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English Springer Spaniels are intelligent, playful, and energetic. Their calm nature—combined with their athletic abilities and stamina—makes them excellent hunters and frequent participants in field trials and obedience sports.
During the 1890s, English breeders sought to create a dog that would detect game birds hiding in bushes, flush (or "spring") them from their cover, and then point and retrieve the downed bird. What they produced became the English Springer Spaniel.
Fun fact: Welsh Spaniels, English Springers Spaniels, and Cocker Spaniels were often born as part of the same litter. Breeders would then separate the puppies by color and size when determining which of the three categories a pup belonged to.
Despite its popularity in the United States for more than two hundred years, the first English Springer Spaniel breed club didn't form until 1924.
Descended from the spaniels of 14th-century Spain, the English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized dog with a sturdy, compact body. It has the long ears, gentle expression, and friendly, wagging tail characteristic of the spaniel family. The overall appearance of the breed suggests power, endurance, and agility.
English Springer Spaniels have an outer coat and an undercoat that help protect them from water, weather, and thorny shrubs.
On the body, the outer coat is a medium length, and flat or wavy. The ears, chest, legs, and belly display a feathering fringe that's moderate in length and heaviness.
The coat of the English Springer Spaniel comes in three different color combinations, including black-and-white, liver-and-white, or either of these combinations with tan markings (usually on the cheeks and above the eyes).
The English Springer Spaniel has long, pendulous ears. Fairly wide in shape, the ears hang close to the cheeks and are long enough to reach the tip of the nose.
Springers' eyes contribute significantly to their overall attractiveness. They're medium-sized, oval-shaped, and set well apart. The color of the iris harmonizes with the color of their coat. The preferred color combinations are dark hazel eyes in the liver and white dogs, and black or deep brown eyes in the black and white dogs.
The English Springer Spaniel is an energetic, friendly, and easy-going family dog. Equally happy hunting in a field or playing fetch in the backyard, the breed has the stamina and endurance to be on-the-go for hours a day.
English Springer Spaniels are affectionate towards their families and strangers. They need to receive lots of attention and human companionship to keep them happy. As such, this breed does not thrive when ignored or left alone for a long time.
English Springer Spaniels are typically friendly with and other pets and dogs, making great candidates for the dog park.
English Springer Spaniels need to eat high-quality food that's appropriate for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior). A diet formulated for medium-size dogs is a good option to consider.
Springers can become overweight or obese. To keep them at a healthy weight, monitor food portions carefully. And be sure to take treats into account when tracking their daily calorie intake. As a guideline, treats should make up no more than 10% of their calories.
Brush your English Springer Spaniels once or twice a week to keep their glossy coats clean and free of tangles or mats. Routine trimming—ideally by a professional groomer—will keep their coat neat and tidy.
English Springer Spaniels' long ears may make them more susceptible to ear infections. For this reason, check and clean your pup's ears regularly to prevent infections from developing.
In addition to professional dental cleanings, you should establish a regular at-home dental care routine that involves teeth brushing and dental chews or treats. Maintaining good dental hygiene is essential for the overall long-term health of all dogs.
English Springer Spaniels are high-energy dogs that need plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation. They enjoy dog sports that exercise both their bodies and their minds—such as field trials, hunting, tracking, agility, and competitive obedience.
Since Springer Spaniels love the outdoors and spending time with their family members, they make great companions for long runs and hikes. They also love to play in water. Retrieving items such as tennis balls and floating toys allows them to use their excellent swimming ability and show off their athleticism.
The English Springer Spaniel is good-natured, intelligent, and obedient. So, it's a relatively easy breed to train.
They're also very food-motivated. Use treats as rewards for giving up inappropriate objects they've retrieved or to manage guarding tendencies. Early socialization will help your pup develop into a well-mannered adult dog.
Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) is a rare cardiac disease that causes an irregular heart beat and has been associated with sudden death in the English Springer Spaniel.
Acral Mutilation Syndrome (AMS) causes insensitivity to pain, leading to a tendency to lick or bite paws excessively. This often results in loss of toenails, fractures, and toe amputation.
Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK) is a disorder where an enzyme important in the production of energy from sugars is lacking, resulting in weakness, muscle cramps, discolored urine, anemia, and jaundice.
Familial Nephropathy (FN) is an inherited kidney disorder, that results in abnormal amounts of protein in the urine leading to kidney failure.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (also known as cord1 PRA or crd4) is a late onset degenerative eye condition, caused by deterioration of the light sensing retina at the back of the eye. The mutation causing the disease is a risk factor, meaning not all dogs with two copies of the mutation will go on to show signs of the disease.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a neurological disorder, usually affecting dogs in their senior years. Loss of hind limb coordination is an early sign of disease, and as the condition progresses the hind limbs of affected dogs become increasingly weak.
X-Linked Tremors is a neurologic disorder where affected dogs lack the protective covering over the nerves of the central nervous system, resulting in tremors and often leading to premature death.
Knowing if your English Springer Spaniel is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup's lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed 26 July 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH