The English Springer Spaniel: A Working & Winning Show Dog Breed

Last Updated on April 26, 2023

English Springer Spaniels are highly awarded dog breeds, whether as hunting dogs or while strutting as show dogs.

Not many people know this, but they’re also well-loved and iconic gun dogs in England and America.

A happy English Springer Spaniel laying on dried leaves
An English Springer Spaniel enjoying the fall season

They may have a pretty appearance, but there’s still plenty to know about this affectionate and energetic hound. Stay with us and meet the English Springer Spaniel better.

Where did the English Springer Spaniel originate? 

This purebred got its name from the characteristic of disturbing birds during hunts.

While the name “spaniel” likely refers to the origin of the breed being Spain. But Spaniels received mention in Welsh law as early as 300 A.D.

England’s springer-type spaniels first appeared as working dogs to help hunt birds. They worked in tandem with hunters before and after the invention of the wheel-lock firearm in the 17th century.

When working alongside hunters, this dog’s energy and hunting ability pace the field in a wind-wiper motion – pouncing through tall grasses and disturbing the game birds into flight.

The English Springer Spaniel does well to retrieve a downed bird.

Around 1800, distinct strains of springer spaniel breeds began to develop. The blanket name of Norfolk Spaniel changed to accommodate the Springer Spaniels in 1900.

The name referred to the Springer and Cocker Spaniel – distinct breeds which differ in size.

The English Springer Spaniel is part of the ancient family of land Spaniels which includes 15 different dogs’ breeds.

The English Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1902, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) followed suit in 1910.

The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association held its first club meeting in 1924 and is still active today.

Until 1938, it was common for this breed to compete in field trials on one day, and conformation events the next day.

Dogs of a similar appearance featured in artworks from as early as the 16th-century, but the name Springer Spaniel is not mentioned.

Prized for their good looks, English Springer Spaniels have a flair for showmanship.

A great example is the show dog James, more formally known as Ch. Felicity’s Diamond Jim, who won “Best in Show” at Westminster in 2007.

The breed has won the third most “Best in Show” awards at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Many celebrities have owned English Springer Spaniels and have brought beneficial attention to the breed.

Famous owners of this breed include George W.Bush, George H.W.Bush, Princess Grace, and Oprah Winfrey.

What does an English Springer Spaniel look like?

a Springer Spaniel standing on a greenfield happily
Source: @springer_spaniel_eva / IG

This springer is best shown in a sturdy, muscular, compact body with gentle yet expressive oval-shaped eyes and floppy ears. They’re described as a dog that suggests agility, endurance, and power.

There are two types of English Springer Spaniel, the bench and field. The bench has a longer, thicker coat with more feathering, favored in show lines.

The field type has developed for hunting, with a shorter, wiry-looking coat and a docked tail.

Size: How big does an English Springer Spaniel dog get?

Adult English Springer Spaniel males reach a height of 20 inches (51 cm) and a weight of 50 pounds (23 kg).

Females are slightly smaller standing 19 inches (48 cm) tall and weighing 40 pounds (18 kg). They reach these full-grown measurements around 18 months of age.

These medium-sized canines have no trouble adjusting to city life or apartment-living as long as they get plenty of exercises, but they’ll do best if they have an average-sized yard to roam in freely.

What type of coat do these spaniels have?

English Springer Spaniels have a double coat with a medium-length topcoat made of long, flat, and wavy hair.

It has a short undercoat with soft-to-touch dense hair. Together, the coat becomes weatherproof and, to a degree, waterproof.

An English Springer Spaniel laying on a wooden floor
Source: @dppbrown / IG

They mostly have brown ticking amongst their white fur, but dogs from bench lines have solid patches of color next to the solid white coat.

The thick patches of hair on the chest help the hunting dogs run through thick grass with little worry for thorns.

The ears, chest, legs, and belly feature long, feathered hair, which is often an indication of the eye color.

A liver or white color English Springer Spaniel is likely to have hazelnut or dark hazelnut eyes.

The hounds with black or brown hair will typically have dark eyes, which are black or deep brown. Eyelids are fully pigmented and match the coat color.

a Liver Springer Spaniel sitting on fall leaves
Source: @springer_percy / IG

Keeping with the American Kennel Club standards for the English Springer Spaniel breed, the hound can appear in a black or liver with white markings.

They can also have white with liver or black markings. A blue or liver roan color coat and tricolor coats are also equally acceptable.

White portions often appear flecked with ticking. Tricolor coats with black, white, and tan or liver, white, and tan are common, too.

Breeds with off colors like lemon and white, red and white, or orange and white are less favorable.

English Springer Spaniel VS. English Cocker Spaniel

Purebred English Cocker Spaniel portrait
A purebred Cocker Spaniel with floppy ears

Cocker Spaniels, Field Spaniels, and English Springer Spaniels were considered the same breed until 1902.

It’s no wonder that it can be difficult to tell them apart, other than Cocker Spaniels being smaller.

Historically, the smallest of the litter hunted woodcocks (a bird) is where the English Cocker Spaniel got its name. Its coat is fuller and fluffier, and its naturally thick tail doesn’t reach its leg’s hock joint.

