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Cocker spaniel puppy registrations soar

The recently released data shows cocker registrations have now overtaken the springer spaniel.

In 2007, more than 14,000 springers were registered, compared with nearly 21,000 cockers.

Though not as dramatic, the rise in registrations over the past 10 years for Labradors also increased by 25%, while springers saw a 15% rise.

Until the 1960s, cockers were rarely seen on the shooting field as temperament traits such as ‘rage syndrome’, combined with their reputation for getting bored easily, put off many prospective owners.

However, successful selective breeding has resulted in the diminutive spaniel being elevated to its position as one of the most popular modern gundogs to date.

Discussing the reasons behind the rise, gundog trainer Chris Burns, of Breezeleaf Spaniels, explained cockers were a popular breed at the beginning of the century, but the introduction of myxomatosis in 1953 almost put an end to the breed altogether: “The lack of rabbits made it difficult to get cockers hunting with drive, and as they were prone to getting bored of dummies it was difficult to stimulate them into retrieving with consistency.”

“This all made for difficult training and their popularity fell. The 1960s saw cocker numbers dwindle drastically as the English springer spaniel became fashionable and seemed to be easier to train.”

“Thanks to the work of people such as Keith Erlandson, however, some good quality cocker stock continued to thrive. Today’s stock is more biddable and trainable, while the dogs still maintain their cheeky characters.”

The rest of this article appears in 28 February issue of Shooting Times.

To see the full list of puppy registrations over the past 10 years visit the Kennel Club

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