All About the German Spaniel

All About the German Spaniel

Life As A Pet Parent

There are many loyal spaniel breeds around and none more so than the German Spaniel, a working dog that's also goes by the name of Deutscher Wachtelhund. They are a little bigger and slightly heavier than a Springer Spaniel and they too have always been highly prized hunting dogs in their native Germany. However, over recent times the German Spaniel has also found a fan base in other countries of the world both as working dogs and in a domestic environment thanks to their attractive looks, loyal and kind natures.

A little background history

The German Spaniel as previously mentioned, is also known as a Deutscher Wachtelhund which translated means quail dog"". The breed was developed by a German breeder called Frederick Roberth in the late 1800s and he used various breeds to create a hunting dog capable of working and retrieving game in all sorts of conditions and over many different terrains. One of the breeds he used no longer exists which is a dog called a Stoeberer, a dog that was renowned for their scenting abilities and which are often compared to that of a Bloodhound. He crossed Stoeberers he found in Bavaria with sporting spaniels and water dogs to produce the German Spaniel we see today.


Male German Spaniels tend to be a little taller and heavier than their female counterparts with males standing at anything from 46 to 54 cm and weighing in at 44 - 46 kg whereas females are slightly lighter, standing at anything from 44 to 52 cm at the wither. They are strong boned, medium sized spaniels with muscular bodies and thick, long and wavy coats. Their ears a moderately long with the hair on a dog's head being shorter and finer than on the rest of their bodies. German Spaniels also boast rather a lot of feathering which offers them protection when working through rougher undergrowth. Their overall appearance is one of a dedicated working dog that’s always eager to work alongside man.


The Deutscher has a short, harsh coat with a softer and dense undercoat. They often have white markings which are known as Bracken marks on their muzzles, chests, legs, around their necks and on the tip of their tails. Dogs also tend to have a nice blaze on their faces. Their coats can be red to yellow in colour with dogs having black mantles.


The German Spaniel is renowned for being a versatile and willing gundog that's always been highly prized in the field. Energetic, amenable, intelligent, these dogs are never happier than when they are working alongside man retrieving game for hunters. They boast a high prey drive and an incredible nose when it comes to tracking a scent. They are not the best choice for first time dog owners because the Deutscher needs to be trained and handled by someone who is familiar with the breed's specific needs which includes doing a lot of heel work.

With this said, in the right environment and with the correct handling, a German Spaniel thrives in a home environment, becoming loyal and affectionate family pet or companion providing they are given enough mental stimulation and things to do. They thrive on company and tend to be happier living with other dogs and in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they never spend too much time on their own.


The German Spaniel has a thick, double coat that consists of a longish top coat and a softer dense undercoat. They shed a lot of hair throughout the year only like other breeds they shed the most when their summer and winter coats grow through which is in the spring and the autumn.


A Deutscher's training and socialisation must start early and their education must be consistent throughout their lives because they need to know their place in the pack and what is expected of them. Because they boast such strong hunting drives, the Deutscher needs to be taught the ""recall"" command from the word go otherwise if they pick up an interesting scent, it could prove challenging getting a dog to listen when they are called ""to heel"".

Like many other spaniels, they are quite sensitive by nature and as such do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction. They do, however, answer well to positive reinforcement bearing in mind that it's best to keep training short so that a dog remains focussed.

What about exercise?

The Deutscher, being a working dog that has the need to hunt deeply embedded in their psyche, needs to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly well-balanced, happy dogs. They adore being in and around water which in short, means allowing a dog to swim as often as possible which should be included in an exercise routine, but only in places where it is safe for dogs to swim. As such, a German Spaniel needs a minimum of 2 hours daily exercise with as much heel work included in the routine as possible. They also need to be allowed to run off their leads so they can really express themselves, but again this should only be done in safe areas and when owners know their dogs will listen to the ""recall"" command.

What about health issues?

German Spaniels are known to suffer from a few hereditary health concerns, but careful and selective breeding has done a lot to eliminate many of them. The health issues that seem to affect the breed are as follows:

  • Hip dysplasia - breeders should have stud dogs tested before using them for breeding purposes.
  • Crooked legs
  • Splayed feet
  • Skin allergies

Life expectancy

A Deutscher boasts a long life span which could be anything from 12 to 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate diet to suit their ages.

Children and Pets

Like many other spaniel breeds, the Deutscher is a kind, gentle and placid dog by nature in a home environment and therefore they are good around children. Providing they have grown up with a family cat, they will tolerate having a feline companion around, but care should be taken when a German Spaniel is around any other smaller animals and pets thanks to their high prey drive.




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