The English Springer is a versatile and
adaptable breed. Not only is it a show or working dog, but it is also
suitable for a family man who prefers a day's shooting on his own. On
the other hand, it is companionable and affectionate in the home.
Description & History
The English Springer is described as being
of ancient and pure origin and the oldest of British sporting gundog
breeds. It is probably the forebear from which all spaniel stock has
evolved, apart from the Clumber Spaniel.
Records show that spaniels have been in
existence for 800 years. In the Middle Ages, long before the invention
of early sporting guns, netting was one of the methods used when hunting.
The dogs would find, flush or 'spring' game for the nets or Greyhounds.
These dogs were the forerunners of the present day Springer.
Although there were no distinct types
of spaniels until the early part of the nineteenth century, there were
Springers and Cockers, but they were not two separate breeds. Gradually
different breeds emerged and by the middle of the nineteenth century
the Springer as we know it today was established.
In 1902 the British Kennel Club recognised
the Springer as a separate breed and in 1905 the first field trials
for spaniels were held.
There are two types of English Springer
- the working and the show dog. The working dog is smaller, lighter
boned and is active and robust: it delights in finding, flushing and
retrieving either wing or fur from undergrowth, thick cover and marsh
The show dog is larger and heavier boned
than its working cousin and also has longer ears and feathering. In
1974, 1985 and 1998 the English Springer was the group finalist at Crufts
Many working dogs that compete successfully
at field trials also take part in working tests. Field trials are held
in natural surroundings as would be found in an average day's shooting.
Gundog or working tests, however, are
carried out on set courses using dummies instead of game. They probably
benefit the inexperienced dog rather than the mature one which is used
to working in natural conditions.
As well as working and show dogs some
members of the breed are trained to detect drugs. They are particularly
successful when working at docks and airports where large consignments
arrive illegally from various parts of the world.