Can English Springer Spaniels Swim?

English Springer Spaniels are excellent family pets or tough gun dogs, so these active, friendly dogs are often a choice for people looking for a hardy, highly-trainable dog that is good with kids. If you’re looking into getting your own English Springer Spaniel, you might know that they were initially bred as gun dogs that worked long hours in the field, hunting with their owners. They’re used for hunting out and flushing game, but perhaps you’re wondering if this means they can also swim.

Bred to hunt on land, English Spring Spaniels adapt quickly to swimming and enjoy spending time in water. The partial webbing between their toes helps them swim, and their double-layered coat keeps their fur from becoming waterlogged. Most take to swim training naturally from a young age.

If you love to be in the water and spend time near rivers and the seas, you’ll likely want a dog that enjoys being in the water. This love of water was one of my criteria when looking for a new dog – I needed a dog who would be happy to go swimming and play in the waves with me. One breed often recommended was the English Springer Spaniel, so I looked a little more into how much this breed enjoys water and its ability to swim.

Can English Springer Spaniels Swim?

While English Springer Spaniels were bred as gun dogs to work on land, flushing and retrieving game, they are also capable of swimming. Fun fact: Springer comes from their role as a hunting dog, where they would ‘spring’ the woodcocks and other game birds into the air.

They are bred to be land dogs, and most of their skills, such as their high trainability, ability to follow hand signals, scenting, and affectionate nature, go hand in hand with working on the land. But this doesn’t mean they can’t swim – they are bred to withstand the wet British weather and to hunt through ditches and rivers.

 As highly active dogs, most English Springer Spaniels are happy to go into the water and swim about – especially with their owner. Their muzzle shape means they can easily hold their nose and eyes above water, and the partial webbing between their toes gives them a boost while swimming.

Thanks to their coat, which has two layers, their fur does not get drenched as the water slides off the longer top coat. This adaptation also helps them from getting too heavy in the water and makes it easier for them to swim safely.

Are English Springer Spaniels Waterproof?

English Springer Spaniels have two types of coats. While they are easily recognized by their white and black or white and brown coats, this is the longer top coat. The top coat, which may be straight or curly, covers a short, dense undercoat that keeps your dog insulated and warm.

These two coats work together to keep your spaniel dry – whether out in the rain or jumping through rivers. They also protect your dog from thorns and sharp branches, which would be helpful while they are out in the fields hunting.

These spaniels will need care taken with their coats and should be regularly brushed and groomed to avoid tangles or mats forming in their coats. You may also want to take your dog to a professional dog groomer to keep his fur trimmed and easy to care for.

Because of their long ears, take care to carefully clean and check inside to ensure they are not getting ear infections or have issues with ear mites. Wipe the ear inside clean with a cotton ball using a vet-recommended ear cleaner, and never push anything down the ear canal.

How to Train an English Springer Spaniel To Swim

You can train your English Springer Spaniel to swim when he is still a puppy. These medium-sized dogs are keen to stay with their owner and do what they want, so if you regularly exercise or play by a beach or river, they will quickly want to join you.

You can begin acclimatizing your dog to water as early as three to four weeks old. As most owners get a puppy at around 8-9 weeks old, you can gently get them accustomed to water as part of their exposure to new people and experiences. You never want to throw a puppy into the water, as this will make your dog feel threatened and nervous around water.

Make sure the water isn’t cold or have any dangerous animals or areas before you begin swim training. You can encourage them to start venturing into the water by throwing toys or sticks into the shallow area for them to chase and retrieve.

Once your dog feels confident playing in shallow water, he may naturally try to swim out on his own, but you can also swim with him to encourage this. Keep water associated with fun activities for your dog, and never use it as a punishment.

How To Make Sure my English Springer Spaniel is Safe in Water

In areas where you are unfamiliar with water safety, you must keep your spinal on a leash until you are sure it is safe for them to swim. English Springer Spaniels are eager to please and highly trainable, so it’s an excellent idea to train them only to enter the water when you command it and to return immediately when you call them.

It’s worth considering getting a dog life jacket and getting your dog used to wearing one if you regularly head out to areas with unsafe water or when your dog begins to age and may have weakened swimming ability.

Dogs can also tire quickly, so don’t expect your dog to be able t cross large areas of water, and don’t allow them to swim out too far. Remember to always watch your dog when he is swimming, so you can act quickly if there is any danger of them drowning.

Taking Your English Springer Spaniel Swimming

English Springer Spaniels are highly active and do well with lots of exercise. They do not like being left on their own and crave their owner’s and family’s companionship. This makes them an excellent breed if you do many dog-friendly activities. If you do not use your spaniel as a gun dog, they will need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Swimming is an excellent way to provide this for them. If you live near a beach or creek, you can take them for long walks along the water and throw sticks or toys from them to retrieve from the water. In hot summers, swimming will also help your dog deal with the heat and let them cool down.


English Springer Spaniels are fun-loving, active dogs who enjoy swimming and can swim quite well. If they are trained to swim using playful techniques, they will happily go swim with you or play fetch in the water. Swimming is a marvelous way to get in the extra exercise this breed needs to stay in good condition.

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