The English Springer Spaniel is a gun dog breed in the Spaniel family. It was traditionally used for flushing out and retrieving game. They are descended from the Norfolk or Shropshire Spaniels of the mid-19th century, and is very similar to the Welsh Springer Spaniel. It is very closely related to the English Cocker Spaniel as well. Less than a century ago, both Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels were born of the same litter, its purpose was to serve as a hunting dog. The smaller cockers were used to hunt woodcock, and the larger littermates, the springer spaniels, would flush the gamebird into the air. They are used as sniffer dogs, and the term springer comes from its role in hunting where it would “spring” (flush) birds into the air. The breed has diverged into separate lines; the show lines, and the working lines.
The breed is of a medium-sized compact dog. He is balanced and well-proportioned, with a gentle expression and a friendly wagging tail. While similar to the English Cocker Spaniel, it is somewhat shorter in size, and they tend to have shorter, higher set ears than the English Cockers. They also tend to have a longer muzzle and a less prominent eyes, with a less abundant coat. The working line, or field-bred dogs have shorter, and coarser coats than the show-bred. The look of the field-bred dog is more feral and they are wirier than that of the show dog. The tail may be docked a few inches as compared to the show-bred line. The field-breeds are selected for their sense of smell, response to training, and hunting ability and not for their appearance. Show dogs have longer fur and more pendant ears. They are normally heavier and more thickly boded than the field-bred dog. The males in the show dog line stand about 18-20 inches at the withers and weigh between 50-55 pounds. The Females in the show bred line stand about 17-19 inches tall at the withers, and weigh 35-45 pounds. The working line is lighter in weight.
This breed is quick to learn, friendly, and very eager to please. Early socialization is recommended, as their temperament may not be friendly towards others, due to their protectiveness to their family and hyperactivity. With early training the dog can be affectionate and an easy-going family dog. This dog usually will choose one member of the family and stick with that person to be most loyal to. He has great stamina and needs moderate amounts of exercise for both his mind and his body. The dog’s long-legged build makes him one of the fastest of the Spaniels. While the breed may not get along well with cats, it is sociable and gets along well with children and other pets. The breed does not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time, and when bored can become destructive.
The average lifespan of the English Springer Spaniel is 10-15 years old. Some common health issues within the breed include, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, elbow dysplasia, retinal dysplasia, and Phosphofructokinase deficiency. They are also susceptible to various eye problems, allergies, and ear infections due to their floppy ears.