On the Mayflower
Spaniels in America can be traced back to 1620 and the landing of the Mayflower, which carried two dogs on the voyage to New England, a mastiff and a spaniel. In those days spaniels were divided into two varieties, land and water spaniels. From those early specimens come the many varieties of spaniels we have today.
The American cocker spaniel, which is often just referred to as the cocker spaniel, comes from the English cocker spaniel. In the late 1800s, many English cocker spaniels were brought to America, but U.S. hunters preferred a slightly smaller dog to hunt quail and other small game birds—thus the dog was bred for its smaller size, earning it distinction from its British cousins.