Before guns, there was the English Springer Spaniel. This medium size, hardworking, and intelligent breed remains as popular today as they were with hunters centuries ago.
The Springer represents everything you really love in a dog. You can teach them just about anything and they always aim to please their master. Their keen expression and joyful disposition makes them such a joy to be around.
In fact, the Springer is such a joy that even our favorite celebrities and former presidents love them.
So where does the breed get their humble beginnings from and what else makes them such a great choice for dog lovers?
Here is what you need to know about the English Springer Spaniel.
The English Springer Spaniel has a long and rich story. Most speculate that the Springer came from Spain with the Romans to England.
In the 15th century, there were land and water spaniels that were broken into groups. The Springer’s ancestry comes from land spaniels that were flushing dogs. Moreover, the only distinction between land spaniels at the time was size. In fact, the English Cocker Spaniel and Springer were the same breed up until the turn of the 20th century. Until then, fanciers gave dogs under 25 pounds the Cocker label, while dogs over 25 pounds were given the Springer title.
In 1882, the English Springer Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel became separate breeds with their own official identities. However, both breeds were still cut from the same litter.
Before rifles and the invention of guns, the Springer was instrumental for hunters to trap and capture their game. The main role for the Springer, prior to the rifle, was to flush bird prey for the hounds to track down. Following the invention of the rifle, it was up to the English Springer Spaniel to work within the shooter’s range and quarter their quarry. Out of the various spaniels during the 18th and 19th century, the Springer was arguably the most prominent.
In 1902, the Kennel Club of England, gave the English Springer Spaniel their own official recognition. As more people took interest, and the American Spaniel Club forming in 1881, it was time for the Springer to have its own distinction.
While the Springer may have been in the United States dating back to the Pilgrim era, official records indicate that the breed officially came to the United State in 1907. Three years later in 1910, the breed would gain official recognition by the American Kennel Club. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association in 1932 would help create the first breed standard, which would get approval by the AKC.
Since then. the breed is still a great gun dog. However, the Springer is one of the better show ring breeds as well. In countries around the world, this is a breed that is search and rescue dog, as well as a drug sniffing canine. Moreover, the English Springer Spaniel is still one of the most popular companions around today. According to the American Kennel Club, the Springer is 26th most popular breed out of nearly 190 breeds.
The English Springer Spaniel is a medium size breed. Males should stand 20 inches in height, and females shall stand at 19 inches. With regards to weight, a male should weigh 50 pounds and females 40 pounds.
Personality and Temperament
English Springer Spaniels are all work while in the fields flushing game to their masters. They take their jobs seriously, and are relentless at their tasks.
When the English Springer Spaniel gets home, the breed is completely different. This is a dog that is fun to be around. They bring joy and make it their prerogative to do so. This is a joyous dog, that loves being around their family. They don’t do well with alone time and ultimately want to be a part of the family’s endeavors.
The Springer enjoys the outdoors including dog parks, lakes, pools, and hiking trails. Just as long as their master is around, the Springer Spaniel will be content in anything you do. In fact, the breed is quite a good swimmer.
Friendly and eager to please, you shouldn’t have to worry about the breed interacting with strangers. They tend to do well around other dogs, but may exude their protective nature. You may consider supervision around smaller children and pets. Moreover, with the right hand training this breed, they generally are a very friendly and cheerful dog.
They love to explore and will seek adventure. This is a dog that should get regular exercise. Ultimately, the English Springer Spaniel is much happier when they have a role in something important. This can be a job, or part of the family’s efforts. Being alone may lead to destructive habits. The breed should be fine in apartments, but really is much happier with more range to run around with.
All in all, this is a friendly and obedient dog, that is quite smart and can learn nearly anything you desire to teach. Friendship and loyalty is what this breed seeks. They aim to please. They strive to be the best dog possible and if they must balance on their hinds to do so, the English Springer Spaniel will.
Generally healthy, these are the words that breeders, clubs and fanciers deem the English Springer Spaniel to be. On average, the Spring should live between 12 to 14 years, although it’s not outside the possibility to see a dog go beyond the expectancy.
With that in mind, you can enhance your chances of acquiring a healthy Springer by purchasing from a breeder, who has a good reputation. This breeder should be able to show you the proper documentation you need for health clearances. On top of that, there are actions you can take like scheduling regular visits with the veterinarian.
The Springer Spaniels falls within the middle of the pack along with the Great Dane and Boston Terrier for Hip Dysplasia. This is an orthopedic complication that can be terribly painful for a dog. Most medium to large breeds have issues with this malformation of the hip joint. Bulldogs and Pugs have the highest incident rate, while Springers are 87th at 13% dysplastic rate.
