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The cocker can scarcely be minutely described, inasmuch as there are so many varieties in different parts of Great Britain. He may, however, be said, in general terms, to be a light active spaniel of about 14 lbs. weight on the average, sometimes reaching 20 lbs., with very elegant shapes, and a lively and spirited carriage. In hunting he keeps his tail down, like the rest of his kind, and works it constantly in a most rapid and merry way, from which alone he may be known from the springer, who also works his, but solemnly and deliberately, and apparently without the same pleasurable sensations which are displayed by the cocker. The head is round, and the forehead raised. Muzzle more pointed than the springer, and the ear less heavy, but of good length, and well clothed with soft wavy hair, which should not be matted in a heavy mass. In the showdog of the present day (1872) the ear is far too long, both in leather and feather, according to my judgment. The eye is of medium size, slightly inclined to water, but not to weep like the toy dog's. Body of medium length, and the shape generally resembling that of a small setter. In has long been the custom to crop the tail nearly half off, so as to prevent the constant wearing of it against the bushes, as the dog works his way through them. If left on, it is nearly as long in proportion as that of the setter, but more bushy, and not so closely resembling a fan. These dogs are well feathered, and the work for their feet and legs requires them to be strong and well formed. The coat should be thick and wavy, but not absolutely curled, which last shows the cross with the water spaniel, and that gives too much obstinacy with it to
conduce to success in covert shooting. The colour varies from a plain liver or black to black and tan, white and black, white and liver, white and red, or white and lemon; and different breeds are noted as possessing some one of these in particular, but I am not aware that any one is remarkable as belonging to a superior race.
The Welsh cocker, as represented on the right, is one of the hest of this division, being of good size, with strong loins, capital legs and feet, and an excellent nose. The coat is very slightly curled on the body, but the ears and legs are feathered, the tail being very nearly bare of hair. These dogs are still extensively used in Wales for the purpose of hunting the cocks, which
are to be met with in the principality in large numbers during the season, and form one of the chief attractions to the shooter.
The Devonshire cocker closely resembles the Welsh dog, both being of a deep liver-colour. The dog on the left is the ordinary English cocker.
The Blenheim and King Charles spaniels will be described under the head of toy dogs, to which purpose alone are they really suited, though sometimes used in covert shooting.
THE WATER SPANIEL.
Water spaniels are commonly said to have web-feet, and this point is often made a ground of distinction from other dogs, but the fact is that all dogs have their toes united by membranes in the same way, the only distinction between the water and land dogs being that the former have larger feet, and that the membrane between the toes being more lax, they spread more in swimming, and are thus more useful in the water. Most people would understand, from the stress laid on web-feet in the water dogs, that the toes of the land dogs were nearly as much divided as those of man, but there are none so formed, and, as I before remarked, the toes of all are united throughout by a strong membrane. The coat in all the water dogs is woolly and thickly matted, often curly, and in all more or less oily, so as to resist the action of the water. This oil is rank in smell, and hence they are all unfit to be inmates of our houses, which is a strong objection even to the poodle as a toy dog. As, therefore, we have no ground for separating the land from the water dogs by this strong line, I have not attempted to do so, but have grouped them according to the divisions under which they naturally fall.
The Old Engiish water spaniel is particularly fond of the water, and will enter it in almost all weathers by choice, while it never is too cold for him when any game is on it. His powers of swimming and diving are immense, and he will continue in it for hours together, after which he gives his coat a shake and is soon dry. Indeed, when he first comes out he does not seem thoroughly wet, his oiled and woolly coat appearing to set at defiance the approach of water. His nose is pretty good, and he is capable of an excellent education ; but it takes some time to break him thoroughly, as he is required to be completely under command, and is a very restless dog by nature, whereas his duties demand perfect silence. There are generally said to be two distinct breeds, one larger than the other, but in other respects alike.
His points are as follows :-Head long and narrow, eyes small, and ears of medium length, covered with thick curly hair. Body stout, but elegantly formed, with strong loins, and round barrellike chest, which is broad across the shoulders. The legs are rather long, but very strong, the bone being of great size, and well clothed with muscle. Feet large and spreading, tail covered thickly with long curly hair, and slightly curved upwards, but not carried above the level of the back.
The Irish water spaniel consists of two distinct varieties, pecilliar to the North and South of Ireland. The Northern dog has short ears, with little feather either on them or on the legs, but with a considerable curl in his coat. In colour he is generally liver, but with more or less white which sometimes predominates, so as to make him decidedly white and liver. The South country Irish water spaniel is, on the contrary, invariably of a puce liver colour. Ears long and well feathered, being often two feet from point to point, and the whole coat consisting of short crisp curls.