There are numerous Spaniel Breeds, and they are mostly immensely popular dogs; there’s probably a suitable Spaniel breed for every dog lover worldwide. Spaniel breeds are only a tiny part of the dog kingdom, and yet many of them are so well known, such as the Springer Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles, and the American Water Spaniel.
Spaniels have always been revered as excellent hunting dogs, but they have transitioned into one of the most sought-after family pets worldwide over the years. All Spaniels seem to possess the same type of friendly, loyal and affectionate nature that endears them to humans so much.
Many hunters still employ Spaniels today to find, flush and retrieve game for them, so the dogs haven’t left their skills behind.
What Is A Spaniel?
Spaniels are various breeds that make up the Spaniel family, bred to be hunting companions. Initially, owners bred them to find game and then to flush them. Spaniels performed these tasks by creeping through the undergrowth to flush birds, such as the Cocker Spaniel, or they would “spring” at the prey, making them take flight.
When guns became the prime means of hunting, Spaniels were re-trained into gun dogs. The dogs would still perform the tasks of flushing game. Spaniels flushed several types of game, both on land and in water, and excelled in both. Of course, many Spaniels didn’t just flush game; they would also retrieve shot game for the hunters. Because of their versatility, Spaniels were incredibly popular with hunters.
General Spaniel Breed Characteristics
Most Spaniels follow similar breed standards such as medium-sized, muscular with larger than average folding ears, and double-coated to protect against the weather. Spaniels bred to retrieve from the water will have water-resistant coats.
Spaniels are highly intelligent, independent thinkers, lively, energetic, easy to train, and obedient. There is typically a streak of stubbornness, making them a problematic handful for first-time owners; however, most Spaniel breeds make the perfect family pet for novice owners.
Here Are Some Of The Most Popular And Well-Known Spaniel Breeds:
1. American Cocker Spaniel
The American Cocker Spaniel is a terrifically popular Spaniel breeds and currently is number 30 on the AKC list of most popular breeds. Cockers are also the smallest dogs in the Sporting Group. The dog has a life expectancy of between 10 and 14 years. Males will grow to a height up to 15.5 inches (females slightly shorter) and weigh up to 30 pounds.
Cocker Spaniels began life as one breed, but about one hundred years ago, the Americans went a different way with Cocker Spaniels, preferring to breed them more along show lines rather than as working dogs. Doing this created a slightly different dog in both looks and temperament.
Cocker Spaniels are people loving dogs and enjoy nothing better than being around their family. In fact, they can suffer from separation anxiety very badly if left by themselves for too long. American Cockers enjoy exercise, but they aren’t as exercise-oriented as the English Cockers; as long as they get outside daily for a few brisk walks, American Cockers do fine; they also adapt well to apartment living.
2. American Water Spaniel
Typically not a household name as some other Spaniels, the American Water Spaniel hails from the Great Lakes region in the United States. No one puts water in a dog’s name unless they have an affinity to water. To hunt and retrieve from the freezing waters of the lakes takes a well-adapted dog. American Water Spaniels possess a waterproof coat that’s thick and dense. Their feet are webbed and thickly padded.
The American Water Spaniel is an active dog that enjoys working, preferably close to its family. Owners describe the dog as happy, highly versatile, and highly intelligent. If they have a drawback, it’s their need to be constantly involved in some activity, or else they develop behavior issues such as excessive barking and being destructive.
American Water Spaniels grow up to 18 inches and weigh up to 45 pounds. Their typical life expectancy is between 10 to 14 years. In the AKC popularity ranks, the American Water Spaniel is number 166 out of 200.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the most popular spaniel in the United States, even though they only gained their registration with the AKC in 1995. They are the smallest breed in the spaniel world yet are the largest dog of the Toy group. Cavaliers are the epitome of the loving, affectionate lapdog and possess large deep eyes that make people fall in love with them.
Cavaliers are playful, intelligent little dogs that love family, including the children. Cavaliers are not in the least shy or aggressive. They really can adapt to any kind of home, families with children, singles, and seniors; it makes little difference to a Cavalier; all they need is to feel loved and they are happy.
Cavaliers have a coat that owners must regularly groom, so it always looks its best. So brushing a couple of times a week is necessary. There is some light shedding, but it’s not particularly noticeable.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a direct descendant of the Toy Spaniel from the 16th century and bred to keep their masters warm on cold nights. A job the dog is still more than willing to perform even today. Cavaliers grow to a height of 13 inches and can weigh up to 18 pounds. Their life expectancy is between 10 to 14 years, and they are the 18th most popular dog in the United States.
4. English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniels are medium-sized sporting gun dogs that grow between 19 to 20 inches and weigh 50 pounds. They are solid muscular dogs, and they look every bit like the “classic” spaniel.
English Springers, so-called because they sprang at prey, causing them to take flight or run. Springers love people and enjoy a close working relationship. Springers are known for their energy and lively personalities but are easily trainable because they are pretty intelligent and have a deep desire to please. Most Springers are outgoing and friendly and have little to no problem with other dogs; however, it’s advisable to begin obedience and socialization classes as soon as possible.
Springer Spaniels enjoy being close to their human family and don’t appreciate being left alone for long periods. It will bring on separation anxiety, and then you might see some behavioral issues, such as barking, digging, and they might become destructive around the home.
If you own a Springer, you need to be active; the dog is suitable for outdoor-type families that enjoy hiking and exercising. Springers will make ideal companions for these activities. You can always enroll your Springer in agility and obedience trials; they’ll do well in that sort of environment. Springers are good family dogs and are happy to be around children if you raised them with the kids from a puppy. They’re highly unlikely to suit a sedentary lifestyle, so don’t get a Springer unless you enjoy exercise.
5. Blue Picardy Spaniel
Here’s a spaniel you might not have heard about before. The Blue Picardy Spaniel hails from the French region of the same name. They can be found mostly in their native France and Canada. Blue Picardy Spaniels descend from old French Spaniels, especially the Picardy Spaniel or its other name Épagneul Picard. The Picardy is known to exist before the French Revolution. It’s said the Picardy was crossed with English and Gordon Setters to produce the Blue Picardy.
The first documented evidence of the Blue Picardy was in 1875. Irrespective of their name, the Blue Picardy are pointing dogs and take after the English dogs’ breeders crossed them with. The Blue Picardy also has a French name, Epagnuel Bleu de Picardie. The United Kingdom’s United Kennel Club has already registered the Blue Picardy.
Still, as yet, the dog has not been accepted into the Kennel Club in England or the American Kennel Club (AKC). Blue Picardy Spaniels grow to 24 inches and can weigh up to 45 pounds. Working with humans all through their history means they bond well with a human family. Their manner is calm and relaxed.
Blue Picardy Spaniels are highly intelligent and want to please, so training is not difficult. However, you need to make training as exciting and testing as possible they bore quickly and will lose interest if all they are doing is repeating what they already know. At present, it’s not easy to find Blue Picardy breeders outside of France and Canada. So owning one might be a bit tricky. However, all the Spaniels have the same qualities as the Blue Picardy.
There are some “Spaniel” breeds you should avoid, that’s if you want a spaniel. There are some breeds having spaniel in their name that are not spaniels. For example, Brittany Spaniel, the AKC, has now dropped the spaniel from the dog’s name because, in reality, Brittanys have more in common with pointers.
Two more dogs having spaniel in their name are the Tibetan spaniel and Japanese chin or spaniel. Neither dog is a spaniel because they have never been hunting dogs.