Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a English Springer Spaniel
Average Cost to keep/care for a English Springer Spaniel
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The larger brother of the English Cocker Spaniel, the English Springer Spaniel is a lively, active and affectionate pedigree gundog. They derived their name from the role they played in the field, where dogs would flush game off the ground so it would "spring" into the air. Renowned for their stamina, the Springer Spaniel will work tirelessly all day long in challenging conditions before settling down at home with the family after a busy day in the great outdoors working alongside their owners or handlers.
The Springer is renowned for having a cheerful nature, a trait which has endeared the breed to many dog owners the world over. Springers are highly regarded in the field being one of the most popular gundogs in the world because they are so receptive to being trained. They are also the perfect family dog because they are so even-tempered, well-behaved, kind and tolerant around kids of all ages which includes toddlers. The breed was given an official status by the Kennel Club in 1902, but was only given the name Springer in 1900 before which time they were known as Norfolk Spaniels.
It is thought that all Spaniels can trace their origins back to Spain and that it was these dogs that were introduced to other parts of Europe by the Romans. As such, many breed enthusiasts believe it was the Romans during their invasion of foreign lands who introduced the breed to other European countries.
It was Gaston de Foix, a powerful French lord who ruled lands in Southern France during the 14th century who wrote a now classic book on hunting called "Le Livre de Chasse" which translated means The Hunting Book in which he described highly skilled dogs that were capable of flushing and retrieving game on land or water which many believe were the ancestors of the highly regarded Springers we see today.
Land Spaniels were also mentioned in records during the 16th century and at the time they were referred to as being different to the Water Spaniel. During the 17th century, Land Spaniels were divided into two types, namely the Springing Spaniel and the Crouching Spaniel, but later in the 19th Century, they were divided into another two groups when Springer Spaniels were divided into 2 sizes with the smaller of the two dogs later being called Cocker or Cocking Spaniels and the larger ones being called English Spaniels or Field Spaniels.
In 1812, enthusiasts began producing a pure strain of the English Springer Spaniel with a dog called “Mop 1” having been bred in Shropshire by the Boughey family and although at the time the spaniel resembled a Clumber, he was in fact true to the English Springer Spaniel type. These spaniels enjoyed great success with the sporting community more especially in the county of Norfolk and as such they were always in high demand. The Boughey strain of English Springer Spaniel continued to be a huge success for generations and just one year after the Kennel Club was first established in 1903, English Springer Spaniels were officially recognised. The first Springer was exhibited in the show ring that same year. A liver and white spaniel called Beechgrove Will was the first English Springer to have been awarded a Challenge Certificate in 1906 and a Springer called Fansome was the first female of the breed to win a championship.
It was only after the First World War that English Springer Spaniels really came into their own in modern times with many true to type and exceptionally good lines appearing on the scene both in the field and the show ring. Breed clubs were set up all over the country ensuring the wonderful lines of the Springer Spaniel were kept as pure as possible which is true even today.
The English Springer Spaniel Club was established in 1921 and as previously mentioned, many kennels were founded which included Avendale, Beechgrove, Velax, Horsford, Tissington, Denne, Rivington and Laverstock to name some of the most well-known and respected breeders of both show and field English Springer Spaniels. By 2008, these charming dogs were among the top 10 most popular breeds in the UK and their popularity continues to this day whether in the field or home environment.
Height at the withers: Males 46 - 51 cm, Females 43 - 48 cm
Average Weight: Males 23 - 25 kg, Females 16 - 20 kg
Whether Show dogs or Working dogs, English Springer Spaniels are nicely put together dogs, with strong and compact bodies. They boast being the tallest of all UK land Spaniels and are one of the purest and oldest, native gundog breeds in the land. They are medium in size and extremely well-balanced looking dogs that boast a gentle, intelligent expression. Although both working and show dogs fall into the same breed category, there are some quite noticeable physical differences between them.
Show dogs have longer, softer coats and longer ears than working dogs. They are heavier than their working counterparts and have dewlaps (droopier lower lips) and longer flews (upper lips are longer). Both Springers have longer muzzles than their Cocker Spaniel cousins and their eyes are closer together being almond in shape and dark in colour giving a dog their kind, doleful yet intelligent look.
