Black Cocker Spaniel: What Makes Their Black Coat Iconic?

Black Cocker Spaniel sits in grass alongside camera

Cocker Spaniels have been very popular in the United States for a long time now. Although they were originally bred to be hunting dogs, they have gained a reputation as beautiful companion dogs.

Owing to the success of the animated film Lady and the Tramp, people usually picture the Cocker Spaniel to be a brown doe-eyed dog with luscious hair and long ears.

But Cocker Spaniels come in a wide variety of colors. In this article, let me introduce to you a stunning variation of the breed – the black Cocker Spaniel.

Can Cocker Spaniels Be Black?

A portrait of an alert black colored Cocker Spaniel

Black is one of the most common coat colors in Cocker Spaniels. They may come in either solid black or parti-color coats. Black Cocker Spaniels are perhaps not as popular as the buff-colored ones, but they have all the traits the breed is known for and would make equally great companions.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Cocker Spaniels can come in 23 different coat colors. This may seem like a wide range, but there are very strict rules in the breed’s coloration.

The Cocker Spaniel breed colors are divided into three groups: black, parti-color, and any solid color other than black (ASCOB).

Black Cocker Spaniels have solid black coats, with minimal white markings on the chest and throat. Tan points are also allowed on specific locations on the body.

Parti-colors are Cocker Spaniels with two or three well-defined solid colors, which should always include white.

One of the most common color combinations is black and white. Another beautiful combination is black, white, and tan.

The last group, ASCOB, includes all other solid colors that range from cream to red and brown.

Are Black Cocker Spaniels Purebred?

Black is a naturally occurring color in Cocker Spaniels, so it is safe to say that black Cocker Spaniels are purebred.

However, this alone should not be your sole basis for determining if your pup is purebred. All other breed traits should be present. The best way to check would really be to ask for documents from your breeder.

Black Cocker Spaniel Appearance: What Does a Black Cocker Spaniel Look Like?

Black Cocker Spaniels share the same physical features as other variants, except for their color. They would have a compact body and a refined head.

The length of their bodies is slightly longer than their height, but they should never appear long and low.

The Cocker Spaniel is the smallest breed in the sporting group. Male Cocker Spaniels would stand at 14.5 to 15.5 inches and weigh 25 to 30 pounds.

Female Cockers are a little smaller, standing 13.5 to 14.5 inches and weighing 20 to 25 pounds.

The coat of a black Cocker Spaniel can have a few variations, but generally, it should be silky and flat or slightly wavy.

The ears, abdomen, legs, and chest should be well feathered, but it should not affect the Cocker’s Spaniel’s lines and movement.

Below are common variations of black Cocker Spaniels:

Solid Black Cocker Spaniel

Solid black Cocker Spaniel

As the name suggests, solid black Cocker Spaniels would be jet black all over its body. However, breed standards allow small white markings on its throat and chest. A white marking in any other location is not desirable.

Black and Tan Cocker Spaniel

Black and tan Cocker Spaniel

Black and tan Cocker Spaniels would usually have a solid black coat with tan points at very specific locations. Tan points range from light cream to red and should be restricted to 10% or less of the whole body.

AKC Breed standards dictate that points should only be on the following locations:

  • Clear tan spots over each eye
  • On the sides of the muzzles and cheeks
  • The underside of the ears
  • On all feet and/or legs
  • Under the tail
  • On the chest (may or may not be present)

Black and White Cocker Spaniel

Parti black and white Cocker Spaniel

Black and white Cocker Spaniels are considered parti-colors. Parti-colors can come in two or more colors, but they should always include white. Black and white is one of the most common parti-color combinations.

Black, White and Tan Cocker Spaniel

Black white and tan Cocker Spaniel

Black, white and tan Cocker Spaniels are also considered parti-colors. They look very similar to black and white Cockers, but they have tan points. Ideally, the tan points should also be in the same locations listed above.

