English Springer Spaniel


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English Springer Spaniels can be very rewarding dogs for people who appreciate them, give them proper training and enough exercise. They are not as easy for a novice to take on as Welsh Springers or Cocker Spaniels. They need a more active life than Cockers if they are not to develop behavioural problems, and are bigger, and more prone to health and behavioural problems than Welsh Springers.. They have a higher than average risk of being killed in road traffic accidents, whereas the risk for Cockers is lower than average. Springers also have a higher than average risk of being euthanased for behavioural problems. The main problem is that they are essentially working dogs. Untrained Springers who only get to see their back gardens can be very difficult to live with, becoming overactive and destructive. English Springer Spaniels are also more prone to being pushy to get their own way than are Welsh Springers, and this can create serious problems with adolescent dogs. It's especially important with this breed to be firm and consistent, from when they are little pups. If you don't want a muddy adult Springer on your sofa, don't allow the pup up there! Make sure the dog sits before you open the door to let him out. This helps later, because they are quite strong dogs and adults can pull you out of the door, not giving you time to close it!. English Springers are also a bit more likely than average to pick fight with other dogs, especially those of the same sex, despite socialization with other dogs, though this is not inevitable, and many get on fine with other dogs they meet on walks. Springers that have enough exercise tend to get on better with other dogs. English Springer Spaniels can be trained to a high level, however, so long as you start from puppyhood. Well-bred and well-trained English Springers are friendly and affectionate.

Exercise is essential for this breed. English Springers that don't get out enough tend to be overactive, destructive and barky. They need to be able to run off leash, which usually means taking them somewhere quite wild and muddy. They are not dogs to take to parks with ornamental waterfowl, which they will chase. They are naturally good swimmers, and enjoy getting wet and muddy. They should be called now and then when off leash, so that they remember they are with their owners. Owners can benefit enormously from reading specialist books on how to train Springers and allow them to retain their hunting instincts while having some degree of recall. These dogs are good retrievers, so you can wear them out with ball games in an emergency. Ball games can also be useful for distracting them from other dogs if you fear they may misbehave. English Springer Spaniels which get on with other dogs can do very well in agility. They also like playing sniffer dog games, and are good trackers.

Springers can be good watchdogs, and will bark to give the alarm when someone comes to the door, but they are generally friendly with strangers, so are not good guard dogs.

Are English Springer Spaniels good with children? This depends. They are a little too strong and lively for children to take on walks, their temperament can vary, and socialization, training and exercise are important. They are, however, outgoing and affectionate by nature, so well-bred and well-trained English Springers can be very good companions for older children.

English Springer Spaniels tend to have longer hair so need a little more grooming than Welsh Springers, though both have a propensity for coming back muddy and full of burrs. They need a good towelling after a muddy walk, including their ears, and can then be allowed to dry before having the burrs and other debris brushed out.

Common health problems include hip dysplasia, eye trouble, von Willebrands disease, skin complaints, phosphofrutokinase deficiency, and epilepsy, which can be linked to Springer Rage. Rage is an inherited condition, involving quite nasty attacks, with the dog often dazed afterwards. Get your dog to a vet if you think that he could be affected, since this condition can, in some cases, be treated with medication. Often, though, English Springers which snap don't actually have Rage, and are just being pushy and snappy to try to get their own way, so you need a diagnosis to see whether medical treatment or a change in training regime is indicated. Other common health problems include ear infections, which tend to affect breeds with long ears. Their ears should be checked regularly and cleaned when necessary, and not allowed to stay wet after the Springer has been in water.

This book is a useful guide to the breed, which is detailed enough to interest experienced owners as well as novices. It's well-written and well illustrated. Owners may still need some more help with training these dogs than this book offers.