Ears are lobular, wide and quite long being neatly feathered and lying close to a dog's head, giving them a "neat" appearance. A Springer always boasts a strong jaw with a perfect "bite", their heads are nicely rounded and quite broad with powerful, muscular necks which are ever so slightly arched. Springers are strong in the shoulder with nicely proportioned bodies and a well-sprung ribcage. Backs are slightly arched with their hindquarters being strong, well developed and muscular.
Their legs are strong and muscular going down to well-rounded, compact feet that boast full pads. Springers carry their tails level to their bodies, they are nicely feathered and always wagging much like their cousins the Cockers. Springers really do have a unique way of moving unlike any other breed of dog which makes it so nice to watch these dogs being put through their paces whether in the show ring, when they are at play or at work.
A Springers coat is close-lying, straight and super weather resistant being soft to the touch and not coarse at all. They have moderate feathering on their ears, body, front legs and bodies as well as on their hindquarters. When it comes to colours, the following is acceptable under the Kennel Club breed standard:
To describe an English Springer Spaniel in a nutshell, they are wonderfully proportioned looking dogs that boast deep chests and a feathered tail that they carry level to their bodies with the Working Springer being slightly lighter and finer than their show cousins.
Since the new regulations on docking tails came into effect in 2006/7, it is illegal to dock a Springer Spaniel's tail, unless special permission has been granted by the right authorities for this to be done. No pedigree English Springer Spaniel puppies would ever have their tails docked, which is something worth bearing in mind when looking at litters and there is a heavy fine for anyone who has the procedure carried out on either a Show Springer or a Working Springer without the correct documentation having been granted by the correct UK authorities.
The English Springer Spaniel has a unique gait which is very much their own where their front legs swing forward from a dog's shoulder so they throw their feet in an easy, free manner well forward. When moving slowly, a Springer paces which is a stride that is typical to their breed type. When they move, they cover a good amount of ground with an easy, flowing action.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from an English Springer Spaniel's breed standard with the seriousness of the fault being judged on how it affects the health and wellbeing of a dog and their ability to work.
Male Springer must have two testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it worth noting that a Springer may be slightly smaller or larger, they may weigh a little less or a little more than stated in the KC breed standard which is outlined as a guideline only.
The English Springer Spaniel has consistently been a popular choice of family pet over a number of years thanks to their friendly dispositions and their willingness to please which makes them highly trainable. One word describes the breeds temperament to a tee and this is "extrovert". These dogs are just as happy in the home environment as they are in the field, although they do need to be given lots of regular daily exercise that includes masses of mental stimulation to be truly happy, well balanced dogs. Working dogs need more in the way of exercise than their show cousins, but both types can get easily bored without enough stimulation and this can lead to mischievous or destructive behaviours in the home, especially when left alone for long periods of time.
The easy going but energetic nature of the English Springer Spaniel makes them a great choice for families with children who enjoy spending as much time in the great outdoors as they can with a trustworthy canine companion at their side and a dog that thoroughly enjoys participating in everything that goes on around them. However, they need to be given the right sort of training and direction because with this Springers can show a dominant side to their characters. If not correctly trained from a young enough age they can be quite hard to handle as such they are not the ideal choice of dogs for first-time owners. A Springer needs to know their place in the pack and who is alpha dog or it can lead to some unwanted aggressive and dominant behavioural issues which can be hard to correct further down the line.
Springers mature slowly which is typically when they are around 2 to 3 years old, but this does not mean their education can wait because like all other dogs they benefit from being trained when they are still young and therefore the most receptive. Springers are never happier than when they know what their owners expect of them and who they can look to for direction and guidance.
Springers are not the best choice for first time dog owners because although highly intelligent, they need to be trained and handled by people familiar with their specific needs. Owners also need to have enough time to dedicate to a canine companion that likes to be kept busy and mentally stimulated which means they are best suited to people who lead active outdoor lives and who would like to have an energetic, intelligent and ultra-loyal dog at their side.
English Springer Spaniels were bred to flush out and retrieve game which are traits deeply embedded in a dog's psyche, but because they are highly intelligent and eager to please, in the right hands, a well-trained English Springer Spaniel would always wait for a command before doing anything which includes chasing off after something they have spotted in the distance.
Springers are fun-loving dogs and they enjoy playing interactive games. Because they mature slowly which is typically when a dog is between 2 to 3 years old, they remain quite puppy-like for longer than many other breeds. They are particularly good when it comes to agility, obedience and other canine sports because they enjoy competing as much as they like to entertain.
