Field Spaniel

Field Spaniel
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Field Spaniel originated in England for show rings. However, it wasn’t until careful breeding that the breed we know today emerged, pleasing both show rings fans and avid hunters with their handsome looks and ability to retrieve game in water and on land.

Breed characteristics

Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Sporting Dog
Height:17-18 inches tall at the shoulders.
Weight:37-55 lb.
Life Span:10 to 15 years

Despite their past popularity, they are considered to be rare and hard to find today. Even if one succeeded in finding a breeder, the waiting list will most definitely be long. The Field Spaniels have the most pleasing and friendly disposition and they love all critters and all humans.

Most people will find them peaceful, happy, loyal and extremely intelligent. They will fit right in with the active family who can commit to their need for exercise and mental stimulation.

These dogs are sensitive souls who will do well in harmonious homes. They develop a deep bond with their families and thrive on human interaction so it won’t do them any justice being kennelled or living outside. They absolutely need to live indoors with their families, being a part of all the daily activities.

Main Highlights
  • The breed originated in England from the same litters as the English Cocker Spaniels.
  • They are considered rare and hard to find but are not near extinction.
  • The Field Spaniels are a sensitive breed and don’t do well with any harsh treatment, raised voices or homes with high-stress
  • They are not suitable for apartment dwelling and will do better in a home with a fenced yard or in the country where they can safely roam around.
  • They are a high energy breed and enjoy physical activity and swimming in particular.
  • The breed is peaceful with dogs, cats and most other animals. They also get along with children but uncomfortable with rowdy behavior and loud noises.
  • They need to have a job to do or some type of purpose, without they can become frustrated and destructive.
  • Their coat doesn’t require much maintenance.
  • They have the tendency to follow interesting scents and need to be leashed when they are not in a fenced area.
  • Although they share a strong resemblance to the English Springer Spaniels and the English Cocker Spaniel, they are smaller than the English Springer Spaniel and larger than the English Cocker Spaniel.
  • The breed is sensitive and more prone to separation anxiety and excitable urination.
  • They love food and have the tendency to steal it when possible.
  • They have webbed feet, making them feel right at home in and around water.
Breed History

The Field Spaniel originated in England in the 1800’s as a show dog. Later on, they were developed further to be a more effective hunting dog, to retrieve game both in water and on land.

Until 1901 one litter could have both the Field Spaniel and the Cocker Spaniel, and they were separated depending on weight. A dog over 25 lbs was considered to be a Cocker Spaniel and a puppy under 25 lbs was classed as a Field Spaniel. The first Field Spaniels were crossed with a Sussex Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel to achieve the look and retrieving talents of the Field Spaniel as we know them today.

The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1894 and ranks 150th most popular breed according to the AKC. They are considered rare and hard to find. In 2009, only 51 Field Spaniels were registered in the United Kingdom, and less than 150 are registered in the United States each year.They are also registered as a Vulnerable Native Breed in an effort to bring the Field Spaniel numbers up. Today, they can be rarely found in the field but more common in the show ring, agility and obedience and as therapy dogs.


The medium breed stands 17-18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 37-55 lb on average, with the females being slightly smaller.

Personality and Character

The breed is a happy-go-lucky and generally friendly breed. They get along with everyone and anyone and will make a great addition to the active family or individual. They are a sensitive breed and form a deep bond with their families, sometimes showing preference to just one member of the family.

Their sensitivity and eagerness to please make them a good therapy dog. They thrive on human companionship and don’t do well living outdoors or being kennelled for long durations.

The breed also doesn’t do well in homes where stress levels are high and voices are often raised. The breed is slow to mature so expect puppy antics well into their teens. They have a curious and a mischievous side, which is perhaps what makes them a favorite with children. They love food and will eat if it’s there, and if it’s not there, it wouldn’t be beneath them to steal it or find a way into cupboards.

The breed needs to have a job to do or a task to accomplish. They are not couch potatoes and need mental stimulation to be happy and fulfilled. They are very intelligent, loyal, loving and kind.

Health and Potential Problems

The Field Spaniels are usually a healthy breed but as with any other breed, some dogs are more predisposed to certain disorders than others. Most breeders and shelters make sure the dog or puppy has received a clean bill of health from the vet prior to adoption or purchase. The majority of reputable breeders test their dogs before breeding for genetic and hereditary disorders. They also test the litters for any such conditions as well.

Be aware of backyard breeders! They usually don’t possess the necessary understanding and knowledge of the breed that may result in severe health issues and behavioral problems. Researching the breeder and their history of bloodlines is highly recommended. Never adopt a dog from a puppy mill as those organizations are more concerned with financial gain and not the physical and mental well-being of the animals in their care.

With sufficient exercise, proper diet and regular vet visits, your companion will remain by your side for many years to come.

Here are the conditions that may affect your Field Spaniel friend:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A common hereditary condition among dogs, occurs when the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. The condition may cause lameness, discomfort and arthritis in advanced age, it is usually treated with medication to manage pain and surgery in severe cases.
  • Retinal Dysplasia: An eye condition caused by the displacement of the retina that may lead to blindness.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: An eye disorder which causes the gradual deterioration of the retina and may lead to limited vision or blindness.
  • Ectropion: An eye condition which occurs when the eyelid sags or rolls out, leaving the eye exposed to infection and irritation. In severe cases, it can be surgically corrected.
  • Cataracts: An eye condition usually develops in advanced age and causes opacity on the eye lens. The condition may be surgically corrected in severe cases.
  • Epilepsy: A condition that causes unpredictable seizures and is found in both dogs and people. It has no cure but can be managed with medications. The majority of dogs diagnosed with epilepsy go on to live full and long lives.
  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: A condition which is caused by the body attacking its own red blood cells, may be lethal without proper treatment. Symptoms may include fainting, dark urine and lethargy. If diagnosed in time, it is usually treated with steroids and blood transfusions.
  • Allergies: A condition found in both humans and dogs and is treated by dietary adjustments, medications and environmental restriction depending on the nature of the allergen.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A condition which occurs when the body is unable to maintain proper levels of thyroid hormones levels. Symptoms may include baldness, slow heart rate, and weight gain. The condition is usually managed with medications.
  • Cancer: A condition found in both humans and dogs and unfortunately doesn’t have a cure. It is usually treated with chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of both depending on the type of cancer.
Care Features

