English Springer Spaniel breed: as affectionate as it is tireless

László Enikő

2023. October 10 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The English Springer Spaniel, named after his original role, has long been a favourite of sporty families. This lively, affectionate dog will become a well-balanced member of the family if his great need for exercise is met regularly.


Athletic and versatile, he is known to excel at dog sports, hunting, and even tracking and obedience tasks. The English Springer Spaniel is a great companion who is happy to accompany you on hikes and outings. He is an extremely affectionate and people-loving breed, but needs to be physically exhausted on a regular basis.


It is thought that spaniels originated in Spain and hence their name. Others believe that Spaniel comes from the Celtic word span, meaning rabbit. However, experts believe that the first view is the most likely and that Spaniels were introduced to other parts of the world by the Romans. At that time, there were no separate spaniels, all dogs of this type were simply called spaniels. A law dating from 300 mentions by name, and a Welsh law book written in 948 also records that the king’s spaniel is worth one pound. At the time, this was a huge sum.

Dogs similar to today’s English Springer Spaniel are depicted in 16th and 17th century artwork. The different types began to be separated in the 16th century. First, a distinction was made between water and land spaniels. The English springer spaniel was used for chasing and disturbing birds when hunting for solymounts, agarics or nets. With the advent of firearms, the dogs were also used to retrieve game while standing.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries in England, dogs belonging to the same litter were not classified according to their breed, but according to their hunting. The smaller dogs in a litter were used to hunt woodcock, and were therefore called cockerels. The larger puppies in the same litter were used to startle the game and were called springers.

In the 1870s, English and Welsh Springer Spaniels were shown as the same breed at the first British dog shows. This continued until 1902, when the Kennel Club recognised the two Springer Spaniels as separate breeds. In recent years, the breed’s trainability, stamina and good sniffer have been exploited in a number of areas, for example in some countries to sniff out the coronavirus. English Springer Spaniels also excel in dog shows and are considered the third most successful breed. Hunting specimens are slightly stockier and shorter than show specimens.

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Breed standard

The English Springer Spaniel is one of the largest of the spaniels. It is a medium sized, well balanced, strong and agile dog. The skull is moderately long and slightly convex. His eyes are medium sized, almond shaped and dark hazel in colour. His eyes are lively and kind. The ears are large, long and close fitting, covered with a thick coat, set on fire at eye level. The neck is strong and muscular, without a saddle. Forelimbs perpendicular, flagellated, hind limbs well elongated from thigh to hock. Trunk of proportionate length, strong. Hips broad, muscular.

The paws are closed, compact and have thick pads. Tail deep set, never carried over the back, well flagged. Coat double layered, medium length. Dense, smooth, straight and waterproof, never coarse. The coat of show dogs is slightly longer than that of hunting dogs. The colour of the coat is most often liver brown-white or black-white, or tans of these colours with reddish tones. Height at the withers is about 51 cm and body weight 22,5 kg. Life expectancy is 13 years.


The English Springer Spaniel is clever and eager to perform tasks, not to mention very enthusiastic. A happy and cheerful dog who is very affectionate with his owner. He is generally good with children, but it is best to get him used to the presence of smaller ones when he is still a puppy. He typically develops good relationships with other pets in the household.

As a hunting dog, the English Springer Spaniel requires a lot of exercise. For this reason, he is also a good sportsman, with many non-hunting owners engaging their English Springer Spaniels in activities such as obedience, agility, flyball and tracking. The breed is also ideal as a therapy dog.

If a stranger approaches the house, the Springer Spaniel will signal, but is not suitable as a guard dog. He is a loving and affectionate dog who is very attached to his family. It is typically a quick learner, very intelligent and likes to put its brain to work. He is a tireless, outgoing individual who is also gentle and good-natured. He enjoys swimming and fetch.

Ideal environment

The breed is definitely recommended for active owners who can spend enough time tiring and loving their pet. The English Springer Spaniel is very demanding of both, does not like to spend much time alone, is very people-oriented and tries to establish good relationships with everyone. If he is well looked after, he is calm and well-balanced at home. It is worth trying dog sports with him and teaching him different commands. This will also keep him mentally exhausted. He likes to go out, explore and spend as much time as possible with his owner. We recommend keeping him in a garden house.


The Springer’s coat should be combed a few times a week to get rid of dead hairs and to prevent matting. The ears should be cleaned once a week and checked to make sure they are healthy and free from false barley. As the Spaniel’s ears are large and droopy, they are difficult to ventilate and can cause ear problems. They should be gently wiped dry after swimming. Care should also be taken to keep the eyes clean and the claws of the sparrow’s claws of the right length.

Common health problems

The English Springer Spaniel is generally a healthy dog, but some problems can occur. Examples include Hip Joint Dysplasia, Allergic Skin Diseases, eye problems. Long, hard to ventilate ears should always be watched, especially after swimming, otherwise
infections can occur. Sometimes Epilepsy or Cocker Rage (Rage Syndrome
), which manifests itself in sudden aggression, in seizures similar to epilepsy. Fortunately, this is becoming increasingly rare and does not occur in a dog from a good breeding stock.

(Literature: János Szinák – István Veress: A világ kutyái I., David Alderton: Kutyák, Dr. Pál Sárkány: International Dog Encyclopedia, Sarah Whitehead – Beverly Cuddy: Dogs, János Szinák – István Veress: Dog Guide, Paul McGreevy: Dogs, Dog Association III. Issue 7)

breed breeds hunter hunting dog medium sized dog spániel

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