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English Springer Spaniel

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 English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel today takes part in a variety of show events including competitive obedience, tracking, agility, retrieving and hunting. Originally bred to flush out and retrieve game it still today retains those very strong hunting instincts. There are today two kinds of English Springer Spaniel you can find, ones bred for shows and ones bred for working and companionship. It is a close relation of the English Cocker Spaniel and the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

Here is the English Springer Spaniel at a Glance
Name English Springer Spaniel
Other Names Springer Spaniel
Nicknames Springer
Origin United Kingdom
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 35 to 55 pounds
Average height 18 to 21 inches
Life span 10 to 14 years
Coat type Dense, medium length
Hypoallergenic No
Color Yellow, black, brown, red, white
Popularity Quite popular – ranked 27th by the AKC
Intelligence Excellent – its is a very clever dog
Tolerance to heat Very good – it is able to handle quite warm climates
Tolerance to cold Good – it can handle cooler climates but not extremes
Shedding Moderate – expect some loose hair around the home
Drooling Moderate – it will drool somewhat but it is not excessive
Obesity Somewhat high – it can be prone to gaining weight so exercise and monitoring treats and food is necessary
Grooming/brushing Moderate to high – it requires a fair amount of care and maintenance
Barking Occasional – there will be some barking but it will not be excessive
Exercise needs Very high – it needs a lot of exercise and stimulation
Trainability Excellent – easy to train
Friendliness Excellent when from good lines
Good first dog Good – but best with experienced owners
Good family pet Excellent when from a good line
Good with children Excellent when from a good line and with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good to excellent when from a good line and with socialization
Good with other pets Good to very good – needs socialization and may chase small animals and birds
Good with strangers Very good – it is approachable when well raised
Good apartment dog Moderate – it is best in a home with a yard
Handles alone time well Low – it does not like being alone and can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Good but there are several health issues it is prone to such as eye problems, joint dysplasia and ear infections
Medical expenses $460 a year including pet health insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $215 a year which includes license, training, toys and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $820 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Biting Statistics Attacks Doing Bodily Harm: 4 Maimings: 4 Child Victims: 4 Deaths: 0

The English Springer Spaniel’s Beginnings

The name Spaniel comes from the belief that spaniel type dogs came originally from Spain hundreds of years ago. They were then spread around the world on trading ships and by the Romans. Spaniels are mentioned over 1700 years ago in Welsh law from 300 AD.

The Springer and Cocker Spaniel were originally bred from the same litters, the smaller cockers used to hunt woodcock hence the cocker name, and the larger springers were used to flush or spring out game birds and then retrieve them. Before there were guns hunters used hawks or nets to capture or kill them. There are many paintings that feature them and the book the 'Treatise of Englishe Dogs' from 1576 by Dr.John Caius is the first to describe British dog breeds according to their function.

During the 17th century it was considered the best hunting dog and when the English went to the Americas they took their favorite hunting dog with them. Later on in 1801 Sydenham Edwards wrote that the land spaniel had two types, the Springing and the Cocker. During the 1800s it was common for spaniels to be named after the counties where they were bred. For example there were the Norfolk Spaniels and there were the Shropshire Spaniels.

By the early 20th century the English Springer Spaniel was recognized as a breed separate from the Cockers by the English Kennel Club. In 1910 the American Kennel Club also recognized them. In 1924 the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association formed and talents covered hunting, retrieving, tracking, performing tricks, watchdog, competitive obedience and agility.

New Lease on Life

In the early 20th century the English Springer Spaniel became one of the most popular breeds according to the AKC. Up until the 1940s the same dog might be used in field trials as well as conformation dog shows. In the early 1940s though breeders who were more enthusiastic about field trial Springers began to focus more on trails than shows. So show enthusiasts began to breed Springers more to breed standards to win shows.

Still today these two types are not bred together. Field trial Springers are bred for endurance, working ability, sense of smell, speed and style. Both types can be trained but few perform in both events. Today the English Springer Spaniel is ranked 27th popular by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The English Springer Spaniel is a medium to large dog weighing 35 to 55 pounds and standing 18 to 21 inches tall. It has a dense, double coat the under coat being soft and short, the top coat is a medium length that is straight or wavy. Colors are black and white or liver and white, liver roan, blue or tricolor. Feathering can often be found on the ears, chest and back of the legs.

It has the typical expressive and large eyes that spaniels have, a medium length muzzle, long floppy ears and fairly long legs. It is the tallest breed of spaniel. Its tail is docked in countries where that is still allowed. It has a deep chest and dark oval shaped eyes. They are very similar to the English Cocker Spaniel but it is taller, its ears are shorter and set higher, and the muzzle is longer.

Field bred Springer Spaniels have shorter and more coarse coats than the show bred type. Their ears swing less and they are more wiry and look a bit more fierce. Field bred dogs are more about ability than looks. Show dogs on the other hand as well as having longer coats tend to be heavier.

The Inner English Springer Spaniel


The English Springer Spaniel is an alert dog making it a very good watchdog. It is not overly protective though so while it will bark to alert you to an intruder it is unlikely to act to protect you. It is a very cheerful dog, it loves to be social and to play. It prefers being around people and likes to be either working or active as it does have a fair bit of energy. If left alone for long periods it can act out with chewing, digging or other unwanted behavior.


It is affectionate and quite intelligent but also keep in mind it has strong retrieving and hunting instincts still. It is a friendly dog that likes to please and makes a good family pet. It may bond more closely to one owner than another though and want to follow them around. Some can be overly clingy and can have separation anxiety when left alone.

