Field Spaniel

While the intention may have been for the good, sometimes human action has negative consequences. In the case of the Field Spaniel, the consequence could have lead to their extinction. Fortunately, this medium size, sporting group breed is still around to bring joy as a household companion.

Yet, at one point, the future was grim and looking as bleak as a rainy day in Seattle. Luckily, a few persistent fanciers led the charge to keep this breed alive.

So what did these fanciers see within this breed that lead to this breed’s revival?

Here is what you need to know about the Field Spaniel.

History

You may know about the Cocker Spaniel and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, that’s because the spaniel family is rather large. In the 1800’s, the spaniel family was no different. There really weren’t any distinction between types. Rather, the distinction was seen more in show competitions. The basis was color and weight or height. Then, there was land, water and toy spaniels.

Interestingly, breeders or fanciers would interbreed cockers and fields without distinguishing the two as different breeds. When show competitions came about, the distinction was as follow: cockers were 25 pounds and less. They were cockers due to their work flushing out woodcocks as a hunting dog. Anything above 25 pounds was given the classification of Field Spaniel. Until 1901, this lack of distinction was commonplace. 

As a land spaniel, or the working breed, the Field Spaniel was responsible for seeking hare and game bird as well as flushing them out. The Field Spaniel would work in coalition with either Falcons, nets, and later on, guns. 

Suddenly, during the latter half of the 19th century, as the popularity of dog shows grew, fanciers sought out for an all solid black Field Spaniel. This was near catastrophic for a couple of reasons. First, eventually, as other breeds became more popular, interest in the Field Spaniel wane. Second, hunters didn’t appreciate the solid black Field Spaniel, because it was hard for them to spot the dog during hunting expeditions. Without the use for working purposes, the breed’s sole purpose was merely for show competitions.

Furthermore, this would lead to a reduction in the breed’s registration during the 20th century. That and the fact that experimental breeding led to health complications and criticism by the public.

In America, the breed was facing the same fate. Although the Field Spaniel was one of the first breeds to be shown at dog shows, and register in studbooks, their registrations would continue to pummel. 

The mid 20th century, primarily in the 1950’s and 60’s, saw the revival of this breed thanks to a few resilient breeders. The formation of the Field Spaniel Society of American in 1978 definitely made a difference in helping promote the breed. 

Today, however, the Field Spaniel is still a rare and vulnerable breed in the United Kingdom. According to the American Kennel Club, the breed ranks 147th out of 194 possible spots in registration numbers. The breed does enjoy life as a companion and is still a very efficacious hunting and scenting dog.

Size

The Field Spaniel is a medium size dog breed. Males should stand at 18 inches, while females should stand at 17 inches.

With regards to the breed standard’s weight, both male and female Field Spaniels should weigh between 35 to 50 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

Many describe this breed as docile. That said, this is a breed that is a real people pleaser. The Field Spaniel aims to entertain and garner attention from their people. Understanding and patient with smaller children, this is a breed that you can trust among with the kiddos. With regards to smaller animals or other dogs, the Field Spaniel should do fine if brought up correctly.

Craving for the center of attention,  you can easily teach this breed to do tricks and teach them obedience amongst other canine sports. Field Spaniels are wonderful competitors, that love to run around, have a good romp in the backyard and even swim. It shouldn’t be surprising to find this breed using their hunting instincts by sniffing around their domain. 

This is a dog that can fit mostly any lifestyle, although some Kennel Clubs claim a larger house as being ideal. This may be true for some, but if the dog is getting enough mental and physical stimulation, the Spaniel should do fine really anywhere. 

All in all, this breed will definitely want to be a part of all family endeavors. At times, they may exude separation anxiety due to long departures. They’ll act like clowns and do whatever it takes to gain your attention to keep a close tag on their master. At home, this docile dog is sweet and loving with all members of the family. They are agreeable during training, that can easily pick up on tasks due to their higher intelligence levels. You’ll notice a dog that loves the outdoors when they get the chance to run free. Parks, trails, lakeside, and other outdoor areas fit nicely with this breed.

Health

First and foremost, to steer away from stingy breeders, you should only purchase your Field Spaniel from a reputable breeder, who has no problem providing you the proper health clearances and documents proving it so. In addition, you’ll want to coordinate regularly with a veterinarian to maintain a long and fulfilling life for your Spaniel.

That said, this is a relatively healthy breed, with few major issues, that will give you and your vet bill any fits. On average, most believe the Field Spaniel to live between 12 to 13 years, while PetMD claims 12 to 14 years.

As is the case with most large breeds, and some medium breeds, Hip Dysplasia can be of an issue for this breed. Although you shouldn’t have to worry as much as someone with a Pug or Bulldog, the Field Spaniel suffers a 17.7% dysplastic rate for Hip Dysplasia. Those numbers rank the breed 56th amongst the OFA’s survey along with the Beagle and Chinook. This malformation of the hip joint can be severely painful for a dog. Lameness and other orthopedic issues may arise if the problem persists.