Don’t miss out: 27 Different Types of Spaniels

Temperament: Are English Springer Spaniels good family dogs?

a Springer Spaniel being cuddled by a child
Source: @purdey.thespringerspaniel / IG

In the right time and place, the English Springer Spaniel is easy-going and affectionate, making it a great family pet.

When it comes to small children, though, supervision is required because this breed tends to run fast, which may cause accidents.

So despite being a social animal, socialization from a young age is still vital.

They also tolerate other pets, but it’s best to remember that these doggos have a basic instinct to hunt birds.

When out for a walk, keep your pooch on a leash to keep her from running after every fluttering bird.

Can English Springer Spaniels be left alone?

As an active dog who gets attached to one family member, it’s risky to leave them alone for 4 hours or longer.

But some owners say that if they had gentle and proper obedience and housetraining, 4 to 6 hours is a safe period. They need frequent attention, so getting lonely and bored can lead to separation anxiety.

Speaking of unwanted behaviors, this spaniel will bark at strangers, but they’re still too friendly to count on them as watchdogs.

It’s also best to know that English Springer Spaniels tend to get overly excited, leading to loss of bladder control, which is a habit most pet owners want to avoid.

The good news is, they’re eager to please and quick to learn.

Want more tips in training an English Springer Spaniel? Watch this short video, in which Spaniel owner Simon Heyes shares his experience training Pip:

Taking care of your English Springer Spaniel

In terms of grooming and exercise, English Springer Spaniels are considered high maintenance.

With that said, taking care of that double coat that allows them to be comfortable in hot and cold conditions is essential.

A working English Springer Spaniel may be suited to sleeping in a kennel at night. However, the breed benefits from being in a home with a human company.

Exercising your high energy Spaniel

This highly energetic canine with a working background would require 40 minutes to 2 hours of exercise daily.

From the age of one, you can start to walk up to a mile with your pup. Slowly work up to doing two-mile-long walks so she can burn off any excess energy before the evening.

When outdoors, the dog will tend to run on its own while occasionally checking in on you. An English Springer Spaniel likes to swim and benefits significantly from this form of exercise.

This fido is relatively inactive indoors, but a few puzzles and toys can do good for mental stimulation.

An English Springer sprinting on a training ground
An active English Springer Spaniel doing the dexterity training

And these smart canines also excel in dog sports, such as agility, flyball, and dock diving.

Some owners even use this dog’s hunting ability not just to be a companion when hiking or camping, but to be service dogs, too.

Their trainability and keen nose make them suitable for search and rescue or K9 detection work.

The amount of exercise and how long or intense it is will be different for each dog, so ensure that you don’t overexert your pet, especially as puppies. Doing so can affect their developing bones.

Do English Springer Spaniels shed a lot?

This purebred is not a hypoallergenic dog and is considered a moderate shedder.

Regular brushing, at least 3 times a week, can help control the amount of fur inside your home. It will also keep her in tip-top shape while avoiding tangles or mats.

For convenience and if used for hunting, English Springer Spaniels’ coats can be clipped, especially around the head, neck, feet, and tail.

If you wish to keep your pet’s gorgeous locks, you can have a professional groomer take care of it every 2 to 3 months.

Want your English Springer Spaniel to nab that dog show look? This lengthy yet helpful video or grooming guide may help you to do it at home:

Those spaniels that are active or spend more time outdoors will need to take a bath more often. Once every two months using a dog-friendly shampoo will do.

Don’t forget to clean and check those cute, long ears. They’re prone to ear infections, so ensure that they’re dry to prevent yeast build-up and bacteria.

Daily teeth brushing is highly recommended to avoid tartar build-up and bad breath. And at least once a month, keep those nails in check and make sure they’re short and neatly trimmed.

If you can hear them clicking on the floor when they walk, it’s time for those nails to be cut.

English Springer Spaniel food consumption

The recommended amount of dog food to feed English Springer Spaniels is around 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry kibbles, divided into two meals.

Adult springers usually have to consume approximately 1,350 calories a day, but the kind of food and how much your dog eats should depend on her age, body weight, activity level, and even her health.

The best food for an adult English Springer Spaniel is dry food with medium-sized kibble. Buy trusted brand names that list animal meat as the primary source of protein.

The breed tends to gain weight easily and is not suited to food scraps or treats. Avoid feeding your dog foods containing sugar, salt, chocolate, caffeine, garlic, onion, chives, grapes, or nuts.

Treats are excellent reinforcements during training, but ensure that your pet’s doggy snacks are only 10% part of her daily caloric intake.

What health problems do English Springer Spaniels have?

The English Springer Spaniel is typically a healthy breed, with a lifespan of between 12 and 14 years, but some springers reach the age of 15.

To ensure that you spend a long time with your pooch, it’s best to be aware of the genetic illnesses that they’re predisposed to.

Hip Dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) are two diseases breeders and vets hope to diagnose early on and prevent passing further in the gene pool.