The Field Spaniels are an active breed and require plenty of physical activity. They enjoy anything that gets them out and about with their people. Biking, hiking, running and nice long walks and of course swimming, they enjoy being in and around water. Enrolling them in doggy sports is also highly recommended.

They excel in agility, obedience, conformation, tracking, hunt tests and rally. Observing them in the field offers a small taste of their true potential and deepens the bond between the Field Spaniel and their handler. They are definitely not couch potatoes and need physical and mental stimulation, without it, they may become destructive and vocal.

They are fairly easy to train, intelligent and very eager to please. It is important to keep the training sessions short and interesting to keep their attention. They don’t respond well to harsh treatment or training, making them stubborn and willful.

Instead a handler that can establish themselves as leader of the pack, remain calm and consistent and reinforce boundaries with treats and praise will get the most out of the sensitive breed. They also possess a stubborn streak, and if they sense that the owner is meek or inconsistent, they may become willful and harder to handle.

They form a deep bond with their families and are more prone to separation anxiety. Crate training is proven to be an effective tool to minimize the stress levels in dogs upon separation from the owner. Crate training should begin gradually for a few hours each time while the owner is still around to reassure the Field Spaniel of their return.

Crate training is also efficient with house training and serves as a special spot for them to retreat to when tired or needing space. Crate training should never be used as punishment. Field Spaniels don’t do well being kennelled for extended periods of time or living outside, separated from their people.

Nothing makes them more miserable as they thrive on human interaction. The Field Spaniels might not be the best choice for people who are away from home for long durations of time or people who live in an apartment. They are fairly active indoors and need access to a safe, fenced yard where they can roam around and play safely.

The Field Spaniels have a tendency of following their nose and they might wander off if they pick up on an interesting scent. When they are not in a secure fenced area, they must be leashed and provided with identification means in case they do get away. A tag with the owner’s current address and contact information or a microchip, are highly recommended for the safe and quick return of your companion if they get lost.

All breeds require socialization to be well rounded and emotionally balanced adults. The Field Spaniels are no exception, they can be shy and reserved with strangers so introducing the dog or puppy to different people, children, dogs, cats and other animals as well as new environments and scenarios should begin as soon as possible.

Taking them to dog parks once they are fully vaccinated, taking them to run errands and on car rides as well as encouraging family and friends to stop by for visits will help introduce the puppy to the world without fear or stress. Enrolling them in puppy kindergarten is also highly recommended as it helps deepen the bond and socialize them under professional support and guidance.

Feeding Schedule

1.5-2 cups of high-quality food a day is the recommended amount for the adult Field Spaniel.

However, each dog’s nutritional needs are different and depend on their age, size, and activity levels. For instance, puppies consume more food than adult dogs and active dogs consume more than their couch potato counterparts. Choosing high-quality, free from grain and corn, and rich in meat protein dog food is very important to the health of their skin, coat and bones, mental and physical vitality and longevity.

The Field Spaniels are known for their love of food and is recommended to divide their daily consumption into a few meals instead of having it available for them all the time.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The water-repellent coat is dense, somewhat long, and sometimes wavy or straight. The common colors are golden liver, roan, liver and black. The coat doesn’t require extensive upkeep, it needs to be brushed or combed a few times a week to prevent mats and tangles.

The ears however, do require regular maintenance due to the floppy shape, it makes it easier for debris and moisture to get trapped in the ear canal and cause reoccurring ear infections. The ears should be checked and cleaned every week.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Field Spaniels make great companions for children. They are affectionate, gentle, loving and have plenty of energy to spare for a nice adventure with the younger members of the family. They don’t like loud voices or rough housing, which is something children should be educated to understand.

The foundation for mutual love and respect should be laid even before introducing the Field Spaniel into the household. Each year an alarming number of dogs are being surrendered to shelters, put down, or abandoned simply because adults fail to educate the younger members of the family on proper dog handling etiquette. Ear and tail pulling or teasing should be discouraged immediately. Play time between children and dogs should be supervised by an adult at all time.

The breed is peaceful, docile, and playful with other dogs, cats, and other furry members of the family. They generally get along with anyone and everyone. Although individuals of the same breed share similar traits, every dog should be treated as an individual. Their character and behavior depend heavily on breeding, socialization, training, handler and environment.

Finding a Field Spaniel might be a complicated task but it is well worth it. They are a lovely, happy and friendly breed. The Field Spaniels are intelligent and eager to please which makes training easier than other breeds. They have so much love and affection to give, they make a great companion to any family as long as they have the time and love to give back.

The Field Spaniels don’t like being alone for extended periods of time and are more prone to separation anxiety than most other breeds, they are also not couch potatoes and require daily exercise. They love being part of the pack and are peaceful with other pets, accepting and gentle with most people.

They require proper socialization as they tend to be a bit shy with strangers. The Field Spaniels are delightful, easy going and a fun loving breed that anyone will be lucky to share their lives with.

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.