The American Cocker Spaniel Rainbow
Cocker Spaniels are known for being many different colors. From reds to golds to black, often with white or tan accents, every Cocker Spaniel looks a little different. This adds to the interesting and glamorous look of this particular breed. Unfortunately, only some of these colors are accepted on show dogs. If you are interested in showing your new Cocker Spaniel, you will have to be careful of which color or color combination you pick in your new puppy!
The coloring of the Cocker Spaniel coat is separated into three categories. Black, the first category, implies that the dog’s coat is completely black. Dogs with brown shading anywhere on the coat would be disqualified from this category, however, there are some variations that are allowed. A white patch on the chest is considered acceptable, but nowhere else in the coat, including paws, which are common for discoloration. “Tan points” are considered acceptable as well. Tan points are similar to the coloring of a Rottweiler or Doberman. If present, they will be on each “eyebrow”, along the jawline, beneath the ears, beneath the tail, and on the feet. Tan points can also appear on the chest or throat, but are not necessary to consider a dog as having tan points.
The second category of colors is “any solid color other than black,” often abbreviated as ASCOB. This is where the real rainbow of Cocker Spaniels comes into play. ASCOB Cockers can range from cream to gold to auburn to dark red and brown, with the brown being the only variation in which the aforementioned tan points are acceptable. As with the black category of Cocker Spaniels, a small white patch on the front of the dog is permissible, but would result in disqualification if found anywhere else on the coat.
The final category, parti-color, possesses some of the most beautiful version of this breed. Parti-color implied that the spaniel in question has a coat comprised of two distinct colors, one of which must always be white. The secondary or accent color must make up at least ten percent of the coat coloration to be considered parti-color. Acceptable accent colors to white are all included in the ASCOB category. Within the parti-color category, tan points are acceptable on any variety of fur colors.
While they are still beautiful dogs, the American Kennel Club does not recognize Cocker Spaniels with sable or merle coloring. Sable Cocker Spaniels can still be shown in Canada, but it is widely assumed that merle-coated Cocker Spaniels were cross-bred with other dogs to achieve their rare coat color, disqualifying them from pure breed competition. If planning on showing your Cocker, it is best to steer clear of sable or merle-coated dogs. However, if you are only searching for a pet, they are both beautiful options that may be less expensive than a show-quality Cocker puppy.
If you are looking to show your new pup, you must be very thorough when research a breeder. Never purchase your pet from a pet shop, even with proper documentation. Pet shops are notorious for utilizing puppy mills, and the popularity of the Cocker Spaniel in the United States has them falling victim to this despicable practice quite often. Always examine the coat of your potential new puppy thoroughly – even small signs of discoloration can grow into larger patches that will disqualify your dog from competition.