1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
7. Intelligence / Trainability
8. Children and Other Pets
10. Caring for a Welsh Springer Spaniel
14. Average Cost to keep/care for a Welsh Springer Spaniel
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is an active, lively and affectionate dog that was originally bred to be a gundog, a job they are known to excel at. However, over the years these attractive spaniels have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people thanks to their charming looks and loyal, even-tempered natures. The Welsh Spring Spaniel is an ideal family pet more especially for people who lead active, outdoor lives and who like to have an energetic, intelligent canine companion at their side.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is an ancient breed and one that has been depicted in works of art that date back to the 16th century. They were originally bred to hunt game and were commonly seen in Wales as well as in the west of England where they were also used to drive cattle and to herd flocks of sheep. However, centuries later these hardworking, loyal dogs became popular in other regions of the country and soon became highly prized gundogs. There are some people who believe Welsh Springer Spaniels were crossed with Corgis at some point in time.
Welsh Springer Spaniels proved to be extremely versatile dogs that boasted a strong hunting instinct when asked to "spring or start" game. By the 19th and 20th centuries, they became popular in other countries of the world which included America, Australia and India. They were originally called Welsh Cockers, but when the breed was recognised by The Kennel Club in 1902, their name was changed to Welsh Springer Spaniel.
Today, these charming dogs are gaining popularity with people who are looking to share their homes with an energetic, loyal and intelligent companion and one that enjoys being in the great outdoors with their owners whenever they can.
Height at the withers: Males 46 - 48 cm, Females 43 - 46 cm
Average weight: Males 16 - 20 kg, Females 16 - 20 kg
Springer Spaniels are slightly longer in the body than they are tall and they are a little lighter and smaller than their English Springer spaniel cousins. They also have finer heads, but they are well balanced dogs bred to have a tremendous amount of stamina and as such they give the appearance of being hardy, working dogs. They have slightly domed, nicely chiselled heads with clearly defined stops. Muzzles are moderately long, straight and rather square with dogs have flesh coloured to darker noses and well developed nostrils.
They have medium sized, dark or hazel eyes and their ears are set quite low. A dog's ears are quite small, tapering at the tip being the shape of a vine leaf and they hang close to their cheeks. The Welsh Springer Spaniel has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. They have long, muscular, clean cut necks that merge smoothly into a dog's shoulders. Their front legs are a medium length being well boned and straight.
They have compact, muscular and strong bodies with well sprung ribs and deep briskets. Loins are slightly arched and muscular. Their hindquarters are well muscled and strong with dogs having powerful back legs with well-developed second thighs. Their feet are very cat-like being round in shape with thick paw pads and strong nails. Tails are set low and nicely feathered which dogs carry gaily when excited or moving.
When it comes to their coat, the Welsh Springer Spaniel boasts having a flat or straight, dense, silky coat with their front and back legs being nicely feathered whereas their ears and tails are just lightly feathered. The only accepted breed colour is as follows:
Welsh Springer Spaniels are known to be good natured dogs that are just at home in the field as they are in a family environment. They have kindly dispositions although when young, like many other spaniel breeds, they can be a little boisterous and high spirited. However, as they mature Welshies tend to settle down. They have become very popular over recent years, thanks to their charming looks and their loyal and affectionate natures which when paired to the fact they are so intelligent and eager to please, makes them the ideal family pet for people who love to spend time in the great outdoors.
They form extremely strong bonds with their owners and thrive in a home environment, loving nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on in a household. They are exceptionally people-oriented dogs and as such they do not like to be left on their own for any length of time. With this in mind, they are best suited to families where at least one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house. If left alone for too long, a Welsh Springer Spaniel could develop separation anxiety which can lead to them becoming neurotic and stressed out.
Although exceptionally friendly with their families, Welsh Springer Spaniels can be wary and aloof around people they have never met before, but rarely would they show any sort of aggression towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance and letting their owners know there are people about which in short means they are very good watch dogs. Welsh Springer Spaniels are highly intelligent and they boast a tremendous amount of stamina. They are an ideal choice for first time owners, but only if they have the time to dedicate to a smart, high-spirited canine companion.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Welsh Springer Spaniel is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are highly intelligent and love nothing more than to please. As such in the right hands and environment, they are very easy to train. They are renowned for being excellent working gundogs and always do well when taking part in obedience trials. Their training has to begin early and it has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what's expected of them. Welsh Springer Spaniels are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things.
They excel at many canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility and obedience because they thrive on the attention they are given during their training and the one-to-one contact when competing with their handlers. The key to successfully training a Welshie is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions short which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored, bearing in mind that Welshies are exceptionally smart dogs.
They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved taking care not to over-do food rewards because Welshies are prone to put on too much weight far too easily.
They are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak which means they need to be trained with a firm, fair and gentle hand showing a dog lots of patience and understanding. It's also important to pay particular attention to the "recall command" because Welshies are known to wander off if they think there is something more interesting in the distance.
The Welsh Springer is an ideal family pet thanks to their kind dispositions and the fact they adore being part of a family. They can be a little high spirited when young which means they might accidentally knock a toddler over. As such any interaction between very young children and a dog should always be supervised by an adult to make sure playtime doesn't get too boisterous.
Because they are so kindly, Welshies tend to get on well with other dogs they meet, more especially if puppies have been well socialised from a young enough age. When they grow up with a cat in a household they usually get on well together. However, a Welshie might just chase any other cats they meet because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around smaller animals just in case they decide to chase them. As such, any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Welsh Springer Spaniel is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Welshie is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these handsome, energetic and loyal dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Welshies need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Welshie is high maintenance on the grooming front because their coats need to be brushed every day to prevent any knots and tangles from forming, paying particular attention to the feathers on a dog’s legs, ears and under their bellies. Because, Welshies love to swim, it's important to dry off a dog's coat thoroughly once they are back home. The feathering on their ears tends to hang into a dog's feed bowl which means the tips need to be regularly washed after a Welshie has eaten to prevent any nasty build up which could lead to a nasty infection setting in.
Their coats also benefit from being professionally groomed several times a year which not only keeps things tidy, but it makes it that much easier to keep a dog's coat in good condition in between visits to a grooming parlour. They shed throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need at least 2 hours' exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in a safe environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Welshie would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Welshie puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Welshie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Welsh Springer Spaniel, you would need to pay anything from £350 to over £2000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Welshie in northern England would be £20.42 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Welshie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Welsh Springer Spaniel would be between £70 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred puppy.
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