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English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
While the English Springer Spaniel was bred to be a 'gun' dog, bred to retrieve and forage out game, it has become a popular pet as well. It's a sturdy dog of medium size. Strong in stature and a great pet.
The English Springer Spaniel was bred where else? England. They came to the US sometime in the 1700s. The Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel share their ancsetry but the Springer Spaniel was recognized as a separate breed from the Cocker Spaniel in 1904. It was said prior to that there were sometimes English Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels in the same litter!
There are two different classifications for the English Springer Spaniel, the show dog and the working dog though to the owner of a Springer, there is no difference. The Springer is a nicely proportioned dog and I have read the working dog, also referred to as field bred, is faster and has more stamina. Show dogs are more thickly boned than working dogs. I really have a hard time telling the difference between the two.
The Springer Spaniel in our family belongs to my son and daughter-in-law. Her name is Bella. Her brother is a St. Bernard named Vedder. Bella has all the traits of a Springer Spaniel, she is energetic, friendly, skillful, a quick learner, brave, playful, cheerful and willful. It is the willful part that gets her into trouble, along with her curiosity. Bella loves a challenge! If she knows a snack or food is hiding somewhere within her reach she will do anything she can to find it. That includes climbing, opening cabinet doors and searching till she gets the prize!
Bella, like all Springers, loves exercise. She loves to run and play and is particularly fond of sticks. She will chase down a stick in the middle of the woods, again, searching until she finds it. She will start in a big circle and keep going round into smaller circles until she zeroes in on the particular stick you threw. She never misses! She's also fond of just playing fetch and becomes very possessive of "her" stick. We give her one every time she comes to visit and she holds on to it and carries it everywhere she goes. However, there is no problem taking the stick away from her.
Springers are not overly active indoors however and are perfectly content to lay on a couch and sleep most of the day. Bella loves my new living room couch and thinks she's mighty special when she sleeps on it. (She's not allowed to sleep on the furniture at home.)
The dominance level in Springers varies greatly. According to The Dog Breed Info Center it can even vary greatly among dogs in the same litter. It is very important for you to be calm but authoritative with Springers. They are energetic and as pups especially need exercise to burn off some of that energy.
Springers love water and will get into it whenever they can. Bella has been known to prance around in our pond and swim in our pool. They will also get into mud if allowed since it's wet!
Springers are generally good with other dogs but since they are hunting dogs its not suggested they be kept around birds or you may have one less bird. Bella is in total charge of her big brother Vedder. She cleans his paws and ears and generally watches over him.
The Springer Spaniel's coat is fairly easy to maintain but needs regular brushing. You will notice in most of Bella's photos her hair is clipped. The hair on the underside of the ears needs to be clipped regularly to prevent ear infections and yes the Springer sheds.
There is one problem that shows up occasionally in Springers that is difficult to understand or deal with. It is called "Springer Rage". According to the English Springer Field Trial Association it is a misnomer and should most likely be called "Springer Dominance Aggression". This condition can actually be seen in any breed of dog but is most common in the Springer and among Springers it is most often seen in show dogs. The ESFTA believes it might be due to the pressure put on them in the show ring. According to an article by Lynn Johnson DVM, it most often happens in show lines when these dogs are placed in homes that cannot properly care for them. Regardless of the reason it can happen. The Love Springer Spaniels Internet pages says this is a very rare condition. It seems to almost be a type of siezure/attack with the dog recovering after the episode and not being aware of what happened. The operative word here is "RARE". However, I mention it since it is also mentioned on many articles about Springers.
Forgetting the previous paragraph, remember, Springers are great with kids due to their affectionate nature. As with any dog, good socialization of the Springer puppy is important and helps your dog deal with most situations without fear or intimidation. Take him as many places as you can when he's a puppy and introduce him to as many different people and situations as possible. Of course, if you have children you need to teach them how to handle a dog as well. Some rough housing is to be expected but if they mistreat the dog, any dog, will not take kindly to it.
So, to wrap up;
The Springer is a companion dog and will go anywhere and everywhere with you, happily. Our Bella loves to ride in the car and visit grandma (me), an hour and a half ride. They are willing to please which is a great trait in a dog! Being a sociable dog they love to be around people. As I said earlier they love water and will do anything to get wet or near water. Yes they have health issues such as hip dysplasia, some eye problems, and they can get upset stomachs -- not a long list of issues.
Remember due to their inquisitive nature they need to be stimulated occasionally. Lots of toys, some play time, and exercise. You will love watching your Springer run through the woods or around a large backyard. Pet Lovers World calls the English Springer Spaniel a "cheerful" pet! Dog Owner's Guide calls the Springer "merry". What more could you ask for?
Remember too, they are inquisitive and like human companionship. It is said if they are left alone too long they can become destructive.
As a Post Script: They come in three different color combinations, liver and white (the most common), black and white and tan and white.
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