The original English Springer Spaniel is one of the oldest modern dog breeds on Earth. Accurate historical records are scarce, but paintings of the dogs created in the early 1600’s still exist and scholars believe that the dogs originated no later than the mid-to late 1500’s.
Today there are several different breeds of Spaniel dogs. It is believed that all Spaniel breeds are descended from Springer Spaniels that had been mixed with other breeds in the past in order to create new breeds with varying characteristics.
The Springer Spaniel is a medium sized breed with a healthy adult male weighing between 50 and 60 lbs. Most Springer Spaniels have a stubby docked tail. Their fur tends to be medium to long in length and slightly wiry. Hair on the ears is curly and the ears tend to be longer than other breeds and hang low along the sides of the head. The Springer Spaniels fur is usually longer and feathery around the chest, legs, ears and brisket. Springer Spaniels are usually spotted with black and white or liver/brown and white patterns. The coat usually has more color than white.
The dog was originally bred and used exclusively as a hunting dog. The breed has a natural talent for hunting that exists well into today. Modern Springer Spaniels that live in the countryside or wilderness are still known to this day for sometimes taking off on their own wilderness adventures for weeks at a time, living only on what they can hunt for themselves. When working with a hunter a well trained Springer Spaniel well stay low and search brush in a zig-zag pattern, always staying within shooting range of their master. When the Spaniel finds wild game they spring forward with a jumping motion which scares the animal out and into the open where the hunter can make a clean shot. This springing motion is where the breed got its name from.
There are two separate and distinct breeding lines for Springer Spaniels; Show-Bred and Field-Bred. Show-Bred Springer Spaniels will match the characteristics that have already been described. Field-Bred Springer Spaniels are bred to have shorter coarser coats of fur that usually have more white than color. Field-Bred Springer’s also have smaller ears and generally are a little bit wilder looking than Show-Bred Spaniels. Field-Bred Spaniels also have their tails docked, but only by a few inches, giving them a much longer tail than their Show-Bred cousins. Field-Bred Springer Spaniels are primarily bred and used by professional hunters and avid hunting enthusiasts. Although cosmetically the two different lines of Springer Spaniel may appear to be different types of dogs entirely they are in fact the same breed and exhibit the same characteristics for hunting and personality. Field-Bred Spaniels are not allowed to compete in show dog competitions and in most cases Show-Bred Spaniels do not compete in field competitions. Breeding pools for Show-Bred and Field-Bred Springer Spaniels are kept completely separate so that Show-Bred and Field-Bred are never bred together.
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