Screen your English Springer Spaniels for Phosphofructokinase (PFK) deficiency, retinal dysplasia (blindness), and elbow dysplasia. PFK impairs your dog’s ability to use carbohydrates for energy.

a close up image of a Springer Spaniel laying sadly
A Sad Springer Spaniel laying while looking up

The eyes of your dog are crucial to monitor. Glaucoma and cataracts can lead to blindness. A springer is susceptible to irritation from having inward or outward curling eyelashes.

The lower eyelid folding inwards, called Entropion, or even an additional row of eyelashes can cause chronic irritation and need correcting with surgery.

Other health issues include autoimmune diseases, which can lead to skin problems and allergies.

Hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia occur when the immune system attacks the pet’s blood cells or platelets. 

Neurologic problems such as seizures and epilepsy are also of concern.

The inherited condition will typically appear from 6 months of age. If medicated, your dog will require blood tests to monitor the side effects.

English Springer Spaniels are susceptible to a heart condition called patent ductus arteriosus. It causes fluid build-up due to a vessel in the heart not closing shortly after birth.

A vet can examine your dog to diagnose the problem from visual cues and a specific type of heart murmur.

Diabetes requires immediate treatment. It’s a severe condition affecting a dog’s blood sugar levels.

The symptoms in an English Springer Spaniel include increased eating, drinking, urinating, along weight loss.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for the breed once in its golden years. Periodic blood tests and physical examinations can help with early detection. Treatment includes surgery and chemotherapy.

Springer rage syndrome is a dangerous behavior that takes the form of dominant aggression.

It’s considered to be a form of epilepsy, leading to extreme aggression towards even the owner. Dogs which show signs of aggression are not suitable for breeding.

Spay or neuter your English Springer Spaniel. It prevents unwanted litters and decreases the likelihood of certain cancers developing.

The blood tests leading up to the procedure allows your vet to advise further investigation. A hip and shoulder x-ray shows if something is out of place.

How much does an English Springer Spaniel cost?

five sleeping Springer Spaniel puppies
Five adorable Springer Spaniel puppies sleeping in the field

The average price of an English Springer Spaniel is between $700 and $1,000.

Keep in mind that the cost will vary depending on the pup’s gender and availability, the kennel’s location, the breeder’s popularity, and many more.

With that said, some can be really expensive, especially if they come from a line of champions.

Fun fact: English Springer Spaniels have an average litter size of 6 puppies.

It would be best if you also considered the expenses that come with owning this purebred. Besides grooming, feeding, and accessories, vaccinations and emergency visits to the vet can be costly.

If you’re determined to own a Springer Spaniel of your own, let us help you find one that’s for sale or adoption.

English Springer Spaniel breeders

It may seem easy to go online and browse kennels and breeders that have postings about their “English Springer Spaniels for sale.”

But before you sign a contract and make a purchase, it’s crucial that you do your research. Find out what their previous clients say about their experiences, and if possible, request to visit where the dogs are kept.

This will give you the opportunity to ask important questions and observe if the dogs are healthy and well cared for. You’ll also see how the parents and puppies react when they see their owners and strangers.

Doing so will give you better chances in taking home a healthy and well-tempered doggo.

The first place we’ll recommend for you to look at is the AKC Marketplace. English Springer Spaniel Field Trials also has a page with breeders and kennels.

If you’re in the U.K., The English Springer Spaniel Club has a list of breed clubs that you can reach out to for a list of their members and breeders around their area.

English Springer Spaniel for adoption

People often have the idea that shelters and rescue organizations only care for mutts or crossbreeds, but purebreds can be found there, too.

Some people usually think English Springer Spaniels are cute as puppies, but once they realize that they can’t handle their temperament or grooming requirements, they just leave them there to be rehomed.

So if you prefer adopting an older dog and you’re willing to give a pooch another chance for a family and to be loved, check out these fur angels on these websites:

  • English Springer Rescue America, Inc. (Woodstock, GA)
  • Mid Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue (Goochland, VA)
  • New England English Springer Spaniel Rescue (Ashland, MA)
  • Golden Gate Springer Rescue (Oakland, CA)
  • English Springer Spaniel Club of Long Island – Rescue (Bayport, NY)

We recommend letting your local shelter know you are looking for an English Springer Spaniel if they currently don’t have any springers you can adopt.

The verdict: Should you get an English Springer Spaniel?

a happy English Springer Spaniel
An English Springer Spaniel smiling sweetly

English Springer Spaniels is a challenging breed for first-time dog owners.

They’re clingy and don’t like spending time alone, and they require a lot of attention in terms of grooming, training, and daily exercise.

The thing is, all that hard work will also result in a rewarding companion.

They’re family- and pet-friendly, intelligent fidos that are obedient and can excel in canine sports and as service dogs.

They’re sociable, too. So when you have guests, or you live in a busy part of the city or town, you don’t have to worry about owning this springer.

Springer Spaniels also love being busy, and if you have a pool or live near the ocean or lake, this pooch loves to swim.

Despite its high energy, the English Springer Spaniel is an excellent breed of dog for new and experienced owners that can dedicate their time and attention to this fido.

Do you have a springer in your family? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Further reading: Similar breeds to the English Springer Spaniel


Leave a Comment