Breed Type:  Hunting or Gun Dog
Country of Origin: Spain
Size:  Medium
Also known as:  Springer Spaniel
Males: Height: 46-51 cm, Weight: 23-25 kg
Females: Height: 43-48 cm, Weight: 16-20 kg
Exercise Requirements: Medium
Care Requirements: Medium
Lifespan: 12-14 Years
Best Suited as: Family Dog / Field Dog / Show Dog

If you are looking for a dog with an excellent nose, you have found him. The English Springer Spaniel is a sporting dog employed by many police forces around the world to sniff out drugs and explosives.  In fact, the word “springer” is used in this dogs name to honor its hunting prowess of “springing” birds into the air.  While the Springer Spaniel is an excellent sniffer, he also makes a wonderful pet.

The English Springer Spaniel can be recognized by his medium, but compact build, long floppy ears and gentle expression. Closely related to other spaniels, like the Welsh Springer Spaniel and cockers, like the English Cocker Spaniel, they are now their own distinct breed. The biggest differences between the English Springer Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel are the muzzle (Springers tend to be longer) and Cocker Spaniels tend to have eyes that are more prominent and more fur.

The English Springer Spaniel has a moderately long coat with feathering on her legs and tail. English Springer Spaniels come in several coat colors including black or liver with white, blue or liver roan, and tricolor.  The breed exhibits a docked tail, which it loves to wag when happy. The English Springer Spaniel has medium size, deep set, oval eyes that are well set apart. Their eye color is normally hazel in the liver and white colored dog and brown in the black and white colored dogs. This breed also has a soft mouth (which he will use for giving you a tongue bath) which helps them to pick up birds without damaging them.

Today there are two distinct Springer Spaniels and although there are some major differences, they are still registered together. One is the bench type, which shines in the show ring.  This Spaniel has a longer, darker coat, and is bigger and heavier than his brother, the field variety. The field variety shines in field trials where they can show off their speed and stamina. The coat of the field variety is not only shorter, but also coarser and wirier.  There are differences in the amount their tails are docked, also. The show variety has more docked while the field variety is allowed its more natural tail.  This longer tail helps its owner to keep track of him in the field.

The English Springer Spaniel is known for both speed and endurance and is said to be the fastest and most driven of all the spaniels. They make great family dogs and are loyal, fun loving and quick to please. Spaniel Springers are alert and attentive. Intelligence is also an attribute well exhibited by this regal breed.  The Springer Spaniel is easy to train and loves to learn tricks of all kinds. It can be taught to retrieve a toy (or bird) with its excellent nose, jump through hoops, and follow hand signals.

Most of all, Springer Spaniels are sociable and enjoy lots of attention.  If neglected and bored, your Spaniel may become destructive. Keep this loyal pet stimulated and he will reward you with a wag of his tail.

The ancestors of the English Springer Spaniel brought them from England to Spain in 1570. In the 1880’s, cockers were distinguished from springers, although born as littermates. Both were bred as hunting dogs but the smaller cockers were used to hunt woodcock, while the springers were used to hunt game bird.  In 1902, the Kennel Club of England made this distinction between the cockers and springers official.  With increased popularity in the United State, The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1910. The Springer Spaniel became even more famous in North America after 1924, when the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association was formed.

In 2003, the breed gained even more notoriety when the International English Springer Spaniel Symposium Committee was established helping bring together breeders, club members, and judges. There have been eight symposiums held thus far, one of which was in Australia.

Today, while the Springer Spaniel is an adored family pet, they may also call a police station home in a number of countries around the world.  Used as sniffer dogs in airports and other high traffic areas, they are excellent employees. Some of these dogs have gained notoriety for their occupational exemplary – “Buster” the sniffer was used by the Royal Army in Iraq and credited with finding an extremist group’s hidden arsenal of weapons. “Jake”, another English sniffer dog was used to sniff for explosives in Tavistock Square, Russell Square and King’s Cross following the 2005 London Bombings.

Care and Grooming
The fluffier show variety needs more grooming as they have feathering (fringe like fur) on their bellies, chest, and ears.  The top of their head and back should be shaved smooth. While a confident owner can groom their pet, many owners take their Springer Spaniels to a groomer.

If you have a field variety, you need not worry about your pet’s bad hair days.  Their fur is low maintenance, not requiring the care and cleaning that the bench variety does. The field variety normally sheds only in the Spring and Summer, while the bench breed may shed year round.

Do not over feed your Springer Spaniel as they gain weight easily.

As with any dog, the Springer Spaniel is known for some health problems. Rage syndrome is rare but the show variety of the Springer Spaniel is one breed where this disease has been found. It can be characterized by a glazed look and a sudden attack from your Springer Spaniel. The dog is clearly confused and not in his right mind. This strange behavior usually lasts for a few seconds to a few minutes. There is ongoing research about the treatment for this unusual disease and you are unlikely to encounter it.

More common, is hip dysplasia that can lead to arthritis, and progressive retinal atrophy.  Retinal dysplasia that can lead to blindness is also a concern for this breed.  Due to its floppy ears, this breed is prone to ear infections and has known to have some allergies.

Suitability as a Pet
You will not have to worry about dragging this breed to their bath. They love the water and relish the time they have to swim. Springer Spaniels love their owners and do well in just about any household where they are given lots of attention and room to play. They enjoy complex games and their mind and body should be stimulated daily.

The Springer Spaniel is easy to train and is very obedient. The Springer Spaniel does well with other pets with the exception of birds, which might look like a fun plaything to the Spaniel. This breed needs plenty of exercise and enjoys agility training.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.