A Short History of the American Cocker in South Africa
by Pam Oosthuizen - Birchdale Cockers

Mrs. Harmsen was the first person to import an American Cocker to South Africa from England in 1971. He was a black and tan dog called Mittina Heartbreaker of Sigmasix. A mate for him was imported from Holland called Beau Geste of Gerwys Home - a buff bitch. From this mating, one whelp was born in 1971 - a bitch - the colour is not recorded but her name was Sigmasix Cornflaky. The first two imports were never shown. Another mate for him was imported from England, Ballantrae Blue Mist of Sigmasix who was black and white.

In 1972, Mittina Heartbreaker of Sigmasix and Ballantrae Blue Mist of Sigmasix whelped a litter of puppies and in that litter was a red and white, named Sigmasix Gold 'n Golly - Robertson was his call name. He became a champion at a very young age in 1973 and won many Best in Shows, he was owned by Liz Hill. 1976 saw the first home-bred bitch champion - Lizale Loosy-lastic of Sigmasix, owned by Liz Hill and Ronnie Ryrie.

In 1973, two American Cockers were imported from America - Maplehurst's Cottillion and Maplehurst's Mandrake. The story goes that an exhibitor asked some one going overseas to bring back two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, but when they arrived it they were American Cockers! Mrs. Liz Hill and Mr Ellis gladly took them on. As more people discovered this merry little dog and they started to be seen more regularly in the show ring, the imports increased over the years.

The litters reached their peak in 1986 with seventeen litters being registered. Since then litter registrations have decreased and not many litters are bred.

In 1978 I came to South Africa from England and bought my first, Waykhan Bit O'Fluff who was out of Ch. Teilwood Gunsmoke of Strassheim (imp UK)and Rengil Roc-a-Rosa (imp UK) from Maureen Rees. This little girl became Maureen's first home bred American Cocker Champion and the foundation of my kennel Birchdale.

Amongst the first South African enthusiasts to breed American Cockers were Pat de Coning (Kaikoura), Liz Ballington (nee hill) (Lizale), Carol and Mike Landsberg (Waylei), Liz Drennen & Veronica Tarr (Rosante), Maureen Rees (Waykhan) Felicity Tennent (Wildwood). Miles Chadwick, Laurie Green, Guy Jeavons and Daphne Cochrane were among the first in Zimbabwe. Then, as they became more popular more kennel names began to appear and some of these are still heavily involved with American Cockers.