Belonging to the Sporting Group, the English Springer Spaniel dog breed is excellent in the field, but its friendly and playful nature makes it an ideal breed to have as a family dog too. They get along very well with other household pets and are delighted to be with kids. The best match for these dogs is owners with active lifestyles, as this breed is not one for staying idle or cooped up in the house.
Spaniel Breeds have a long history of being used for hunting and related activities. The dogs were selectively bred for desirable characteristics depending on the task they were assigned to, giving rise to several breeds that are very similar to each other. In fact, the English Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels were initially one and the same breed, the smaller dogs from the litter being used for hunting woodcock and earning the name “cocker.” The lager spaniels were often used for flushing out birds from the bush, and this “springing” is what earned this breed its name. We first hear about these ‘springer’ dogs from 16th century literature.
The English Springer Spaniels are essentially land spaniels working upland in association with hunters who would be ready with their nets and guns to capture or shoot the game flushed out by these dogs. The hunters employed other breeds such as Greyhounds to chase the prey that escaped them. In the 1800s, the Duke of Norfolk had a famous set of Springer Spaniels; resulting in them being known as Norfolk Spaniels at that time. Their name was changed to Springer Spaniels in 1900, and they were recognized as a separate breed from the Cocker Spaniels in 1092.
The English Springer Spaniel dog breed is very similar in looks to the English Cocker Spaniel breed, owing to their common lineage. However, English Springer Spaniels are larger, measuring up to 20 inches at the withers and weighing up to 55 pounds. But females and field dogs are usually lighter. The coat comes in black and white or liver and white combinations. There may be some tan patches too, making the dog tricolored. The long, pendant ears have a profusion of hair, but the long, plume-like tail is often docked in countries where it is not illegal to do so.
The field type is slightly different in looks with lighter build, with shorter ears and less amount of hair on the body as well as the ears.
The English Springer Spaniel is an extremely friendly dog, always eager to obey and please their owners, making them excellent family dogs. They are highly favored as hunting companions for their alertness, unlimited energy and stamina, and prompt obedience to commands.
Even though these dogs make perfect family dogs, they shouldn’t be restrained in the house for long periods. Inactivity makes them bored and frustrated, and this may reflect as destructive behavior. These dogs yearn for constant interaction with the family members, and look forward to playing with them in the yard.
Grooming and exercise
The medium long shaggy coat of the English Springer Spaniels requires thorough brushing once or twice a week. The long hair on the ears and the feet may need trimming every other month.
English Springer Spaniels are high energy dogs, and cannot survive without plenty of exercise and activities to stay fit in body and mind. This breed is not suitable for apartment living as it may become frustrated and destructive without access to wide open spaces. At least a fenced in yard should be available to the dog to spend the days running around unfettered.
The English Springer Spaniel dog breed can live outdoors owing to its long history as hunting dogs. However, they are highly people-oriented dogs and would be better off spending the nights inside the house with the family.
Common health issues of English Springer Spaniel dog breed
The English Springer Spaniel dog breed is known to suffer from several health disorders including rage syndrome, a sudden aggressive behavior seen mainly in show dogs. Canine Hip Dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation are often found in this breed. They are prone to ear infections such as otitis externa and eye disorders like retinal dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. Seizures may occur in some dogs.
A metabolic disorder known as phosphofructokinase deficiency found in English Springer Spaniel dog breed has a genetic basis. When detected by DNA testing, this condition can be managed to a great extent. Gastric torsion is another emergency issue that needs prompt medical attention. The average life expectancy of the breed is 12-14.