English Springer Spaniels are medium-sized dogs with powerful and compact bodies. Their coat is moderately long and can be liver or black with white, tricolor, or blue or liver roan. There's feathering on the ears, chest, legs, and brisket. The outer coat is flat or wavy, and the undercoat is soft, dense, and short. These dogs are weatherproof, waterproof, and thornproof. English Springer Spaniels have long hanging ears, a docked tail, and oval, medium-sized eyes. They measure 19 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 40 to 50 pounds.
These dogs are fairly easy to groom, but they are year-round shedders.
Affectionate and cheerful dogs, English Springers adore their families and prefer to be in close contact with their loved ones at all times. They do well in apartments and single-family homes and they make great companion animals for people of all ages and types. They do need plenty of exercise, however, and the super sedentary sort may find that a bit of a challenge.
Today, English Springer Spaniels tend to excel as either show dogs or hunting dogs, but never both. For this reason, they are bred exclusively for one role or the other. There has not been an English Springer to do well in both areas in 50 or more years.
English Springers are friendly, outgoing, and charming dogs that love people and need a lot of companionship and attention. They are cheerful and energetic, and they do best with families who have plenty of time and energy to devote to them. They are good with children and other pets, are very smart, and are well suited to most living environments. They do require a significant amount of physical exercise, however, and they benefit from regular time outdoors.
Happiest when with their human family members, English Springer Spaniels enjoy spending time playing games with children, running around in the backyard, cuddling on the couch, and taking part in dog sports. These dogs do not appreciate being left alone for long periods, and they will quickly become bored and depressed if they feel neglected or ignored.
English Springers are comfortable and fairly tolerant of strangers, but they do have superb protective instincts and will not hesitate to bark or otherwise sound an alarm if they feel their family or property is being threatened. They quickly warm to new people, however, and they enjoy socializing at the dog park and around the neighborhood. However, they should always be kept on a leash when outdoors or confined to a securely fenced yard for their own safety.
English Springer Spaniels are prone to a number of health conditions, some of which are potentially serious. Hip dysplasia, epilepsy, ear infections, elbow dysplasia, and a variety of eye disorders, including ectropion, entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and glaucoma, are all known to affect this breed. Additionally, these dogs are at increased risk for gastric torsion, rage syndrome, heart disease, liver shunts, and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. Skin fragility is another problem.
English Springers are also prone to weight gain. Because of this, they need regular exercise and should have their diet carefully monitored. Obesity in dogs increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and other problems. The breed is also prone to phosphofructokinase (PFK) deficiency, which is a genetic disease that affects the metabolic system and causes weakness, lethargy, muscle cramps, anemia, and other problems.
English Springer Spaniels with no serious genetic diseases can live 10 to 14 years, provided they receive routine veterinary care, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise.
An easy to train breed, the English Springer Spaniel is highly intelligent, eager to please, learns quickly, and obeys willingly. These dogs exhibit attentiveness and poise on the field, in the show ring, and at home. They are generally not timid or aggressive, and they get along well with nearly everyone.
Although English Springers are generally well behaved, they tend to bore easily and seek stimulation. This may result in chewing, barking for no reason, digging, and other destructive behaviors. Additionally, these dogs have a strong natural instinct to chase prey, and this can lead them into danger. Training can help minimize these issues, but the best solution is regular attention, plenty of physical activity, and a securely fenced yard for play and exercise.
There's a tendency for some English Springer Spaniels to become aggressive. This tendency is believed to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors and is sometimes called "English Springer Rage Syndrome." The episodes of aggression may occur without warning. This condition does not affect most English Springers, but all can benefit from obedience classes and early socialization. Training can help ensure these dogs make calm and well-mannered house pets, and socialization will prevent any issues getting along with other animals. English Springer Spaniels should live inside with their human families.
English Springer Spaniels need regular brushing and frequent trimming to keep their coats looking neat and free of tangles and mats. These dogs are fairly easy to groom, but they are year-round shedders. Increasing brushing frequency can reduce the amount of dead hair that falls from these dogs before it ends up on furniture and floors.
Scissoring every few months and trimming the tail is essential to improving the appearance of this breed. This can be done at home or by a professional groomer. Bathing is not frequently needed. When necessary to remove excess dirt, sticky substances, or something harmful from the coat, a pH-balanced canine shampoo can prevent skin irritation and improve manageability of the coat.
The nails need trimming every few weeks, or more often if they begin to drag the ground, and the teeth need regular care to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Once weekly, the ears should be checked for signs of infection. Excess ear wax can be removed with a vet-approved otic cleanser.
English Springer Spaniels date back to the 1600s. The breed has historically been prized for its impressive ability to assist in hunting operations by "springing" birds from trees, bushes, and fields. Although they were originally born from the same litters, the Springer Spaniel separated from Cocker Spaniels in 1902, based primarily on size.
These dogs are beloved for their obedience, agility, and hunting skills. Unlike some other hunting breeds, English Springer Spaniels have a knack for easily switching from hunting mode to family pet when their day in field ends.
In America, these dogs are found in show rings, taking part in dog sports, or walking on leashes around urban and suburban areas. They truly can do and be anything and thrive in any role.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the English Springer Spaniel in 1910.