Affectionate, Alert, Cheerful, Intelligent, Lively
The English Springer Spaniel is believed to be the oldest sporting gun dog, although it was not known by its present name until the early part of the 20th century. It is believed to have originated in Spain, brought to England and other parts of Europe by the Romans. There are literatures in the early 1300s that describe dogs similar to the spaniel as well as art works dating to the 16th and 17th centuries that depicts Spaniels. These “spanielles” were divided into water spaniels and land spaniels. It is from the land spaniels that the English Springer descended from. Before the separation of the spaniel breed, each puppy could come from the same litter. The larger spaniels were used to spring game (Springer) while the smaller spaniels were used to hunt woodcocks (Cocker) and other birds. From the larger spaniels came the Field Spaniel and the Springer Spaniel which was officially recognised by the Kennel Club (UK) in 1902.
Like all spaniel-type dogs, the English Springer Spaniel is a dog that has a friendly, affectionate and loyal attitude that is eager to please and willing to learn new tricks. It has a good sense of humour which makes it a good therapy dog to bring into hospitals and nursing homes, but it can also be a nuisance barker if it’s bored or left alone. It will bark at strangers to get your attention, which makes it a good watchdog (but not a good guard dog). It is a people-oriented breed and will not do well on its own for long periods of time. It prefers to have a strong bond to its human family members. Some Springer Spaniels are known to develop a serious aggressive behaviour known as “Rage syndrome” – a sudden flare up of extreme aggression or dominance.
The English Springer Spaniel is smart, enthusiastic and eager to please so it is moderately easy to train. It can excel in several dog sports including obedience, agility, tracking and flyball. As far as skills is concerned, breeders train the Springer Spaniel to perform basic hunting skills appropriate for their job including retrieve to hand, soft mouth delivery, quarter flushing, scenting, hupping and how to follow hand signals. Some Springer Spaniels are also used as sniffer dogs by the police and the military, helping law enforcers find hidden explosives, contrabands, and other illegal stuff in airports and prisons, among other places.
Grooming requirements vary depending on the coat type but regular combing and brushing are important. A dog with an excess amount of cottony hair is prone to matting and should be groomed more often. A dog that has silky and flat hair may not need frequent grooming. The ears are prone to infection so make sure to inspect and clean them for excess wax when necessary.
Common health issues associated with the English Springer Spaniel include skin allergies, cataracts, deafness and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Rare health issues include canine hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, canine dilated cardiomyopathy and hurt murmurs. Springer Spaniels have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years.
This sturdy breed stores a lot of energy which it can transfer to mischievous activities if not properly exercised. A Springer Spaniel with inadequate exercise can become nervous and destructive but a properly trained and exercised English Springer Spaniel makes a wonderful family companion. Daily long walks or jogs are ideal exercises as well as running and playing off the leash in a well-secured yard. This dog loves to retrieve and swim so a yard with a swimming pool is an added bonus.
It is generally good with children particularly if it is brought up with the kids from puppyhood. It is also generally good with other dogs, cats and other small animals, but care must be taken when it is around birds and other avians as it may treat them as prey.