Springers are highly adaptable and versatile dogs by nature and providing they are given sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, they are just as happy living in town as they are living in the country. With this said, they are better suited to households with gardens rather than apartments because Springers benefit from being allowed to run free in a safe area as much as they can.
Springers are not known to be "barkers" more especially if they have been well socialised, trained and handled from a young age. However, any dog that’s left on their own for any length of time might start barking to get attention and to show their displeasure at not having any company.
The English Springer Spaniel thrives in being in and around water having been bred to flush out and retrieve game in marshlands and other watery areas for their handlers. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Springer off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in.
The English Springer Spaniel is not the best watchdog simply because they are so kind and friendly towards everyone they meet which includes people they have never met or seen before. With this said, a Springer would always let an owner know when they are strangers around or when something they don't like is going on in their environment, but would never do so aggressively.
Springers are known to be well-behaved dogs and they are quick to learn new things. They respond quickly to any commands they are given which means these lovely looking dogs are easy to control once they have been trained. They are intelligent and this is paired to the fact they are calm by nature and not highly strung like some other spaniels.
With this said, their training needs to begin early and dogs must be well socialised from a young age for them to grow up to be confident, outgoing characters. Springers respond well to positive reinforcement training and not to any harsh methods or correction because they are sensitive dogs by nature. They are the perfect family pets thanks to their good looks, placid natures and the fact they are easy to train.
A Springer Spaniel's education should start early and puppies need to be taught the ground rules, limits and boundaries so they understand what an owner expects of them. They are very receptive to learning new things especially at a young age which means that in general they are easy to house train too. Other commands a Springer Spaniel should be taught from the word go as soon as they arrive in their new homes include the following:
Springer Spaniels are renowned for being extremely good and even-tempered when they are around children of all ages although supervision is always advised especially when toddlers are around. Puppies and younger Springers can be a little boisterous during playtime which means very small children should never be left alone with them and all encounters need to be well supervised just in case a child is knocked over albeit by accident by their pet.
If well socialised and carefully introduced to other pets and animals, the English Springer Spaniel is generally good around them. With this said, it is always wise to introduce a Springer to other dogs and animals slowly and carefully to reduce the risk of things going wrong which could end up with animals getting stressed out. The good news is that because Springers are so receptive to learning new things, they quickly learn not to chase other pets or smaller animals in the household. They get on well with a family cat too, more especially if they have grown up together.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an English Springer Spaniel is between 10 - 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet that suits the different stages of their lives and any health issues a dog may be suffering from.
English Springer Spaniels are generally a healthy breed. However, they are known to suffer from certain hereditary health conditions which are worth knowing about if you choose to share your home with one of these lively dogs. The health issues most seen in the breed include the following:
English Springer Spaniels have in the past been reported as suffering from a condition known as 'Rage Syndrome' which sees them show unprovoked aggressive behaviours towards other dogs. Rage Syndrome is a serious but luckily very rare and uncharacteristic behavioural problem associated with several other breeds which is often incorrectly diagnosed because it is confused with other forms of aggression one of which is “food guarding”. It is however, very much a condition in its own right and one that should never be ignored or thought of as unimportant which is why good breeding practices are so important in English Springer Spaniels.
In the past, English Springer Spaniels have traditionally always had their tails docked not for cosmetic reasons, but rather because they were bred to hunt and retrieve game in undergrowth where a longer tail might get damaged in the process. As such, their KC breed standard covers both "docked" and "undocked" English Springer Spaniels to incorporate both show and working spaniels.
In the UK, "show" English Springer Spaniels can no longer have their tails docked and as previously touched upon, anyone who docks a puppy’s tail would be liable for a heavy fine. With this said, if a show ESS had their tails docked prior to 28th March 2007 in Wales they can still be exhibited. In England, a show ESS that had their tail docked before 6th April 2007 may also still be exhibited at shows throughout the UK.
The rules for Working English Springer Spaniels are slightly different because exemptions can be requested providing an owner can demonstrate a dog's working ability and a vet provides the correct documentation for the procedure to be carried out legally.
A breeder would have ensured that puppies they have bred are vaccinated before being rehomed after which time it is the responsibility of the new owners to make sure a puppy receives their second vaccinations following the schedule below:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a Springer should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A female Springer can be safely spayed when she is 6 months old. A male Springer Spaniel can be neutered when they are 6 months old too.
