Sharing a home with a Welsh Springer Spaniel keeps an owner busy. They were bred to be versatile gundogs and even in a home environment, there is nothing they enjoy more than to be kept occupied doing the things that come naturally to them. With this said, Welsh Springer Spaniels are a popular breed in the showring too. Many owners enjoy taking part in local and national shows with their intelligent and willing canine companions at their side.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are renowned for their eagerness to please which makes them highly trainable. Some owners enjoy showing their dogs for the fun of it, others do so to win awards at local shows before going on to compete in national dog shows which could even be at Crufts. It allows dogs and owners to meet up with old "friends" and make new ones which is a wonderful way of socialising a young Welsh Springer Spaniels once they've been fully vaccinated.
A great way of starting out is to enrol in ringcraft classes which many local dog clubs organise. This type of activity teaches handlers how to present their dogs to judges so they see them in the best light. Taking part in local Companion Shows is not only fun, but it gets handlers/owners and their dogs used to being around lots of strangers and other dogs. It also provides the perfect platform to practice on. Winners are typically awarded rosettes and maybe some bags of food for their canine competitors.
The next step up the ladder is to take part in Open Shows with lots being organised all over the country and some are even organised by Welsh Springer Spaniel breed clubs for WSSs only. Entries must be made well in advance because there is usually a lot of interest in this type of dog show. Having taken part in a few Open Shows, it's time to enter a Welsh Springer into a show that's a bit more of a challenge, namely a Championship Show which allows serious competitors to qualify for Crufts.
Welsh Springers are natural "workers" and love nothing more than to be doing something. They are never happier than when they are in a working environment even when this is training for a competition or taking part in one. Working Sections are set up to help owners train a Welsh Springer to work to a gun. Breed clubs promote the fact that Welshies continue to be multi-purpose spaniels and not separated into two different classes namely show dogs and working dog. This helps promote the breed’s natural instincts. Welshies is renowned for being excellent retrievers, a task they adore doing and which they find extremely exciting.
With this said, owners are not obliged to take part in a “shoot” because they can simply opt to train their spaniels and take part in tests that are regularly held for Welsh Springers or other gundog breeds too. This type of training really does help reinforce a bond between owner and their spaniel which is makes the friendship so much stronger.
Welsh Springer Spaniels enjoy taking part in agility and are especially good at this activity, even taking on Collies with much success from time to time. Agility is extremely popular with the added bonus being that any breed of dog can take part. Welshies might not be the fastest on their feet, but they are determined and they love to please which makes training sessions not only great fun, but that much easier too. With this said, the biggest challenge is to keep a Welshie focused because if a dog picks up a more interesting scent, the temptation to follow their nose often gets the better of them.
Welshies also find tight turns inbetween jumps harder to negotiate because they need a good run at a fence to clear it. But more and more Welsh Springers are taking part in agility because it is so much fun for both dog and owner and again, it helps reinforce a bond between the two.
Welsh Springers enjoy obedience although they do sometimes have a mind of their own. A good way to start out is to join a dog club and take a young Welshie along to puppy classes once they are fully inoculated and to practice, practice, practice because retrieving objects other than game birds can be a big ask of a Welshie. Getting a dog to "stay" can be challenging too. The key to successfully training a WSS in obedience is to start their training early and to be consistent, patient and always work to bring out a dog's natural ability rather than work against it.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are renowned for having trustworthy, kind and amenable natures which means they are the perfect PAT dog. They always seem to have a smile on their faces which people find so endearing. They can be seen visiting the elderly, people and children in hospital where they bring a ray of sunshine into people's lives.