The English springer spaniel is a native British dog breed that was originally widely kept as a working gundog, to retrieve downed game for hunters and carry it back safely without damaging it. However, whilst English springer spaniels are still one of the most popular breeds used in gun sport today, their historical working role has largely become incidental in the breed’s recent history and within the UK, the breed is now much more commonly owned as a pet and companion.
The springer spaniel is a handsome, lively and very personable medium-sized dog breed that has a lot of appeal to many different types of owners, and which is now the 17th most popular dog breed in the UK today overall.
Every year, a huge number of dog lovers consider choosing the springer spaniel as their next pet of choice, and these can certainly be hugely rewarding dogs to own for the right types of owners.
However, the springer spaniel isn’t the right dog breed for everyone, and those that like the breed’s looks and kind natures sometimes fail to find out the breed’s other core traits, both good and bad, before committing to a purchase.
If you’re wondering if the springer spaniel is the right choice of dog for you, plenty of research is required – and knowing what aspects of life with a springer spaniel are those most likely to have an impact on how suitable the breed is for you is not always easy.
In this article we will share ten things you need to know about the English springer spaniel – before you buy one. Read on to learn more.
First of all, the English springer spaniel is a very high energy dog breed, which reflects the lively, active nature of their historical working roles as gundogs.
Springers ideally need to spend most of their day outside exercising and running around, and they make for good farm dogs as a result. However, this does mean that within the domestic home, providing enough walks and entertainment for the breed can be a challenge, and if you cannot arrange at least two long, lively walks for your dog each day, you might not be able to meet this need.
Springer Spaniels are also one of the smarter dog breeds, being ranked in 13th place out of almost 140 different dog breeds in Stanley Coren’s list of dog breeds by intelligence levels.
This means that springers can usually learn a wide range of different training commands and exhibit them reliably, but training very smart breeds isn’t always easy, and you have to factor in how quick-witted the dog can be in order to stay one step ahead of them!
Retrieving comes naturally to springer spaniels, and they are never happier than when running to catch and return a ball or another toy. Some dogs of the breed are only happy if they have something in their mouths, and the breed has what is known as a soft mouth, which means that they can exhibit superior bite inhibition to hold even very delicate things safely.
Springer spaniel coats tend to be heavily feathered, particularly around the chest and legs. This helps to protect the dog in undergrowth and bushes, to prevent them from getting scratched. Additionally, springers are very outgoing dogs that are not at all concerned with getting messy, and that often return from walks covered in mud and with a coat full of burrs!
This means that keeping their coats clean and in good condition can be a real challenge.
The springer’s retrieving working role saw them working on water as well as land, and most dogs of the breed have a real affinity for water and are often keen to swim.
Providing opportunities to swim is great if you can arrange this, and you should also supervise your dog around water that you don’t want them to swim in as they don’t always wait to be give the go-ahead!
Springers have kind, affectionate personalities and they’re very loving with their owners, as well as usually being personable with other dogs and people that they meet too.
The breed has a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy and not prone to being snappy or unpredictable, and this generally means that they are a good pick for family homes, although this should be considered on a case by case basis and managed carefully.
Springers tend to be robust and healthy dogs on the whole, but there are a number of hereditary health issues that can be found within the breed that can affect the welfare and longevity of individual dogs. It is worth learning more about springer spaniel health and the breed’s health challenges before you consider buying a springer of your own.
Springers have excellent scenting abilities, and the type of temperament that makes them amenable working dogs that try hard and concentrate to get the job done. For this reason, springer spaniels can often be seen working with the police and military and even in airport security as sniffer detection dogs, and most dogs of the breed love playing scenting games and learning new skills at home too.
Another area that springers are also very good at is canine sports, such as agility and obedience and even heelwork to music. They possess the energy levels, intelligence, biddability and fun-loving temperament that is required to excel in these fields, and generally really enjoy it too.
The springer spaniel can be a good choice of pet for a first-time dog owner who ensures that they fully appreciate the breed’s need for exercise, how to work with their intelligence to get the best out of them, and the type of things that springers are good at and enjoy.
However, the breed isn’t a good fit for everyone and can become a real handful if all of their needs aren’t met, and so if you have never owned a dog before or are not familiar with springers already, plenty of research is required before you can make an informed decision about whether or not this is a good choice for you.