English Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniel
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The English Springer Spaniel is a dog breed of medium size that originated in England. This breed is known for being affectionate and good-mannered in general. It is also very similar to the Welsh Springer Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel since they all came from the same litter less than a century ago.

The original role of the English Springer Spaniel was to flush and retrieve game and that is why he was a very popular gun dog. Having in mind that this dog breed used to have a big role in hunting, the term ‘springer’ from the name comes from the verb to spring (flush) the birds into the air.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dogs
Height:1 foot, 6 inches to 1 foot, 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 45 to 55 pounds
Life Span:9 to 15 years

When we speak of adaptability, the English Springer Spaniel adapts relatively well to most conditions; however, if you live in a small and cramped apartment then this dog breed might not be the one for you. That is because English Springer Spaniels are energetic and love to move a lot even though they are of medium size. Having this in mind, they would prefer either a very huge apartment with longer daily walks or a house with a big yard.

When speaking of novice owners, the English Springer Spaniel is not a bad choice for people who are inexperienced with dogs because they are not very stubborn and they love to learn. This makes the training easier from the start. However, they are very sensitive in a sense that they do not like grumpy owners or noisy environments. Yes, they are energetic and playful dogs but that does not mean that they would appreciate chaotic household or a chaotic owner who leads a hectic life.

It is logical to assume then that English Springer Spaniels do not tolerate being alone. They love their owners so much that they cannot stand being alone for a long period of time. If you ignore or leave your pet alone he will most likely become depressed, self-destructive or ill.

The English Springer Spaniels tolerate cold weather relatively well due to their long coats. When it comes to hot weather they are even more tolerant than it but that does not mean that your dog should not be dehydrated every day. They do tolerate hot weather better than cold weather, but mild climate might be most suitable for them.

When it comes to all around friendliness, the English Springer Spaniel is a great dog. He is cheerful, playful, and loves being around his master. He is also very affectionate with family members and incredible around children. Another great thing about this dog breed is that the English Springer Spaniel is a friendly dog who, if socialized and trained from an early age, loves playing with other dogs, no matter what breed they belong to.

Speaking of strangers, the proper socialization will turn your dog into a well-mannered dog who is not very much suspicious of unfamiliar people; however, that also means that he is not a good guard dog.

Regarding health and grooming, the English Springer Spaniel sheds relatively normal, which means that you would need to brush him regularly, and there would be no need for some extra grooming. This dog is easy to breed and there is also zero drooling potential. The English Springer Spaniels are generally healthy dogs with the usual health conditions that affect most purebred dogs: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and retinal dysplasia (RD). The lifespan is typical and it is around 10 to 15 years.

When it comes to trainability, the English Springer Spaniel is a relatively easy dog to train. Having in mind that it is in their blood to run after and spring animals, they love being into action and the daily exercise is a must. They are very intelligent and smart dogs that thrive on positive reinforcement and mental games.

They do have a moderate potential for mouthiness and a very high prey drive and wanderlust potential. That is pretty much normal because their original role was to hunt down small animals, especially birds. Since it is in their blood to go after smaller pets and birds, it would be wise to train them from an early age so they would not go after a neighbor’s pet or any other small animals. They do not bark or howl too much but they can become quite noisy under the right circumstances.

The best thing about them is that they love training and if you have patience you won’t find it hard to train them.

What do you need to know when it comes to your English Springer Spaniel’s exercise needs? Firstly, this dog breed has a very high energy level, which means that this is no coach potato. They need to be taken daily for walks and those walks should include at least small intervals of physical exercises. They love being playful, therefore mental games and exercises should be included as well. The intensity should depend on your dog’s personality and health in general.

Main Highlights
  • The English Springer Spaniels are very sensitive when it comes to being ignored or left out and they hate being apart from their owners. They also become nuisance barkers and self-destructive when they are lonely.
  • This dog breed has been linked to the infamous ‘rage syndrome’, a very rare disorder that affects this dog group. In order to avoid this, get your English Springer Spaniel puppy only from respectable dog breeders.
  • There are two varieties of this dog breed – one is supposed to work as a springer dog in the field while the other is bred for hobby and shows. You need to know the difference before getting a puppy.
  • The English Springer Spaniels are known for demonstrating the submissive urination, which means that they will most likely pee from being too excited or happy at your sight. In order to grow them out of it, you should not excite them too much but try to ignore them for a few minutes so they would calm down.
  • The English Springer Spaniels have a huge prey drive and they would most likely get lost or run away if you keep them off-leash in an unfamiliar place, especially nature. They can go wild when they see a bird and go after it immediately. Training can decrease this behavior.
Breed History

It is believed that the first mention of the ancestors of this dog was in a book called the ‘Treatise of Englishe Dogs’ by Dr. John Caius, published in the 16th century. Sydenham Edwards, a natural history illustrator, divided this breed into various kinds such as the Springing, Hawking Spaniel, Starter, Cocking and Cocker Spaniel at the beginning of the 20th century. At this time all these spaniel types were coming from the same litter.

The original role of an English Springer Spaniel was to spring and hunt down birds during the hunt and that means that the most important characteristics had to be vitality, intelligence and agility.

The American Kennel Club accepted the English Springer Spaniel as the official dog breed in 1910 while the English Kennel Club did it in 1902. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association was formed in 1924.


