English Springer Spaniel Club

About the Breed

jumping in the field

about the breedThe English Springer Spaniel is a dog for all seasons, an endearing energetic companion for the owner who is willing to give it the time that it deserves. Highly thought of by the police as sniffer dogs, well known in the field trial world for their tireless enthusiasm, many a rough shooting man’s friend, a joy to behold when moving round the show ring in their own distinctive style, a wonderful family pet and a good companion for young and old alike.

Do not run away with the idea though that the breed is a paragon of virtue, the breed standard states “Symmetrically built, compact, strong, merry, active. Highest on the leg and raciest in build of all British land Spaniels”. Strong, merry and active are three important words here and it should be remembered that this is a breed that was developed to work, therefore Springers benefit from being trained, be it for a formal discipline or merely to take its place in the family home.

All puppies need time and patience and Springers need as much as any other, perhaps a little more than some of the less energetic breeds, but they will reward you with love and devotion, not to mention a great deal of fun, if you give them the right grounding. They are equally well suited to living in the town or country providing that you have a well fenced garden and once they are grown, the time to exercise them both in body and mind. As with any other breed of dog English Springer Spaniels are not recommended to anyone who is planning to be out all day leaving the dog on its own; dogs are pack animals and therefore do not take kindly to solitary confinement.

You will find a copy of the breed standard on this website to give you an overall impression of the breed. Do remember that English Springer Spaniels vary considerably in size and appearance, dependant on the purpose for which they are bred. It is important, therefore, that you decide what you personally require from your English Springer Spaniel and then purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, whose dogs fit those needs as closely as possible. 

As with any other breed there are a few hereditary problems which you should be aware of prior to purchasing a puppy. It should be quite easy to find a reputable breeder who will be only too happy to discuss these with you and whose stock has been tested for them. About the Breed

The English Springer Spaniel is registered with The Kennel Club as being one of the ‘Top Ten’ most popular dogs in the United Kingdom.  It is a medium sized dog of moderate substance. He is loyal, relatively docile, but always willing to do anything asked of him. In general, he is of equitable temperament, with a willing heart, warm dark and appealing eyes and ever wagging tail. He can mean all things to all people from whatever walk of life they might come. His ability to work as a Gundog in the Field has always made the Breed appealing to the shooting fraternity, but he is equally as popular as a rough shooting companion or with his energetic and endearing personality, as a household pet, where his happy and very biddable temperament lends itself well to family life. For the most part, his main in aim in life is to please, adoring as he does the company of both humans and other animals with whom he may work or live.

As the oldest of the sporting gundogs, the English Springer Spaniel has long been admired by the sporting fraternity for his use to flush and retrieve game. He is a first class worker, combining agility and versatility to act on all types of land and in all weathers, with his excellent sense of smell, loyalty, balance, easiness of learning and permanent willingness to work in the field to the instructions of his owner.

Over the centuries the Breed has evolved so that it can now fit into any role chosen for it that suits its personality, however, as we mentioned earlier this also means that the breed falls into two distinct types of English Springer Spaniel i.e. the ‘working type’ and the ‘show type’ – both types make equally good family pets and are equally well suited to living in the town or the country, as long as there is a well fenced garden and they are regularly exercised.

  • The ‘show type’ English Springer Spaniel (head shown at the back in image above) is a little larger than the ‘working type’ and with more substance to its make-up i.e. bone and body – conforming more towards the description in the Kennel Club Breed Standard. His popularity as a show specimen can be seen by the success of the Breed with several English Springer Spaniels having been winning for many years in top competition both in the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia.
  • The ‘working type’ English Springer Spaniel (head shown at front in image above)appears smaller in size, has a high ear carriage with the length of ear appearing shorter than the ‘show type’ ESS, and is usually of a lighter overall substance showing its suitability for the agility and versatility required as a working gundog. 
  • English bloodlines from top ‘show’ and ‘working’ kennels having been exported for many years all over the world. 
  • Both ‘types’ of English Springer have the same coat colours i.e. liver and white, black and white or either of these colours with tan markings.
  • Average life expectancy of the English Springer Spaniel is 12 – 14 years.

The Breed’s versatility can be seen in many walks of life, other than the ones for which he was originally bred. He is the popular choice of the Emergency Services, Customs & Excise and Armed Forces for enhancing all aspects their work. 

About the Breed

In December 2004, ‘Buster’, the English Springer Spaniel received the Dicken Medal, the highest award for animals serving the British and Commonwealth forces in war. This is the animals’ version of the Victoria Cross (VC). The medal is inscribed: ‘We Also Serve’.

