Choosing an English Springer Spaniel

Choosing an English Springer Spaniel

The English springer spaniel is the largest of the land spaniels and a strong sturdy sporting dog whose popularity continues to rise. Used as a hunting dog, the English springer spaniel thrives on activity and the pursuit of game.

History & Origin

In the 19th century, the original Norfolk spaniel was used as the primary hunting dog in England. As the turn of the century approached, this spaniel became more refined and slowly developed and split into the Welsh springer spaniel and the English springer spaniel. The English springer spaniel was officially recognized by the English Kennel Club in 1902, and by 1927, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Currently, there is a debate raging over the spaniel breed. The American English springer spaniel clubs and breeders feel that the American version is so different that it should be considered a separate breed from the English version. So far, no decision has been made so all English springer spaniels are grouped together.

As an avid gun dog, the primary purpose of the springer spaniels was to "spring" the quarry from their hiding places. By springing the game, it made hunting easier and more productive for the hunter. To this day, English springer spaniels are considered by many to be one of the best hunting dogs that retrieve well in undergrowth and marshland. They work well on land as well as water.


The English springer spaniel is a medium sized dog with long pendulous ears. The hair coat is long, smooth, thick and waterproof. The breed standard calls for a docked tail. Though the hair coat can be a mix of brown, black or white, the liver and white combination tends to be the most popular.


The adult English springer spaniel is approximately 20 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 45 to 55 pounds.


The English springer spaniel is intelligent, active and energetic. A faithful and loyal companion, they do not do well as a guard dog but will alert the family when strangers approach. Due to their need for activity, English springer spaniels make excellent companions for active children.


A versatile breed, these dogs do well with training. They are eager and quick learners but can be headstrong. Their primary love is to hunt and find game. For this reason, they do best when the training involves the sport of hunting.

Special Concerns

In recent years, a concerning trend of vicious temperaments has been emerging. Care must be taken to thoroughly socialize your English springer spaniel and seek the guidance of a dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist if you notice any aggression.

Another concern is the potential to develop phobias. There have been reports of phobias toward inanimate objects as well as unfamiliar people.
Since the English springer spaniel craves activity and exercise, the breed does not do well if confined for prolonged periods of time. They are not recommended for apartment dwellers, although they may do well if the owner is devoted to providing necessary daily exercise.

To keep their hair coat free of mats and tangles, daily grooming is necessary.

Health Concerns

In general, the English springer spaniel is a healthy dog with few medical concerns. However, the following diseases or disorders have been reported:

  • Glaucoma is a disease of increased pressure within the eye that leads to blindness.
  • Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid organ does function normally.
  • Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by seizures.
  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that leads to arthritis.
  • Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) is a serious blood disorder that results in profound and life-threatening anemia.
  • Food Allergy affected pets develop skin allergies due to a variety of food ingredients.
  • Cutaneous histiocytoma is a benign tumor of the skin that can affect young dogs.

    In addition, the English springer spaniel is prone to ear infections and a condition called "rage" syndrome which manifests itself with signs of uncontrollable aggression.

    In addition, although these occur infrequently, the following disorders have also been reported:

  • Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is a congenital birth defect caused by a blood vessel that normally closes after birth, but remains open resulting in the passage of extra volumes of blood into the lungs.
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a congenital defect of the ventricular septum of the heart.
  • Malassezia dermatitis is a yeast infection of the skin caused by Malassezia pachydermatitis.
  • Primary seborrhea causes scaly skin. Some dogs are born with a defect of the normal keratinization of the skin.
  • Entropion is a problem with the eyelid that causes inward rolling. Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball and may lead to more serious problems.
  • Distichiasis is a condition in which there is growth of extra eyelashes from the glands of the upper or lower eyelid.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a disorder of the eye that results when tear production is decreased.
  • Pannus is a disease of the eye resulting in inflammation.
  • Progressive retinal degeneration (PRA) is a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate. The condition can lead to blindness.
  • Cutaneous asthenia is an inherited disorder of the collagen synthesis the skin resulting in fragility and hyperextensibility of the skin.
  • Megaesophagus is a dilatation of the esophagus caused by decreased contraction of the muscles, causing food regurgitation.
  • Melanoma is a tumor arising from melanocytes, which are the cells that produce pigment.

    Life Span

    The average lifespan of the English springer spaniel is approximately 12 to 14 years.

    We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.

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