Hypothyroidism is somewhat of a concern, although the breed’s official club maintains the Field Spaniel suffers from low thyroid. Lacking the proper thyroid hormonal activity can result in weight gain, coat issues and other problems like lethargy. Medication may be of help to combat most of the ailments of the condition. Field Spaniels rank 60th in the OFA’s survey along with Weimaraner and Coton De Tulear.

Other issues surfacing among this breed pertain to the eyes. Entropion, which is when the eyelid decides to roll in often results in ulcerations or scarring. Ectropion, which is the opposite, the eyelid rolls out, this causes a great deal of aggravation. Other issues with sight may arise as well. Progressive Retinal Atrophy, although not common, is another issue affecting the eyes. 

With regards to Elbow Dysplasia and Cardiac issues, while not impossible, these conditions are quite uncommon. In fact, the Field Spaniel ranks 60th in OFA’s survey for cardiac issues along with the Golden and Labrador Retriever.

In summary, most of the issues affecting this breed may pertain to the joints, eyes, thyroid, and problems with skin allergies and possibly hemolytic anemia.

Care

If you love a dog that wants to be around you plenty or constantly, then the Field Spaniel is the dog you’ve been waiting for. They should always be a part of family endeavors, as long periods of time away from their people affect them more so than other breeds. Separation anxiety is something that affects this breed rather regularly. You can bring this dog mostly anywhere from the farm to the dog park. Apartment living is fine. People with experience or novice dog owners will do fine with this breed.

You’ll need to execute positive reinforcement during the training process with this breed. The Field Spaniel learns better when using that approach. Treats and positive remarks help encourage the dog much easier than harsh sentiments. This is a breed that should get early socialization so that they can have proper relationships with other dogs including children, strangers and smaller animals.

You may have to watch out or maintain a proper fencing area. The breed is a hunter, who may sniff themselves away and out of the yard. If you do have smaller pets, you may want to keep an eye out for them as well. There is some chance of prey drive. 

Although you probably don’t have to force them outdoors, it is important to avoid weight gaining issues with this breed due to their somewhat common association with thyroid problems. Regular exercise will help and promote a happier lifestyle for the breed.

Check their ears regularly, trimming their nails help with overgrowth and splitting.

Feeding

A Field Spaniel should get a high quality diet with good protein value. Meat should be the first ingredient. If you own a dog that works, then obviously it will take more calorie compensation to suffice their energy requirements.  For dogs between 35 to 50 pounds, 1600 to 2100 calories will be necessary to replenish what they burn. For a stay at home Field Spaniel, of the same weight, 1000 to 1300 calories should suffice.

A diet rich with omega 3 and 6, or Glucosamine, which helps with their joints, heart and coat will go a long way in keeping your dog at its healthiest. Chicken, turkey, fish, and beef are all ideal. Mixing in fruits and vegetables will help as well.

Most owners recommend a daily amount of 1.5 to 2 cups of top quality dry kibble per day. If you break that up into two meals a day, then you’ll be assisting your dog in reducing the chances of Bloat.

As always, you should provide you Field Spaniel with fresh drinking water.

Coat

The Field Spaniel has a rather long single layer coat, that will shed in seasonal fashion. Occasional grooming is necessary to properly maintain the integrity of their coat. Their single coat is partially wavy and flat. You should notice a glossy or silky finish. You’ll also notice feathering in various areas such as the back of their legs and around the chest. Weekly brushing is necessary.

According to the breed standard, the Field Spaniel has six color scheme options: Liver roan, liver, golden liver, golden liver roan, blue roan and Black. The breed has one acceptable marking, according to the standard, which is tan markings.

Fun Field Spaniel Facts

  • Many consider the modern version of the English Cocker Spaniel to be a mix between a Sussex Spaniel and Field Spaniel. The dog’s name was Obo, the father of Cockers. Obo had Obo 2, who many consider to be the father of the American Cocker Spaniel.
  • The first Field Spaniel to register in America was Dash in 1879.
  • The American Kennel Club gave the Field Spaniel recognition in 1894. The UKC did so in 1984.
  • Field Spaniels are very intelligent. According to the work of Stanley Coren’s Intelligence of Dogs, this breed is in the third tier. Field Spaniels share the 34th slot with Bearded Collies, Newfoundlands, Gordon Setters, Aussie Terriers and Am Staff Terrier. This means the breed is able to obey commands 70 percent of the time, which makes them more than ideal working companion dogs.
  • Along with the Clumber Spaniel (265), and the Mastiff (166), the Field Spaniel is on the Kennel Club of United Kingdom’s “vulnerable breed” list with only 50 registrations. Any native breed of England with fewer than 300 registrations is subject to the vulnerable list.

Closing Words

Sometimes humans have a negative and positive effect on breeds. This is especially the case with the Field Spaniel, who nearly came to blows with extinction. 

With that in mind, the breed still struggles with registration numbers and their decline in popularity. Moreover, this should stun most dog lovers due to how great a dog the Field Spaniel truly is. As a household companion, they are fun and playful, and docile. On the hunt, their talents coordinate with their humans to effectively track and hunt game. This combination, with the help of others, will certainly help the breed convince dog lovers all over on how wonderful of a pet the Field Spaniel can be.