The American Spaniel Club - Established in 1881
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Merle Color In Cocker Spaniels
from Charles Born, President, American Spaniel Club
As our members know the validity of the merle pattern and associated health issues in the Cocker Spaniel have concerned breeders for some time now. After some progress, in 2009 the ASC Board began a concerted effort to identify and understand the depth of the issue and what to do. In addition to our request to the AKC for Z registration status on merle Cockers which has been approved, at the direction of the ASC Board of Directors I asked the ASC Foundation to conduct a three-part study that included:
- Researching the evidence showing whether merle is or is not a Cocker Spaniel color.
- Researching the scientific evidence that the merle color can produce significant health issues.
- Developing an approach for educating breeders, owners and the general puppy buying population on the results of their investigations
The Scientific Research Committee assisted by the Grants Committee was tasked with conducting this study by ASCF President Dee Torgerson-Rismyhr. This combined task force was led by Doug McFarlane, a long-time Cocker fancier and English Cocker breeder and judge and a former member of ASC Board and many other Spaniel Boards and joined by Karen Yager, a PhD geneticists and Clumber breeder. You can read about their approach and methodology in the full study report.
My layman’s summary of their report is as follows:
|For nominating your bitches use the following checklist.|
|As the breeder, are your dues paid so you remain a member in good standing?|
||Are sire and dam over 2 years old?
||Do both sire and dam have OFA/PennHips/other countries certification numbers?
||Have both sire and dam had their eyes examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist after age 2 and within the 12 months before the breeding? Don’t miss out because you have old eye exams and don’t get new ones done until after the breeding.
||Send in the paperwork to nominate the bitch before the litter is whelped.
||Then remember to enroll your puppies by the deadlines.|
Docked Tails a Vital Characteristic of Cocker Spaniels
Keeping in mind the welfare of the Cocker Spaniel breed and the function it was bred to perform, and as applies to all Flushing Spaniels, the Board of Directors of the American Spaniel Club continues to support docked tails for Cocker Spaniels (and all Flushing Spaniels) as an important characteristic required by the breed's function as a hunting dog. In particular, since 1881 Cocker Spaniels with docked tails have been a part of the fabric of the United States, and we must educate the general public that under proper veterinarian care, tail docking of young puppies continues to be a very safe and humane procedure and is not cosmetic. The attached communication from the ASC can be used by ASC members and the public at large who would like to educate others on our breed history, our position on tail docking and our recommendations.