Words of Wisdom

Never get caught short of wise sayings

Living on Planet Earth can be tricky sometimes. Over the years, in self-defense, I've stockpiled little sayings garnered from hither and yon that help provide steadying handrails in the march up (or is it down?) the stairway of life.

- Kay Sutter



"Breeding dogs is like an art class. Your art teacher gives you your tools, your paint and your easel and whatever else you need, and tells you, "This is your project, these are your boundaries. Now create." I think the Standard is like that. The Standard says, "Here are your boundaries." Because people interpret it differently, you can move about, but you must stay in the boundaries. Your creation may be different than mine, but we are both within the boundaries. Breeding dogs is a form of expression with the boundaries set forth by the standard. In order to improve the breed, we all must be able to express ourselves."
-JoAnn Davis (ECQ Fall 1996)

"Use the talent you possess for the woods would be very quiet if no birds sang but the very best." 

"A spirit of good fellowship should be an integral part of our activity and any exhibitor who misses that misses out on a lot of the fun that goes with good feelings for his fellow fanciers."
-Popular Dogs EC Column by Maurie Prager 1973.

"This is a wonderful breed, a complicated breed in both faults and physical problems. It is a breed you really need to understand and study very hard, and then you still come up with problems. When you think you've gotten rid of one, another crops up and somewhere down the road the first is going to come back to haunt you. It is not a breed for the faint of heart."

-Jill Lindheim (ECQ Winter 1997) 

The objective of all dedicated [breeders] should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurence, have answers for these problems, and move swiftly to solve these problems when called upon....HOWEVER... When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself your initial objective was to drain the swamp!

"Like any refinement, close in-breeding calls for a very high standard of selectivity on the part of the breeder, coupled with a determination to select nothing but the best and discard the remainder.
-Dog Magazine 1952

Keep away from people who try to be little your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
-Mark Twain


  • People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered. Love them anyway.

  • If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

  • If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

  • The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

  • Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

  • The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

  • People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

  • What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

  • People really need help but may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.

  • Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

"Like everything else in this world one can only succeed by hard work and a constantly open mind, for in the animal world one has never finished learning....Another point is that one has to KNOW the breed standard. By this, I do not mean knowing it verbatim - I mean knowing WHY these guidlines were laid down in the first place. WHY certan points are required , and why certain features are undesirable."
-Prudence Walker, Reklawholm, (ECQ Fall 1983)

"....Never buy it before you've seen it. Because, if you buy unseen, by the time you have it a month you are going to be its slave anyway."
-Prudence Walker, Reklawholm (ECQ Winter 1983)

Misc. tidbits

You must breed dogs from the inside out. You must try to judge from the inside out.

Length of neck on the English Cocker, Poodle, Giraffe, or you and I is only 7 vertebrae long. It depends on how the shoulders are set on and all other bones as to whether your dog has an elegant neck or a short stodgy neck.

Use an anatomical drawing for reference.

Go through the standard, piece by piece, bit by bit.

The EC standard is written so that it encompasses a variety of types. There is enough leeway that each person can have a dog he/or she likes.

Fronts and rears are something you are all working on becoming proficient.

Type is what makes the English Cocker different from a Springer and different from a Setter.

If you're coming from a smooth breed you have learned to judge by eye. You need to learn to use your hands to feel what your eye may be deceiving you.

If you are from a self colored breed you may have learned to differentiate by head or expression, or if you are from a multi colored breed you may differentiate by color or markings.

Judge the breed so that it {your judging} is consistent; so that people can understand what you're doing and the statement that you are making.

This means starting with the first thing that you see -- the lineup. Balance, proportion, size. This breed is above all a dog of balance.

The whole -- you should never see a head, ears, pieces. You see the whole.

Size -- learn it! By measuring as often as you have a chance.

Love the dog that's on the big size. He's going to give bone and substance.

Don't let size, big or small, be your decision maker. We can use both. If he's balanced, sound and correctly built, either size is correct.

Compactly made and short coupled.

Most every normal breed make their leg at 7 1/2 to 10 months. Extremely angulated dogs will probably straighten a little and come up on leg.

Describing proportion is difficult in this breed. The EC is not a square dog and not a long dog. It is slightly oblong.

You don't want a racehorse or a shetland pony. You want a dog which has enough substance to make them hardy and has the ability to go into dense cover.

Head -- The same from nose to stop and from stop to occiput. Anytime you have enough lip, you will have some throat.

Eye color - dark brown - NOT black. (no expression with a black eye color).

The EC didn't start out in this world wanting to be show dogs.

This seems to be a difficult breed for people to get into who have judged other breeds. We are looking always for moderate -- a dog free of exaggeration of any kind.

The mantra of the breed today must be moderate! moder-ate! moderate! Cocker! Cocker! Cocker!

We've got to get back to basics, back to where we came from, or all of the sporting breeds are going to look alike in different sizes. The working ability of our cockers is going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

You must breed dogs from the inside out. You must try to judge from the inside out also.

I've dealt in parti-colors for a lot of years and found that markings are a real nemesis in this breed. I want you to remember that the standard says color - various. It does state that a solid color should not have white feet. Colors can be deceiving and hard to deal with. No patching can make a dog look a mile long. They can come unfortunately marked with black legs, spots on the topline, black extending onto the muzzle. Don't be afraid to check both sides of the dog if you feel markings may be an issue in your evaluation of the dog.

Trimming - more hair is not better. Jackets are hard, thick, cover the skin completely.

An English Cocker has to have substance, has to be a tough little dog. It has to go underneath the ground cover and it has to be as the standard says.

You should be able to look at the history and come out with the right breed.

"Once upon a time, a man who owned Setters got into the breed and set about to 'fix this breed up.'He gave it 'nice' angulation. (You couldn't even come close to getting the rear feet up where they belong.) Of course, this dog could not move so he had to recreate the front too. This dog had an extreme slope to the topline, just like his Irish Setters and ran around the ring with its head in the air. Please, you must keep track --- we are not recreating the breed --- we are breeding and judging to a standard. If you want to recreate the breed, go off and mix in whatever you want and stir it up good. Call it whatever you want, but don't call it an ENGLISH COCKER!"