English Springer Spaniels are energetic, friendly dogs that are happy hunting in the fields or fetching in the park. With impressive speed and endurance, the Springer Spaniel is game for hours of playtime. Here are some interesting facts about this exuberant breed:
1. They’re Named for Their Hunting Style
English Springer Spaniels were bred to be hunting dogs. Specifically, they were used to “flush” or “spring” game, meaning they would chase birds into flight so that hunters would then shoot. English Springer Spaniels can also retrieve game.
2. Springers and Cockers Used to Be the Same Breed
Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels used to be the same breed. A litter of puppies would be separated by size. The smaller dogs were designated as Cocker Spaniels, which hunted a kind of bird called the woodcock, and the larger dogs were designated as Springer Spaniels. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that Springers and Cockers were designated separate breeds.
3. They Appear in 16th Century Art
Though they may not have gone by the name “Springer Spaniel” in the 16th century, there are many paintings of dogs that look very much like English Springer Spaniels from that time period.
4. There Are Two Types of Springers: Bench and Field
There are two different types of English Springer Spaniel: bench and field. Although the AKC breed standard does not separate the two types, there are some key differences. The bench type is designed for the show ring, so they have a longer, thicker coat with more feathering. The field type is designed for hunting, so they have a lighter coat and a docked tail.
5. They’re Exceptional Show Dogs
As a breed, English Springer Spaniels have won the third most Best in Show awards at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. With six titles, English Springer Spaniels fall behind Scottish Terriers with eight, and Wire Fox Terriers with 14.
6. William Wallace Likely Owned a Springer Spaniel
William Wallace was the commander of the Scottish army during the First War of Scottish Independence back in the late 13th century. Wallace apparently had a pet spaniel named Merlin that rode into the Battle of Stirling Bridge with the commander in 1297. Although it would’ve been too early to classify Merlin as an English Springer Spaniel, Wallace almost certainly owned a spaniel that would be developed into the English Springer Spaniel.