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either of two breeds of sporting dogs used by hunters to flush game birds from cover; it is also trained to retrieve. "Cocker" likely refers to its use in flushing woodcocks. Spaniel ancestors have been known since the 14th century, gradually differentiated into land, water, and toy breeds. The cockers are the smallest of the hunting spaniels (the toy spaniels are companion dogs). The cocker spaniel was given breed status in England in 1883 and registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1878. The English cocker spaniel was separated from the American by the AKC in 1946.