English Springer Spaniel Outside
iStock.com/Tatyana Consaul

English Springer Spaniel Dog Breed

Other names:
British Springer Spaniel
English Springer Field Spaniel
Irish Springer Spaniel
Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel is an agile and athletic dog breed which was originally bred as a gun dog to flush game in fields. This active breed does well with children and is eager to please their family making them an ideal companion for active owners.

It is not uncommon for working English Springer Spaniels to have a slightly different physical appearance than show English Springer Spaniels. This is due to the breed being segregated for several decades.

English Springer Spaniel Breed Details

Below are the breed details for the English Springer Spaniel.

9 - 15 yrs.
18 - 22 in.
45 - 55 lbs
OverallFamily FriendlyChild FriendlyPet FriendlyStranger Friendly
Easy to GroomEnergy LevelExercise NeedsHealthShedding Amount
Barks / HowlsEasy to TrainGuard DogPlayfulnessWatch Dog
Apartment DogCan be AloneGood for Busy OwnersGood for New OwnersIntelligence

English Springer Spaniel Breed Description

The English Springer Spaniel is a medium sized dog. Adults generally stand 18-22 inches tall (from ground to shoulder) and weigh around 50 pounds. Their size makes them ideal for transportation and living in smaller homes (as long as they get adequate exercise).

The breed does well with children (especially if they are introduced to kids while a puppy) and do well with other dogs. However, since the English Springer Spaniel is a hunting dog they will have a strong prey instinct which can be an issue for families with smaller pets. English Springers usually don't make the best guard dogs since they will quickly warm to any stranger that gives them attention.

English Springer Spaniels are a moderate maintenance dog. They require adequate exercise and generally need 30-60 minutes of activity daily to help them dispose of their energy. The breed sheds year round, but brushing their coat three times per week will keep their coat clean and most of the hair off your clothes and furniture.

English Springer Spaniel Breed History

Where do Springer Spaniels come from? If you answered "England," you'd be mostly correct--but since the origin of the word "spaniel" is "from Spain," it's believed that true English Springer Spaniel begins in Spain. Ancestors of these dogs accompanied explorers as they settled in England and other parts of Europe centuries ago. Paintings from as early as the 1500s depict dogs of this type in various outdoor settings.

Prior to the invention of guns, spaniel dogs were used to flush birds into the open, where hunters would ensnare them with nets. In England, one spaniel type became known as the "springer" for its ability to leap at the birds to scare them out. With the advent of firearms, these dogs became even more valuable at driving the birds out to be shot. In general, though, spaniel dogs in England--even ones from the same litter--were classified by their hunting ability rather than their lineage. So a Cocker (prized for its ability to hunt woodcocks) and a Springer Spaniel could actually be siblings.

All that changed by about 1900, when breeders began refining their methods to produce true Springer Spaniel breeds. England's Kennel Club recognized the English Springer Spaniel in 1902; meanwhile the Springer began appearing in the U.S., and quickly gained popularity there. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (now the AKC's parent club) held its first meeting in 1924, and the American Kennel Club added the ESS to its official registry soon afterward.

By the 1940s, U.S. breeders were breeding two ESS types: those developed for hunting, and those for show. This division of "field-bred" and "bench-bred" Springer types is especially important even today.

As of 2020, the English Springer Spaniel is popular as both a hunting companion and as a pet. The ESS ranks 27th on the AKC list of 195 recognized breeds.

English Springer Spaniel Appearance

The English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized bird dog that is the essence of a "basketball guard" breed. Athletic and streamlined, with a vertical leap that gives it its name--these dogs are fast, agile, and muscular.

Exactly what does an English Springer Spaniel look like, though? The head is the shape of a soft oval, and the Springer Spaniel face is merry-looking with its medium-length muzzle. Springer Spaniel eyes can be different colors, with brown the most common. The ears are long and hanging, with thick fringes of hair. The chest is of medium width and depth, and the legs are long, straight, and muscular.

The English Springer Spaniel tail has some variety. A Springer Spaniel with a tail that's full length is the natural one--but a Springer Spaniel docked tail is most common. (Docking the tails of puppies has been a centuries-long tradition for many hunting breeds; the docked tail won't make as much noise when the dog wags it while hunting in tall brush.)

The English Springer Spaniel coat type is medium-length, thick, and double-layered, with longer feathering on the ears, legs, and underbelly.

English Springer Spaniel Colors

The images below represent the coat colors and patterns associated with English Springer Spaniels.

