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The English Springer Spaniel is a friendly, lively, outgoing, medium-sized breed. Springers enjoy children and adults alike and do best in a household situation when properly trained and socialized. The English Springer is typically eager to please, quick to learn, and willing to obey. The Springer's intelligence and agility, paired with its beauty, loyalty and trustworthiness make this breed one of the most desired.

First off, I firmly believe that the English Springer is the best choice for upland game hunting.  Especially pheasants.  A springer is a flushing type dog, meaning that when it finds a game bird it will hunt the bird until it flies up for you to shoot.

English Springer Spaniels are a medium-size Sporting breed.  According to the AKC Breed Standard (to learn what a breed standard is and to read the standard for Springers, go here), a female Springer should stand about 19" tall at the shoulders and weigh about 40 lbs, and a male Springer should be about 20" tall and weigh approximately 50 lbs.  These are the size guidelines for bench-bred (also called show-bred) Springers.  Field-bred Springers tend to be somewhat smaller, or sometimes larger, depending on the lines.  If you're looking for a dog that's bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than a Lab, this may be the breed for you.

So, the size sounds right, and you like how they look, but obviously there's much more to a breed than physical characteristics.  What about personality?  The typical, well-bred Springer is active and energetic, but not overly hyper.  This means they can be full of excitement, energy, and the willingness to run forever outside, but inside they will happily settle down in a favorite spot for a nap. 


Another thing you'll need to know before you get a Springer is that Springers are smart.  Very smart.  This can be a  double-edged sword.  On the positive side, Springers are easy to train.  They learn very quickly, and respond especially well to positive-reinforcement based methods of training.  They are quick, and inventive, and their antics are endlessly amusing.  On the negative side, sometimes their intelligence makes training specific obedience exercises difficult, because it is not uncommon for a Springer to decide that what you're trying to teach him is not the most efficient way to do something, and he'll take his own short-cut, thank you very much! 

They can become bored with repetitive drilling, and start to look for ways to spice things up a little.  Their intelligence also means that they can become bored easily if left to their own devices, and a bored Springer can be very inventive at finding ways to keep himself entertained.  It is important that you keep your Springer's mind as well as his body active on a regular basis.  Springers are very people-oriented dogs.  This is not a breed who can live out in the yard with only occasional contact with people, or who can be left alone while their owners work 12-hour shifts.  Springers want to be with their people as much as they possibly can, and they are not happy when they're left alone.  Of course, all dogs need to learn to tolerate occasional alone-time, but no Springer should be expected to exist without a lot of human attention. It's not in their nature.  If you want an independent, aloof sort of dog, this is not the breed for you. 

Although Springers are devoted to their families, their love for people typically extends beyond the immediate household.  If you're looking for a one-man (or woman) sort of dog, you should probably look somewhere else.  Springers should be outgoing and friendly, even with strangers.  They should not be timid, shy or easily spooked. 

They do require a fair amount of exercise, however.  At least an hour a day is necessary, but more is better.  A Springer who isn't getting enough exercise can become extremely hyper, and potentially destructive.  If your normally well-behaved dog starts chewing up shoes, take a look at how much activity he's had lately.  Chances are he's not getting enough.

Springers and Kids

Many people looking for a dog have children, and one of their top concerns is how a breed will get along with their kids.  In general, Springers do very well with children, particularly if they have spent time with kids from an early age.   As a rule, no children of any age should ever be left unsupervised with any dog, as you can never tell what might happen to the child or the dog.  Very young children may accidentally hurt a dog, particularly a puppy, and this should be a consideration before getting a dog.  Perhaps it might be better to wait until the children are older, or consider getting an older, mellower dog.  Although Springers are not extremely large, they can be very exuberant and could easily knock over a child if they are not trained to be careful.  Jumping on people is something almost all Springers do if they are not trained to stay down, and it's not an easy task to teach a Springer not to jump (they're not called Springers for nothing).  There are many Springers that live very happily with children of all ages, and as long as the dog has a correct, sound temperament Springers make very good family pets

The Other Stuff You Should Probably Know

You're still reading, so chances are you're still interested in a Springer of you're own.  Now's the time when we tell you what it's really like to live with a Springer.  All the stuff that doesn't fit into the other categories, but is important to know.  Some of it's a little facetious, but hopefully it helps you get a picture of what's involved in sharing you're home with these dog.

Springers, especially puppies, cannot be left home alone for most of the day.  They will be miserable.  If you have another dog, or even a friendly cat to provide companionship they'll do better, but they really do best with a lot of human attention and that means more than just feeding them and taking them on a ten-minute walk twice a day.  If they're playing outside, they want to play with you.  Or at least know you're there to play with if they want.

Springers (or at least most of them) will eat just about anything they can find.  And they'll go looking for food just about anywhere.  In their bowls.  In other animals' bowls.  On the table.  In the trash.  Anywhere they have ever seen food in their lives.  (We had one who found old toast on the lawn once.  She continued to check, every time, to see if more toast had appeared for the rest of her life).  Many of them are incorrigible counter surfers.  They need to learn as soon as possible to leave things alone when they're not supposed to be into them.  They can learn this, but it takes a lot of effort and most importantly, consistency.  They are also terrible beggars, and you only have to give in to those pleading eyes a couple of times and they will stare longingly at any food item you happen to be holding for the rest of their lives.

