An important consideration is the dog’s energy level. It is best to consult experts as it is possible to get the wrong information by listening to secondhand stories of dogs an acquaintance has known. Some people believe that English springer spaniels are lazy, but is this true?
English springer spaniels are not lazy. They are known as high-energy dogs that like to be active. Bench or show English springer spaniels may be slightly less active than those bred for fieldwork. There are individual differences, but generally, these active dogs need space and exercise.
Some pet owners want a lazy dog as they have a sedentary lifestyle. Others are go-getters, doing a lot of exercise. They want a dog to accompany them while they ride their bicycles or run for miles.
How Active Are English Springer Spaniels?
It is always wise to investigate the origins of a breed and what job they were bred to do. This information will give you an indication of the activity level a dog requires.
English springer spaniels are gun dogs. They were bred in England to assist hunters when they went out to shoot birds or other game for the pot.
Initially, there was no differentiation in breeding between cocker and springer spaniels. They were both bred from the same litter. The smaller dogs were used for flushing woodcocks out of dense bush and became known as cocker spaniels.
The bigger spaniels were used for flushing bigger game or birds from the bushes. They became known as springer spaniels because of the way they flushed game. They would pounce or spring at the birds causing them to take flight, hence the name springer spaniel.
Springer spaniels had to be alert dogs that picked up a scent and followed it. In order to find the scent, they would work the field in a zigzag pattern. This hunting method required the dogs to be exceptionally fit and capable of sustaining strenuous exercise.
English springer spaniels would sometimes hunt for the entire day with their owner. That is a lot of exercise. Most hunters who choose springer spaniels will tell you that the dogs are happily wagging their tails at the end of the day, still ready for more.
Considering the purpose they were bred for, it is no surprise that English springer spaniels are high-energy dogs that require a great deal of stimulation and exercise.
How Much Exercise Does An English Springer Spaniel Need?
The PDSA recommends that English springer spaniels have a minimum of two hours of exercise every day. The exercise can take various forms and should include mental stimulation.
English springer spaniels were bred for a job that required them to track scents. The mental stimulation of using their nose and processing that information is enormous and uses a lot of energy.
Some owners complain that they cannot keep up physically with their springer spaniel as the dog never seems to tire. A solution to this is to include mental stimulation such as scent training or activities when you are exercising your springer.
Some English springer spaniels are bred exclusively for the show ring. These springers tend to have a heavier build and a longer, more feathered coat. They may need slightly less exercise than a field-bred English springer spaniel, but it will still be a considerable amount.
Many English springer spaniel breeders aim to breed dogs that can excel in both the show arena and the field. They will therefore have the same exercise needs.
What Is A Good Home For An English Springer Spaniel?
English springer spaniels are not good dogs for people that live in apartments or homes with small gardens. They do best with a large yard where they can run out some of their energy.
Owners of English springer spaniels should be active people that thrive on long walks or hikes. Owners who like to cycle or run with their dogs are also well suited to owning a springer.
All this energy must be controlled, and training is important for English springer spaniels. An untrained springer is going to drag its owner all over during exercise. The owner will come home wild-eyed and exhausted, wondering why they ever thought owning a dog was a good idea.
Fortunately, English springer spaniels are quick to learn and want to please their owners. This makes training them a pleasure.
What Are Good Activities For English Springer Spaniels?
It is always a good idea to think of activities that match the purpose of the breed when choosing activities for your dog. The dog will naturally be good at these activities and learn them easily. This does not mean you cannot include other activities.
- Scent training and tracking make use of the English springer spaniel’s excellent nose. They enjoy these activities and use up more energy than simply running. Scent training can include:
- Field trials
- Search and rescue
- Find the treat
- Snuffle mats
- Hide-and-seek which is a downscaled version of search and rescue. The springer is required to find a family member or owner who is hiding.
Scent games can be done indoors or outdoors. Adding a vertical element to the search can increase the challenge for the dog when done indoors.
- Agility is a perfect exercise to challenge an English springer spaniel’s natural athleticism. During hunting, springers naturally face physical challenges; agility mimics this.
- Retrieving games allow your English springer spaniel to use their natural retrieval instincts. Some owners call these games fetch.
- English springer spaniels do well at fly ball.
English springer spaniels are not lazy dogs. They are quite the opposite, being high-energy dogs needing extensive daily exercise. They are not sedate dogs suited to owners who like a sedentary lifestyle. They are best suited to energetic owners that enjoy exercise as much as an English springer spaniel does.