Country of Origin: Spain, Great Britain
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Height: 18-21 inches
Weight: 40-50 lbs
Color: Liver and white or black and white
AKC Rank 2006: 26
The English Springer Spaniel
As I edit this article, headlines today proclaim that the “English Springer Spaniel is “America’s top dog.” Diamond Jim, a liver and white Springer, won best in show at the Westminster Dog Show which means he beat Bill Cosby’s Dandie Dinmont terrier entry! After winning, Diamond hopped right into his handler’s arms for a victory hug. This show was his last and soon he will be returning to his owners in Virginia to resume his life as a therapy dog. His handler, Kellie Fitzgerald, said, “They’re working dogs. He’s not going to be just a couch potato.” Diamond has already worked with Alzheimer’s patients. Of the 100 times that the best in show title has been presented at Westminster, this is the sixth time an English Springer Spaniel has won.
The English Springer Spaniel “is a gun dog with unlimited stamina so he thrives on physical activity.”
When considering a Springer, always keep in mind their initial purpose–hunting. Their history with this job explains their boundless energy, desire to please, and loyalty. “Boundless” is by no means an understatement. The Springer’s stamina requires the owner to commit to exercise and lots of it. Jenna’s family owns a Springer, Maggie, and she says her dog just can’t be worn down. It’s best to look elsewhere if you lead a sedentary life!
Most breeds originated with a working relationship with man and the Springer is no exception. They were bred to flush birds into the air for hunters. 70 years ago, Springer breeding divided in two directions—the bench Springer, bred for show, and the field Springer, bred for hunting. After 70 years of emphasis in different areas, the appearance and demeanor of the show dog differs markedly from that of the field dog. Most of the dogs we seek out as pets probably are AKC registered and originally bred for show. The field Springer has a much shorter coat and is smaller than the show dog. Field dogs have trials and testing just as their show counterparts do.
As far as grooming is concerned, Springers have beautiful double coats and need to be brushed several times a week to prevent that soft undercoat from matting. In the typical breed groom pattern, the head and top one third of the ear is clipped very close (1/8”) and the back is clipped to between 1/4″ and 1/2″ and then blended into the sides and legs. The feathering on the chest and legs is lightly scissored to make an even line and the pads are rounded but full.
For those who like this look but want less maintenance, the feathering on the legs and chest can be scissored to about 2” long. We call this our Summer Cut. A very popular cut and our easiest haircut to maintain is the Utility Cut. Except for the trademark ears, the total dog is clipped to 1/4″-1/2” all over. Many of our customers prefer this for summer and revert back to the breed groom for winter months. The Springer coat and the hair itself is some of the coarsest we clip so unless you we a very sharp blade we’re liable to get hung up in the fur. This speaks well for their ability to run through brush and thickets and also repel water.
Determine what you want out of your Springer and which division would suit your lifestyle when you are researching the background of your potential puppy. Also be aware that there have been reports of a strain of very dominant aggressive Springers whose behavior may be unpredictable. As with all dogs, careful breed selection, including an examination of the parents, is crucial. Your choice of a Springer will require you to be able to devote at least an hour daily to vigorous exercise in addition to proper socialization and regular brushing followed with a comb. If you can exercise your Springer to burn off a lot of energy, they are known to make wonderful family pets. Jenna says there is nothing quite like that soulful Springer gaze.
1. The Breed Groom involves trimming the dead ends and leaving the length.
2. The Summer Cut is the in-between cut.
3. The Benji Cut leaves the legs long and full but the body is taken down short.
4. The Utility Cut is short all over.