Monday, March 19, 2012

English Springer Spaniel

Missi, a female black and white Springer Spaniel. Her coat has not been trimmed.
The English Springer spaniel is a medium sized dog, weighing 16-25 kg (35-55 lb). It is normally white and brown or white and black. In the AKC's registration statistics the breed is on 28th place (2013), and in the UK it is the third most popular dog, according to the number of registered dogs per year.

Charlie, a brown and white Springer Spaniel. His fur has been trimmed short, much shorter than on show dogs.

The English Springer Spaniel is what is called a gun dog, which means that when the breed was developed, they were used for flushing and retrieving game during hunts. Like many other working type dogs, we have a split in the breed between show type and working type. Both sides argue that they have the original type. The show type are dogs that lies as close at possible to the breed standard, and are bred for their physical resemblance to "the perfect Springer", as described in said standard. The working type are bred for their ability to do the original work the breed was bred for. For springer spaniels that is to function well as a gun dog. These dogs might differ more from the standard than their show counterparts, but unlike them they are still able to perform the task that the breed originally carried out.
I guess it all depends which side to think is right, depending on how we choose to define a breed. I personally think it is more important that you get a functional working dog than a supermodel, but if your main goal for your dog is to win ribbons at dog shows, maybe a dog from show lines is better for you. Show dogs tend to be calmer, but they still have the same background as the working type so you might end up with a average looking dog with good work ethics even if you buy your dog from a show breeder.



The English Springer Spaniel is not the healthiest breed around, but it is not the worst one either. Common problems are ear infections, often in combination with allergies, either food allergies or allergies to things in the environment.
Being a medium sized dog, they are also prone to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. 12.8 % of checked dogs in the US have HD and 13.2% have ED.
Retinal Dysplasia (RD) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), both of which can cause blindness, does occur in the breed. Which is why breeding animals should have their eyes checked before breeding. Other eye related problems are inward or outward curling eyelashes, which might require surgery.
A metabolic disease called Phosphofructokinase deficiency (PFK), which impairs the cells ability to use carbohydrate as an energy source, is found mainly in the lines of working dogs, but carriers of the gene for this disease have been found in show lines as well. There are genetic tests for this, and breeding animals should be checked for this.
Epilepsy also occurs in the breed.



The Springer Spaniel is a dog that is eager to learn and is very trainable. It was ranked as 13th most intelligent in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs. While originally bred as gun dogs, they also excel in other tasks, among others as sniffer dogs for the police. Their gentle temperament makes them god family pets, but they love to work, so you should provide your Springer with a meaningful activity. Why not try obedience or agility? While this relatively heavily built dog will never be able to compete with the same success in agility as a border collie, the will do well on their own level. In obedience you can definitely get far with a Springer.

Missi sitting and waiting for a treat.

The Springer Spaniel is a wonderful dog, that is suitable both for the hunter and as a family dog. It must get its fair share of exercise per day to stay content, but apart from that it is a fairly easy dog to train and a very easy dog to love!

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