Springers jump on people.  It seems to be part of their genetic make-up.  We once heard a long-time Springer breeder say that the only thing you can't teach a Springer is not to jump on people.  That's not true; of course you can teach them not to jump, but it's not an easy thing to do and also requires a lot of effort and consistency.

Springers will want to be with you.  All the time.  Even in the bathroom, if you'll let them.  Sure, they'll learn to tolerate being separated from the object of their adoration, but they'll never like it very much.  And they'll always make you feel guilty for abandoning them, even if it's just for five minutes.

Springers will always be excited to see you.  Even if you've only been gone a few minutes, they'll greet you like it's been weeks.  Of course, just to make sure you don't get an inflated ego, they'll greet the UPS delivery person they've never seen before the same way.

Springers will make you want to scream, sometimes.  Even the best-behaved Springer in the world gets it in his head to do some pretty bad things every now and then.  Mostly this happens when they're puppies, but just when you think you can trust them on their own, they'll eat the TV remote.  We think they like to keep everyone on their toes.

Springers have an uncanny ability to expand to fill a space.  Sort of like a liquid.  It's amazing how much room a 40-pound dog can take up on a queen-size bed.  If you have a Springer, you'll learn, though.

Springers will make you laugh.  Constantly.  They do the silliest things, and they adore the attention they get.  They have very expressive faces, and those eyes can be almost impossible to resist, but resist them you must.  Really.  Well, most of the time.

Springers will steal your heart, if you let them.  They're not for everyone, but if they're the right breed for you, you will fall hopelessly in love with them.  And after that, there's no going back.  You'll be a Springer person for the rest of your life


History ~ The Spaniel may have originated in Spain and was mentioned by name in an ancient law in Britain as early as 300 AD. In the 19th and early 20th century in Britain, smaller Spaniels in the same litter would be used to hunt woodcock; they were called "Cockers." Larger littermates, used to flush (or "spring") game, were called "Springers."

The first English Springer Spaniel in North America was imported from England to Canada in 1913.  "Dual type" Springers - those capable of competing in both conformation and field trial competition became a part of history by the early 1940's, when the last dual championship was earned. Field trial enthusiasts continued selecting those qualities in their dogs which produced top caliber performance, while the show minded endeavored just as earnestly to breed dogs consistent with the breed's written standard, successful as conformation competitors. The different emphasis in these venues and the high level of competition make titling in both unlikely. The true beauty of the English Springer Spaniel can be found in its original purpose, that of a companion gundog. The diverse appearance of today's show and field bred Springers is due to specialization and to the choices breeders make to achieve success in their endeavors. Competitive field trial Springers are the ultimate in athleticism and performance. Competitive conformation Springers are breathtaking examples of breed type, soundness, and symmetry.

Description ~ The English Springer Spaniel has long drooping ears, a moderately long coat, a happily wagging tail, and a talent for flushing (or "springing") birds. At maturity, females are around 19" tall at the shoulders, and weigh about 40 lbs., and males around 20", weighing about 50 lbs. They may be black and white, liver and white, or either combination with tan points (tri-colored), with or or without ticking (freckles).

The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and willing to obey. Such traits traits are essential for appropriate handler control in the field.  In the show ring, he should exhibit poise and attentiveness and permit himself to be examined by the judge without resentment or cringing.  Aggression toward people and aggression toward other dogs is not in keeping with sporting dog character and purpose and is not acceptable.

Springers are cheerful and affectionate, generally good with children and noisy with intruders. However, they make friends in a hurry and don't make good guard dogs. They are "reactors," but most don't bark without a reason. Most English Springers make excellent house pets; energy levels range from high to laid-back depending on the individual's personality and life stage.

Care of Your Springer ~ Springers love their people and can sometimes be classified as "Velcro" dogs that like to stick to their owners. They are unhappy when shut out, tied out, or isolated. They thrive on socialization and positive training: without it, they can become pushy and obnoxious. Springers need regular exercise. A securely fenced yard and an assortment of toys or a ball to fetch will keep your dog amused and out of trouble. Concentrated running should be saved for the mature dog. They are over two before their bones are hard enough to join your work-out.

Crate training your puppy can provide it a place to sleep, aid in housebreaking, and keep it safe in the car. All floppy-eared dogs need regular ear care. Preventative maintenance can often save expensive vet visits. Plan to visit your veterinarian promptly after acquiring your English Springer Spaniel. Talk to your breeder and your vet about the best choices of food and about vaccination and worming schedules. Keep plenty of fresh water available, and change the water several times a day. Reputable breeders are genuinely concerned about the well being of the puppies and dogs they produce. They are an excellent source of information on the care and upbringing of your dog. Be a responsible dog owner. Spay or neuter your pet Springer. This not only eliminates the problem of a surprise litter, but it can reduce your pet's chance of later problems like mammary tumors as well as other forms of cancers in both males and females

Springers require a certain amount of grooming and trimming to control shedding and keep their coats neat and free of mats. Brush your dog weekly, and attend to nails and ears regularly. Locate a professional groomer to help maintain your dog in top condition, or you may enjoy learning to groom your own dog.