Girl’s Best Friend: Springer SpanielAs Spring resiliently tries to peep it’s head out from above the snow showers, we are very excited about the prospect of warmer temperatures, extra hours of sunlight and the lure of enjoying the outdoors without burying ourselves in seven layers of thermal clothing! For some of us, this time of year also brings thoughts of adding to the family, the patter of tiny feet and a new playmate on which siblings can shower love and curious affection. If this is your current mindset we are launching a series of articles designed to help you chose your perfect addition; but please be aware that the addition we are focused on will purely be of the furry, padded pawed and hopefully loyal devotee variety that compliments families and individuals who have a love of the outdoors and healthy, active lifestyles!
This month, paying tribute to the new season, we are focusing on the English Springer Spaniel. With their shaggy ears, distinctive colouring and bright, inquisitive eyes Springer Spaniels are instantly recognisable and one of the most popular choices for a family pet.
English Springers are medium-size dogs with a gentle expression, compact body, dense medium-length coats and a longer fringe of hair on the ears, chest, legs, and belly. The wag of the docked tail can only be described as merry and their bodies are a little longer than they are tall. That's because a dog can tire easily when his body is too long — highly undesirable for a hardworking sporting dog!
Originally used as gun dogs to flush out and retrieve game, Spaniels are playful, athletic and excitable dogs that love nothing more than playing games involving obedience, agility and tracking. Their love of the outdoors and all the fun it offers, make them perfect companions for hiking or camping and their affectionate natures mean they can be the perfect addition to a family, especially if reared around children from an early age.
However, if you or your family are frequently away from the house, a Spaniel may not be the ideal choice of pet as they hate being left alone and their ensuing anxiety may cause nuisance barking and an uncertainty as to what kind of state your house will be in when you return home.
The key to getting the most out of a Springer Spaniel is to make sure they are properly trained – something they are massively receptive to and can be lots of fun for owners who are active, sociable, and enjoy a rewarding challenge. It’s important to train Spaniels from an early age and once completed you can fully appreciate them in all sorts of environments from hill walks, to running trails to campsites and anything else active and energetic that happens to be going on in your life. It is this versatility that makes the Spaniel so appealing to people and families who love the great outdoors.
It’s important to be aware that there are two types of English Springer Spaniels – the Field Spaniel and the Show Spaniel. Field Springer Spaniels are athletes and they look the part, they usually have shorter coats, their noses are pointier, and their ears are not as long. Field Springers are bred for their hunting ability, sense of smell, and trainability.
Show Springer Spaniels have longer hair, a squarer muzzle, and longer ears. They're prized for their good looks and showmanship. Show dogs can hunt, but they're too slow and methodical to do well in field trials, which is where Field Springers shine. Whilst the Show Spaniels may require slightly less exercise than the Working Spaniels they both are sociable breeds prone to naughty, destructive behavior if left to their own devices for too long.
Finally we should discuss the care that Spaniels require. Their doubly insulated, water, weather and thorn resistant coats mean they are resilient in even the most challenging environments. But once you have taken your Springer through forests, lakes, mountains, parks, hills and dales, it’s important that you give them the necessary grooming to recover! You should brush a Springer at least three times a week to keep them looking their best and to avoid matting, or tangles. Springers shed moderately all year long and regular brushing will also help keep loose hair off your clothes and furniture. You may also want to trim around the head, neck, ears, tail, and feet, just to give your Springer a neater appearance and get them looking dapper for your next outdoor team escapade!
When thinking about dogs that would suit the kind of person who loves leading an active outdoor life, the Springer Spaniel was the first breed that ‘sprung’ to mind! If you would like to have an energetic, intelligent and ultra-loyal dog at your side, then this incredible animal will definitely help to put a spring in your step!
If you are the proud owner of a Springer Spaniel and have any outdoor adventures that you would like to share with us or perhaps you could recommend another breed of dog that would fit the bill for our series of ‘Girl’s Best Friend’ articles, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
By Sarah Booth