Physical Characteristics of an English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer represents perhaps the greatest divergence between working and show lines of any breed of dog. A field-bred dog (working)and a show-bred dog appear to be different breeds, but are registered together. In fact, the gene pools are almost completely segregated and have been for at least 70 years.
A field bred dog would not be even remotely competitive in a modern dog show while a show dog would be unlikely to have the speed or stamina to succeed in a field trial (Fergus, 2002).
Field-bred dogs tend to have shorter, coarser coats than the show-bred dogs. Their ears are less pendulous. Field-bred dogs are wirey and have more of a feral look than their show-bred cousins. (Fergus, 2002). The tail of the field bred dog is only docked by a few inches in comparison to the show dog to provide a "flag" for the hunter. Field-bred dogs are generally selected for nose, hunting ability, and trainability rather than appearance.
Males in the show dog line average approximately 18 to 20 inches (45 to 50 cm) at the withers and weigh on average between 50 and 55 pounds (23 to 25 kg). Females are generally smaller, averaging closer to 40 pounds (18 kg). Show dogs have longer fur and more pendant ears, dewlaps and dangling flews. (Fergus, 2002) The tail is docked to a short stub in those countries which permit docking. They are generally more thickly boned and heavier than field-bred springers.
The coat comes in three different color combinations. Black-and-white, liver-and-white, or either of these combinations with tan markings (usually on the cheeks and above the eyes). Dogs bred for show are generally more colour than white, whereas sporting dogs tend to have more white in their coats for visibility.
Temperament of an English Springer Spaniel
The Springer is an affectionate and easy-going family dog, and its alertness and attentiveness make it the ideal hunting companion. An intelligent dog, and eager to please, a Springer is easily incorporated into a family setting. Although good with children, it tends to have a moderate to high energy level. Its long-legged build makes it among the fastest of the spaniels. It has unlimited stamina and needs plenty of activity, as much as 2 hours per day, to focus its mind and to provide substantial exercise.
Like any breed described as "good with children", a Springer Spaniel must be accustomed to children. Any dog that is not well socialised with children will not behave predictably around them. Unless trained Springers do have a tendency to jump up at people and this can lead to them knocking smaller children over.
English Springer Spaniels are playful animals; many owners find humor in their play. As with many playful dogs or hunting dogs bred as retrievers, these dogs will play with things as simple as empty plastic bottles, socks, or towels. These spaniels easily remember where such things are kept and are good at getting them out. English Springer Spaniels need a lot of regular exercise and mental stimulation for optimum mental health.
Some people say that English Springer Spaniels are like Velcro, because they want to be in the immediate vicinity of their owner. If the owner walks to the other side of a room, so does the English Springer Spaniel. Unless trained from a young age, some may become agitated and whine if they cannot get near people that they know are nearby.
Walks alone are not enough to satisfy a Springer Spaniel they must get mental stimulation through training and games. Like most other breeds of dogs if a Springer becomes bored or stressed they can become destructive in the home environment. Young pups when teething are also known to chew household items if they are not given teething toys. A destructive springer can chew chairs, walls, skirting boards, door frames and doors ……. Kitchen units, shoes, cuddly toys, hand bags etc etc the list is endless. You need to keep them stimulated.
Springer Spaniels are natural mud magnets, they love nothing better than swimming in stagnant ponds, throwing themselves through muddy puddles and rolling in unmentionable things!! Springer Spaniels are not for the house proud, they moult and can create a lot of muddy paw prints and dust.
Having said the downsides of owning a Springer Spaniel they can’t be all bad as a lot of people don’t stop at owning one … they go on to own two, three, four or even more at one time! Beware Springer Spaniels are addictive!