Welsh Springer Spaniel

Welsh springer spaniel dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The breed was developed for hunting and to this day is very popular among hunters. The Welsh Springer Spaniel is blessed with great stamina and high energy levels and they also excel in many types of dog sports. This makes them a great addition for the active family or individuals that are looking for a partner to go on hunting trips with and engage in physical activity together. They are very affectionate with their families and enjoy spending plenty of quality time with their pack.

Even more, the breed gets along with children, dogs, cats and other animals. They are a sweet and emotionally sensitive breed. The Welsh Springers enjoy a good romp in the yard but once they vent all their excess energy, they are fairly calm indoors, which makes them suitable for apartment dwelling as long as they get sufficient physical exercise.

Breed characteristics

Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Sporting dogs.
Height:17-19 inches tall at the shoulders.
Weight:35-55 lb.
Life Span:12 to 15 years
Main Highlights
  • They are close relatives of the English Springer Spaniel and the Cocker Spaniel, some say they have originated from the same litter. It is also suggested that they are closely related to the Brittany breed as they share a strong resemblance.
  • The breed is often confused with the English Springer Spaniel, although the Welsh Springers are slightly smaller and lighter and have different markings.
  • They were bred as gun dogs to flush out game for the hunter.
  • The breed requires plenty of physical exercise, and they become bored and destructive if not exercised enough.
  • The Welsh Springer Spaniels are a sensitive breed and are prone to separation anxiety and submissive urination.
  • They are easier to find than most Spaniels.
  • They are moderate to heavy shedders and might not be the best choice for people with allergies or asthma.
  • They tend to be slightly more difficult to house train than most breeds, crate training is a highly effective tool in that regard.
  • Their strong prey drive and short attention span often make them chase smaller critters they perceive as prey, they should be leashed at all times other than when they are in a fenced and secure area.
Breed History

Not much is known about the origin of the Welsh Springer Spaniel. It is thought that they have originated in Spain which is how they got the name Spaniel. From Spain they have spread to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, becoming one of the favourite breeds among hunters in the last 200 years. They were popular among the noble hunters during the 1700’s before being replaced by the English Springer Spaniels and other Spaniel varieties. They are often confused with the English Springers and, even though they are usually bigger than the Welsh Springer and have different markings, they are believed to be closely related. Another breed that is believed to share ancestry with the Welsh Springers is the Brittany breed as they share a strong resemblance to them such as size and colour.

The breed was known as Cocking Spaniels or Cocker after the bird they were bred to hunt or the Welsh Starter before their present name was adopted in 1902 and they were officially recognized as a separate breed.

The Welsh Springer was first introduced in the United States in the late 1800’s, and Australia in 1973, becoming a popular choice for hunting enthusiasts and families looking for a companion.

World War I and World War II took a toll on many breeds and the Welsh Springers are no exception, they nearly went extinct in the United States. After the end of World War II the Welsh Springers had to be imported from England to attempt to revive the breed and restore them to their former glory.

They are considered hard to find but they are not as rare as most Spaniels. Although, they are more difficult to find than the English Springer Spaniel. They rank as 127th most popular breed according to the AKC.


The Welsh Springer Spaniel males measure 18-19 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 40-55 lb. The females are usually slightly smaller and measure 17-18 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 30-50 lb.

Personality and Character

The Welsh Springer Spaniel has been bred for flushing out game for the hunter, they derive their name from the way they spring at the prey. They are to this date one of the favourite breeds among hunters due to their stamina, work ethic and energy levels. Their coat and body type allows them to work for a long duration of time in a variety of climates and terrains. Their prey drive is very strong and it’s not uncommon for them to take off after an unsuspecting bunny.

They require plenty of physical activity. Without it, they become bored, lazy, nervous, or hyperactive and develop bad habits such as barking, chewing and digging. They make a great addition for the active family and love to accompany their pack members on jogs, swims, bike rides and hikes as well as hunting trips. They excel at a variety of dog sports as well such as flyball, agility, obedience and tracking events. They can be left outdoors as they make an excellent watchdog as long as they are provided with a proper shelter, water and food, although they do thrive on people interaction. The breed loves to be with their people and be included in the pack’s activities.

They are fairly inactive indoors, which makes them suitable for apartment living as long as they get plenty of exercise. Their ideal home would have a fenced and secure yard where they can run around and play.

They are considered a very sensitive and soft-natured breed, they are especially sensitive to tone and pick up easily on the owners wants and needs. Any harsh treatment or training should be avoided. They also don’t do well in homes where stress levels are high and voices are frequently raised, they enjoy a more harmonious and calm environment.

Their sensitivity makes them prone to separation anxiety as well as as submissive urination when they are nervous or excited.

The Welsh Springer Spaniels are bouncy and playful, they get along with children and other animals as long as they have been properly socialized or raised together.

Health and Potential Problems

The Welsh Springer Spaniels are generally a healthy and sturdy breed. Irresponsible breeding however, left them vulnerable to health and temperament issues. Most reputable breeders and shelters make sure the puppy or dog have received a clean bill of health from the vet prior to adoption or purchase.

Many breeders also test their dogs for genetic and hereditary conditions prior to breeding as well as testing every litter prior to purchase. Never purchase a puppy or a dog from a puppy mill as those operations are more interested in financial gain than the physical and mental wellbeing of the animals in their care and more often than not, the animals are kept in horrible conditions.

