This playful, amiable dog is all business when it's time for hunting in the field. Since at least the 16th century the English Springer Spaniel has been bred to flush small game or birds by 'springing' on them. Once in the open, the game or birds could be captured by hunting hawks, hounds, hunter's nets, or, when shotguns were invented, felled by wingshooters. English Springer Spaniels are beautiful, eye-catching dogs with luxurious coats and soft, kindly expressions. They love attention and expect it from everyone, including strangers.
The English Springer Spaniel is double coated, with a medium length outer coat and a short, dense inner coat that serves as insulation. They 'blow,' or shed, their inner coats twice each year. The coat protects the dog from inclement weather and brambles on the hunt. It can be mostly black or liver with white markings, or mostly white with black or liver markings. A tricolor coat includes tan markings on the face and tail.
Average Height: 19-20 inches.
Male up to 50 lbs
Female up to 40 lbs
Breed Standard & History
English Springer Spaniels are medium-sized dogs with long, double coats. They have a powerful, muscular build and the stamina to manage long days in the field with ease. The American Kennel Club (AKC) standard requires a docked tail. Their gentle, oval eyes and large, floppy ears give them an amiable expression that matches their nature. They are attentive, friendly, and always eager to please at home and on the hunt.
Though the AKC doesn't differentiate sub-types of English Springer Spaniels, most hunters will seek out field-bred Springers over show-bred springers. Field-bred Springer Spaniels are considered smaller and quicker, with a sharper instinct for flushing birds.
All spaniel-type dogs are named for Spain, where they are believed to have originated. Early ancestors were likely taken abroad on ancient trading ships; spaniels similar in appearance to Springers occur in artwork from the 16th century. In the late 19th century, Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels were drawn from the same litters. The smaller dogs were called 'Cockers' for their skill hunting woodcock, while the larger dogs were called 'Springers' for their skill flushing game. The two breeds were officially separated in England in 1902 and soon after they were imported to North America where they quickly gained popularity as hunting and companion dogs.
AKC Breed Category
English Springer Spaniels are playful, exuberant dogs. They are usually gentle and eager to please, but they need diligent training and abundant exercise to ensure they are obedient and well mannered.
Are English Springer Spaniels Good with Kids? English Springer Spaniels are good with children if they are socialized with them from an early age. They shouldn't be left alone with children.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are English Springer Spaniels Good with Other Pets? English Springer Spaniels should be socialized with other animals from an early age to ensure they are good with cats and dogs. They usually enjoy playing with dogs they know and new friends at the dog park. They have a strong prey drive towards birds, so they don't mix well with avian pets.
English Springer Spaniels are not overly protective, but will become aggressive if they sense a threat to themselves, their families, or their territory.
Are English Springer Spaniels Good Guard Dogs? English Springer Spaniels have only a moderate tendency to bark and are fairly welcoming of strangers, so they don't excel as guard dogs.
English Springer Spaniels are energetic dogs. They require a lot of exercise and stimulation every day to stay healthy.
- Without adequate activities, Springer Spaniels will resort to destructive behaviors like chewing their dog bed.
- They should always be walked on leash with contact information printed on a personalized collar because they will chase birds.
They don't like to be alone for long and are prone to separation anxiety.
- They 'blow,' or shed, their inner coats completely twice a year.
- Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome or Sudden Onset Aggression – This very rare condition can occur in any dog breed, but has been most frequently documented in show-bred English Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels. It is defined by a sudden act of extreme aggression towards someone nearby. A few minutes after the incident, the dog will behave as though nothing has happened and appear not to remember. There is not an abundance of research into the condition, but it is thought to be an epileptic-type disorder or a genetic disorder caused by low serotonin in the brain.
Between hunting and other outdoor activities, English Springer Spaniels should be inside with their families. They are highly affectionate dogs who crave frequent play sessions and exercise. Without adequate opportunities to exercise their muscles and their minds, Springer Spaniels will develop destructive habits out of anxiety or boredom.
English Springer Spaniels relish being outdoors going for long walks, or on the hunt. Their coats are adapted to protect them from cold, rainy conditions, and to safeguard them from thorns and underbrush. They are comfortable outside for stretches with a family member nearby, but they shouldn't be left on their own for too long. Springer Spaniels will try to escape the yard to chase birds.
English Springer Spaniels require daily exercise and activities to keep them healthy. If you hunt routinely, your wingshooting excursions and field training exercises will satisfy much of your Springer's activity requirements. If your Springer is a family dog more than a sporting dog, it's important to make a concerted effort to incorporate an hour of play and exercise into his day.
These hunting dogs have stamina to spare. They will keep up with you in the field, on long walks, and for long play sessions.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: A healthy adult English Springer Spaniel will happily run with you for three to four miles. Be prepared for possible interruptions when your Springer spots nearby birds.
- Hiking Miles: Adapted to long days spent hunting, healthy English Springer Spaniels will enjoy half-day hikes with you.
English Springer Spaniels eat between a cup and a half and two cups of quality dry dog food each day, split between two meals. The exact amount of food your Springer requires varies depending upon his size, age, and activity levels. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet for your dog.
English Springer Spaniels do not enjoy spending extended periods of time alone. When Springers are left alone for too long without activity, exercise, and interaction they are prone to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors. Consider crate training your Springer to keep him out of mischief during short periods alone.
Health and Grooming
12 - 14 years
Brush your English Springer Spaniel several times each week to keep his coat healthy and free of mats. He requires a bath once a month, or as necessary when he gets muddy in the field. His medium-length coat requires occasional trimming to keep it neat. Clip his nails once or twice a month, or as needed. And check and gently clean his ears once or twice a month to avoid wax and dirt buildup that can cause infections.
Common Health Issues
English Springer Spaniels may be prone to the following breed-specific health concerns:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Ear infections
- Skin disorders
- Phosphofructokinase (PFK) Deficiency, an inherited enzyme deficiency
- Entropion, in which the lower eyelid folds in and causes irritation
- Retinal dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
You can minimize serious health concerns in an English Springer Spaniel by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
English Springer Spaniels are smart and eager to please, so they are easy to train as long as lessons are consistent and involve ample praise and dog treats.
This breed will appreciate the fun and challenge of advanced agility training.
Sporting Dog Training
Both field-bred and show-bred English Springer Spaniels excel at sporting dog training, though field-bred Springers are thought to have more instinctive abilities.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about English Springer Spaniels.
No. English Springer Spaniels shed and thus release pet dander into your home. Dander is the cause of most pet-related allergies.
English Springer Spaniels are not prone to hyperactivity, unless they are not given adequate exercise and mental stimulation.
English Springer Spaniels enjoy a good swim on a hot day, though they are not as eager to jump in as other web-footed breeds.