The Springer Spaniel, also known as the English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized gun dog, originally developed for the flushing-out and retrieval of game. Springer Spaniels are a loyal, excitable and very energetic breed, highly affectionate towards their owners and always keen to please.
Of the spaniel family, the English Springer Spaniel is related to the old Norfolk Spaniels or Shropshire Spaniels of the mid-1800s. They are essentially the same breed as the Cocker Spaniel and Welsh Springer Spaniel as all these breeds were once born to the same litters. While the smaller Cocker types were developed for hunting small game like woodcock, the larger Welsh Springer and English Springer Spaniels were employed to track and flush-out small and medium-sized game like rabbits, foxes and hares.
Springer Spaniels are very intelligent dogs and have great enthusiasm for exercise and games. Developed as a hunting dog, the Springer Spaniel loves to play fetch and go for long walks. They require a good deal of exercise and human attention.
They are a friendly breed and considered to be very tolerant of children. Springer Spaniels are affectionate, loyal and very trainable. Like all breeds, they need a strong and dominant master to thrive; good, clear instruction, paired with firm and consistent discipline will see the Springer Spaniel develop into a dependable and well-behaved family companion.
Springer Spaniels come in only a few colours: black or dark brown with a variety of white markings. They can be tri-colour also; in this case, black, dark brown and white with tan markings. The breed loves water and will swim whenever given the opportunity. This is handy when bathing their medium-length coats as their active nature can cause Springer Spaniels to get rather dirty, quite quickly.
The average Springer Spaniel will grow to between 48 and 56cm tall and a healthy adult should weigh between 23 and 24kgs. A healthy English Springer Spaniel will live to between 12 and 14 years of age.
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The English Springer Spaniel is considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds of domesticated dog. Developed as a gun dog and later as a companion animal, the Springer Spaniel is a loyal, energetic and enthusiastic animal.
Highly intelligent and playful, Springer Spaniels are bounding with energy and require quite a level of human attention and companionship. The breed’s hunting background means that it is lively and excitable; your Springer Spaniel will need at least one walk daily to stay happy and healthy. Like all spaniels, Springer Spaniels love to play games and excel at ball games and fetch. Their high intelligence requires regular mental as well as physical stimulation.
Springer Spaniels tend to become bored and mischievous when left unto their own devices for any extended length of time. Avoid destructive behaviour and separation anxiety by including them in your family’s day-to-day activities.
When on outings to a public park or in a built-up area, Springer Spaniels should be closely supervised. Their strong prey instinct means that, once let off the lead, Spring Spaniels will tend to pursue smaller animals or cars. They can be easily distracted by interesting smells and will wander off if not controlled.
Springer Spaniels have a reputation for being great with children. They are strong dogs, however, and can become easily excited so some smaller kids may find them a little too much to handle at times.
The breed is a great companion animal and is always eager to please its master. Once trained properly and socialised from an early age, Springer Spaniels are a great family option.
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The English Springer Spaniel’s ancestors are thought to be the old English Norfolk or Shropshire Spaniels, descendants a Spanish spaniel breeds that are thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans some thousands of years ago.
What is certain is that the Springer Spaniel was developed, like its ancestors before it, primarily for the hunt. First developed in the mid-1800s, English Springer Spaniels together with Welsh Springer Spaniels were taken from the same litters as the Cocker Spaniel. The smaller Cocker variety was put to work hunting woodcock, while the larger Springer type was developed to track and ‘spring’ game for the hunt.
The breed was considered a noble and reliable gun dog throughout the United Kingdom well into the 20th Century and remains a popular choice among land owners throughout England today.
The first showing of the Springer Spaniel occurred in 1903 when F. Winton Smith exhibited ‘Beechgrove Will’.
With the start of the First World War, the show scene in the United Kingdom and Europe went to ground and the first Springer Spaniel Club wasn’t founded until 1921. The breed experienced fluctuations in registrations throughout the 1930s and 40s and it wasn’t until after the Second World War that the Springer Spaniel gained a revived popularity.
As of 2008, the English Springer Spaniel was determined the third most popular breed in the United Kingdom. The breed is a popular choice for Australians as well, and has experienced a margin of success in the United States.