READ NEXT: Male vs. Female Cocker Spaniel: Which Is Better?

Are Black Cocker Spaniels Rare?

Black Cocker Spaniels are not rare. As I said before, black is also one of the most common colors of Cocker Spaniels, whether it be solid black or mixed with other colors.

One of the main factors why breeders specialize in color is its popularity or demand. Buff is a well-loved color which is why we see a lot of them.

However, it is not hard to find breeders who also produce black Cocker Spaniels.

Black Cocker Spaniel Genetics: What Makes Them Exhibit the Black Coloration?

Two pigments determine a dog’s coat color: eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red). All other variations come from these two pigments combined with other genes that modify them.

In Cocker Spaniels, the gene at the B locus plays a role in the production of eumelanin. The black (B) allele is dominant, while the brown (b) allele is recessive.

Black Cocker Spaniels are common because only one black gene from either parent is needed to produce a puppy with a black coat.

Cocker Spaniels that are genetically pure black (BB) will have a jet black coat. Those who are not genetically pure black (Bb) will still appear black but may pass on the brown allele to their offspring.

The coat pattern is determined by other genes. The coat can either be solid or parti-color. This is determined by a gene in the S locus. Solid color is dominant, while parti-color is recessive.

Parti-color can further be categorized into roan, ticked, and open marked. All colors, whether solid or parti-color, can have tan markings. These patterns and markings are also dictated by other genes.

Do Black Cocker Spaniel Puppies Change Color as They Grow?

Black Cocker Spaniels have a double coat. They have an undercoat that serves as protection for their skins and a silky coat that gives them their iconic appearance.

Black Cocker Spaniel puppies are born with just a single coat, and they develop their double coats as they age.

It is possible that as they mature and develop their adult coat, there will be slight changes to their coat color. This is considered normal for all dogs.

However, the changes will be barely noticeable simply because they are born with a dark coat already.

If you want to see the appearance of a black Cocker Spaniel as it grows, you can check the video below:

Black cocker spaniel Bella

Are Black Cocker Spaniels Recognized by AKC and Other Kennel Organizations?

Since black is a naturally occurring color in Cocker Spaniels, it is recognized as a standard color by most kennel clubs including the American Kennel Club (AKC), The Kennel Club (UK), Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), and the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Rules on parti-colors and tan markings are also the same among these kennel clubs. Note that in most clubs outside the United States, Cocker Spaniels are listed as American Cocker Spaniels.

Black Cocker Spaniel Temperament: Are Black Cocker Spaniels Aggressive?

A very fast working black Cocker Spaniel chasing and catching a tennis ball

A common problem for black dogs in all breeds is that they are usually thought to be more aggressive than others.

This perception stems from the ideas related to the color black in many cultures. More often than not, it is related to death or bad luck.

This problem is called “black dog syndrome.” It was even reported that black dogs are less likely to be adopted from shelters.

The truth is black Cocker Spaniels are every bit as friendly and affectionate as other colors of the breed.

They are eager to please and love the company of their human families. They are also said to be good playmates to children.

Because they are people-pleasers, training black Cocker Spaniels would not be very challenging. They would do well as companions or athletes. Just remember to avoid harsh correction and to use lots of positive reinforcement.

Despite these desirable traits, there are some known issues with the breed. Cocker Spaniels tend to be timid, so early socialization is important for them to be confident dogs later in life.

The breed is also known to show some level of aggression. A study was done on English Cocker Spaniels in 2009, and it showed that they tend to be more hostile than other breeds.

Interestingly, research also showed that golden/red Cocker Spaniels showed dominant and aggressive behaviors the most, with black Cocker Spaniels coming in second. Parti-colors were the most mild-mannered.

However, many experts say that regardless of color, it is still the dog’s environment and training that will largely affect their behavior.

A paw parent should be a loving but firm authority figure because black Cocker Spaniels need both affection and leadership from their humans.

