English Springer Spaniel: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

English Springer Spaniel running in a field

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The English springer spaniel is a sturdy and handsome medium-sized sporting dog breed from England with a medium-length coat in a variety of colors. Known for its big and expressive saucer eyes, long floppy ears, and feathered features, this spaniel is loving and eager to please. The English springer spaniel's sweet face and personality are cherished by many happy owners.

Breed Overview

GROUP: Sporting

HEIGHT: 19 to 20 inches

WEIGHT: 40 to 50 pounds

COAT: Medium-length flat or wavy, glossy topcoat, and a short, profuse, and soft undercoat; ears, legs, and chest often have longer feathering

COAT COLOR: Black or liver with white markings, or the opposite; blue or liver roan are also common; tricolor which includes black, white, and liver or tan markings can sometimes occur

LIFESPAN: 12 to 14 years

TEMPERAMENT: Cheerful, attentive, intelligent, affectionate, alert, active


ORIGIN: England

Characteristics of the English Springer Spaniel

If you have lots of energy and are looking for a fun and active family member, then the English springer spaniel could fit in well. English springer spaniels are often a popular choice for families with children or other dogs. They're very affectionate and are often referred to as "Velcro dogs" because they always want to be close to their human companions.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly  High
Pet-Friendly  High
Exercise Needs  High
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  High
Trainability High
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Bark  Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the English Springer Spaniel

Dogs similar to the English springer spaniel (ESS) are seen in artwork as far back as the 16th century, but it wasn't until the early 19th century that their specific history can be identified.

Cocker spaniels, and Welsh and English springer spaniels, are all closely related, and in the early days of their history in Britain, they would be born from the same litter and then separated by size and color.

Originally the cocker spaniels were used for hunting woodcock. The larger springers would be used to jump up, or "spring," to flush the gamebirds up into the air for the hunters to then catch with nets and, later, guns.

The first definitive strain of pure English springer spaniels can be traced back to 1812. A wealthy family, called the Bougheys of Shropshire, bred from a spaniel called Mop I, and they continued to be passionate about the breed well into the 1900s.

The English springer spaniel gained recognition from the Kennel Club in the U.K. in 1902, and in 1913 the first ESS were imported to North America.

In 1927 the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (ESSFTA) was established as the parent club for the breed and, from there, their popularity grew quickly.

There are two types of English springer spaniel, although they aren't recognized as separate breeds. The Bench or Show ESS focuses on conformation, and they tend to be slightly larger with a heavier coat and a calmer personality. The working, field-type ESS is smaller, faster, and more athletic, and tends to be busier than their larger relatives.

In 2018, the English springer spaniel was ranked as the 27th most popular breed by the American Kennel Club. Their fun-loving and affectionate personalities have won the hearts of many dog lovers, including Oprah Winfrey, Grace Kelly, and former President George W. Bush.

Because of their intelligence, sensitive nose, and desire to work, they're also often used as scent work dogs for the police and for search and rescue missions.

English Springer Spaniel Care

If you lead a quiet and sedentary lifestyle, then the English springer spaniel wouldn't be the best choice of canine companion. If you're looking for a clever dog that loves to be in the company of humans and other dogs and has bundles of energy to join you on long hikes and adventures, then the English springer spaniel could be a perfect match. They are best suited to a household where someone will be around most of the day, though, as they can be prone to separation anxiety.


A quick leash walk around the block before you head to work isn't enough for this dog, and it could lead to behavioral problems as a result of boredom. An English springer spaniel needs a minimum of 60 minutes a day of spirited exercise.

If you enjoy hiking, running, or cycling, then your ESS will be thrilled to accompany you. They're enthusiastic canicross competitors and often excel in agility, flyball, scent work trials, and other competitive dog sports.

Your spaniel will also appreciate swimming as a form of exercise. It's considered a water-loving dog with a water-repelling coat and webbed feet just made for doggy paddling. But if you're out for a walk, avoid puddles because your ESS will head right towards them for some splash time.


An English springer spaniel won't have extremely intensive grooming requirements. The Bench or Show types may require extra brushing as their coat tends to be heavier.

They're moderate shedders, and a good weekly brush will help to keep loose hairs at bay and the coat in healthy condition. They can get mats around their ears and on their feathering more easily, and you should always pay extra attention to these areas when brushing. These dogs can get by with a bath once every two or three months unless they've been playing in muddy puddles.

