Named for the way he “springs” at game in the field, The English Springer Spaniel is a well-rounded dog whose versatility makes him a great dog for both hunting and family companionship. Athletic and friendly, the English Springer Spaniel breed was developed as a gundog, but has a lot of love to offer in your household as well. Here’s everything you need to know about the breed.
You’re probably familiar with spaniels being described as “cockers” or “springers.” The difference between the two comes down to the difference in their hunting use. Back in the 17th century, dogs in the same litter were simply separated by size and categorized into groups. Smaller dogs were used to hunt woodcock, hence the name Cockers. Larger dogs would be used to flush game, earning the name Springers.
It took years of careful breeding before these spaniels could be sorted into the more distinct breeds we know today. English Springers specifically were bred to work alongside hunters to fetch game with nets, falcons, bows, and more, considering this was before guns were invented. However, even after the hunting rifle came about and revolutionized the sport, the English Springer remained a vital part of the process—earning a reputation as a reliable gundog.
When the English Springer made its way into America by the 1920s, it had grown in popularity as more than just a gundog. One historian notes that English Springers are multifaceted in the sense that they’ll work tirelessly all day in the field but are able to “retire to the easy companionship of family, hearth, and home after a good day’s hunt.” They’re now the 26th most popular dog breed in America.
Bred to work long days in the field, these medium-sized dogs are strong and resilient. They typically stand at about 20 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 50 pounds, with a body that is longer than it is tall. This is the ideal body type for a hunting dog since it allows for easy and sprightly movement. Once your English Springer has fully grown, you’ll want a G1™ Intermediate Kennel for maximum comfort and safety for your dog (though some smaller dogs in this breed can do a Medium).
True to the spaniel family, the English Springers have long, droopy ears, and a thick, lush coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. To keep their thick coats healthy and shining, brushing at least weekly will help get rid of dirt and loose hair.
Instinctually, English Spaniels desire to go after birds—so be sure to keep your dog on a leash when you’re not hunting or in a fenced-in area. And while these dogs will likely bark at strangers that come to your house, they’re not guard dogs. They simply desire attention from both close family members and strangers.
While all English Springer Spaniels collectively have these characteristics, there are a few differences between Field Springer Spaniels and Show Springer Spaniels, as—you guessed it—one is bred for hunting in the field and the other is bred for the show ring. These differences are important to consider when choosing a dog. Both types will need lots of exercise and companionship, but a field-bred Springer will certainly have more energy than the show-bred. Make sure you’re communicating openly with your breeder so you can get the best dog for your needs.
English Springer Spaniels thrive off of socialization and exercise, and they don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Since they were developed to have a lot of stamina and endurance, it’s always best to live a lifestyle that’s conducive to giving your dog plenty of exercise and space to move around so they don’t get restless or destructive.
Keep in mind that the typical Springer is friendly, well behaved, and adaptable—so signs of excessive shyness or separation anxiety may reflect on the breeder. Don’t skimp on the research when looking up breeders in your area. They should be taking both health and temperament into account during testing.
Affectionate, people-oriented, and playful, the English Springer Spaniel breed makes a great companion for every type of dog owner. Like many hunting dogs, they’re eager to please their owners. Early training in their puppy years will make sure they grow up to be well-adjusted and well-mannered both on the field and in the house.
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