When it comes to events in the dog-showing calendar, March always means the world famous Crufts dog show, which took place earlier on this month at Birmingham’s NEC arena. Once the event is over and the competitors have all returned home, however, it’s all over for another year-and the topic of conversation in dog showing circles and among the wider dog loving public invariably turns to the winners and losers, notable competitors, and of course, the main winner.
This year, the dog that won the coveted Best in Show title was an American cocker spaniel called Afterglow Miami Ink, owned by Jason Lyn from Blackpool. The reserve Best in Show was a miniature poodle called Frankie, owned by Melanie Harwood, who also hails from Lancashire.
However, like many events and awards at Crufts, there was some contention and commentary among the public about the winning dog’s appropriateness-and so in this article we will look at the American cocker spaniel breed in more detail, including their core traits and personalities, and why some viewers didn’t really rate the winner! Read on to learn more.
The American cocker spaniel is of course a type of spaniel, but they are rather different to the UK cocker spaniel in many ways, albeit they are still closely related.
The American cocker breed first came into being when 17th century settlers from England began to colonise the New World, and cocker spaniels are actually listed on the manifest of the Mayflower, one of the most important ships to settle the new continent.
By the 20th century, the style and characteristics of the cocker spaniels of the UK and those in the USA had become rather different, and in 1946, the American cocker spaniel first gained recognition as a breed in its own right within the USA, with a different breed standard to support it. However, the breed we now know as the American cocker only gained formal recognition in the UK in the 1970’s.
In terms of the most obvious differences between the two breeds, the American cocker spaniel has a slightly lighter build than the English cocker, and they have a finer head shape that is also more rounded, along with rather larger eyes.
However, it is the coat of the American cocker spaniel that really sets it apart from the English cocker, as their fur is finer and has a more silky texture, and is much longer. They can be either flat coated or wavy coated, but the main feature is their long, flowing hair that may extend to the floor, due to the feathering on their legs.
The American cocker spaniel falls within the gundog grouping for Kennel Club showing and registration purposes, which means that all dogs within the group are breeds that were historically used for gun sport such as flushing or retrieving, or in some cases, still are today.
Ultimately a gun dog is first and foremost a working dog-and this can be hard for people to understand when a dog like Afterglow Miami Ink falls into the group, being as he is obviously a much-loved and pampered pet, who would likely look most out of place in a muddy field!
This fact led to a lot of online commentary about what makes a gun dog, what gun dogs do and how they look, with many people posting pictures of their own working gun dogs, which were invariably mud-covered, mucky and looking very pleased with themselves!
Trying to envision Afterglow Miami Ink in the same situation is hard, and led to a real disconnect for many people, who felt that the dog did not represent the principles and traits of a gun dog, and so should not have been awarded the highest accolade as such.
These comments were answered by The Kennel Club highlighting the fine details of their group descriptions-in this case that the gun dog group encompassed not only modern working breeds, but those that were originally used for gun sport.
Each year as a new dog breed wins Crufts Best in Show, interest in the winning breed naturally increases, often quickly followed by a rise in demand for dogs and puppies of the type, in this case American Cocker Spaniels for sale. The beautiful silky and stroke-able coat of Afterglow Miami Ink will certainly have helped in this respect, and a lot of people will have added the American cocker to their “possible” list when considering getting a new dog!
The American cocker is a medium sized breed that has a kind, gentle and very loving temperament, and that are generally very personable with dogs and other people, as well as being reasonably easy to train.
However, their long coats require a significant amount of care and attention, including daily brushing and regular visits to the grooming parlour. Coupled with this, the American cocker spaniel actually has fairly onerous exercise requirements-they are by no means quiet lap dogs-and so potential buyers of dogs of the breed should bear this in mind too before making a decision.