The English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized dog originally bred to flush out and retrieve game during hunting. With their hardworking lineage, this breed does well with an owner who enjoys an active, outdoor lifestyle. The dogs also relish spending time with their families indoors. Given plenty of exercise and proper socialization, these dogs make excellent family pets and get along well with just about anyone.
It is important to find a well-bred English Springer Spaniel as their temperaments vary widely. This is a breed well-known for its tendency to be somewhat hyperactive. When selecting a puppy, insist on meeting at least one of the parents so you can determine if the sire or dam seems hyperactive. A Springer Spaniel puppy born in a puppy mill and purchased at a pet store will display more of the unwanted behaviors than a well-bred dog. While this is true of all breeds, hyperactivity is a bigger concern with the Springer Spaniel than with other breeds. While some dogs are harder to train than others because of a stubborn streak - as with Basset Hounds or Beagles - the Springer is difficult to train because of hyperactivity. In most cases, a dog displaying hyperactive tendencies is not afforded enough opportunities to discharge their very high energy. Therefore, frequent walks and games of fetch or swimming should be considered vital to the caretaking of this breed.
Hyperactivity is not the only concern with Springers. Daily exercise will keep a bored, hyperactive dog from becoming destructive when left alone. Long walks outdoors, weather permitting, and agility training will prevent boredom and give Springers the exercise they need. Agility training also helps with teaching your dog obedience commands. English Springer Spaniels can become bored during repetitive training, so vary the training and incorporate games to hold your dog's interest. Participate in agility trials to not only keep your dog active, but to expose your dog to a variety of people and other dogs as part of the dog's socialization. Competitive obedience trials and "nose work," where the dog learns to distinguish smells and display certain behaviors, are both excellent methods of discharging your spaniel's energy and affording you time to bond with your dog. If you have a pool, English Springer Spaniels enjoy swimming. Clean out their ears after swimming to remove excess moisture.
English Springer Spaniel puppies require socialization with people and other dogs to prevent problems with aggression. This breed is typically known for their friendly, outgoing personalities and obedience to their owners. Unfortunately, improper breeding or lack of proper socialization can cause unpredictable aggression in this breed known as "Springer rage syndrome." This condition results in biting without warning and its cause is debated, possibly resulting from an extreme form of dominance aggression, a seizure disorder or another medical cause such as a chemical imbalance specific to this breed. This condition has been shown to be genetic and more common in this breed and English Cocker Spaniels, according to the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association. Bring your dog to a veterinarian to ensure a medical cause is not behind any aggressive behavior and consult with a veterinary behaviorist about this condition.
Bring your English Springer Spaniel to a veterinarian for regular checkups and examinations. The breed can suffer from hip dysplasia, epilepsy, phosphofructokinase deficiency and canine fucosidosis, according to the English Springer Spaniel Club. PFK is a type of enzyme that metabolizes sugar in the dog's body to maintain healthy cell function. A lack of PFK affects the dog's red blood cells. This condition worsens after strenuous exercise and can lead to weakness and severe lethargy. Canine fucosidosis is a progressive and ultimately fatal disease that is due to a lack of the enzyme alpha-L-fucosidase, which metabolizes compounds in the body. The disease affects English Springer Spaniels between 18 months and 4 years old and causes problems with hearing and coordination or leads to personality changes and depression, according to the ESSC.
Eye conditions including a serious form of progressive retinal atrophy, retinal dysplasia, and entropion can also affect English Springer Spaniels, potentially causing blindness. Certain DNA tests can determine if your dog suffers from or is a carrier of the genes that cause fucosidosis or PRA in this breed; dogs who carry either of these genes shouldn't be bred.
More on English Springer Spaniels
How To Hunt Rabbits With English Springer Spaniels
How Much Do English Springer Spaniels Shed?
English Springer Spaniel Diet Tips