Getting a Springer Spaniel is like getting into a 10-15 yearlong marriage. An incompatible match between dog and human is miserable, but a good fit between dog and human is a gift that never grows old. Ensuring that the Springer Spaniel has a good temperament for YOUR family is of paramount importance.
Well-bred Springer Spaniels have good temperaments; they’re intelligent, friendly dogs who love people. It’s the owner’s responsibility to foster the excellent disposition of a Springer Spaniel puppy so that they grow into confident, polite, well-adjusted adults.
Perhaps you’ve become obsessed with the handsome Springer Spaniel and want to know if they will be a good match for your family. Can you trust them with kids? Are Springer Spaniels suitable for nervous first-time dog owners? Are they easy to train?
What Is A Good Dog Temperament?
When deciding whether a dog has a good temperament or not, it is always important to consider two aspects:
- What does the national breed association describe as being a good temperament for that breed of dog?
- What home is the dog living in, and what role or function does the dog fulfill?
The Ideal Temperament Differs Between Dog Breeds
We will explore the first point in the next section but for now, consider whether a Pyrenean Mountain dog should have the same temperament as a Springer Spaniel.
The Pyrenean Mountain dog needs to be confident working alone and willing to defend its flock aggressively. The same independence and aggression in a Springer Spaniel would be considered a bad temperament, but it is regarded as the ideal temperament in a Pyrenean Mountain dog.
Different Dog Functions Emphasise Different Temperament Traits
The second point to evaluate is whether your Springer Spaniel is a working dog or a pet dog. A working Springer Spaniel who is gun-shy and uninterested in flushing birds would be retired due to temperament-induced performance issues.
That same Springer Spaniel in a family home may be considered the most outstanding dog due to his tolerance and gentleness with the family parrot!
Thus, the definition of a good Springer Spaniel temperament is highly dependent on the circumstances and the role the Springer Spaniel fills in a family.
What Is The Ideal Springer Spaniel Temperament?
There are two different Springer Spaniel breeds: the English Springer Spaniel and the Welsh Springer Spaniel.
Both Springer Spaniel’s were originally bred to flush birds for the waiting hunters to take down. The performance of the same hunting function has meant that English Springer Spaniels and Welsh Springer Spaniels share some similarities in their temperaments.
Springer Spaniels Are Friendly, Intelligent, People Pleasers
A Springer Spaniel should be a friendly, amiable dog characterized by their intelligence and willingness to work with and please their human partners. Strong-willed, stubborn dogs are not good representatives of the amenable Springer Spaniel.
The people-pleasing nature of Springer Spaniels makes them pleasant dogs to train. In fact, many of them are so mild-mannered and intuitively gentle that they are often used as therapy dogs!
Springer Spaniels Are Confident, Non-Aggressive, Laid Back Dogs
A well-brought-up Springer Spaniel should be a confident, well-adjusted, resilient dog. Unprecipitated aggression in Springer Spaniels is a major temperament fault. Springers Spaniels with aggression problems should never be included in any breeding program.
Springer Spaniels Are Indefatigable Workers
Both breeds of Springer Spaniel are robust, hardworking dogs, which should be capable of performing a full day’s work before retiring to the family home for a well-deserved rest.
Springer Spaniels who are disinclined to work and known for laziness should not be incorporated into a working dog breeding program.
However, these more laid-backed Springer Spaniels are often better suited to pet homes than their lively working-dog counterparts. A working Springer Spaniel is a machine! Their boundless energy and insatiable need for entertainment are usually more than a pet owner can manage.
Springer Spaniels Love Everyone
Well-socialized Springer Spaniels should be able to confidently and gently interact with a wide variety of people, including children and anxious people.
Springer Spaniels, brought up with other household pets, should be tolerant and non-aggressive when dealing with these animals. The exception to this rule is pet birds, as the primary function of a Springer Spaniel is to flush out game birds.
Not all Springer Spaniels can distinguish between game birds and pet birds, and they may show an uncomfortable fascination with Pauly, the Parrot!
Springer Spaniels Are The Ultimate Velcro Dog
While Springer Spaniels enjoy making new friends, they remain firmly devoted to only a handful of people. Springer Spaniels need plenty of human company to feel happy and secure.
These dogs are highly loyal and will often follow their owner from room to room. They may even insist on following their owner into the bathroom!
The Difference Between English And Welsh Springer Spaniels
Both Springer Spaniels are admirably capable of performing their job and easily fit into most high-energy families.
However, the Welsh Springer Spaniel is often shyer and more reserved when meeting people for the first time than the gregarious English Springer Spaniel.
This natural reserve doesn’t make the Welsh Springer Spaniel a bad dog, but it does mean they can become overwhelmed in large crowds of new people. Welsh Springer Spaniels tend to be one-person dogs who are politely aloof with strangers.
When Is Bad Behaviour Not Due To A Bad Temperament?
Not all bad behavior and aggression should be blamed on a bad temperament. Even tolerant, easy-going Springer Spaniels may be pushed past their limit and lash out aggressively or develop uncontrolled anxiety in the right circumstances.
Aggression Due To The Fight Or Flight Instinct
When they’re hurt or afraid, Springer Spaniels who are cornered may growl or even bite to warn people away. For example, a Springer Spaniel who has been run over by a car may bite the person trying to help them due to confusion, pain, and fear.
Another reason good-tempered Springer Spaniels may bite a person is due to dog fights. A Springer Spaniel attacked by another dog will fight to defend themselves. As the people work to separate the two dogs, the Springer Spaniel may accidentally bite someone’s hand.
Provoked Aggression Due To Unjust Handling
Dogs who are beaten, treated harshly, or teased may reach their limit, where they say “enough is enough.” These Springer Spaniels are frequently unjustly accused of aggression problems when in reality, the people involved provoked the Springer Spaniel beyond what any dog should be expected to tolerate.
Aggression Due To Pain
Previously, good-tempered Springer Spaniels may become grumpy and even snap if in pain. The most common scenario to see this type of irritable behavior is in arthritic old dogs.
It will become increasingly difficult for these senior Springer Spaniels to change position and move around. If bumped or forced to move, they may growl or even snap at other dogs, children, or people.
A vet should examine any Springer Spaniels presenting with unprecedented aggression. Many health conditions cause chronic body pain, and a few medical diseases (e.g., a brain tumor) may change your Springer Spaniels behavior and personality.
How To Foster A Good Temperament In A Springer Spaniel?
Well-bred Springer Spaniels are renowned for having excellent temperaments; however, inherited personality traits only account for part of the Springer Spaniel’s good reputation.
It is the owner’s responsibility to nurture the Springer Spaniels good temperament traits by:
- Ensuring they are well-socialized from a young age
- Consistently enforcing good manners and training so that the dog is polite and well-mannered
- Exposing their Springer Spaniels to a wide variety of stimuli in a positive setting, thus enabling the dog to be confident when facing new situations
- By handling the dog with respect and fairness
Springer Spaniels are happy dogs who seem to have captured the “Joie De Vie” that so many people have lost. Their handsome looks and friendly nature make them ideal dogs for both novice and experienced owners.