The “springer” in English Springer Spaniel was first used in 1902. The word derives from the breed’s historical talent for “springing” game—which means they chase birds into flying for hunters to shoot.
But the breed has a long history before that. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (ESSFTA) says Spaniel-type dogs have populated the civilized world for many centuries.
Along with being a popular hunting breed, English Springer Spaniels are also now acclaimed for their show-dog ability, as well as their potential as a family pet. They are recognizable for their wavy outer coat and floppy ears, and they generally have a playful and cheerful demeanor. English Springer Spaniels can vary considerably in size and appearance, but their average height is 20 inches tall and they weigh 40–55 pounds.
Caring for an English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels were bred as working dogs, so they love having a job to do. This means they benefit greatly from training, plenty of routine exercise, and space to stretch their fast-moving legs (whether that’s a big backyard or a park). A social breed, they love to spend time with their humans and are eager to please.
The English Springer Spaniel’s coat is medium-length, weather-proof, and could use a brushing once or twice a week.
English Springer Spaniel Health Issues
The average English Springer Spaniel lifespan is 12–14 years, which is normal for a medium-size dog. According to the ESSFTA, these spaniels lead healthy, happy lives and retain their vigor into old age.
Genetic-based disorders are not uncommon, however. Most are not life-threatening and can be managed, but some can be more serious.
Elbow and Hip Dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia refers to abnormalities in a dog’s elbow where the joint doesn’t develop properly. Hip dysplasia is a similar condition, where the hip joint doesn’t fit together properly and becomes loose. If left untreated, both conditions can lead to arthritis.
Ask your vet for a screening if you notice symptoms such as lameness or limping, an abnormal gait, or a swollen joint. Treatment can include joint supplements, weight management, or surgery if the case is severe.
English Springer Spaniels are particularly susceptible to ear infections because of their long, floppy ears that decrease air circulation and trap moisture within the ear canal. This makes it easier for bacterial and yeast infections to develop.
Common signs of an ear infection in dogs include redness, itching or scratching, having an odor, and head shaking. Dog ear infections require vet treatment and medication to restore a healthy ear canal—but they are preventable if you keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. Chronic ear infections can also be a sign of allergies in dogs.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a term for a group of degenerative eye diseases that affect the layers of the retina responsible for vision. They will eventually result in blindness. According to the ESSFTA, onset in Springers can vary but usually occurs between 2–6 years of age. Thankfully, PRA is considered rare for this breed.
PRA isn’t a painful condition for dogs, but currently there is no effective treatment or cure. The first signs are typically night blindness and increased clumsiness (walking/bumping into things).
A seizure is caused by a sudden surge of uncontrollable electrical activity within the brain. This is another inherited (but rare!) health condition seen in English Springer Spaniels. Seizures usually begin before a Springer turns 5 years old. In many cases, seizures can be controlled with medication.
What To Feed an English Springer Spaniel
It can be overwhelming to know which food to choose for your English Springer Spaniel. But as a general rule, pet parents should select a food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for your dog’s current life stage (puppy, adult, or senior).
Because Springers are such active dogs, keep a high-quality, calorically dense diet in mind. Consult your vet on the best feeding schedule, and your pet’s specific needs when it comes to diet and nutrition.
How To Feed an English Springer Spaniel
You should typically feed English Springer Spaniel puppies at least three times a day on a consistent schedule, while adults should eat twice a day.
How Much Should You Feed an English Springer Spaniel?
The amount of food your Springer needs varies dog to dog. Factors influencing their portions include their lifestyle, age, weight, and activity level (especially if they spend a long day outside).
Dog food bags will often have a feeding guide that typically recommends the total amount of food that should be given to your pup over a 24-hour period. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations, and check with your vet to confirm you’re feeding your English Springer Spaniel the right amount.
Nutritional Tips for English Springer Spaniels
For an English Springer Spaniel involved in sporting activities, you can supplement them with glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep their joints healthy. Omega-3 supplements can also aid in protecting joint health—and help keep their skin and coat lush and soft. Always talk with your vet before giving your dog nutritional supplements.
Behavior and Training Tips for English Springer Spaniels
English Springer Spaniel Personality and Temperament
As mentioned, Springers love to be put to work! Pet parents can expect a “do-it-all” and eager-to-please breed, according to the ESSFTA.
English Springer Spaniel puppies require time and patience. They can adapt to different living environments as long as time is dedicated to their exercise and enrichment. That said, a Springer might not be the best fit if you are away from home for regular, extended periods. But they are an ideal family pet and love to spend time with humans young and old.
English Springer Spaniel Behavior
Like with many breeds, regular exercise and enriching activities are key to keeping an English Springer Spaniel’s gentle and amenable temperament. They’re known to be a friendly breed, and they might bark to communicate readiness to play or to greet other dogs or humans. They’re not known for excessive barking, but like other dogs, that can develop if their exercise or socialization needs are not met.
English Springer Spaniel Training
English Springer Spaniels are intelligent, and early training and socialization are very beneficial for the breed. They respond well to patient, gentle training tactics, and treats are often a good motivator.
Fun Activities for English Springer Spaniels
English Springer Spaniel Grooming Guide
English Springer Spaniels require moderate grooming, especially when it comes to their beautiful, wavy coat. Like many dog breeds, they tend to shed.
No special skin care is required for English Springer Spaniels, but regular grooming and trimming will help keep their skin healthy.
A good brushing once or twice a week (plus trimming as needed) will help prevent mats and tangles in your English Springer Spaniel’s coat. Regular professional grooming can also keep their fur lustrous and in top shape.
English Springer Spaniels typically don’t require special eye care, but pet parents should watch for signs of PRA if their dog hasn’t been tested. If you notice changes in your dog’s eyes, such as discharge, call your vet.
The English Springer Spaniel’s long ears make them prone to ear infections. Their ears also have lots of fur, so regular trimming will help improve air flow. Clean your dog’s ears often with a dog-specific ear cleaner. These have typically been formulated with effective pH ranges for dogs, and they contain drying agents.
Considerations for Pet Parents
As long as your Springer has plenty of opportunities to romp around outside, they’ll be happy in any type of home. They love to be around their humans, so any pet parent who spends long hours away from home might want to reconsider. Expect to meet a moderate level of grooming needs to keep your Springer’s unique coat healthy and beautiful.
English Springer Spaniel FAQs
Do English Springer Spaniels bark a lot?
Springer Spaniels tend to bark when greeting strangers. They might also bark to communicate that they want to play, or to greet other dogs. They’re not known for excessive barking, but that can develop if their needs are not met when it comes to exercising and socializing.
What are English Springer Spaniels good at?
Because they’re very trainable, English Springer Spaniels are good at a lot of things! They were bred to be hunting companions, so they can have great tracking and retrieving abilities. They are known to be excellent show dogs as well.
How long do English Springer Spaniels live?
The average English Springer Spaniel lifespan is 12–14 years.
Do English Springer Spaniels like to cuddle?
English Springer Spaniels are known as affectionate dogs who love to be around their humans. So chances are you’ll find yourself curled up on the couch with your Springer.
Featured Image: Adobe/Mindaugas Dulinskas
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