AKC group: Sporting Group
UKC group: Gun Dog
Average lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Average size: 40 – 55 pounds
Coat appearance: Medium length, with wave and feathering on ears, legs and face
Coloration: Liver and white; black and white; black, white and liver; white with blue or black markings
Other identifiers: Medium-sized dog, black or liver nose, oval-shaped eyes in brown to hazel color, deep chest, medium-length pendant ears, tails are typically docked and head is proportionate to body.
|English Springer Spaniel from 1807
Spaniel-type dogs have been popular with hunters for centuries, used to flush feathered and furred game. Spaniels came in several sizes, and it wasn’t unusual for puppies in the same litter to grow up to be different sizes. The smaller ones were used to hunt woodcock, giving rise to the name Cocker Spaniel, and the larger ones were used to “spring” game for the hunter, flushing birds from the brush so they could be shot. They became known as English Springer Spaniels. In 1902, England’s Kennel Club separated the two types into distinct breeds, one becoming the English English Springer Spaniel, the other the English Cocker Spaniel.
In the U.S., the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association formed in 1924 and began the competitions known as field trials, in which the dogs were judged for not only hunting ability but also that elusive quality, style. Since then, the breed has split into two types: the smaller field-bred English Springer prized for his hunting ability and the somewhat larger, beautified show-bred English Springer, known for a milder temperament and a heavier coat. Despite their differences, both types are registered as a single breed with the American Kennel Club. They rank 29 th in popularity, down just slightly from 26 th in 2000, so their appeal holds steady.
The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn, and willing to obey. He should never be aggressive or timid. In recent years there have been reports of aggression or excessive timidity in the breed, as well as excessive separation anxiety. These traits aren’t desirable and could be an indication of poor breeding. As with any breed of dog, it’s important to research breeders and find ones who test their breeding stock not only for genetic diseases but also temperament.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors
, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Springers need early socialization and training. Like any dog, they can become timid if they are not properly socialized — exposed to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Springer puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
The English Springer Spaniel, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, is prone to major health problems like elbow dysplasia, otitis externa, and canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and minor issues such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), phosphofructokinase deficiency, and retinal dysplasia.
A few of the tests that are required for them are DNA for phosphofructokinase deficiency, elbow, knee, hip, and eye. Gastric torsion, entropion, patellar luxation, seizures, and rage syndrome can occasionally be seen in them.
The English Springer Spaniel needs combing and brushing at least once or twice a week. Apart from that, trimming and clipping every two to three months is good way to maintain a lustrous coat.
Keeping them inside the house with access to the field is best for this breed, as they love to hunt. They need to be taken on long hours of walking, as routine exercise is very important for these dogs. Proper lessons in obedience should also be given.
They will do okay in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. English Springer Spaniels adapt well to town or city life. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard.
Eager to please and generally loyal, it’s important to remember that English Springer Spaniels were bred as a gun dog and have instinctual tendencies toward outdoor hunting-style activities like retrieving. This kind of exercise is good to use during training. As far as the English Springer Spaniel’s temperament for training, it can be highly responsive and eager to please, if not distracted at times. Generally an obedient breed, the English Springer Spaniel should not be a difficult dog to give commands.
English Springer Spaniels are an active, athletic breed and should be exercised regularly. It’s important to take advantage of their hunting instincts and allow them to roam free in open areas, making them well-suited for the country life. Taking your dog to a park if you live in the city would be advisable – if you can handle this on a regular basis, then your English Springer Spaniel should have better overall mood and weight regulation.
The English Springer Spaniel should be brushed at least three times per week to prevent tangles and mats, and keep the coat shiny and healthy. Trimming around the head, neck, ears, tail and feet can help neaten the appearance, as well. Trimming is required every six to eight weeks, and most owners take their Springer to a professional groomer for a bath and a trim.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. The heavy ears of the English Springer do not allow for air to circulate, making them prone to infections. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear down the toenails naturally.
Springers usually do well with children if they are brought up with them from puppyhood. Older Springers who are unfamiliar with children may do best in a home with children who are mature enough to interact with them appropriately.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
Springers are also generally good with other pets in the household, even small ones, but they might see pet birds as prey since those are what they are bred to hunt. Keep them separated so they don’t hurt each other. A parrot’s beak is a mighty weapon.
Is this breed right for you?
The English Springer Spaniel is a true-blue lover of water. While it’s OK for apartment life due to its inactivity level indoors, the breed would love to have a yard to play in and a body of water to swim in. This pup loves children, is extremely loyal and very eager to please its human companion. Although this breed is OK with other animals, the English Springer Spaniel has a natural instinct to hunt for birds. Due to a longer coat, it will need regular grooming and bathing.
Did You Know?
English Springer Spaniels are bred either as hunting dogs or show dogs – but never as both. There hasn’t been an English Springer Spaniel that has excelled in both the show ring and hunting grounds in more than 50 years.
A dream day in the life
The loving English Springer Spaniel will wake up at the foot of its owner’s bed. Following the family downstairs, it’ll go out for a quick romp around the yard and a possible dip in the pool. After checking the home turf, it’ll mosey back inside to play with the kids. It’ll be happy with a few games, tricks and a nice walk before ending the day with its loved ones.