There are two main varieties of English Springer Spaniels, which are used either as working dogs or show/pet dogs. Working dogs are more athletically built and are predominantly used for hunting. Medium sized, English Springer Spaniels have a strong physique and considerable stamina and they enjoy plenty of rigorous exercise.
The English Springer Spaniel is easily recognized by its long floppy ears, which hang down by the sides of its head, in comparison to most breeds with pointed, erect ears. Their long, wide and soft ears suggest an air of expressiveness.
English Springer Spaniels are classified as Sporting Dogs - Gundogs in the UK -and are suited to various wood and field activities, particularly hunting. Provided that they are well looked after and don’t become ill, these dogs have a life expectancy of between 10 and 14 years.
The English Springer Spaniel is also well known for its soft, wavy coat. With medium length shiny hair, these spaniels can also be curly with feathering on their belly, chest, legs and ears.
The breed’s coat is usually a combination of liver and white, or black and white, with or without tan. White appears on the face, chest and legs, while the remainder of the hair is of a darker shade.
English Springer Spaniels date back to early seventeenth century England, where they were originally bred for flushing and retrieving birds during hunts.
Both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels were commonly considered to be the same breed during this period, although they were eventually classified as distinct breeds during the nineteenth century.
Spaniels originate from Spain, and it is probable that their name comes from the word ‘Espagnol’, which translates as ‘Spanish’. The breed was also referred to as ‘Springer’ because of the way the dogs hunted their game. The dogs would force birds to fly out of wooded areas so that hunters’ hawks could catch and kill them in the days before shotguns. This method of hunting has since disappeared but the breed retains its distinctive name.
Sporting Dogs – or Gundogs – hunt by scenting the air and the English Springer Spaniel was used to hunt game birds and waterfowl, flush birds from cover and retrieve game which had been shot and wounded.
Nowadays, English Springer Spaniels maintain the skills and characteristics which made them successful Gundogs, although they are now less likely to undertake such tasks. They remain a popular and loving pet and are active and attentive.
English Springer Spaniels are known for their alertness and are considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds. This has allowed them to be used for a wide variety of purposes during their history and makes them easy to train. They also enjoy plenty of exercise and attention.
Providing that they are loved and looked after with care, Springers are generally good natured, eager to please and happy and are unlikely to snap or bite when upset.
As with all breeds, the English Springer Spaniel is prone to several health problems and disorders. Common diseases and conditions include
[-]Hip and Elbow Dysplasia – abnormal development of the hip and elbow joints[/-]
[-]Progressive Retinal Atrophy – a degenerative eye condition[/-]
[-]Retinal Dysplasia – abnormal development of the retina[/-]
The breed is also given to ear problems and can be prone to infections because of their long, floppy ears. It is important to check them regularly for signs of infection and take your Spaniel to the vet if you notice any changes in behavior.
As with all breeds, Spaniels can become ill because of trauma, infection, abnormalities in the immune system, genetic disorders or degenerative diseases.
English Springer Spaniels which have been bred for hunting tend to have shorter, coarser hair which should always be brushed after hunting to prevent ticks and dirt sticking in the hair. In general however, the hunting dog will not need as much grooming as the show dog and can get away with being brushed every week or so.
Spaniels bred for showing have softer, longer hair which needs to be carefully looked after to prevent matting. Best results are achieved with daily grooming.
In addition to brushing and bathing, all breeds need care and attention given to their eyes, teeth, ears, feet and nails. Consult your vet for the best way to clip toenails.
English Springer Spaniels enjoy plenty of exercise. As an active breed, they have a propensity to become obese if they suffer periods of inactivity.
To prevent the onset of obesity, these Spaniels should be given invigorating exercise every day, with opportunities to run and play catch and other games off the lead, and they also enjoy long walks in the countryside. Such activity will keep your dog healthy and happy.
As with many breeds, English Springer Spaniels need to be well trained and cared for and it is important to get your dog from a reputable breeder.
English Springer Spaniels have the potential to become great hunters because they are easy to train, willing and obedient. As a highly intelligent breed, Spaniels are also capable of learning elaborate tricks and they are eager to please, which makes them an excellent performance dog.
This breed enjoys plenty of interaction and stimulation. The more you interact and play with your dog using new and interesting stimuli, the more positive and responsive he will be.