This mid-sized breed is a loyal retriever with energy to spare. Welsh Springer Spaniels are said to be 'handy' sporting dogs, meaning they are neither too big nor too small. The breed's frame is compact and powerful, and designed for agility and stamina in the field. Unlike any other spaniel breed, Welshies have a slightly tapered head. Welsh Springer Spaniels charm with their beautiful red and white coats and their gentle expressions. But don't let their calm gazes fool you—the breed requires a lot of activity and attention.
Welsh Springer Spaniels have an independent streak and like to do things their own way, and can be sensitive when they feel unfairly treated. Be sure to focus on positive reinforcement rather than reprimands to bring out the best behavior in this breed. They are decidedly reserved with people they don’t know, but utterly loving and loyal with their family members.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel also goes by Welsh Springer, Welsh Cocker Spaniel, and Welsh Starter, and the nickname Welshie.
The Welsh Springer's coat is naturally flat and straight, and soft to the touch. Medium in length and dense, the coat protects the Welshie from rain and thorns in the field. Their fur should never hinder their action during the hunt. The coat is longer on the back of the legs, with moderate feathering on the chest, ears, tail, and underside of the body. The coat color is always a rich red and white in any pattern, and with red flecks possible on the white regions.
Average Height: 17-19 inches
Male: 40-55 pounds
Female: 35-50 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Welsh Springer Spaniels are handsome, athletic dogs who are well-muscled through the chest and hindquarters. They appear somewhat longer than they are tall, and have strong legs that aren’t very long. Welshies move with a powerful, smooth gait that has a strong drive from the rear legs. The Welshie’s head is distinct from all other spaniels’ heads, being medium in length and tapered at the muzzle. Welsh Springers have mid-sized pendant ears with feathering, and their tails are docked when following the breed standard. In temperament, they are loyal, affectionate, and self-assured.
Like all spaniels, Welsh Springers descend from hunting dogs that originated in Spain centuries ago. These dogs gave rise to Welshies, as well as English Cocker Spaniels and English Springer Spaniels. They are ‘land spaniels’ adept at hunting on terra firma, while water spaniels show prowess hunting and retrieving in water. Springer-type spaniels received their name because of their hunting style, which involved ‘springing’ or flushing quarry from its hiding place. Many consider Welshies the original spaniel of Britain.
AKC Breed Category
Welsh Springer Spaniels are all about their families. They are loving and playful with the grownups, kids, dogs, and cats in their household. They have such an amenable nature it can come as a surprise when they are aloof or nervous with strangers, but this is par for the course with the breed. They are intelligent dogs who are strong-willed. Though eager to please, they require consistent, firm training that is also gentle and patient. The Welshie’s behavior is decidedly improved with an abundance of exercise and attention.
Are Welsh Springer Spaniels Good with Kids? Welsh Springer Spaniels cherish the children in their families, with whom they are loving, playful, and protective. Because they are exuberant dogs, they are better suited to homes with older children who can stand up to boisterous play. Be watchful of your Welshie with kids they don't know.
(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 Welsh Springer Spaniels Good with Other Pets? Welshies love having canine siblings to keep them company and to play with. They are also generally welcoming of cats with whom they’re raised from an early age. Because of their prey drive, Welsh Springers should not live with small animals, such as gerbils and rabbits.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are protective of their families and their territory.
Are Welsh Springer Spaniels Good Guard Dogs? Welshies are good watchdogs who will bark when they notice anything unusual, or when anyone approaches the house. Their bravery and barking will give intruders pause, but they are not so large as to appear threatening.
Like most spaniels, Welsh Springers are energetic dogs who require a good deal of exercise and interaction throughout the day.
- Require a lot of attention and exercise
- Not a great match for first-time dog owners
- Aloof with strangers
- Slow to housetrain
- Sensitive to harsh reprimands
- Should always be walked on leash with a comfortable collar or harness, or kept in a safely enclosed yard, or your Welshie will wander and chase after birds and squirrels
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Resort to destructive behavior like chewing dog beds if left alone too long
- Over-excitable, especially when young
- May develop submissive urination
Welsh Springer Spaniels need lots of interaction with their families and should live indoors with them. They are known for their exuberance, especially as puppies, so be careful where you place your breakables. Welshies are only moderate shedders, so fur cleanup is minimal.
Welsh Springer Spaniels should spend several hours outdoors each day, playing and training. It's helpful to have an enclosed yard where they can run and play catch and otherwise expend excess energy. They shouldn't be left outside by themselves, however, as they will search for a way out and/or bark at every passing bird.
A healthy Welsh Springer Spaniel requires about two hours of physical activity each day. This may include field training, hunting, agility training, fetch, brisk walks, or a combination of these activities. Giving your Welshie plenty of exercise prevents behavior and anxiety issues.
Welsh Springer Spaniels have the stamina and attention span for long days in the field.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Healthy, adult Welsh Springer Spaniels can run with you for three to four miles.
- Hiking Miles: Welshies love spending time outdoors, as long as it's by your side. This breed can manage half- and full-day hikes, with several breaks for snacks, water, and resting in the shade.
Generally, this breed requires about 1½ to 2½ cups of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Welshie’s activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Welsh Springer Spaniel.
Welsh Springer Spaniels balk at spending too much time alone. If left alone excessively they’ll develop separation anxiety and nuisance behaviors, including barking and chewing. Crate train your Welshie so they consider their dog crate a safe place to spend time each day. That way you can leave them alone for an hour maximum.
Health and Grooming
The luxurious coat of the Welsh Springer Spaniel is decidedly low-maintenance. A good brushing several days a week, and a bath once a month will keep their coat clean, healthy, and free from matting and tangles. Pay particular attention to feathering when brushing to prevent knots. Wash their outer ears with a gentle cleanser about once a week to prevent dirt and wax buildup that can lead to infection. Brush your Welshie’s teeth three or more days each week and trim their nails about once a month to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
Some breed-specific health conditions may affect Welsh Springer Spaniels, including:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
- Entropion, a condition in which the lower eyelid folds in and causes irritation
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Welsh Springer Spaniel by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Welsh Springer Spaniels require a gentle touch when it comes to training or they may choose to ignore every command. With consistency and positive reinforcement, however, they will learn basic obedience commands in short order.
Their energy, intelligence, and need for industry make Welshies excellent candidates for all varieties of advanced training, including obedience, dog sports, and agility.
Sporting Dog Training
Welsh Springer Spaniels are bred for the field and make excellent upland hunters. Though they are considered 'land spaniels,' they are versatile enough to retrieve waterfowl.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Welsh Springer Spaniels.
No. Welsh Springer Spaniels shed throughout the year and, as a result, leave pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet related allergies.
Some Welsh Springer Spaniels may enjoy the water, while others will prefer staying dry most of the time. Introduce your Welshie to swimming gradually, and never force the issue. Also, always watch your Welsh Springer Spaniel closely when swimming or near water.