Providing young Springers are given enough daily exercise and fed the right amounts of good quality food to suit their needs, they don't tend to put on weight. With this said, spayed and neutered dogs may gain a little weight after their procedures so it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline and to adjust their calorie intake and daily exercise accordingly. Springers may also put on weight when they reach their golden years because they are not so keen on being taken for long walks as they once were and are generally that much quieter all round. Again, it's important to rethink an older Springer's diet to make sure it meets all their nutritional needs and to discuss things with a vet if there are any concerns.
Some Springers develop allergies which could be triggered by several things which includes environment. Other triggers could include the following:
The following health schemes are available for the English Springer Spaniel through the Animal Health Trust
Currently, there are no breed specific restrictions for the English Springer Spaniel, but all potential owners should discuss health issues associated with the breed with breeders before buying a puppy from them.
It is mandatory for all Kennel Club Assured Breeders to have their stud dogs tested for the following and the Kennel Club strongly advises other breeders to do the same to ensure all Springer Spaniel offspring are as healthy as possible:
Other tests the Kennel Club strongly advises all breeders carry out on stud dogs include the following:
Other schemes that all breeders are advised to take part in for the welfare of the breed includes the following:
As with any other breed, English Springer Spaniels need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also benefit from being professionally groomed at least 3 times a year which makes the task of keeping a Springer's coat looking good a lot easier in between visits to a grooming parlour. Being high energy dogs, Springers need to be given regular daily exercise so they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed a good quality diet throughout their lives to ensure all their nutritional needs are met.
English Springer Spaniel puppies are full of fun and mischief. They are also very clever little dogs which means their education must start as soon as they arrive in their new environments. Getting a home ready so it's safe for a puppy takes a bit of time and planning which is best done well in advance of their arrival. This means securing the back garden to ensure there are no weak spots in fences and to put any tools and implements which could injure a young puppy.
The house too needs puppy-proofing and this involves making sure there are no electric cables lying around which a puppy might chew on with disastrous results. It's also a good idea to put any items of value well out of a puppy's reach bearing in mind that Springer pups can be boisterous and could easily knock into a piece of furniture, knocking an ornament to the ground. It's also important to set up a nice quiet area for puppy to nap in during the day and to limit the amount of space they can roam around in to begin with. Fixing stairgates to strategic doors is a great way of doing just this although investing in a well-made playpen can also work well too.
The documentation a breeder provides new owners for a puppy must include all the details of their worming date and the product that was used. It should also include a puppy’s microchipping details. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again once they are in their new homes keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
Other items needed for a puppy which should be purchased well in advance of their arrival include the following:
Spring Spaniel puppies are very sensitive to voice and loud noises so it's important to keep noise levels down and not to play music too loudly or to set the volume of a television too high either. Loud sounds and noises will stress a young puppy out more especially when they try to sleep which they need to do frequently during the day and in between bouts of play.
All Springer Spaniel puppies would have been given their first vaccinations before being allowed to be rehomed, but it's essential for new owners to ensure they are given their follow up jabs on time. The vaccination schedule is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a Springer ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be
As Springers get older and reach their golden years, they will start to show signs of ageing both physically and character-wise. The hair on a dog's face might to go grey around the muzzle and their hearing as well as vision might not be as good as it once was which should be taken into account when caring for them. Other things to watch out for when a Springer reaches their senior years include the following:
Older Springers benefit from being checked over by a vet more frequently than younger dogs because the sooner a health issue is diagnosed and treated, the sooner a dog would be made to feel more comfortable and very often the outcome is better for the dog too.
Like many other spaniel breeds, English Springer Spaniels need more in the way of grooming than other dogs because they have longer coats and if allowed to, they love exploring overgrown areas tracking down new scents which means they pick up a lot of dirt and debris in the coats.
It's important to keep their ears well-trimmed to avoid too as this helps prevent any debris getting caught in them which could lead to a painful knot or tangle. It's also a good idea to keep any hair found beneath their earflaps as short as possible as this helps keep a dog's ear canals nice and dry. It allows air to circulate that much better when the hair is kept shorter and this reduces the risk of an ear infection taking hold which can often be notoriously difficult to clear up.
