The English Springer Spaniel is a dog breed in the Spaniel family.
It was developed as a gun dog to flush, or spring, game in the field, but they’re also popular companions.
The English springer spaniel is valued both as a companion and for its use in the field as a gun dog.
The English Springer is the highest on the leg of all the land spaniels and he shares the same ancestry as the other spaniels.
It is a medium-sized, compact dog standing 48 to 51 cm (19 to 20 inches) and weighing 18 to 23 kg (40 to 50 pounds).
Its glossy coat is flat or wavy and usually black and white or liver-coloured and white.
The average lifespan of the English Springer Spaniel is about 10 to 12 years.
Dogs similar to the English Springer Spaniel are seen in artwork as far back as the 16th century, but it wasn’t until the early 19th century that their specific history can be identified.
By 1801, Sydenham Edwards explained in the Cynographia Britannica that the land spaniel should be split into two kinds, the Springing, Hawking Spaniel, or Starter and the Cocking or Cocker Spaniel.
At this point, both cocker spaniels and springer spaniels were born in the same litters. The purpose of the breed was to serve as a hunting dog. The smaller cockers were used to hunt woodcock, while their larger littermates, the springer spaniels, would “spring” — or flush — the gamebird into them air where a trained falcon or hawk would bring it to the handler.
In January 1899, the Spaniel Club of England and the Sporting Spaniel Society held their trials together for the first time. Three years later, in 1902, a combination of the physical standard from the Spaniel Club of England and the ability standard from the Sporting Spaniel Society led to the English Springer Spaniel breed being officially recognized by the English Kennel Club.
The American Kennel Club followed in 1910.
In 1914, the first English Field Champion was crowned, FTC Rivington Sam, whose dam was a registered cocker spaniel, Rivington Riband. Sam is considered one of the foundation sires for modern field lines.
English Springers gained their first great North American fame in the 1920s, and they soon made their mark as a tough but stylish gundog in the bird fields of America and Canada. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, the breed’s AKC parent club, held its first meeting in 1924. In recent years, the breed’s trainability, durability, and keen nose have been used to great advantage in K-9 detection work.
There are several skills that breeders train the dog to perform for their occupation:
• Retrieve to Hand – Most hunters and all hunt test or field trial judges require that a dog deliver a bird to hand, meaning that a dog will hold the bird until told to give it to the hunter directly.
• Soft Mouth – Springers are taught to deliver game with a soft mouth, meaning he does not puncture it with his teeth. The game should always be fit for the table. If a springer damages the bird, it may be hard-mouthed. This is a serious fault, but it can be difficult to determine whether it may have been genetic or caused by poor training methods. Breeders generally avoid using any springer that is hard-mouthed.
• Quarter – A flushing spaniel’s primary role is often as an upland flushing dog. Dogs must work in a zig-zag pattern in front of the hunter seeking upland game birds. The dog is taught to stay within gun range to avoid flushing a bird outside shooting distance. This pattern is one of the primary criteria used to judge a dog in a field trial.
• Scenting Having – the ability to scent game is of vital importance to the hunter. A springer should have a good nose in both wet and dry conditions. A dog with a good nose will learn to use the wind as it quests for game, ever adjusting its pattern according to the nuances of the wind.
• Flushing – The springer should have a positive flush. It should not hesitate or point when encountering game. Some field trial dogs will often get airborne during a flush. This is exciting to watch but is not necessary to win. Most hunters prefer that their dog not flush in that style, as it can present a risk to the dog.
• Hup – This is the traditional command to sit and stay. When hupped the dog can be given direction called by the handler. The ability to hup a dog actively working a running bird allows the handler and any gunners to keep up without having to run.
• Follow Hand – Signals Upland hunting involves pursuing wild game in its native habitat. Gun dogs must investigate likely covers for upland game birds. The dog must be responsive to hand signals for the hunter
to be able to direct the dog into areas of particular interest.
• Steady – When hunting upland birds, a flushing dog should be steady to wing and shot, meaning that he sits when a bird rises or a gun is fired. He does this to mark the fall and to avoid flushing other birds when pursuing a missed bird.
• Blind Retrieve – An adequately trained and experienced working springer can be expected to use all of the aforementioned attributes to be conducted by hand, whistle and command to a position whereby an unmarked lost game bird can be picked and retrieved to hand.
English Springer Spaniels are often a popular choice for families with children or other dogs. They’re very affectionate and are often regarded as ‘velcro dogs’, that always want to be close to their human companions.
Usually, the average price of a English Springer Spaniel puppy from a reputable breeder is between $800 and $1,800, while a top-quality English Springer Spaniel puppy can cost as high as $3,000 and upward. Their price depends upon the pup’s age, sex, quality, pedigree, and breeder’s location.