpose of the dog, which is to reach down with ease and retrieve the bird. The neck should arch slightly, which denotes strength and enables the head to be carried in a straightforward position. The width of the neck must gradually increase so that it fits perfectly into the shoulder allowing it to appear as one. The layback of the shoulder so that it forms a 90-degree angle with the upper arm permits the dog to move his forelegs in an easy manner and increases the forward reach. Shoulders should be observed from different anglesfrom the side and also from above, looking down at the dog. Shoulders which are too straight up and down do not allow for proper length of neck and will constrict movement. The shoulders should also be felt with the fingers. If they are too wide or too close the dog will not move easily, but, rather, show a constricted or spraddled gait that would not only make retrieving difficult but very tiring as well..


The body should be in balance with the forequarters and the hindquarters. This connection is accomplished by a deep chest with well-sprung ribs and a hard, straight back that slightly slopes towards the hindquarters. The hips should be wide, well rounded and muscular so that the dog can have that great endurance muscled rear and/or a low tail set can usually be picked up as the dog moves and will signal immediately that this dog is unsound. The tail in a Cocker Spaniel is also very important as it denotes temperament. It should always be happy and wagging, showing his merry temperament and willingness to work.


The coat is certainly one of the things that most people find so beautiful and attractive about the Cocker Spaniel. However, nowhere in the current Standard nor in any that went before is there a call for the amount of coat seen in show animals today. A beautiful coat, but it is hardly something that aids this little dog in his purposeretrieving. About the only retrieving that would be done with the show dog of today is the owner retrieving the dog from the nearest bush should he be turned loose in the field. The Standard, however, is very specific about the texture of the coat. It should be silky and flat, although slightly wavy is acceptable, permitting easy care. The Standard states that excessive coat or curly coat shall be severely penalized. As with so many things judging is comparativecompared to what you've got. Today we see entire rings full of Cocker Spaniels with what would have been considered excessive coat twenty years ago. Until judges begin to once again judge this breed as the "moderately coated'' dog that the Standard calls for, we will continue to see exhibitors present these heavily coated dogs over and over and continue to win with them.

Trimming to enhance a dog's true lines should be done to appear as natural as possible. An old breeder, years ago, once told me that the difference between a correct coat and an improper one was a matter of feeling it. The correct, silky coat with correct density was cool to the touch, whereas an improper coat was warm to the touch, much like wool, which so easily absorbs moisture. I wholeheartedly endorse trimming to show off a dog's lines. There should always be daylight visible underneath the body as one looks across at the dog. The absence of this daylight gives the appearance of a long, low dog instead of a compact, sporty little dog. Too often the American Cocker begins to resemble Sporting Group ample fuel for their fire..

The part of the Standard dealing with color is very self-explanatory. This part has had the most change since the original Standard, which simply allowed all Spaniel colors much like the English Cocker Spaniel Standard still does.

In my fifty years experience I have never felt that the height disqualification was ever really needed. When a dog gets too big, he becomes noticeably unbalanced and eliminates himself from competition.

There have been few changes in the Standard within my lifetime; however, those that were made had a significant impact on the breed. The first major change occurred during the 1940s. Originally the Cocker Spaniel was simply divided into two colors, solids and parti-colors, which included anything with tan points. At that time the English Cocker was put into a separate variety called English-type and the winner of that variety competed with the solid color winner and the parti-color winner for Best of Breed and the right to compete at Group level.

When the American Kennel Club granted English Cocker Spaniels separate breed status and allowed all three American Cocker varieties to compete in the Sporting Group, it did much to encourage the breeders. Previously the solid black Cocker Spaniel was the dog of choice, and it had become practically impossible for any other color to reach Best of Breed. The classes at shows were becoming so large that they were unwieldly and this change gave the other colors a chance to be recognized. The black and tan has always been a color that could never quite find its rightful place in the show ring. First the black and tan was shown in the parti-color variety because it was, in fact, two colors. The parti-color breeders were quite relieved to see their dogs moved to the ASCOB variety; however, parti-colors certainly weren't "any solid color other than black." Finally, they were placed where they belonged all along in the black variety where they are shown today. There is some concern that because they are in the black variety breeders and judges alike are overlooking the fact that many of them do not have a complete and correct set of tan markings. The Standard, as one can see, is very explicit in its requirements of the tan markings, and it would behoove breeders and judges alike to adhere to the Standard.

Finally, most important is the gait, which is well described in the current Standard. The Cocker Spaniel, though the smallest of the Sporting dogs, should possess a typical Sporting dog gait. He should drive with a strong, powerful rear and be properly constructed in the front end so that he can reach forward, without constriction, at full stride to counterbalance the driving force from the rear. Above all, his gait should be coordinated, smooth and effortless. While the dog must cover ground, never mistake speed for correct gait. Once you have the thrill of seeing and feeling the correct gait in motion it will never be forgotten. The overall balance in silhouette, coupled with this breathtaking movement, is what makes the American Cocker Spaniel second to none in beauty.

I have seen the Cocker Spaniel and the Standard itself evolve through major changes during the past fifty years. Many breeders and many dogs have influenced these changes. Because the Cocker Spaniel is such a popular breed, resulting in a constant influx of new breeders, it now becomes more important than ever that the Standard, as set forth by the American Spaniel Club, is followed. As the originator of the breed in America, we have an even greater responsibility to the breed as it gains popularity worldwide. Where the Cocker Spaniel will be in the new century rests in the hands of the breeders and their ability not only to produce a fine dog of proper type, but to recognize the correct specimen when they see it.




Owner: Judge RKF-FCI Tatyana Lebedeva
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Kennel "Antaleks" - small breeding of American cockers in Russia. Dogs for show and pets. Puppies for sale. 
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