Because of their pendulous ears, you should check these regularly to make sure they remain clean, and this is especially true if they enjoy swimming. Dirt and water can get trapped more easily in their low-hanging ears, and this can lead to ear infections if they aren't kept clean and dry.

In addition, check its nails monthly to see whether they need a trim. Aim to brush its teeth daily.


English springer spaniels are smart and pick up on commands quickly. They love to be busy, have a job to do, and are extremely eager to please. This means they respond very well to reward-based training methods.

Clear direction and patience may be needed sometimes, as their enthusiasm can mean they try to take things a little fast and get overexcited. You may have to work on mastering things like jumping up, excitement barking, leash manners (especially around other dogs), and even toilet training, as they can be prone to piddling if they are in a frenzy.

Their hunting background means they may want to chase small furries and care would need to be taken if you have small pets in the same household. You'll likely have to work on getting a rock-solid recall, too.

English springer spaniel (Canis lupus familiaris) puppies
Nick Ridley / Getty Images
English Springer Spaniel sitting looking out across a field
Sjur Martin Kleppan / Getty Images
A puppy english springer spaniel with a toy in its mouth
Dageldog / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

English springer spaniels are generally considered a healthy and robust breed. Like all breeds, though, they can be prone to certain genetic health conditions.

You can minimize the chances of your puppy developing these conditions by securing them from a reputable breeder that performs appropriate health checks on prospective parents. Some of the conditions it's worth being aware of include:

Hip Dysplasia: This is common in many breeds. A good breeder will perform hip score testing on parents. It involves the abnormal formation of one or both hip joints, and this degenerative condition can lead to mobility issues and pain. Depending on the severity of the case, surgery may be required to improve your dog's quality of life.

Eye Problems: The ESS can be prone to developing certain eye conditions, including Retinal Dysplasia, Entropion, and the more serious, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).

Phosphofructokinase (PFK) Deficiency: This is a relatively rare condition and one that is a recessive trait only developed if both parents have it. It can also be tested for by responsible breeders. This relates to a lack of an enzyme that is used to convert glucose into useable energy. It can result in dogs becoming weak and lethargic, and they may suffer from symptoms like muscle cramps and anemia.

Diet and Nutrition

As with any dog, you should feed your English springer spaniel a high-quality and properly portion-controlled diet. With particularly active dogs, you may find they need a diet specifically formulated for working or high-energy breeds. This will ensure they're getting enough nutrients and proteins to help them retain a healthy body weight.

Where to Adopt or Buy an English Springer Spaniel

If you plan to get an English springer spaniel puppy, the importance of finding a reputable breeder can't be overstated. This will help to ensure that you have a healthy puppy that has received vital early socialization. Expect to pay a quality breeder between $1,200 and $1,500 for a puppy.

Researching the breeder also means you won't be inadvertently supporting the cruel, unethical, and booming business of puppy farming. Popular breeds like the ESS are particularly prevalent in puppy mills. You can also open up your home to a dog in need and consider adoption. Begin your search for an ESS here:

English Springer Spaniel Overview

  • Smart and eager to please

  • Affectionate with people and other dogs

  • Athletic

  • Needs a lot of exercise and stimulation

  • Can be over-excitable and prone to separation anxiety

  • Can have a high prey drive

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you love spaniels but want to consider other types alongside the English springer, you could also consider the following:

There are lots of wonderful dog breeds out there. By doing your research, you'll find one that will be best suited to having a forever home with you.

  • Is an English springer spaniel a good dog for young kids?

    Their natural excitement can mean they could be a bit boisterous for very young children, and you may need to work on encouraging your spaniel to keep all four paws on the floor, and even use management techniques like baby gates when you can't be there to supervise.

  • Is an English springer spaniel a good first dog?

    It's one of the best dogs for first-time dog owners. However, it will follow you everywhere. But if you can handle the devotion, you will love this pup for its gentle, fun, and energetic personality that's also easy to train. This breed also loves snuggling, a plus for new dog owners.

  • Are English springer spaniels aggressive?

    This breed is considered to be one of the least aggressive dogs. Since it was bred to be more of a retrieval breed, it is therefore not considered an aggressive breed.