- The Welsh Springer is believed to be one of the oldest of the spaniel breeds.
- Welshies have a flat, straight coat with thick, silky fur. The coat picks up mud, dirt, and stickers, but sheds them just as easily.
- Although coat color and size are the primary differences between Welshies and English Springer Spaniels, the Welshie also has shorter ears.
AKC group: Sporting
UKC group: Gun Dog Breeds
Average lifespan: 10 to 15 years
Average size: 35 to 55 pounds
Coat appearance: Naturally straight flat and soft to the touch, never wiry or wavy
Coloration: Rich red and white only. Any pattern is acceptable and any white area may be flecked with red ticking.
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards, hunters
Temperament: Easygoing, independent, intelligent, eager to please
|An image of English and Welsh Cockers,
published in 1859
Little is known about the Welsh Springer’s origins, but he’s considered a very old breed, with ancestors dating to Roman Britain. Tapestries from the Renaissance depict spaniels that closely resemble today’s Welsh Springer; similar red-and-white spaniels appear in a few 18th-century portraits. By the 19th century, the dogs were little known, except in the Neath Valley region of southern Wales.
The preponderance of dog shows in the late 19th century brought about renewed interest in the breed, which made an appearance at the first Kennel Club show, held in 1873. They were judged alongside black-and-white spaniels and white English Springer Spaniels. Eventually, the two breeds were separated.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Welsh Springer in 1906, but few people were interested in the breed. By the end of World War II, they were practically non-existent in the United States, until 11 of them were imported in 1949. A dozen years later, the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America was founded. Today, the Welsh Springer remains a well-kept secret, ranking 127th among the breeds registered by the AKC, down from 113th a decade ago.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are less outgoing than their English cousins but still share the same zest for life. They are full of energy and enjoy spending time with people of all ages – even kids and will attach himself deeply to the people he loves. Built for hunting, Welsh Springers still enjoy working in the field, but will also have fun tracking and stalking birds in the backyard.
They can be a bit messy, tracking dirt and water throughout the house, but their smiling faces and constantly wagging tails makes staying mad at a Springer nearly impossible. They will alert you that someone is approaching the house, though they are too shy to be effective guard dogs. For active families, Welsh Springer Spaniels make excellent pets.
Cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma are common eye problems found in the Welsh Springer Spaniel. This breed also has a high incidence of epilepsy, which can be controlled with medications. Rarely has the breed had issues with hip dysplasia.
Welsh Springer Spaniels can be kept outside, with adequate shelter from the heat and cold, but they are such wonderful family companions, why wouldn’t you want them in your house, sleeping at your feet in the evening? Welsh Springer Spaniels are fairly active indoors and can live comfortably in city apartments (with proper exercise, of course) or in the country. They do best with at least an average-size yard in which to run. Wherever they live, they are energetic dogs that need a lot of exercise to keep them from becoming fat, bored, and lazy.
Keep training sessions short and positive. That’s more suited to their personality and attention span than boring repetition. Train them with understanding and patience, and you’ll be well rewarded.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is fairly active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. The Welsh Springer’s coat keeps the dog comfortable in both hot and cold weather.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are relatively easy to train, but they can be independent and also carry a touch of doggy ADD which can be frustrating. Keep lots of treats on hand to keep his interest, keep sessions short, and be ready to hand out lots of exuberant praise. Springers do not respond well to harsh discipline – they will shut you out if they start to mistrust you – so it’s best to positively reinforce good behavior and ignore the bad.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is an energetic and lively dog that needs plenty of regular exercise, including a daily, long walk. It will greatly enjoy running off the leash in a safe area. Without enough exercise, these dogs will become bored, fat and lazy and are more likely to develop a wide variety of behavior problems.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel has a straight, silky coat that should be brushed and combed at least twice a week — and each time he comes back from hunting
— to prevent tangles. The best tools for the task: a slicker brush and a stainless steel Greyhound comb. Brush out the feathering on the legs, body, and ears with the slicker brush to remove dead hairs; use the comb on the rest of the body. You should also ask your breeder to show you how to do detailed trimming with clippers and shears to produce a neat look. The Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America offers a how-to on grooming your Welshie to perfection.
The rest is basic care: Trim the nails as needed, usually every week or two. And keep the ears clean and dry, especially if your Welshie is a swimmer. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Children And Other Pets
Welsh Springers are gentle around children if they grow up with them or are exposed to them when they’re young. If they’re raised with them from puppyhood, they are generally good with other pets in the household, even small ones, although they might see birds as prey since that’s what they are bred to hunt.
Did You Know?
The Welsh Springer’s iconic red-and-white coat isn’t the breed’s only distinctive trait. He also has slightly webbed feet, giving him an advantage when it comes to fetching waterfowl.
Famous Welsh Springer Spaniels
The Welsh Springer Spaniel has kept a low profile over the centuries, with few truly famous individuals:
- Corrin, the first dog of the breed to be photographed
- Goitre Lass, a well-known bitch that produced several champion pups