Elbow Dysplasia is no fun either. This abnormal growth of the elbow can cause lameness, discomfort and pain as well. The English Springer Spaniel ranks 28th in the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals survey. Their 14.7% dysplastic rate barely edges out the Irish Wolfhound and Tibetan Mastiff.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a retina degeneration problem sometimes found with the Springer Spaniel, that leads to loss of vision, at times, blindness. The breed may also be prone to Retinal Dysplasia.
Phosphofructokinase deficiency is a serious problem with the Springer and possibly ten percent of Cocker Spaniels. PFK, as some often call it, is a genetic disease, which will prevent metabolism of glucose into available energy, thus leading to muscular disease, exercise intolerance and anemia. Anemia is a result from PFK due to the destruction it has on red blood cells.
Epilepsy, ear infections, skin issues and troubles with allergies may also be found with this breed. This is why it’s always crucial to have a good relationship with your animal care provider and to obtain the proper health clearances from a reputable breeder.
Regular checkups with your veterinarian will help prevent most diseases and health conditions you don’t want to see your English Springer Spaniel inherit. You can do some of these yourself, including checking their ears routinely for infections or bacteria. Common preventative measures like inspecting their eyes, coat or skin, and trimming their nails will reduce other issues from getting worse.
The Springer should get early socialization and training as a puppy. This will help with their temperament and how they interact with other dogs. Yet, it doesn’t hurt their interactions with strangers and children as well, when the dog learns obedience and other canine programs. The English Springer Spaniel is a talent of a dog, that can excel in tracking, agility, and other canine sports.
Regular exercise is a must for this breed. You shouldn’t leave the Springer Spaniel alone for long periods of time, as it will lead to destructive and neurotic behavior.
In summary, this is a fun and friendly family dog, that should receive plenty of outdoor time but at the end of the day, the Springer Spaniel is indoors. Gentle and positive reinforcement with a loving owner and family is all this breed needs to be happy.
If you plan on owning a healthy dog, you must invest in wise and practical dietary decisions. However, your English Springer Spaniel may not eat as much as your neighbor’s dog does, but that doesn’t mean much if you factor your dog’s age, metabolism and activity rate.
With the Springer, there is no special diet to adhere to, but the common sense theory is that the breed should obtain a meat as the first ingredient with high quality dry food. Salmon and sweet potato, beef and potato or lamb and rice, are all healthy options your Springer can have. Look for food with Taurine or Omega Fatty acids. Omega 3 and 6 will help promote better skin and coat health, as well as better heart health. Most breeders seem to recommend 1 to 2 cups of food per day, which should break up into two meals a day.
When you break up the meals, you reduce the chances of your dog getting the dangerous, Bloat. Steer away from corn, wheat, soy or grainy food. A total of 900 to 1500 calories per day should suffice your Springer Spaniel.
As always, you should provide your English Springer Spaniel with fresh drinking water.
If you want a healthy and good looking English Springer Spaniel, then grooming your dog is an absolute must. You can either brush your Springer 1 to 2 times per week, or have someone professional take care of their double coat.
A Springer Spaniel’s outside coat is at medium length, should be flat or wavy. The undercoat should be dense and short. Most Springer’s trademark is the feathering on their ears, chest, legs ad belly. The double coat helps protect the breed from bad weather with their waterproof properties.
The following coat colors are from the standard that the American Kennel Club approves: Black and white, black white and tan, liver and white, liver white and tan, white and black, white and liver.
The American Kennel Club doesn’t approve of markings.
Fun English Springer Spaniel Facts
- George H.W. Bush and President George W Bush both had English Springer Spaniels
- Other famous owners: Oprah, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton, Bing Crosby and Anderson Cooper
- There are two types of Springers: Bench and Field Springer Spaniels.
- Bench Springers are larger show dog with thick coats.
- Field Springers are hunters, they have docked tails and light coats.
- Behind the Wire Fox Terrier and Scottish Terrier, the Springer is third all time winning Best in Show from Westminster Kennel Club competitions.
- Springers are great sniffer dogs, bomb detecting dogs, and even help prisons sniff out contraband.
Popular and busy, find a job or role that the English Springer Spaniel cannot do. It’ll be hard, but that’s why so many people love this breed.
While they are hard working and capable of many tasks, the one constant role this breed succeeds in is being a loyal, loving and wonderful companion.