READ NEXT: Cocker Pug (Cocker Spaniel & Pug Mix): Everything You Need To Know

Black Cocker Spaniel Lifespan and Health Issues: How Long Do Black Cocker Spaniels Live?

Cocker Spaniels have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, and this is true regardless of color. With a healthy lifestyle and proper care, your black Cocker Spaniel can live an even longer life.

But you have to take note of some diseases common to the breed so you can take proper action.

Here are some diseases common to black Cocker Spaniels and the breed in general:

  • Eye Problems: Unfortunately, the adorable eyes of Cocker Spaniels are prone to several issues such as cherry eye, cataracts, glaucoma, and progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Hypothyroidism: This condition occurs when the dog’s thyroid gland does not produce a sufficient amount of hormones. It can lead to other health issues such as weight gain and coat or skin problems. This is managed by giving hormone supplements.
  • Patellar Luxation: This problem occurs when the kneecap (patella) is dislocated from its correct position in the thigh bone. It is one of the most common joint problems in canines, and it is quite common in Cocker Spaniels as well. For severe cases, surgery would be needed.
  • Ear Problems: The long ears of your black Cocker Spaniel, unfortunately, puts them at greater risk of ear infections. These infections are usually caused by bacteria, yeast, and fungi, so routine ear cleaning is necessary.
  • Epilepsy: According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF), about two to four percent of Cocker Spaniels are affected. This percentage is similar to other breeds, but it may be prevalent in certain lines of Cocker Spaniels.

Similar to other dog breeds, the health of your black Cocker Spaniel is highly affected by genetics.

If you are planning to purchase one, you must look for responsible breeders that can provide you with pertinent health clearances.

Routine checkups can help in detecting health issues early. Your vet may recommend exams to check if your dog has conditions you need to look out for.

Of course, your black Cocker Spaniel’s overall health and lifespan will also be greatly affected by the nutrition and exercise you will provide.

How Much Are Black Cocker Spaniels? Puppy Prices & Expenses

Purebred black Cocker Spaniel puppy for sale or adoption

Cocker Spaniel puppies would cost $500 to $1,500, depending on your area and the breeder where you will purchase your pup.

Black Cocker Spaniels are not rare, so you can expect them to be in this price range. Of course, your puppy might get more expensive if it comes from a champion line.

In addition to the cost of the puppy itself, you have to consider other expenses you would have before bringing home a new member of the family.

Below is a cost estimate of the supplies you would need for your black Cocker Spaniel puppy:

Type of ExpenseAverage Cost
Food and Water Bowls$15
Food and Treats (per month)$50
Leash and Dog Collar$20
Dog Bed$35
Dog Crate$40
Toys$30
Grooming tools$45
House Training Supplies$55
Microchipping$55
Total Initial Cost$345

The total cost would ultimately be dependent on the quality of the supplies you will buy. If you are uncertain about which ones would be best for your puppy, ask your breeder or other paw parents for recommendations.

Grooming is of utmost importance for Cocker Spaniels, and a professional grooming session will cost you $50 to $65.

They usually need to be groomed every few weeks. Other optional expenses are pet insurance, professional training, and spaying/neutering.

Places to Find Black Cocker Spaniel Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Finding a black Cocker Spaniel puppy would not be so difficult. But remember that you have to look for responsible breeders so you can be sure that you’re getting a healthy puppy.

Here are some places where you can find a black Cocker Spaniel pup for sale:

  • AKC Marketplace – This site is the perfect place to begin your search. The AKC Marketplace sets rules that breeders need to meet before allowing them to list here, so you can be sure that most if not all breeders here are reliable. You can also see whether they have been recognized for their breeding program, so you can take your pick among good breeders.
  • American Spaniel Club (ASC) Directory of Breeders – The AKC parent club for the Cocker Spaniels also lists breeders that are in good standing with the club. They do not guarantee the breeders in this list, but you can be sure that members adhere to the club’s standards and code of ethics.
  • Max Cockers – Max Cockers specializes in black and brown Cocker Spaniels only. They are located in New Jersey and have been recognized as an AKC Breeder of Merit. You can apply for a puppy by filling out a form on their website.

