Wonderful, Lovable, Social, Intelligent, Great with kids, Courageous, Lively, Loyal, Durable, Energetic, Stubborn, Willful, and Persistent. These are among the traits that could be attributed to an English Springer Spaniel.
Springers are friendly, eager to please, very intelligent, quick to learn, and willing to please. As a sporting dog, the springer required a great amount of stamina and independent thinking to complete his task. Like most working breeds, they are usually energetic. They require a reasonable amount of exercise and mental stimulation for physical and mental well being. They will thrive when given the opportunity to perform a task, weather it be around the house or in the performance ring. It is important to understand that Springers learn very quickly with little instruction. This degree of intelligence can make them a real pleasure and companion, however, it can be the source of real trouble. They must be trained -- if you do not train them, they will learn on their own and it might not be what you want them to learn.
Springers make excellent pets. As family companions Springers are cheerful and affectionate. They are generally good with children. Springers are good watch dogs, but not guard dogs, as they will alarm barker, signaling an intruder, then they will just as soon greet a stranger. Springers are very people oriented and do best when they are with people as much as possible. They need lots of attention, companionship, and positive feed-back. You should expect your Springer to follow you around the house and want to be with you. Sometimes known as "velcro" dogs, they are bored and unhappy when shut outside, tied, or isolated most of the time. A bored Springer can dig holes in the yard, bark for no reason, or chew up your shoes. Most Springers can be left alone all day while you are at work, as long as they get attention and exercise when you're home. So, if you are gone all the time to non-dog friendly places, this may not be the dog for you.
For more information about English Springer Spaniels follow the link to the AKC English Springer Spaniel breed standard or visit the web site for the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, the AKC parent club of the breed.
The English Springer Spaniel is an ancient breed, mentioned in Britain as early as 300 A.D. The Springer may have originated in Spain originally. Their likeness can be found frequently in paintings from the 1600's. Sometime during the turn of the 20th century the smaller dogs in the litter were used to hunt woodcock, and became known as "cockers." The larger littermates were used to flush or spring game, therefore became known as "springers." Today Springers have evolved into two divisions, field and show. By the 1940's, breeders started choosing characteristics in their breeding stock according to their interest in either field trials or conformation shows. The field bred dogs specialize in hunting ability, athleticism, and performance. These dogs tend to have more white, carry a lighter coat, have more ticking, and can have higher energy. The bench/show bred dogs specialize in breed type and soundness according to the written standard. These dogs tend to have a dark blanket, less ticking, and a fairly long coat. One variety of dog is not better than the other, they are just different. Whether field or show, a properly socialized and trained Springer can make a wonderful pet for all ages.
Springers are versatile dogs that are easily trained. This ability allows them to excel in other performance events. Because of their intelligence and willingness to please, reward based training will produce the best results. Since Springers learn quickly and bore easily, they usually see little point to endless repetition. A Springer in the field is expected to show initiative and independent thinking when working. After the third try they will begin to think and make things up on their own. They think that there must be some reason you keep asking them to do the same thing again and again. If it is correct, quit and go onto the next "exercise." To turn a Springer into a robot is inappropriate. To do so can be difficult and frustrating. Go to the training page for further information.
The English Springer Spaniel is an active dog and needs regular exercise -- more than just turning him out in the back yard. Teach your dog to chase a ball or other toys. Start exercising slowly, building up to 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times a day to help keep him from getting bored. Save concentrated running until your dog is over 2 years old when his bones are formed. Follow the link to further information on exercise and conditioning.
The average life span of a Springer is twelve to fourteen years. Although health issues occur in every breed, Springer's are relatively healthy, not as commonly affected by as many genetic disorders as some of the other breeds. Genetic based disorders in Springers include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hypothyroidism, and epilepsy. Most hereditary disorders are not life threatening and can be managed with treatment. Even the best breeding program with the soundest breeding stock can produce dogs with hereditary disorders or health disorders. To decrease the risk of these things happening to your puppy, purchase your puppy from a breeder who checks for these health issues. For a more complete explanation of the various health disorders go to the health disorders page.
The Springers' coat is intended to cover a multitude of conditions in the field. It is double- layered, with an outer and under coat. It is virtually weatherproof and designed to protect him from hazards in the field. Like all double coated breeds, Springers shed year round. They will shed more in the spring when they blow their winter coat. Springers require regular brushing and trimming to prevent snarls, mats, or overgrowth. Ideally your Springer needs daily brushing, but an once or twice a week grooming session will maintain your dog in good condition. At a minimum, the hair between the pads of the feet should be kept trimmed. The nails should be trimmed weekly as well. Once nails grow too long, it is very difficult to get them short again. A Springer also requires periodic professional clipping about every two to three months unless you would like the fun of learning to do this yourself.
Any dog with floppy ears has the potential for ear problems caused by poor ventilation of the ear canal and accumulation of wax, dirt, and moisture inside. Ear problems can be compounded by wet ears from swimming. To prevent ear problems from developing, keep the hair around the ear opening clipped short and clean any visible ear wax out of the ear with witch hazel or an ear cleaning solution. If your dog's ears are clean and do not have an odor, there is no need to put ear cleaning solution into the ear canal.
Many book are available about English Springer Spaniels. Carol and Don Callahan's book is highly recommended. It is a small, relative inexpensive book covering a wealth of information on care, training, and health of Springers. Go to the recommended reading page for further recommendations.
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Updated July 2013