Get to Know the English Springer Spaniel: The Country Squire


This dapper Englishman is at home lounging by the hearth on a country estate — but he’d rather be out getting down and dirty searching the brambles for birds. He’s an active dog with a sense of adventure, but also a level head that makes him an ideal companion.

Young girl and English Springer Spaniel by Shutterstock

More interesting things about the English Springer Spaniel

  • The English Springer Spaniel may be confused with the Welsh Springer Spaniel, but the Welsh is longer bodied, has less coat, shorter ears, and is always red and white. The Springer is either black and white or liver and white. He may also be confused with the parti-colored Cocker Spaniel or the English Cocker Spaniel, but the Springer is larger than either. And, he may even be confused with the Brittany, but the Brittany is more slender, has longer legs, less coat, and is mostly white with red (but occasionally white with liver).
  • Spaniels were developed by the 1300s to spring, or flush, birds into nets or to waiting falcons. Later, with the advent of shotguns, they were also used to find and point birds.
  • They became specialized by their size, the terrain they hunted over, and the type of birds they hunted.
  • By the late 1800s, larger land Spaniels were differentiated from smaller ones. Different sizes were found in the same litters and classified accordingly when they reached adult size. Eventually the larger ones became Springer Spaniels, and the smaller ones, Cocker Spaniels.
Springer Spaniel hunting dog by Shutterstock
  • In 1902, the Kennel Club in England recognized the Springer Spaniel as a distinct breed. At the time, English and Welsh Springer Spaniels were considered the same breed, distinguished only by color, but they were eventually separated.
  • The English Springer Spaniel was AKC recognized in 1910. It is a member of the Sporting group.
  • English Springer Spaniels are the 28th most popular AKC breed — exactly their position a decade ago!
  • Springers have excellent noses; besides finding birds, they’ve been used to sniff out explosives, contraband, bees, and blood.
Springer Spaniel on the beach by Shutterstock
  • An English Springer Spaniel named Buster was awarded the Dickin Medal (the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross) in 2003 for his work with the British Army locating explosives caches in Iraq.
Springer Spaniel hoarding tennis balls by Shutterstock
  • English Springer Spaniels have won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show six times between 1963, the year of the first title, and 2007, the last. That’s more than any other Sporting breed (the Pointer, at No. 2, has only three Best in Show winners), and third of any breed (behind the Wire Fox Terrier and Scottish Terrier). Champion Chinoe’s Adamant James is one of only seven dogs to win Best in Show at Westminster more than once. He is also the most recent, having done so in 1971 and 1972.
First Lady Barbara Bush with Millie at the White House in 1991.
  • President George Bush’s dog Millie was the first presidential dog credited with writing a book, which became a top seller. Millie was the dam of two other White House Springers, Ranger (known to be Bush’s favorite dog) and Spot (belonging to President G.W. Bush). The Millie Bush Bark Park in Houston is named for her.
  • Owners include both U.S. Presidents George Bush, Oprah Winfrey, and Jimmy Buffett.

Do you own a English Springer Spaniel? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too!

Interested in other breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.

Read more about Spaniels:

About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

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