Field Spaniel: Dog Breed Profile

A Field Spaniel sitting in tall grass.

Anchy / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

A close cousin to Cocker Spaniels and Springer Spaniels, Field Spaniels were originally bred to hunt game in England's vast fields. You're more likely to see today's Field Spaniels at the dog show, rather than the hunting grounds, but modern Field Spaniels have certainly retained their ancestors' high energy levels, playfulness, loyalty, and intelligence—making them a perfect pick for an active family.

Field Spaniels are extremely loving dogs, and develop strong bonds with their people. In general, Field Spaniels are friendly with other dogs, other pets, and strangers, but, as with all breeds, it doesn't hurt to start your Spaniel's socialization as early as possible.

As previously mentioned, Field Spaniels were bred to hunt, so they have very high energy levels and require a lot of exercise. Because they need plenty of space to run around, Field Spaniels aren't recommended for people living in apartments, condos, or homes without backyards; without proper exercise, they can become bored, and a bored dog can be mischievous—or even destructive.

Breed Overview

Group: Sporting Group

Height: 18 inches (male) and 17 inches (female)

Weight: 35 to 50 pounds

Coat: dense, water-repellent single coat (Field Spaniels don't have undercoats) that's long and wavy or straight

Coat Color: Come in black, liver, golden, golden liver, or roan.

Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

Characteristics of the Field Spaniel

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 Low
Amount of Shedding Moderate

History of the Field Spaniel

Unlike many dogs that were bred for hunting, the original Field Spaniel breeders in 19th century England actually preferred all black dogs; most hunters prefer dogs with white markings, so they can be seen easily in the field. These breeders, however, were also breeding their dogs for shows. Producing all-black litters made the Field Spaniels ideal for dog shows, while maintaining their excellent hunting skills.

For many years, types of Spaniels were categorized by their weight. If even a single puppy from a litter weighed over 25 pounds, he was considered a Field Spaniel; if the puppy weighed under 25 pounds, he was considered a Cocker Spaniel. It wasn't until 1901 that breeders developed clear distinctions between the two types of dogs.

The American Kennel Club registered its very first Field Spaniel in 1894. A few years later, however, a devastating fire wiped out a Field Spaniel breeding kennel, and essentially wiped out the breed in the United States—and another Field Spaniel wasn't registered with the AKC until 1930.

In 1967, three Field Spaniels were imported to the United States. This import, along with a few subsequent imports, raised the Field Spaniel population in the United States slightly, but it's still an extremely rare breed in North America.

A portrait of Spaniels from 1919.
Buyenlarge / Archive Photos / Getty Images

Field Spaniel Care

Despite the Field Spaniel's long, dense coat, grooming is relatively low maintenance—especially compared to other types of Spaniels. Field Spaniels should be brushed regularly, and bathed as needed. If your dog develops knots, tangles, or mats, gently remove the knots with your fingers and brush with a pin brush. For especially tough tangles, try spritzing your dog's coat with a gentle leave-in conditioner spray.

Like all breeds, the Field Spaniel's teeth should be brushed on a regular basis. Daily brushing is ideal, but brushing a few times per week can help protect her teeth and gums from oral disease and plaque build-up. Dental chews are fine in moderation, but shouldn't be the only method of dental care.

It's important to check your Field Spaniel's ears weekly for build-up, debris, or signs of infection, like redness, swelling, or a bad odor. The Field Spaniels' floppy ears can trap moisture, making them more susceptible to developing ear infections. If your dog has wax or debris in his ears, gently remove it with a soft, cotton cloth or pad. Avoid using cotton swabs, which can damage your dog's inner-ear structures or potentially push the debris deeper into the ear canal. If your dog's ears have signs of infection, contact your veterinarian ASAP.

Because Field Spaniels are active, high energy dogs, it's important to give her plenty of exercise. Frequent walks, running, or swimming are all great ways to exercise your dog, but games that challenge her mind can keep her exercised and engaged. Consider agility courses, puzzles, and games like hide and seek. Remember to always keep your Field Spaniel in an enclosed, fenced area when playing outdoors—today's Spaniels retain their drive to hunt, and they may chase small animals.

Common Health Problems

Field Spaniels are generally healthy dogs, but—like any breed—they may be prone to certain health conditions. There's no guarantee that your Field Spaniel will (or won't) develop any of these conditions, but it's important to know the signs, should they arise in your dog.

Some health conditions that are commonly seen in Field Spaniels include:

  • Ear infections: Spaniels' floppy ears—which trap moisture—can make them susceptible to ear infections. Be on the lookout for signs of infection like redness, swelling, inflammation, or a bad smell.
  • Hip dysplasia: A hereditary condition that affects the hip joints, hip dysplasia is common in many dog breeds. If your dog experiences pain, weakness, or lameness when walking, talk to your vet.
  • Epilepsy: Field Spaniels are more prone to epilepsy, or seizures. There's no cure for epilepsy, but with the right medications and management, it is possible for an epileptic dog to live a long, happy, healthy life.

Diet and Nutrition

Although your dog's diet depends largely on its age, sex, activity levels, and metabolism, you can expect to feed your Field Spaniel one and a half to two cups of high quality dog food, divided into two meals, each day. And take it easy on the treats. Overfeeding can lead to serious health issues, like canine obesity, heart disease, or diabetes.

If you're not sure how much to feed your dog, or you think your dog is overweight, your vet will be able to recommend a healthy diet for your pet.

Pros

  • Extremely intelligent, which can make training easier

  • Loving and loyal to his family members

  • Low-maintenance grooming, especially compared to other Spaniels

Cons

  • Very high energy with high exercise needs

  • Not recommended for apartments, condos, or other small spaces

  • Floppy ears make him more susceptible to ear infections

Where to Adopt or Buy a Field Spaniel

Because Field Spaniels are rare in the United States, you may have a hard time locating one at your local shelter. Look for Field Spaniel rescue groups in your area—they may be able to recommend a shelter with Field Spaniels, or help you locate one elsewhere.

If you choose to purchase a Field Spaniel from a breeder, it's vital to ensure you're working with a reputable, ethical, and moral breeder. Ask lots of questions and, if possible, visit the breeding site. Look for signs of a backyard breeding operation, like unhealthy dogs or unsanitary conditions at the site.

More Breeds and Further Research

Field Spaniels are great dogs for active families with large, fenced-in yards. Their exercise requirements are high, but their grooming needs are surprisingly low. As always, be sure to do your research and make sure the Field Spaniel is the right pick for your family before bringing him home.

If you're interested in learning about breeds similar to the Field Spaniel, check out: