|Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M|
I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
|Barked: Wed Jan 2, '13 11:19pm PST |
|One thing to remember is that springing spaniels all stem from the same root, known as field spaniels, and at a time came from the same litter, separated by size, the smaller being the Cockers, or woodcock, dogs. They share a lot in common, but then splintered.
The Duke of Norfolk favored a line of well sized (large-ish cocker type) spaniels who were liver and white. In more general circles, in the the larger they were black, those not were generally culled. Smaller fields were known as Cockers. While out in Sussex, with its dense brush, there was another spaniel, somewhat apart from these in type and function.
All spaniels share a reasonable size, merry disposition, natural charm factor and a true longing and appreciation for companionship. What you need to decide, in deciding the right spaniel for you, is what level of an extrovert you want, and the level of what I like to call "spaniel bounce." Spaniels may be soft, but some can fill a room like a big dog and be surprisingly bold.
English Springers made the most immediate strides, probably due to their well-to-do association. The Welsh Springer had similar function, but rather than being Wales' version of the ESS was probably more akin to the Brittany in terms of foundation. The English Cocker, probably due to its smaller size, was readily accepted and popular. The Sussex was admired for its type but rather specific....a slower, heavier and lower set dog used in heavy brush and used more voice in his work, often being out of sight of his master due to the cover.
In time, the spaniel world had its shifts within the dog fancy. The English Springer continued with his popularity. Across the pond, America had so typified its version of the Cocker that English and American versions were split into two different breeds, the American version having a meteoric rise. The Field Spaniel, who by this time was most stemming from the English Cocker, himself was left in the dust. For a time, early in the 1900's, attempts to salvage him included crosses to the Sussex so profound that he became low set and heavy. And the Sussex, as well, began to fall off the map. Type on the Field was in time rectified, but the Sussex doubtless would have fallen off the map were it not for having one very dedicated woman to ensure against this happening, working from a very small population. Meanwhile, across the pond, the American Cocker came to greater and greater rise as a show dog and entrenched in Americana as the all american pet. As the blacks thrived so spectacularly in the show ring, to maintain the other colors he was split into three varieties - black, ASCOB (any solid color other than black) and parti.
In terms of splits and types, bench to field, the most striking, by a country mile, is the English Springer Spaniel. He's got the most dynamic split, and the fields there are akin to the strong difference between a bench or field Lab. I find field Springers exhausting....they have really, really, REALLY crackhead sort of busyness and energy. The others, the splits are either reasonably close to non existent or moderate in type.
English Springers are the love junkies. One of the most affectionate of all breeds, and a true masters dog. They are "busy." You will like it, or you won't. As a kid some family friends bred them (show dogs) and I was in doggie paradise As long as you are giving them attention, they are on cloud nine. If they are not getting it, they are wanting it. There is a Norwegian Elkhound person...Tuck is the name I think....who has written a couple of anti odes to the Eng Spring. She "had" to live with them, I think her husband had them. Her reflections put me in stitches, such a humor as a breed matcher, for they are quite opposite to her breed and she finds them neurotic. Many don't....many love them to bits. But you have to like affection by its nature, and a busy dog whose obsession is you. And having willing to please replaced by desperate to please. My Cocker mentor calls them the "Good Do-Bees," I have also heard the phrase "Goody Two Shoes" a bit.
I do not know if you have owned a true field bred dog before...like a field Lab, etc. But if not, you really need to experience the energy and intensity of a field bred dog to decide if it is for you. They make me want to pop valium. There is a lot of distance between a bench bred with no work in mind and a field dog. In all honesty, I am not sure a strongly field bred dog is ideal for you. They are really on the wire. As I said....valium
Moderate bench breds (meaning with some working frame in mind) are one of the most perpetually positive natured dogs you can be around. They do not know a bad mood and are always trying to cheer you up. Silly, playful. Sort of the spaniel's version of the Irish Setter. They can be charmingly rambunctious and in-cred-i-bly social.
There are a lot of ill bred Springers out there. I have been around the best, and they are the ultimate good time charlies, BURSTINGLY outgoing although never forgetting who their master is.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel, is a bit lighter, in every way. Like the English, very people focused and wants to be around his people all the time, but more level and even. More practical. Not an extrovert, as the Eng Spring is. If you like a Brittany but consider them too emotionally vulnerable, I would consider a Welshie. They lack the boldness of the Eng Spring and are more generally reserved with strangers. As noted, it's easier to weigh the Welsh against the Brittany than against the Eng Spring, IMO. It's easier to weigh Eng Springs against Am Cockers.
The English Cocker thrives as a dog who was pushed out by his younger American cousin a long time ago. Not subject to the curses that come along with popularity. They are an even, soft dog and nicely moderate. Very willing to train, love everyone. Some timidity trends....you need to know your breeder...but generally temperamentally quite sound. Very easy to get along with, and a little less conniving than Am Cockers can be.
The American Cocker is the kingpin. An Americanized version who quickly was scooped up by the show world, and in an irony he carries that version back to the field, where it translates curiously well. Am Cockers are the good natured cocky residents of the spaniels....for showiness, they have been developed as a very front and center dog. They are soft, but they have a ton of bravado and jazz. Many field dogs are plucked out of show lines....field breeding is only starting to gather steam now-ish. They are the most bohemian dogs I have been around...oddballs with a lot of quirk. They love everyone. If I were to assign them the character of a Muppet....it would be Miss Piggie, not for foodiness but because they always have an agenda.
A few words in addition. This breed was terribly corrupted by overbreeding on all levels. You need to select your breeder or rescue carefully. They are, at their best, the least soft of these spaniels and having temper is NOT correct. Blacks are the cuddle bunnies are the most easy going, partis are the jokers, buffs are the silly wildmen. A lot of people don't know how to train Am Cockers. They are ok as a beginners dog, but people do struggle. Truth is that when OTCH came out, these were one of the first to advantage this. Am Cockers hate stress, but with proper trainer, being the natural ring competitors that they are, can take pressure better than most spaniels and thrive. The trick is expectable pressure. Like spaniels are typically, roughness or threat and they shut down. They also know how to gain advantage by being cute and making you smile. Over the head of many and way too spoilable, an Am Cocker in the right hands....not saying that's me, mine are spoiled silly .....has unlimited potential. I have found no spaniel quite as capable of their intensity of focus, and they love to show off and be proud of themselves.
Field Spaniels are closest to their sporting roots, having never really been scooped up by the pet craze. They are very merry and loyal, but have less naturally glee around strangers than spaniels typically do, and extending from this can be barkers and alert dogs. They are more inherently independent workers, but love to work and are very willing to please. They are very loyal, but with some propensity towards a comparative rate of one-personishness. Remaining quite a natural breed, if you want to hunt with a dog and appreciate spaniels for their companionship qualities but don't need them to be relentlessly outgoing, Fields may suit. They are merry dogs who can put their nose to the grindstone.
The Sussex has a different function and reflects as very much a spaniel, but still somewhat of a different dog. He's more stubborn, more dominant, more sure of himself. As companions, they are very merry and grand little jesters, but can show a hard headedness that can take those familiar with more traditional spaniels by surprise. Just by the cover he was bred to work through, this traits are highly linked to function. He's also one of the more loyal spaniels. As eluded to in the earlier description, barking is more second nature to him than most. He's also one of better spaniels for an off switch.
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