Looking for a breeder and applying for a puppy will take time and effort. As much as possible, visit the puppy before purchasing so you can see how it is being raised and how it interacts with humans and its littermates.

As an alternative to purchasing a puppy, you can also opt to adopt one from a shelter or rescue.

Sadly, many black Cocker Spaniels still end up in shelters. This option will also save you a lot of money since adoption fees are usually less than $500.

Listed below are some places where you can find a black Cocker Spaniel for adoption:

  • Petfinder –Many rescue organizations list their dogs on this website. There are many black Cocker Spaniels here of different ages. You can contact the rescue organization handling them using the given information on each dog’s page.
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) – This organization also lists dogs from different rescues on their website. You may contact the rescue organization found on the dog’s info page if you find a black Cocker Spaniel of your liking.
  • Second Chance Cocker Rescue – This rescue organization helps Cocker Spaniels in California, Oregon, and Washington. They also offer a sanctuary for senior or chronically ill dogs. If you see a black Cocker Spaniel that you want to adopt from this rescue, you can start the application process by filling out a form on their website.

The dogs you will find in rescues may have ended up in not-so-ideal situations, but they can still be the ideal pet. Think carefully about your options and your level of commitment.

Remember that as much as you want breeders and rescues to be responsible, you are also expected to be a good owner to the Cocker Spaniel for the rest of its life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Beautiful black Cocker Spaniel in a forest

What Are the Differences Between American Cocker Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels?

American and English Cocker Spaniels look very similar as they share a common history. The breed officially diverged into two in the 1940s because breeders in the UK and the US had different priorities.

Physically, English Cocker Spaniels are a bit taller and heavier than the Cocker Spaniel.

Male English Cocker Spaniels stand 16 to 17 inches tall and weigh 28 to 34 pounds while females are around 15 to 16 inches tall and weigh 26 to 32 pounds.

Looking at their body frame, American Cocker Spaniels are slightly longer than tall, while English Cocker Spaniels have a square shape.

They are also groomed a bit differently. American Cocker Spaniels usually have longer hair on the feet and legs.

What Are the Other Cocker Spaniel Coat Colors?

For Cocker Spaniels, there is a sub-group of colors called ASCOB (Any Solid Color Other than Black). ASCOB colors can range from light cream to the darkest red.

The usual colors are brown, buff, red, silver, cream, golden, and sable. These can come in solid colors or in different combinations.

What Is the Rarest Cocker Spaniel Color?

Although parti-color Cockers usually have white on their coats, an all-white Cocker Spaniel is very rare.

A documented all-white Cocker was named My All White Brucie. The puppy was born all-white, but it is said that My All White Brucie is actually an extremely light shade of yellow.

For Cocker Spaniels, the merle coat pattern is also considered rare. Merle is not exactly a coat color but is a pattern that can come in different colors.

Although it is common in other breeds, this is not often seen in Cocker Spaniels. It is controversial because of the health issues related to this pattern.

The American Spaniel Club (ASC), the parent club for Cocker Spaniels in the US, denounces the breeding of merle Cockers.

What Is the Most Common Cocker Spaniel Color?

One of the most common Cocker Spaniel colors is buff or shades of light brown and cream.

This became a classic look for American Cocker Spaniels, and the popularity of this color is usually attributed to the popularity of Lady in the film Lady and the Tramp.

Final Thoughts

Cocker Spaniels come in a wide array of colors and patterns. Although it is not as popular as lighter colors, black Cocker Spaniels are equally beautiful, whether solid or mixed with other colors.

Many people think that black dogs have higher levels of aggression, but this is not true at all.

With the proper care and training, a black Cocker Spaniel would be eager to please you and enjoy your company just as much as any other variation.

John Carter

My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I've got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.

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