All spaniels originate from the spaniels of Spain. Until the 1600’s all spaniels were considered to be the same group of dogs, with various sized dogs in the same litter. The larger of these being the forefathers of today’s English Springer Spaniel. In 1892 the Cocker and Springer spaniels were recognised as separate breeds by the Kennel Club of Great Britain even though they sometimes appeared in the same litter, and breed recognition was granted in 1902.
English Springer Spaniels are the oldest of all the sporting gundogs. Their original purpose was for finding and springing game for the net, falcon or greyhound. Nowadays they are used to find, flush and retrieve game for the gun.
The English Springer Spaniel is a compact, medium sized sporting dog with long ears. This dog’s expression is alert, kindly and trusting. When they look up at you with those deep brown or dark hazel eyes they could get away with anything. They are well-proportioned dogs, nicely balanced, and built to cover rough ground well and quickly.
There are two lines known as:
- Working English Springer Spaniel
- Show English Springer Spaniel
The show line is taller than the working line, with a slightly different shape to the head, muzzle and ear set and length. However, both types have the instinct to work and both can make excellent pets.
In colour the Springer can be black and white, liver and white, or either of these with tan markings (known as tricolour).
The shoulder height for dogs is between 49 – 51cms and bitches between 48 – 50cms. The weight for dogs is between 24 – 25kgs and bitches 23 – 24kgs.
Lifespan 9 – 15 years. The Springer commonly enjoys life well into the mid-teen years, staying active throughout.
The Springer is a hardy dog, which is well-behaved, eager to please, and, quick to learn and respond. They are easily controlled, not highly-strung, aggressive or shy. Through training, this is an ideal family pet, which does not do well in a kennel environment.
The typical Springer is an extrovert by nature, friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and willing to obey. Springers are known to continue to develop and mature until they are 2 years old. However, mentally, many tend to go on thinking that they are puppies for most of their lives!!! Aggression and dominance are not common in the breed but can be a problem if not handled carefully when young. As a rule they make good companions and family dogs. Some of the less well-bred dogs can be stubborn or timid, some even resorting to nipping and growling. However this is the exception not the rule. The show strain of the ESS appears to be calmer and less active than the working strain.
- Distress Caused if Left Alone – Medium
- Level of Aggression – Medium
- Tendency to Bark – Medium
- Ease of Transportation – High
- Compatibility With Other Animals – High
- Risk of Sheep Worrying – High
- Suitability As Guard Dog – Low
- Personal Protection – Medium
- Suitable For Children – High
A Springer needs a lot of stimulation and exercise but this will vary according to age and temperament. Almost every Springer loves to run, fields and fells are ideal but he will be just as happy being exercised in your local park.
Practically every Springer you meet will possess an instinctive love of water (except at bath time!) and is attracted to any body of water be it pond, lake, stream or sea. Muddy puddles will probably hold a particular fascination for him. An experience he will invariably want to share with YOU. Wellington boots and stout clothing are a necessity when outdoor conditions are wet.
Space is essential. A house with an enclosed garden or yard is an absolute must. Keeping a Springer in a small flat or town house is not recommended nor is regularly leaving them alone for hours at a time. A bored Springer, particularly a young or fretful one, can cause mischief.
A springer needs firm but gentle handling and must be taught that you are the boss. An ideal Springer owner knows the breed or has experience of similar breeds e.g. Labradors, Retrievers, other types of Spaniels, Setters and Hounds or cross-breeds who have a close gun/working dog progenitor. If you have limited or no experience with this type of energetic dog it may be best to consider a more placid breed or cross-breed. Many dogs are abandoned or given up because an owner cannot cope.
In the right home a Springer can be a wonderful and fulfilling companion. In the wrong home a Springer can be a nightmare, dominant and very difficult to control. However, if you are willing to commit yourself to becoming a Springer owner then the friendship and loyalty you will receive in return will make it all worthwhile.
Generally, there susceptibility to illness is low, however, the ears and eyes of Springers need to be checked on a regular basis. Regular cleaning and grooming can largely prevent ear problems.
Their energy level is high, requiring in excess of 2 hours overall exercise per day. They love the outdoors, energetic enough to go on all day. A lot of exercise and learning is required to keep this dog content. They love to be kept involved in all family activities and as such are ideal for a growing family. They will settle happily after exercise.
The body coat of the Springer is flat or wavy and of medium length, it is also weather proof, waterproof and thorn proof. The ears, chest, legs, tail and under carriage have moderate feathering. As a result of this feathering regular grooming, at least once a week, is required. Particular attention needs to be paid to their pendulous ears to keep the ear canals clean and healthy. Some trimming will be necessary around the head, feet and ears. Extra grooming is required especially after a day out in the undergrowth as the coat can and will pick up all sorts of twigs and grass. Shedding of dead hair is moderate.