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English Springer Spaniel - Breed Profile

The English Springer Spaniel is a dog for all seasons and an endearing energetic companion. Highly thought of by police and customs as sniffer dogs, they excel in field trials and also make wonderful family pets.

HISTORY


It is thought that the English Springer Spaniel originated in Spain, as the name Spaniel suggests.

Hunter with Dogs (Beeldemaker, 1699)
Spaniels were referenced as early as 300AD, being sporting dogs used for flushing game for hawks and falcons. In the 1500's the word "springer" appeared - referring to Spaniels that flushed or sprang game. 

The sporting spaniels were however, largely developed in the British Isles. Spaniels were divided into several varieties, depending on their working characteristics. Smaller spaniels were classified as "Cockers" and the larger Spaniels "Springers". 

As recently as in the early 1900's the two varieties were interbred, and progeny identified depending on their size as either Springers or Cockers.

The English Kennel Club recognised Springers as a separate breed in 1902. In 1910 the American Kennel Club registered the first English Springer Spaniel in that country. 

By the 1930's English Springers were being shown and bred in Australia.

APPEARANCE


The English Springer Spaniel is a medium sized sporting spaniel – balanced, compact and powerful. It resembles the Cocker Spaniel, though larger with an approximate height being 51cm at the withers.


Born predominantly white but changing colour after birth, English Springer Spaniels come in a variety of coat colours – liver (chocolate) or black with white markings, or either of these colours with tan markings on the eyebrows, cheeks, feet, inside of ears and under the tail. 

The coat is close, straight or slightly wavy. The eyes are either hazel or brown, depending on the colour of the coat. 

For the full breed standard, please visit the ANKC website

TEMPERAMENT


The typical Spaniel is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and willing to obey. As with many dog breeds, it is important to socialise your dog as early as possible. Due to the boisterous and excitable nature of the breed, obedience training is important to control the dog from jumping up at people.

Although a playful breed, it should be remembered that this is a breed that was developed to work, therefore Springers benefit from being trained, be it for a formal discipline or merely to take its place in the family home. Ranked 13th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, the Springer is considered an excellent working dog with exceptional stamina. 

An agile sporting dog, English Springer Spaniels are also affectionate and have a friendly, gentle disposition. Owners describe them as playful, energetic and quick learners and say they are happiest when they are with people as much as possible, making them an ideal family pet.

A typical Springer Spaniel will often choose one person in the family to be most loyal to and stick with that person as much as possible.  Springers are cheerful dogs with a sense of humour. They are affectionate, good with children and noisy with intruders. So if you're looking for a guard dog, consider another breed! Although its barking might deter an intruder, the typical Springer temperament is that of a loving, (though active) dog. At best, the Springer might immobilise an intruder while attempting to be petted.

The English Springer Spaniel is talented in the activities of hunting, tracking, retrieving, agility, and competitive obedience and performing tricks. 

The Springer Spaniel is used as a search and rescue dog by mountain rescue teams, where their willingness to work and cover rough terrain makes them an excellent choice. A team of Springer Spaniels and their dedicated handlers helped eradicate Macquarie Island (halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica) of rabbits and rodents in an unprecedented project over a seven-year period.

TRAINING AND EXERCISE

The fastest of the spaniels thanks to their long-legged build, their alertness and attentiveness make them an ideal hunting companion. 

English Springer Spaniels need as much good hard exercise as they can get and thoroughly enjoy swimming. 

As with most members of the gun dog family, fencing is an important consideration because, if they do get out, they are apt to be "feather brained" when on the roads. 


HEALTH & LIFESPAN

Potential health problems to check for include ear and eye problems and inherited diseases. English Springer Spaniels can be subject to low-grade ear inflammation but this problem is best avoided by regularly checking that ears are clean, especially after humid or wet weather.

In relation to potential eye problems, Retinal Dysplasia is a genetic defect present at birth in which the retina may be curved or irregularly shaped and may also be detached. A test can be carried out by a canine ophthalmologist who will provide documentation as to the puppy's status and a reputable registered breeder should provide these details,

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another degenerative eye disease which can lead to blindness and a dog’s breeding history should be researched before purchase. Inherited diseases such as Hip Dysplasia, and less commonly, Idiopathic Epilepsy can occur within the breed.

Most of these problems can be avoided by thoroughly checking the dog’s history with the breeder before purchase. What you should be asking the breeder about are:

1) the hip scores of the sire/dame (parents) of the litter and
2) evidence of PRA Cord 1 status (this does not cover all potential mutations).


English Springer Spaniels tend to gain weight easily so it is important to avoid overfeeding them. They have a lifespan of around 12 to 14 years.

HOUSEPET POTENTIAL

If you want a one-person dog, or if you are away from home a great deal, you might consider a different breed and please note that a working line (short hair) Springer will have a high drive and needs something to do! 
If left alone for too long, they can also become destructive and mischievous through boredom. 

English Springer Spaniels are intensely people-oriented and thrive on human companionship and like all dogs they will not be happy as full-time backyard dogs. 

Because they are of medium size, they can live comfortably in city apartments (with proper exercise, of course) or large suburban blocks.

The English Springer Spaniel is a sociable breed that enjoys the company of children and handles the company of other pets well. The hunting (working line) breed may not get along well with cats, however. 



GROOMING

English Springer Spaniels should be brushed daily and bathed once a week. Ears should be checked regularly and hair inside the ears as well as between the toes should be trimmed regularly.


RECOMMENDED FOR

Not a dog to be shut out in the backyard and left to his own devices, the English Springer Spaniel needs owners who have time to spend exercising and playing with him. 

  • Temperament: affectionate and excitable
  • Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
  • Recommended for: active people, teenagers
  • Maintenance: medium – regular brushing and exercise required
For more information on the breed, please visit

English Springer Spaniel Association of NSW Inc

English Springer Spaniel Club of Victoria Inc

English Springer Spaniel Association of QLD

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