History of the English Springer Spaniel Breed
The English springer spaniel is considered to be the founder of all English hunting spaniels. During the Renaissance, European hunters thought it to be the ideal hunting companion. It is believed that the spaniel came to England from Spain with the Romans, and in Spain it split into two kinds: the land spaniel and the water spaniel. It was then divided into several different breeds. The litters of land spaniels were thought to have been divided by size: the small ones became cocker spaniels, the medium-sized ones were named springer spaniels, and the largest of the litter were eventually called setters. It is said that the name springer spaniel comes from the dog's ability to flush out or "spring" game, and the first reference to this kind of dog appeared in the late 1500s before the advent of shotguns. It was around 1800 when specific lines of springer spaniels were bred, that a well-known dog was bred by the Duke of Norfolk. In fact, the duke's dogs influenced the breed so much that it was called the Norfolk spaniel for some time. The name springer spaniel was adopted in 1900. In 1902, the English Kennel Club recognized the springer as its own distinct breed. The popularity of this breed began in America around 1700, and the American Spaniel Club was formed in the United States in 1880. The club separated the springer spaniel and the cocker spaniel based on size. The breed was first registered with the AKC in 1910. To date, the English springer spaniel is a popular hunting dog as well as a show dog and pet. The Springer is bred in two different types: the show dog, which is heavier and features a more profuse coat, and the field dog, known for its ability in the field. These types are not interbred, and rarely does one dog work in both show and field events.
Size and Appearance of the English Springer Spaniel Breed
Slightly longer than it is tall, the English springer spaniel is a compactly-built breed with fairly long legs. The front legs are straight with strong bone. The hindquarters feature well-developed hips and muscular thighs. The round or slightly oval feet are compact, with thick pads that feather between the toes. The back feet are often somewhat smaller than the front. The head of the English springer spaniel is strong, but not heavy and in proportion to the rest of the dog. The oval-shaped eyes, (what some say is the essence of the Springer's appeal) are kind, alert, and trusting. They are usually set well apart, and the iris is in harmony with the color of the coat: for example, dark hazel in lever and white dogs, dark brown or black in black and white dogs. The long ears are wide and hang close to the cheeks. The square muzzle features flat cheeks and long, strong jaws with which to carry game with ease. The nose is usually liver or black with open, broad nostrils. The teeth normally close in a scissors bite. The moderately long neck is muscular and slightly arched, blending smoothly into the shoulders. The tail is generally carried horizontally. The gait of this breed can be described as long and ground-covering with good balance. The double coat of the Springer consists of a medium-length outer coat that is normally flat or wavy and a short, dense undercoat. The combination of the coat makes the dog practically weatherproof, protecting it not only from water, but also from thorns. Fringe can usually be found on the chest, ears, legs, and stomach. Overall, the coat is clean and glossy in appearance. The coat of the English springer spaniel comes in a variety of colors including black or liver with white markings, white with black or liver markings, blue or liver roan, or tricolor consisting of black and white or liver and white with tan markings.
English Springer Spaniel Temperament
Considered to be even-tempered and gentle, the friendly English springer spaniel is a sociable dog. It is a playful and energetic breed that enjoys learning. It is a great companion for children and usually does well with other pets, except birds. It may become aggressive with other dogs of the same sex. It is a devoted dog that enjoys being with its family. If left alone for too long, this breed might get into some mischief and become destructive. The springer spaniel loves the water and tends to get wet and muddy when it has the chance. A soft but firm method of training is recommended. This breed makes a great addition to the active family.
English Springer Spaniel Recommended Maintenance
Regular brushing and combing with a stiff bristle brush is necessary to keep the coat of this breed in good condition. Many people have this dog professionally groomed at least once or twice a year. It should only be bathed when necessary. The long coat should be checked often for burrs and matting. Trim the hair on the feet regularly. Check the ears for signs of infection on a regular basis. Shaving of the hair under the ears is suggested to prevent ear infections. This breed is considered to be a constant average shedder. Mental as well as physical exercise is a must for the English springer spaniel. Hunting is the obvious first choice, but long walks on a leash and obedience lessons can help this dog become a happy housemate. The ideal situation would be a home with a fenced-in yard in which the dog can play and run. While it is not recommended for apartment dwelling, this breed may do okay in an apartment, but only with sufficient exercise. It is a relatively inactive dog when indoors. This breed is matched well with an active family.
English Springer Spaniel Health
Life span: 10 - 14 years
Major concerns: otitis externa, CHD, PRA, elbow dysplasia
Minor concerns: ectropion, entropion
Occasionally seen: phosphofructokinase deficiency, skin fragility, gastric torsion, rage syndrome
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye, DNA for phosphofructokinase deficiency