Be on the lookout for:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A common hereditary condition among dogs, occurs when the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the hip socket. May cause lameness and discomfort, the condition is usually treated with pain medications and surgery in severe cases.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: A common hereditary condition among dogs, occurs by different growth rates of the bones that make up the elbow. May cause lameness and pain and is usually managed with pain medications or surgery in severe cases.
  • Entropion: An eye disorder which causes the eyelid to roll inwards, injuring and irritating the eyeball. The condition can be surgically corrected in severe cases.
  • Epilepsy: A condition found in both dogs and humans, it causes unpredictable seizures. Unfortunately, there is no known cure or treatment but it can be managed with medications. Most dogs that are diagnosed with this condition live a long and full life.
  • Hypothyroidism: A disorder that is caused by the body’s inability to maintain proper thyroid hormones levels. Symptoms may include obesity, lethargy and baldness among others. It is usually managed by medication and dietary adjustments.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood disorder found in both humans and dogs, it affects the clotting process. Symptoms may include blood in stool, nosebleeds and bleeding gums. Unfortunately, there is no known cure.
  • Glaucoma: A condition that is sometimes caused by other eye disorders and sometimes is hereditary. The condition causes increased pressure in the eye and can be managed with eye drops or surgery in severe cases.

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

Care Features

As with every other breed, the Welsh Springer Spaniel’s temperament depends largely on how well they have been socialized. The process of introducing them to new people, children, dogs and other animals should begin as soon as possible. If not properly socialized some Welshies may become timid and shy around strangers as well overprotective with their pack. Enrolling the Welshie in puppy kindergarten is highly recommended as, not only does it introduce them to the world under professional guidance, but it also helps solidify the bond between the puppy and the owner.

Crate training is another highly helpful tool in ensuring the puppy grows up to be a well-rounded and emotionally balanced dog. The Welsh Springer Spaniel proves slightly harder to house train than other breeds. However, frequent bathroom breaks in the same time and area, followed by plenty praises and treats should make house training a bit easier. The crate is also viewed as their special spot to which the dog or puppy can retire to when needing space or tired.

Another issue that the Welshies are prone to, is separation anxiety. Being a sensitive breed that gets easily attached to their humans, they find being separated from their people to be stressful which leads to destructive behaviour. Crate training alleviates the anxiety and proves than even though the human left, they would return each time. It is a highly effective tool that should never be used as punishment.

The Welsh Springer Spaniels have plenty of stamina and energy and need productive ways to vent it. Biking, hiking, running, hunting and swimming are just a few of their favourite activities to participate in with their people. It is also recommended to involve them in different doggy sports as well such as tracking, flyball, agility and obedience events. On top of providing an appropriate vent for their excess energy, it also provides a bonding experience between the Welshie and the owner. They may develop destructive behaviours and bad manners if bored and may become nervous and hyperactive.

The breed is intelligent and eager to please; they are fairly easy to train as long as the training sessions are kept interesting and short. They have a short attention span and don’t like to repeat things they have already mastered. They respond best to a calm and confident owner who can establish rules and boundaries and reinforce them using praise and treats. They don’t do well with harsh treatment or training and the only thing that would be accomplished is damage to their soft and sensitive personality.

One of the essential commands to teach them is to come back when called, otherwise they are known to take off after a critter they perceive as prey, putting themselves and others in danger. They should be leashed at all times unless they are in a secure and fenced area.

Feeding Schedule

The breed benefits from 1.5-2.5 cups of high quality dog food a day, divided into 2 meals. However, each dog’s nutritional needs are different, depending on size, age and activity levels. Puppies for instance consume much more food than adult dogs due to their rapid growth and development.

It is recommended to go for food rich in protein, as well as grain and corn free. High quality food goes a long way in supplying the dog or puppy with nutrients necessary for their development and maintaining a healthy skin and coat as well as their physical and mental vitality for many years to come.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Welsh Springer Spaniel have a silky, straight, soft, dense and flat coat with some feathering on their legs, ears, stomach and chest. The coat is weather resistant and keeps them comfortable even in wet and cold weather. The common colours are white and mahogany red with a variety of markings.

It is fairly easy to maintain the beautiful coat with regular brushing to avoid mats and tangles. They are medium to heavy shedders and might prove to be not the best choice for people with allergies or asthma, as well as individuals who can’t or won’t be able to stay on top of the clean-up.

Their ears also require regular maintenance due to the floppy shape, it makes it easier for grass seeds or moisture to get trapped in the ear canal and cause reoccurring ear infections.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The breed is very gentle and affectionate with children as long as they have been raised together or properly socialized. The Welsh Springer Spaniels definitely have the stamina and energy levels to keep up with the younger members of the family. It is important to educate children on the proper ways to approach dogs and animals in general, treating them with their due respect and giving them space when they had enough of playing.

Each year an alarming number of dogs are surrendered, abandoned and put down due to the adult’s failure to reinforce and educate the younger members of the family on proper dog handling etiquette. Any ear or tail pulling should be discouraged immediately. Play time between children and dogs should be supervised by an adult at all times.

The Welsh Springer Spaniels usually get along great with other animals and are generally peaceful towards dogs, cats and other animals. The only exception to the rule might be birds, due to their breeding they most likely would need to be supervised around birds until and if they learn that the feathered pet is also a member of the pack. The dog’s temperament largely depends on their breeding, environment, socialization, handler and training techniques.

The Welsh Springer Spaniel makes a great addition to the family as long as their pack can keep up with them. Although they enjoy relaxing with their humans at the end of a long day, they need plenty of opportunities to vent their energy. They are a popular hunting breed due to their stamina and work ethic. They’re a sensitive and affectionate breed that loves being out and about with their family members, exploring the great outdoors and staying busy.

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.