Black and White
Black and White
Lemon and White
Lemon and White
Liver and White
Liver and White
Orange and White
Orange and White
Red and White
Red and White
Additional Coat Colors
Black, White, and Tan
Liver, White, and Tan

English Springer Spaniel Variations

Various nations have different opinions about Springer Spaniel breeds. Breeders in many countries produce breeds of Springer Spaniel like the Australian Springer, the American Springer, and so on--but overall, there are only two universally recognized Springer Spaniel types: The Welsh Springer, and the English Springer Spaniel. Spaniel breeds have many different names, but the English and Welsh are the only types of Springer Spaniel acknowledged by the AKC and other national clubs.

Specifically, there are two "types" of Springer Spaniel dog breeds: field dogs and show dogs. Field ESS dogs normally have coats that are a bit shorter, and their muzzles are pointier; show dogs have muzzles that are more square, and their coats and ears are a bit longer.

The coat length (especially the featherings) may be a bit different with individual ESS dogs, but the typical English Springer Spaniel hair is medium-length, waterproof, and double-layered.

English Springer Spaniel size is consistent as well, at an average of 20 inches and 50 pounds. Even so, some unscrupulous breeders may offer unusual English Springer Spaniel types for sale. These breeders may advertise availability of a "Miniature Springer Spaniel," a "King Springer Spaniel," a "Toy Springer Spaniel," or even a "Long-Haired Springer Spaniel" or Wire-Haired Springer Spaniel." Simply put, these dogs are not true variants of this breed. They were either developed using illicit breeding practices--or they're actually crossbred dogs.

English Springer Spaniel Temperament

Energetic, friendly, focused, and intelligent, the typical English Springer Spaniel temperament is one of activity and love. The English Springer Spaniel personality is an interesting thing: these dogs are fun-loving, playful pets around the house--but laser-focused and task-oriented when on a hunt. In any case, ESS dogs have a ton of enthusiasm and energy, and will need lots of daily activity to burn it off. Another of the characteristics of a Springer Spaniel is not so favorable: these dogs often have submissive urination (they pee when excited or nervous, in other words).

One of the best English Springer Spaniel characteristics is that the breed is very smart, and will respond well to positive training methods. An ESS usually learns tasks and commands pretty quickly--especially if some treats are involved!

It isn't in the Springer Spaniel nature to be a very good watchdog, though. While your ESS will instinctively bark at unknown sights or sounds, the dog is simply too friendly to provide any kind of protection.

Living Requirements

Owning a Springer Spaniel, while normally a wonderful experience overall, is not without its concerns. Foremost: anyone having an English Springer Spaniel as a pet will need to give the dog an hour of daily exercise at the very least. Without consistent activity, these dogs will become hyperactive, disobedient and destructive. ESS dogs sometimes bark excessively, too, especially if left alone.

In regards to housing, the English Springer Spaniel will do best in homes with large, fenced yards. Because of their high exercise requirements, these dogs aren't good apartment dwellers; regardless, they'll need a lot of exercise--and because of their strong prey drives, they'll need to be leashed when in public to keep them from chasing other animals.

And are English Springer Spaniels hypoallergenic? In short, they're not. The English Springer Spaniel hypoallergenic tendencies are near zero thanks to the dog's double-layered coat--one that will shed seasonally. Allergy sufferers should probably look for another breed.

English Springer Spaniel Health

Below are health issues and concerns most common in English Springer Spaniels

English Springer Spaniel Health Concerns

Below are potential health concerns associated with English Springer Spaniels.

Hip dysplasia
Ear infections
Progressive retinal atrophy
Retinal dysplasia
Phosphofructokinase deficiency

Random Details

Some interesting facts about the breed:

  • Springers and Cockers in the same litter: Centuries ago, spaniel dogs were divided by size and hunting ability rather than breed. So a Cocker Spaniel (which would hunt woodcocks) and a Springer Spaniel (utilized to "spring" birds into the open) might've actually been related.
  • Springer Spaniels in Renaissance art: Dogs of the Springer Spaniel type were often featured in works of the late Renaissance period, usually accompanying British royalty.
  • "Braveheart" William Wallace owned one: Historical records show that Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish commander (who was immortalized by Mel Gibson in film) often rode into battle with a dog named Merlin, a spaniel type that was most likely a Springer.
  • "Ugly Springer Spaniel" Christmas apparel: Several companies manufacture comically hideous, holiday-themed sweaters and T-shirts with the breed's face pictured on the front, along with "Ugly Springer Spaniel" as the logo.

Related Pages

About this Article

Authored by:Dog-Learn
Updated:June 12, 2020