English springer spanielFast, agile and trainable, the springer spaniel is a real favourite out in the field.

In this century springer spaniels have changed in appearance due to careful breeding. Today’s springer is smaller and lighter in build, fast and less heavily marked than its predecessors.

Ideal rough shooter’s dog

If walked-up shooting is your passion then a well-trained springer will be a loyal and hardworking companion. They are also stronger than cockers and more able to pick up heavier birds.

Our articles on springer spaniels below will help you with choosing a puppy, training your springer spaniel, behaviour on a shoot day and how to keep a springer healthy and content.

Characteristics of a springer

  • Hardy
  • Fun
  • Versatile
  • Loves working in cover and water
  • A natural hunter and retriever
  • A favourite with keepers, beaters, pickers-up and Guns.

Away from the field you will often see springers working as security dogs – they are used as sniffer dogs by the police.

springer vs cocker spaniel

Which breed would suit you better – a springer or a cocker spaniel?

So you’re looking for a spaniel, rather than a Labrador. But that’s just where the decision starts. What sort of spaniel would suit you best? What are you considering in the springer vs cocker debate? There’s plenty to say in defence of each breed – and each also has its…

English springer spaniel

Why is the springer spaniel becoming less popular?

In the 1980s I belonged to a shooting syndicate with one simple rule: every member had to own a working gundog. It was a walk-one, stand-one shoot, so it was a practical ruling. There was no suggestion as to what sort of dog it had to be, but every member…

cocker spaniel with pheasant

We’re all cocker hoop

If you were planning to buy a puppy to train as a rough-shooting and beating dog, which would you get, a springer or cocker? It’s a question I was asked recently by a reader. My correspondent added that he had never owned a dog before and that it would be…

English springer spaniel

Why you should consider taking on an English springer spaniel

Throughout the 20th century  English springer spaniels were the most popular shooting dog in Britain. Whether it remains so today is debatable. In recent years I’ve been on a number of shoots where there wasn’t a springer to be seen, something that would have been unthinkable 20 or 30 years ago.…

teaching a dog quartering

Teaching a young dog quartering

Quartering is probably the toughest lesson to teach a young gundog, and one of the most vital. Joe Irving discusses this most rewarding of lessons for the handler

English springer spaniels

My trained English springer spaniel isn’t listening anymore

Q: I bought a one-year-old trained English springer spaniel (ESS) last year and he was good out shooting last season, hunting and retrieving well when I was shooting on my own and when I took him beating. I was called abroad to work this summer for six months and when…

springer spaniels retrieving

Why won’t my springer spaniel deliver game to me?

Q: I have a 10-month-old springer out of a rescue kennel. He is obviously working stock, good looking, full of life and hunts like a demon. He was completely wild when I got him but after a year of hard work we are now enjoying shooting rabbits over the moors.…

differences between cocker and springer spaniels

13 reasons why cocker spaniels and springer spaniels are different

Both springer and cocker spaniels are capable of doing a useful day’s work out in the field. Both are biddable. However, they do have different characteristics. Differences between cocker and springer spaniels Springers have a size advantage over cocker spaniels Cocker spaniels have a better engine and more staying power…

springer spaniels

Is it really possible to train a rescue springer as a gundog?

We all know that puppies aren’t easy, but if you want a working spaniel, taking on 
a puppy is probably your best option, as it is rare to find a trained spaniel for sale. But there is an alternative: adopt a rescue dog. A quick check on the internet will…

Welsh springer spaniel

Will the Welsh springer spaniel survive?

A chance encounter with a Welsh springer spaniel (WSS) on a shoot earlier this month reminded me what a handsome breed this is and what a shame it is that we do not see more out working. Welsh springer spaniel – a curious breed It is the most numerous of…

springer spaniel in training

Problems with springer spaniels and hunting

My springer spaniel’s training is coming along pretty well but I can’t get her to leave hedgerows and cover to hunt open ground for retrieves. Any advice?

springer spaniels

Help! My young springer ‘freezes’ on a shoot

Q: I have a problem which seems difficult to solve. My young springer has just turned two and started going shooting in January, which was fine, she hunted well. 
We just went out with a couple 
of friends to shoot the odd cock pheasant and rabbit. I took her to…

English springer spaniels

Springer spaniel ruining drives due to rabbit chasing. What’s to be done?

A: Go back to basic training and take him through a refresher in steadiness; make sure he sits to any object you throw through repetition and reward. This dropping of his own accord to a moving object must be perfected first. Then you need access to lots of rabbits or, better still, a purpose-built pen where you can…

Barrie Hughes

Meet devotee of springer spaniels, Barrie Hughes

Spaniel ownership can be both enormously satisfying and extremely frustrating. I’ve survived 33 years of it, but am always full of admiration for those who have managed longer. So when I met Barrie Hughes and heard that he had owned working springers for exactly 50 years, I wanted to learn more. I…

curly-coated retriever

Pedigree dogs in peril

Previously I looked at the winners and losers in the annual registrations of pedigree dogs. The winners included the Bracco Italiano and the cocker spaniel, plus the Hungarian vizsla and its wirehaired cousin, while the losers included several of our traditional favourites, ranging from the Labrador to the English springer spaniel. There…