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English Springer Spaniel

Tags: Sporting, Large-sized, Adaptable to apartment life, Kid-friendly, Requires firm, dedicated training

No wonder Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels are frequently mistaken for one another. Although spaniels, as a hunting breed, have been around since the Middle Ages -- often Springers and Cockers sprang from the same litter. The smaller siblings were trained to hunt woodcock birds, whereas the larger sibs went off to flush ("spring") larger game. As years and litters went by, the progressively larger lines of Springers split off from the Cockers -- and were so recognized by breeders and national kennel clubs (1902 for the Kennel Club of England, 1927 for the AKC). Size wise, English Springer Spaniels are 19-20 inches at the shoulder and weigh 40-50 pounds. English Cocker Spaniels measure 15-17 inches and weigh 26-34 pounds. English Springer Spaniels became the most popular hunting dog in the British Isles. But Springers (and Cockers, too, we must admit) make great companion pets wherever we are.

Rave review

  • Adaptable to apartment life -- with ample exercise
  • Affectionate, devoted family friend
  • Even-tempered, good-natured
  • Loves kids and vice versa
  • Outdoors enthusiast
  • Outgoing extrovert

Report card

  • Intelligent and ready to learn
  • Pleased to please
  • Caters to country, tolerates town
  • Socialization and training must start early
  • Training must be firm, patient, consistent

What to expect

I need you to think about how some ill-bred and poorly trained English Springer Spaniels turned out -- dominant and aggressive, timid and stubborn at the same time, and prone to nipping and growling -- and don't let that happen to me. The majority of our breed has the potential to be obedient, sweet, loving family companions (and great hunting dogs, too) if you do your part. Before taking home an ESS pup, do your research and ask all the tough questions about both parents' temperament. Do this directly with the breeder, where you can see how other dogs turned out, and avoid "puppy mills" at all costs. Then get that impressionable young canine into training as early as possible -- firm but gentle, consistent and patient, positive reinforcement instead of negative punishment -- you know the drill. Keep at it -- watching for signs of trouble and getting my whole human family involved in the training -- for the two years I'll need to mature. This is going to be so much fun!

Watch for

Possible hip dysplasia, myasthenia gravis, eye (PRA, primary retinal dystrophy, ectropion) disorders, and ear infections.

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