Not very much has been written over the years regarding the Silver American Cocker Spaniel — this article was written by Connie Bliss-Cochran several years ago and covers some of the theories regarding them. We hope that genetic testing will soon provide FACTS as to what makes a silver cocker silver.
Some breeders tend to get this color confused with other colors.
There have been many heated debates among show breeders regarding this color as well.
Hopefully, some of the information here can help to educate those who would like to know more about this color.
Silver cockers is really a misstatement..As there is no actual silver (as in the color silver).Silver in cocker is actually an ivory color.
A silver cocker is born very light colored and stays that way when grown. Their coat does not darken or change colors as they age, like many buffs do. Where did this Silver Cocker come from?
There has raged a debate among some fanciers as to where this silver color came from in cockers for at least 50 years,. Especially since none of the breeds the American Cocker derived from has this silvery light coat color. Was it something recessive hiding in the lines, or was it a breeder’s dirty little secret?
Some feel the silver coat color was a mutation.
A true mutation would come from 1 dog.To our knowledge ,the true silver hasn’t been traced back to any ONE particular dog, although most give credence to a silver dog, CH Maddie’s Vagabonds Return, born in 1949.
A statement was made that “a pet breeder in the early 1940’s, Madeleine Paquet , happened to tap into a bloodline that was already producing light cream colored dogs. According to Dr. Alvin Grossman,” there is extensive documentation behind CH Ossie’s Smooth Sailing (b.1945) and the dogs that produced him and then CH Maddie’s Vagabonds Return.” Maddie’s Vagabonds Return himself was and sometimes still is the subject of controversy regarding coat colors and producing ability as well as his heritage.It was felt this dog was the mutation that was the main cause of silver cockers, and buff cockers that resembled blacks in conformation and coat. Even though his sire was the great grandson of CH Ossie’s Smooth Sailing, himself a supposed silver cocker.
There has also been speculation from some of the old timers in the show fancy who were aware of a certain show breeder who incorporated the poodle into their cocker breeding program in the 1940’s.Several have voiced that shortly afterward, silvers started appearing in this line and lines that were bred to these dogs. “True silvers are dilute blacks – hence the beautiful black nose and eye rim pigment, as well as grey skin. They were introduced into cockers some years ago when a breeder, frustrated by the sparse coat factor in the ASCOBs
of the day, out-crossed to a white poodle ( these are also known as dilute blacks).
These “grey-skinned silvers” tended to be well up on leg, with rather plain
heads, often had terrier tails, but PLENTY of hair and should not be
confused with a light cream colored cocker. Over time their breed type has
been improved. .”
So far, there is no actual hard proof on any of it. It was too long ago for any DNA testing. No one can prove it was a mutation or not, or whether a white poodle was bred into the mix or not. All we know is the “silver” cocker has been around for many many years.
It’s been accepted into the fancy since day one and many people love the color.
There are no color related health issues associated with the “silver” color in Cockers
Silver Genetics in Cockers:
If the silver cocker was derived from a poodle, it could be the white poodle. According to Sheila Schmutz PHD , regarding the white poodle,”The gene causing this absence of any pigment in the hair is not yet known in any breed. Some of these poodles have black skin. We differentiate these from the cream poodles.”
The cocker could be on the E locus e/e , which is the red gene. With it being e/e at the MC1R gene. Instead of E/E.The dog still would not be black since the e/e genotype prevents black pigmentation of hairs in dogs (but not nose leather or pads)
Some say the silver is caused from the extreme Chinchilla gene, which turns a dog’s coat (but not it’s pads eye rims etc) to white.
Looking at coat colors for English cockers, it has been said that white cockers exist but they are actually a form of parti. Which in the case of silver American Cockers..these colors come from buff type breedings, with little to no parti involved.
According to Dr Alvin Grossman, in his book, The American Cocker Spaniel, he states that the silver also called a.. “Class Number 7 black dog, is a “dilute black.” In fact, he is a black who lacks the extension factor ( the ability to extend black color throughout his coat). His nose, paws, and skin are usually blue/black or blue/black spotted. This dilute black has revolutionized the buff Cocker. Due to a genetic crossover, it can pass black characteristics to all other colors. Before a “crossover” occurred, this was not possible. The Class Number 7 black-nosed red…is genetically black in type and conformation but lacks the coat color. …This color cannot produce dark reds or chocolate.”
Determining if a Cocker is silver or actually light buff:
Since true silver cockers are not seen readily, some tend to think of the actual silver/gray color; which many call merle. Merle is NOT silver.
Light buff cockers with the light golden or very light tan color are NOT silver.
Many call the very light buffs, silver, but they are in fact just light buffs. Some do call them silver buffs, which is ok, but they are still, not true silvers.
A true silver, as said before, is genetically a black cocker that lacks the extension factor that colors the coat black.
The dog has black eye rims, black pads, toenails, nose and the skin is dark, almost a blue black. This skin color is very important in determining if the silver cocker is indeed a silver. Many very light buffs appear to look silverish, but they have the pink skin.
Some very light buffs have brown pads, nose and eye rims. These are dilute browns, not silver.
Some cockers, especially some of the browns have what is called a silvering gene. This silvering gene causes the dog’s coat to turn silvery gray, or have silver gray patches on the hips, head ears, etc. This is also NOT a silver cocker.
An all white dog with blue eyes or pink eyes is also NOT a silver. This white color can be a result of the dog being a true albino (pink eyes) or an extremely lightly marked red and white parti with the dilution factor. It can also be a double merle.
But it is NOT a silver cocker.
A true silver generally does NOT have any dark shading (darker color than it’s base color) in it’s coat.
Much of the show fancy prefers to call these very light buffs, silver, but in actuality, they are not. Not unless they have the dark gray/blue skin.
A silver pup that is born will often be described as, ” born white, almost pearlescent/opalescent looking with dark grey/purple skin and is fully (black) pigmented by about 3 days of age.” Some times the line may mature a little slower and the skin will darken in a few days. But you must have the dark skin in order for it to be considered a silver. Remember, a silver is really a black dog..but it has light fur instead of black..
So you think, possibly it was a buff cocker with the dilution gene? A true dilution gene will dilute ALL color in a dog, including the eye rims, nose and pads. Since a silver has the black nose pads, etc, it is not a buff with the dilution gene.
Silver breeders state that since silver is a dilution form of black, that silver is more dominate than black. If you breed a silver to a buff, you should produce more silvers than buffs.
Some breeders state in order to produce a true silver, you must have a black & tan with the lightest color tan points possible somewhere in the line. Once you are producing true silvers, you can breed the 2 together and often produce an entire litter of silvers.