The English Springer Spaniels are considered dogs of medium size. When it comes to the show English Springer Spaniels, they are usually a bit bigger and heavier than the working types. The males are usually 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) long and they weigh around 50 to 55 lb. (23 to 25 kg). The females are a bit smaller and they are 20 inches (51 cm) long at the withers and weigh 35 to 45 lb. (16 to 20 kg).

Personality and Character

The English Springer Spaniel is a friendly, cheerful, playful, agile, intelligent and quick to obey. This dog breed is never aggressive or too much timid. However, there have been reports of the anxiety and aggression issues which have been linked to a rare disorder the rage syndrome. That is why it is important to have a research performed on a potential breeder in order to avoid this genetic predisposition.

This dog breed needs to be trained and socialized from an early age otherwise they would not go along with other smaller animals, especially birds. They might even become timid around strangers and other dogs unless they have not been exposed to various factors. If you decide to go for this dog breed, you should know that this is a dog that needs constant physical and mental training in order not to become boring thus depressed.

Health and Potential Problems

The English Springer Spaniels are moderately healthy dogs; however, they are affected by some conditions and diseases more than the others. Some of them are:

  • Hip Dysplasia is an inherited condition which is when the thighbone does not fit properly into the hip joint. It can be diagnosed with X-ray screening. Some signs include lameness and pain. These dogs should not be bred as well. Arthritis might be one of the consequences of hip dysplasia.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a disease that affects the eyes and leads to the gradual deterioration of the retina. Springers that become affected by it usually become night blind and later on even become completely blind; but they can lead normal lives as long as their surroundings remain the same as before.
  • Retinal Dysplasia is a developmental malformation of the retina that the dog is mostly born with. This condition is usually mild and it does not affect a dog in a way that would not function properly; however, dogs with this condition should not be bred.
  • Entropion is a condition caused by the lower eyelid folding inward toward the eye which results in the irritation of the eye that is chronic. It can be treated with surgery.
  • Skin Disorders including allergies tend to affect this breed often. Some of them include scaliness, greasiness, itching, pyoderma (infection), and hair loss. They can be genetic but also caused by outside factors.
  • Ear Infections are also pretty much often in this breed because these dogs have pendant ear flaps. In order to prevent these infections, you should clean your dog’s ears regularly.
  • Phosphofructokinase (PFK) Deficiency is an enzyme that is needed for the body to use sugar for energy. This condition is usually inherited but the signs may go unrecognized for years which is very troublesome because the condition can cause hyperventilation, muscle wasting, and fever. A blood sample is needed in order to find out about the true diagnosis.
  • Other conditions include: elbow dysplasia, autoimmune diseases, weight gaining, etc.
Care Features

An English Springer Spaniel is a dog that is of medium size, but he still would not be a suitable dog for a small or medium sized apartment. He needs daily exercise, both mental and physical. The amount of exercise depends on your dog’s general health and personality. However, all Springers love running and satisfying their wanderlust.

You should also keep in mind that leaving your dog off leash can be potentially dangerous, especially in unknown places and in the wild. All English Springer Spaniels love running after birds and interesting things, and it is your responsibility to keep them safe and train them properly so nobody would get into danger.

Feeding Schedule

When it comes to a recommended daily dosage of food, it should be 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dog food per one day (for adult dogs), which should be divided into two meals, usually breakfast and lunch. Puppies should eat at least 4 cups daily. However, according to your Springer’s energy level, metabolism and the intensity of exercises, you should give him more if he spends more energy or less, if he is more of a couch potato type.

Any extremity should be avoided because each can lead to health problems. Make sure always to buy food of high-quality and include vitamins, vegetables and proteins.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The English Springer Spaniels have double coats including undercoats and topcoats. That means that their fur is very warm and it is of medium length. It is usually wavy, waterproof with fringes on the ears, chest and belly. However, the Springers bred for the work in the field have shorter and coarser coats than the ones bred for the shows.

When it comes to the coat colors, they include the black, liver, tri-colors, and the coats can be flecked with or without white markings. Speaking of grooming, it is not very difficult and it does not require a professional unless you do not have experience. The Springer’s coat should be brushed a couple of times per week while grooming should be done when there is need for that, usually a couple of times per month.

Other necessary care features include regular teeth brushing, nail clipping and check-ups to make sure there are no injuries or infections on the body. Since ear infections are very common in this breed, you should take care of your pet’s ears by checking them regularly. If you notice any tenderness or redness, you should take your dog to the vet. Never try to stick a cotton ball deep inside the ear canal because your can hurt your dog. Only clean the inside gently.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The English Springer Spaniels go great with children, unless they are toddlers because they are too small for any dog breed. As long as children are taught to respect and never (intentionally or not intentionally) hurt animals, the Springers would be very protective of them because they can be amazing family dogs. That also means that your dog should be trained and socialized since he is a puppy. If he grows up with children it would be even easier for them to get close.

When it comes to other pets, the same applies as with children. The English Springer Spaniels have a natural prey drive that might make them go after smaller animals, especially birds, but that would not be a problem if they have grown with them in the same household.

To sum up, we have covered the most important characteristics of a dog breed called the English Springer Spaniel. This breed is very active, with high energy levels, and requires daily physical and mental stimulations. Additionally, he loves spending time with his owner, and he may develop anxiety and depression issues if you ignore or leave him along all the time. If you live in a small and cramped apartment then this breed is definitely not for you. The grooming is not very difficult even if this dog has a long and thick coat and the health is generally good.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.