Ideally, a Springer’s coat should brushed daily to keep it tangle and knot-free. Daily grooming also ensures a dog's skin is kept in good condition. The areas of a Springer's coat that are more likely to get matted and tangled are where there's a lot of feathering, namely around their ears, neck, under their legs, elbows, backends and feet. It's a good idea to have a Springer professionally groomed from time to time which makes keeping their coats tidy that much easier in between visits to a grooming parlour, especially if a dog’s coat has been hand stripped.
It is also worth clipping back the fur between a dog’s paw pads and on top of their feet as this can get quite long making walking uncomfortable for the dog especially if they have picked up any thorns or burrs in the hair found between their pads or when the ground is frozen which causes the fur to ball up. The other thing to bear in mind is that because Springers are automatically attracted to water and boggy land, they do need to be bathed quite regularly, but you need to be careful not to overdo things as this could upset the PH balance of a dog's skin which could lead to allergies flaring up.
A Springer Spaniel's coat is quite high maintenance on the grooming front, so it's worth investing in the right good quality tools from the word go. The grooming tools needed to care for a Springer Spaniels coat includes the following:
Springer Spaniels benefit from being given regular and brisk daily exercise and ideally this should be for a minimum of 2+ hours a day. Springers also need to be given lots of mental stimulation to be truly happy and healthy dogs. They are not couch potatoes and would quickly become bored if left shut up in a home and left to their own devices for any length of time. It could lead to a Springer developing some serious behavioural problems which includes being destructive around the home as well as excessive barking.
Springer Spaniels are the perfect choice of pet for anyone who loves to spend as much time in the great outdoors as they can and are not a good choice for anyone who leads a more sedentary life. They are also a great choice for people who work outdoors and who would like or need a reliable, trustworthy canine companion at their side. Springers excel at many canine sports and thoroughly enjoy both the training and the taking part in competitions which is the best way of ensuring they are kept busy both physically and mentally. The old adage of a tired dog being a good dog describes an English Springer Spaniel’s exercise needs to a tee.
Springers, being active and energetic dogs, need to be fed a good quality, nutritious diet that ideally has a higher protein content. They are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed lower quality dog food. A mature, adult Springer needs to be fed once or twice a day and as previously mentioned, they need to be fed a diet that has a higher protein content because they are such active and energetic dogs. As Springers reach their golden years, they slow down and are less energetic which means their diet should be adjusted accordingly. Older dogs benefit from being fed little and often which means splitting their meals into four times a day. As with any other breed, it's important for Springers to have free access to fresh, clean water all of the time.
Springer puppies need to be fed a specific "puppy" diet and in larger quantities as compared to their bodyweight simply because they are still growing and developing. Puppies need to be more frequently too and this should be 4 times a day and at regular intervals right up to when they are around 18 weeks old. After that, they can be fed once or twice a day, but if you have any worries it's a good idea to discuss things with the vet.
A good breeder would give all new owners a feeding schedule for their puppies and it's important to stick to this for the first few weeks to avoid any digestive issues. A puppy's diet can be changed but this must be done gradually over the course of 4 weeks and if puppy does get a tummy upset to put them back on their original diet before asking advice from the breeder or the vet. It's important to feed a puppy at the same time of the day to establish a routine which is another way of helping them settle into their new homes that much faster. Below is a rough guide as to how much to feed a puppy every day for the first few months of their lives:
When a puppy is 12 months old they can be fed adult food.
As a rough guide, an adult Cocker should be fed the following amounts every day for them to stay fit and healthy:
A well-bred, pedigree English Springer Spaniel purchased privately or from a well-established and reputable breeder can cost anything from £300 to £1500. When it comes to insurance for a male 3-year old Springer Spaniel and you live in the north of England, you would need to expect to pay would be £21 a month for basic cover to just over £40 a month for a lifetime policy (quote as of September 2017). It's worth bearing in mind that lots of things are factored in when a company calculates a dog's insurance premium and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age.
Feeding a good quality, nutritious diet to a Springer Spaniel is essential and their diet must suit the different stages of their lives. This could set an owner back anything from £50 to £60 a month. Unless you are planning to breed from a dog, you would also need to have them spayed or neutered which can add up especially when you factor in the cost of vaccinations and annual health checks at the vet.
As a rough guide, the monthly cost of keeping and owning an English Springer Spaniel could be anything from £90 to £120 a month depending on the type of pet insurance you opt to buy for your pet, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred English Springer Spaniel puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
English Springer Spaniels are an extremely popular breed both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Springers there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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