With their floppy ears and soulful eyes, these handsome dogs are a favourite of many. They are excellent hunting dogs with good stamina and an enthusiasm for life. Spaniels enjoy being around their owners and some can become clingy, especially if poorly socialised when young.
Springer Spaniels have gained a bad reputation for being a little ‘loopy’. Truthfully, they can act up when not provided with enough mental or physical stimulation. So, owners need to make sure they can commit to giving them the attention they crave.
It is thought that the first Springers originated in the early 1800s and the breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1902. A versatile hunter, the Springer can work on both land and water. They are used to flush out prey, as well as to retrieve them.
Springer Spaniels have an excellent sense of smell and can be highly trained by those with experience, meaning they can excel in a range of tasks. Due to this, they are also used as sniffer dogs in places like airports and some have even been used to detect cancer and other diseases. These dogs can also do well in canine activities such as agility and in the showring; what a versatile character!
Classically good-looking, the Springer Spaniel is known for it’s flowing, wavy fur and long, thick ears. They have dark eyes and a good-sized muzzle. A medium-sized breed, adults will weigh from 16kg to 24 kg and usually measure between 43cm and 50cm to the shoulder.
The Springer Spaniel has a double coat that offers protection when out hunting in the elements. Coat colours include black and white, brown and white and liver and white.
This is not a dog who likes to take it easy. Springers are full of beans and always getting up to mischief. They enjoy keeping fit, solving puzzles, socialising and exploring new places. These confident dogs are happiest when around people and dislike being left in their own company for too long. Due to this, separation anxiety can be an issue for some.
As with other Spaniels, it is foolish to think that these dogs will calmly entertain themselves. They need stimulation and diversion. Without this, they will quickly become destructive and can develop serious behavioural issues.
While this is a ‘country’ dog at heart, they can adapt well to urban life providing they are kept busy. A well-fenced garden is a must.
Most pedigrees will have a list of conditions that they suffer from more often than the average dog. The Springer Spaniel is no exception. While most enjoy good health, we should be aware of the following health issues within the breed:
Hip & Elbow dysplasia:
These orthopaedic conditions can occur due to a dog’s genes, environment, diet and exercise. Signs can show up in the first year of life and can include a lameness and a reluctance to exercise. While hip dysplasia can usually be diagnosed on x-ray, a CT scan may be needed to spot the more subtle signs of elbow dysplasia.
Otitis Externa (ear infections):
For a number of Spaniels, ear infections can plague them throughout their lives. Some are prone to chronic ear infections that they struggle to shift. They may develop infections with nasty bacteria such as Pseudomonas. In some cases, ear infections are linked to skin allergies. To reduce the frequency of ear infections we should try to keep the ears as dry as possible. After a bath or swim, dry the canals thoroughly with cotton wool. It can also help to clean the dog’s ear out every couple of weeks.
Diseases of the eye:
There are a number of ocular issues that can affect the Springer Spaniel including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (a genetic, progressive blindness), Glaucoma (a raised pressure in the eye) and entropion (eyelids that turn inwards).
Smart, eager to learn and food-driven, the Springer Spaniel can be a joy to train. They tend to excel in a range of tasks, especially when sniffing and scenting is involved. As this dog can be sensitive, steer away from harsh criticism if they get something wrong. Instead, sing their praises when they do something right. They love to be praised and will be keen to get as much of your approval as possible.
Owners do need to pay close attention to the thick and heavy ears of their Springer Spaniel. The ears should be checked each day to ensure they are healthy. Any sign of canal redness, odour, excess wax or discomfort would warrant a trip to the vet. Most dogs will need their wax cleared out with an ear cleaner every 1-2 weeks.
Their coat should be brushed at least 3 times a week and owners need to focus on the areas where their fur is thickest. This includes their ears, neck, tails and paws. These spots benefit from a good combing to prevent mats from forming.
Springer Spaniels were bred to hunt and stay on the move for hours on end. They need at least 60 minutes of solid exercise each day. They should be given the opportunity to sniff on their walks and to explore new routes when possible. Most dogs enjoy a swim, especially when the weather is warm.
If we do not provide our Springer with enough exercise, they will likely become frustrated and their pent-up energy will be too much for them to handle. Excessive barking, whining, tail chasing and furniture chewing are all possible outcomes. These dogs are frustrated and unhappy. They are telling us we need to work harder to keep them occupied!
Avoid obesity by measuring out portion sizes and not overdoing it on the treats. Protein should be the primary ingredient, to aid in muscle development and repair. Spaniels require plenty of fatty acids which will keep their coat smooth and glossy. Look for a diet enriched in Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which should help protect their cartilage and joints. Food like the Adult complete superfood is a good start,
You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.