The term Springer Spaniel refers to two separate breeds of dog, the English Springer Spaniel and the Welsh Springer Spaniel.
The English Springer Spaniel is a breed of gun dog used for flushing and retrieving game. The breed descended from Norfolk and Shropshire in the mid 19th century. Very similar to the Welsh Springer Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel to which they are related, they are affectionate and excitable with a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. Less than a hundred years ago Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels were being born in the same litter.
In 1902, the Kennel club recognised the English Springer Spaniel as a distinct breed, the term Springer comes from it’s hunting role, the dog would flush (spring) birds into the air. The breed has diverged into two categories, working dogs and show dogs, there’s a big difference the two although they are registered together. Gene pools have been almost completely segregated for over 70 years, so a field dog would not be competitive in a modern dog show, while a show dog lacks the stamina needed for field work. Field dogs have shorter coarser coats than show dogs, they are selected for their sense of smell and hunting ability rather than for their appearance.
The Springer Spaniel as no unique health problems, though they can suffer from the dental and eye problems from which most breeds can suffer. It is a medium size, well proportioned, balanced dog, with a gentle expression and a wagging tail.
The English Springer Spaniels coat comes in a variety of colours, black or liver with white markings, predominately white with black or liver markings, or tricolor, black and white or liver with tan markings. Male show dogs should stand 19 to 21in at the withers and will weigh 40 to 60lb, the female is shorter at 18 to 20in and weighs 35 to 55lb, the working dog is slightly smaller and will weigh a little less.
Friendly and eager to please, the Springer Spaniel is a quick learner which is always willing to obey. If treated properly it makes a great affectionate family dog, they will often latch on to one family member and stick with that person as much as possible.
Because of it’s exceptional stamina, it requires a moderate amount of activity, for exercise and to focus it’s mind, it’s long legs make it one of the fastest spaniels and it loves water, getting wet every chance it gets. Not one for being left alone for long periods, it gets easily bored and can become mischievous and destructive.
The Welsh Springer Spaniels coat comes in a single colour combination, white with reddish brown markings, and it is slightly smaller than the English Springer Spaniel. Once called the Welsh Starter it was used to spring prey for hunters with falcons.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is not as popular as it’s English counterpart, in 2000 the Kennel club registered 424 Welsh Springer Spaniels, compared to 12 599 English Springer Spaniels and 13 445 English Cocker Spaniels. While the English breeds continued to grow in popularity, the Welsh Springer Spaniel continued to decline, they had dropped to 295 by 2016 and were included on the Kennel clubs list of Vulnerable Native Breeds.