It is usually even tempered and gentle in nature and it makes friends very easily but in some lines there are aggression issues. Therefore when looking for a Springer be sure to choose a good breeder who uses a stable line.

Living with an English Springer Spaniel

What will training look like?

The English Springer is fairly easy to train as it is eager to please, tends to listen to and obey commands and has some intelligence. That is why it was and is such a successful hunting dog. It is a dog that likes to be working or engaged in tasks so training can be a part of that. Make sure though that you are firm and consistent with it so it is clear who is pack leader. Poorly bred and poorly or untrained Springers can be difficult and even nip.

Early socialization and training are very important to see it become a well behaved, well rounded dog that can be trusted. Strong minded owners should be positive in their approach using treats, rewards and such to get results not negative methods like punishment or scolding. This dog is at its best when with people who give them a well structured life.

How active is the English Springer Spaniel?

The field type Springer tends to be more active and needs more exercise than the show type. While it can live in an apartment as long as it gets daily exercise it really is best in a home with a yard where it can play in. As an active dog it is also best with owners who are also active themselves. It will enjoy going jogging with you, hunting, long walks, romping around a dog park playing doggy games and so on.

While you can get the odd Springer who prefers to be home and relaxing, most need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to be happy and healthy. They tend to love water and are happy to jump in ponds, roll in puddles and play in the sprinkler. A Springer not getting enough exercise will act out, be boisterous and misbehave.

A puppy Springer has different needs at different ages. Up to 4 months it can play in the yard twice a day for 20 minutes each plus some training and socialization. 4 to 6 months the play plus a half mile walk and training is needed. 6 to 12 months as well as the half mile walks the play can go up to 40 minutes in the morning and another 40 in the evening. From 1 year old onwards it can start to go out jogging with breaks. Gradually as it gets older you will be able to lengthen the run and reduce the breaks needed.

Caring for the English Springer Spaniel

Grooming needs

This dog is high maintenance. It requires a lot of effort and work to look after its grooming needs. It sheds a moderate amount so be prepared to clean up daily and brush the coat daily with a stiff bristled brush to remove loose hair and debris. It will need clipping and trimming on a regular basis so that will need regular visits to a groomer if you cannot do it yourself. Its nails will need clipping when they get too long and that is also something to leave to the groomer if you have no experience with it.

It will also need its ears checked for infection and wiped clean once a week. With its floppy ears it is also important to dry them after they get wet to prevent infection. The hair should be shaved around the ears for the same reasons. Show type Springers will need more care. Bathing should just be done as it needs one using a dog shampoo. It should also have its teeth brushed two to three times a week at a minimum.

Feeding Time

The exact amount it will need will depend on a few things like how active it is, its size, age and metabolism. On average it will range between 1½ to 2½ cups of good quality dry dog food a day, divided into at least two meals.

How they get on with children and other animals

English Springers are playful, lively and affectionate around children and when socialized and raised with them makes a great companion. It gets on well too with other pets usually but with its hunting instincts can sometimes have a tendency to chase smaller animals and need supervision particularly around birds. Some can have problems with other dogs especially if they are the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

It has a life span of 10 to 14 years and with most breeds has its share of health issues it can be prone to. This includes Joint Dysplasia, Eye Problems, skin problems, PFK, hypothyroidism, Von Willebrands, Ear infections, allergies, obesity and submissive or excitable urination. Ask the breeder to show you parental health clearances for both parents.

Biting Statistics

Looking at reports of dog attacks on people over the last 34 years the English Springer Spaniel can be found to be involved in 4 incidents. All 4 were maimings meaning the victims were left with disfigurement, scarring or loss of limb. All 4 were also children. Over such a long period this means an average of 1 attack every 8 years making this not a dog to worry about in terms of aggression.


However it is important to keep in mind that any dog can become violent or aggressive given certain situations and circumstances. Make sure when you are getting a dog that you can give it the level of physical and mental stimulation it needs, that you train it in at least basic obedience and that it is well socialized.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The price of an English Springer Spaniel is about $800. For dogs bred for field trials or shows this price can go up when looking at top breeders to several thousand dollars. If you are happy to have a Springer of any age you could get something for less from a shelter or rescue. Prices then would be $50 to $200 and that would also include some medical care. While you can find puppies for less from backyard breeders and such it is harder to ensure you get a healthy dog from a healthy line of dogs.

After you have paid for the puppy you will need to have it examined by a vet who can also give it initial vaccinations, deworm it, have some blood tests done, have it micro chipped and when old enough have it spayed or neutered. These costs will be about $270. It will need some basic supplies too like collar and leash, a crate, carrier and a few miscellaneous items and that will be another $200 or so.

As well as the above initial costs there are ongoing yearly costs too such as having the dog licensed for $20 a year, basic obedience training for $120 a year, food and treats for $145 a year, toys and miscellaneous costs for $70 a year.

Annual medical costs can vary depending on the health of your dog. Just the basics like shots, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, pet insurance and check ups come to $460 a year. Things like professional grooming, kenneling, dog walking, dog sitting will all be extra costs should you use them.

The average yearly cost for having an English Springer Spaniel starts out at $820.


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The English Springer Spaniel has a history of being a great flushing and retrieving dog. It is now used in several areas such as hunting still, search and rescue, drug detection, explosive detection, therapy and more. It is a smart and enthusiastic dog that is also a great family dog.

If you have other pets that are birds they will need watching as it does still have those instincts to hunt them. It will need a firm owner and it will need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. It is very affectionate and loves to be around people.

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