Adorable English Springer Spaniels have an enthralling history dating back centuries ago, during which time they became exceptional hunting dogs and formed enduring loving bonds with humankind.
Spaniels originated in Spain and were transported via Roman ships to England and across the globe. They called them Springers as they would flush out game birds and have since been bred as field and show-dog varieties. The English Springer Spaniels breed history is long and illustrious.
This ancient dog breed tells a fascinating tale that is as old as time. So, if you want to know its secret history and why this incredible dog breed took the world by storm, continue reading!
English Springer Spaniels: Brief Overview
These dogs are smart, attentive, enthusiastic, and sociable animals who are highly affectionate and love spending quality time with their humans, so they are often used as therapy dogs.
Springers have a strong, well-built physique to spend long days hunting in the field and can weigh 40-50 pounds with an average shoulder height of 19-20 inches, with insulative double coats, lovable floppy ears, and highly expressive eyes.
Although they are excellent hunting dogs, beloved by sportspeople, these athletic, smart dogs are great family pets and fantastic companions for swimming, hiking, and running if they are exercised and trained regularly.
These “live wires” are highly energetic, and great outlets for their pent-up energy are agility and obedience training, tracking, or flyball activities.
However, English Springer Spaniels need constant stimulation and companionship, so they tend to become destructive or nuisance barkers if they are left alone due to separation anxiety.
The History Of The English Springer Spaniels Breed
Most historians speculate that this lovable Spaniel dog breed originated in Spain centuries ago (hence their name) and that Roman-owned ships transported them worldwide. Their breeding lineage is so old that they were referred to in Welsh legal documents more than 1,700 years ago.
Springers were originally bred as hunting dogs in the 16th century to flush out small animals and game birds by “springing” on them or flushing them out so that they could be captured by hawks or via nets before the advent of guns.
However, by the 17th century, when guns were widely used, hunters realized Springers were incredibly smart and highly adept at flushing the game within their shooting range.
Throughout the 19th century, including the early 20th century, dogs from the same litter were named according to their hunting uses in England and not according to their breed.
So, smaller dogs from the same litter would be named Cockers as they would use them for hunting woodcock, while larger-sized puppies would be called Springers as they flushed out small animals and game in their native country, England.
However, by 1902 the English Springer Spaniel breed was officially recognized as a distinct breed by the Kennel Club in England, and by 1906 Springers had their first reigning champion called “Beechgrove Will.”
In 1913, the first English Springer Spaniel reached Canada, and in less than a decade, this breed became one of the most popular registered American Kennel Club breeds. And by 1924, the English Springer Spaniel Trail Association was established in the USA.
In the early days, Springers would compete in field trials, and conformation shows separately. However, all that changed in the 1940s when Springers were specifically bred to excel in field trials, while others were bred due to their exceptional show-man qualities and physique.
Today, there are two distinctive English Springer Spaniel breeds that are not interbred. Field Springers have different physical characteristics and skills than show-dog Springer breeds in terms of their speed, agility, sense of smell, and endurance.
While both Springer varieties can work in the field, few Springers participate in conformation shows and field events. In fact, “Green Valley Punch” was the last conformation and field event champion in 1938.
Today both English Springer Spaniel varieties are highly popular, with a 26th place ranking on the American Kennel Club breed’s register.
Are English Springer Spaniels Normally Good Pets?
As you now know a little bit more about the fascinating history of this incredible dog breed, you might be wondering what family life is like with a Springer pet.
While Springers are great pets and can be appeased with lots of treats, too many can result in obesity, so they need physical exercise and mental stimulation to thrive and remain healthy.
Springers have a relatively long lifespan of 12-14 years if they remain active and are not prone to behavioral issues that most other breeds are known for, like excessive digging, snoring, or barking, unless they suffer from separation anxiety.
Springers are incredibly smart and have proven to possess above-par working, obedience, and adaptive intelligence, coupled with outstanding problem-solving skills, so they are happiest when their abilities are tested and can please those they love.
Although some would argue that Springers are not the best guard dogs as they love people, they might bark if a stranger comes along as a protective mechanism.
English Springer Spaniels are also naturally drawn to water, so don’t be surprised if your four-legged friend ends up in a muddy puddle of water in the park!
So, grooming a Springer can be a hassle as they are such active dogs, and their fur coats can become matted with everything they drag into your home.
However, in comparison with other dog breeds, their grooming is relatively easy as you only need to brush their coats, clean their ears, and give them a trim from time to time.
Overall – Springers are fantastic pets, especially for active families who like the great outdoors and will soon become a cherished member of your family.
There is no argument that the English Springer Spaniel breed has a long and illustrious history, and few other dog breeds can claim such a rich and colorful past dating back more than 1,700 years ago. While they have since been bred as two distinctive English Springer Spaniels varieties, they are both incredibly smart and endearing companions that have stood the test of time.