The Spaniel is a type of working gun dog, and one that soon became one of the most popular companion dogs within the UK as their traditional working roles have become less prolific. Spaniels are generally active, intelligent dogs, who are bright and likely, very good natured and friendly with both people and other dogs.
There are many different types of Spaniel breeds, and many of them developed within the UK, such as the English Springer Spaniel and the King Charles Spaniel. However, the Spaniel dog type actually has its origins in Spain, and it is thought that the name “Spaniel” is a reference to the Spanish side of their heritage.
There are a total of 26 different Spaniel breeds recognised in the world today, although many of these are not commonly seen within the UK. Here is our run-down of the eight Spaniel breeds native to Great Britain that are still around today.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the smallest Spaniel breeds, being classed as a toy dog by The Kennel Club. They are available in four colour types: ruby, black and tan, Blenheim, and tricolour. They grow to just 33cm tall at maximum, and can weigh up to just over 8kg. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a popular companion dog or lap dog, and is not one of the most outdoors-y of the Spaniel breeds.
The King Charles Spaniel is another toy Spaniel, and is closely related to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, as the similar names imply! The King Charles Spaniel came first, however, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came about due to selective breeding of the King Charles to achieve a different breed type. The King Charles Spaniel is slightly larger than the Cavalier, and has a larger, flatter head and more prominent nose. The King Charles Spaniel comes in four colour variants: King Charles, which is black and tan; Prince Charles, which is white, black and tan; Blenheim, which is white with red patches, and ruby, which is red.
The Clumber Spaniel hails from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. They are fairly quiet dogs and very gentle, and renowned for their superior scenting abilities. They are the largest of the Spaniel breeds, standing at up to 51cm tall and weighing up to 39kg. The Clumber Spaniel can be seen in white, orange and white, or lemon and white colouration.
The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular companion Spaniel breeds in the UK. They are further divided into two different breed types: working, or showing, and the conformation of each type can appear quite different in terms of build and size. The English Cocker is generally a happy, good natured dog with a waggy tail, and is renowned for being good with children and nervous people. The English Cocker can be found in a wide variety of different colours, but the UK breed standard dictates that the dogs should have no white markings other than on the chest.
The English Cocker Spaniel can weigh up to 14.5kg, and stand up to 41cm tall.
The English Springer Spaniel is one of the two Springer variants, and is considered to be closely related to both the Cocker Spaniel and the Welsh Springer Spaniel. The breed descends from the original Norfolk and Shropshire Spaniels, and are the most commonly seen Spaniels still used for working with shooting parties today. They may be either black and white, brown and white, or tricolour, and grow to up to 51cm tall and 25kg in weight.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is, as mentioned, very closely related to the English Springer Spaniel, and only true Springer enthusiasts or dog experts can usually tell the difference at a glance! They are slightly less common than the English Springer, and are generally slightly shorter and less stocky, and its brown on white colouration usually has a more red hue to the brown patches.
The Field Spaniel has a finer, lighter coat than most other Spaniels, which is generally all one colour. While the Field Spaniel was once an extremely popular pet and show dog, their numbers are on the decline, and they are now classed as one of the UK’s vulnerable native dog breeds, with less than 300 dogs of the breed being born each year. The Field Spaniel can weigh up to 25kg, and stand up to 46cm tall. They are active, intelligent dogs that like to keep busy!
The Sussex Spaniel is the second UK native Spaniel breed that is considered to be at risk of dying out entirely, with just 60 Sussex Spaniels registered during 2009. Notably, a Sussex Spaniel won the prestigious Best in Show award at the Westminster Kennel Club’s 2009 show. The Sussex Spaniel is similar to the Clumber Spaniel in appearance, but has a unique liver/gold coloured coat that is not found in any other breed. The Sussex Spaniel weighs up to 39kg, and stands up to 51cm tall at the withers.