The English Springer also takes part in many other canine related activities such as Obedience, Tracking and Agility where he can provide a lot of fun and interest both for himself and his owner.

For the most part it is his ‘sense of fun’ (everything is a ‘game’ to the English Springer Spaniel) that makes him successful in all these varying fields of canine activity.

You would not see many English Springer Spaniels refusing to curl up in a comfy chair, dog bed or warm kennel to sleep at the end of a busy day.

Notes about the Docking of Tails:

English Springer Spaniels have always been docked for practical rather than cosmetic reasons (i.e. The Breed Standard says ‘customarily docked’). Because of the Breed’s recognised enthusiasm for hunting in thick cover, tails can be prone to damage, which might affect the health and welfare of the dog. The Breed Standard now reflects the requirements for both docked and undocked English Springer Spaniels whether they be ‘show’ or ‘working’ type ESS

Show dogs are no longer docked in the United Kingdom. 

A dog docked before March 28th 2007 in Wales, and April 6th 2007in England may continue to be shown at all shows in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland throughout its life.

A dog docked on, or after, the above dates, irrespective of where it was docked, may not be shown at shows in England and Wales, where the public is charged a fee for admission (like Crufts). 

However, where a working dog has been docked in England and Wales under the respective regulations, it may be shown where the public are charged a fee, so long as it is shown “only to demonstrate its working ability”. It will thus be necessary to show ‘working dogs’ in such a way as ONLY to demonstrate their working ability, and not conformity to a standard. A dog legally docked in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or abroad may be shown at any show in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The exemption for working dogs allows a dog that is likely to perform certain specified types of work to have its tail docked by a veterinary surgeon. The dog will have to be less than 5 days old and the veterinary surgeon will have to certify that he or she has seen specified evidence that the dog is likely to work in specified areas. Puppies being docked must be microchipped, either at the time of docking or when the vet considers they are old enough.The types of dog that are allowed to be docked and the types of evidence needed, is detailed below.

Puppies from certain working dogs may be docked if evidence is provided to the vet that it is likely to be worked in connection with law enforcement, activities of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, emergency rescue, lawful pest control, or the lawful shooting of animals. It is accepted that in a litter, not all puppies docked will be found suitable for work.

The owner of the dog, or person representing the owner must make a signed statement that, the dam of the puppies to be docked is of a type which can be certified as set out below, the date on which the puppies were born and that it is intended that they will be used, or sold, for one of the working purposes set out in the regulations.

The vet must sign a declaration that the requirements of the regulations have been satisfied i.e. that he has been given the necessary declaration by the owner or person representing the owner and has seen the evidence required.

The vet must have a completed statement, signed and dated by the owner of the dog (or by another person whom the veterinary surgeon to whom it is presented reasonably believes to be representing the owner), made in the form set out in the regulations. The vet must see the dam of the dog and a further piece of evidence such as:

a current shotgun or firearm certificate issued to the owner of the dog, or to the agent or employee of the owner most likely to be using the dog for work in connection with the lawful shooting of animals
a letter from a gamekeeper, a land occupier (or his agent), a person with shooting rights, a shoot organiser, a club official, a person representing the National Working Terrier Federation, or a person engaged in lawful pest control, stating that the breeder of the dog whose tail is to be docked is known to him and that dogs bred by that breeder have been used (as the case may be) on his land, or in his shoot, or for pest control.

Although the procedure is the same, the list of dogs which can be docked are different between England and Wales. There is a total ban on docking in Scotland.

In England the following can be docked: 

1. Hunt point retrieve breeds of any type or combination of types.

2. Spaniels of any type or combination of types.

3. Terriers of any type or combination of types.

In Wales the following can be docked: 

1. Spaniels of the following breeds: English Springer Spaniel, Welsh Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel, but not combinations of breeds

2.Terriers of the following breeds: Jack Russell Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Norfolk Terrier, but not combinations of breeds

3. Hunt point retrievers of the following breeds:

Braque Italian, Brittany, German Long Haired Pointer, German Short Haired Pointer, German Wire Haired Pointer, Hungarian Vizsla, Hungarian Wire Haired Vizsla, Italian Spinone, Spanish Water Dog, Weimaraner, Korthals Griffon, Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer, Large Munsterlander, Small Munsterlander.

It remains the prerogative of a veterinary surgeon as to whether he chooses to dock a dog’s tail or not.

Further information may be obtained from The Council of Docked Breeds’ website. https://cdb.org/