The English Springer Spaniel is compactly built, upstanding with proud carriage, slightly longer than tall but with fairly long legs and a deep body. Their build should suggest a combination of strength, agility, and endurance. The outer coat is medium length, either flat or wavy, and the undercoat is soft and dense. This combination protects the dog from weather, water, and thorns. The gait is long and ground covering. The expression—alert, kindly, and trusting— is an essential feature of Springer type.
As the spaniels became increasingly specialized, the larger land spaniels that ranged farther afield became extremely useful at flushing or “springing” game. Before the advent of shotguns, the game was flushed into nets or then chased by falcons or Greyhounds. The first reference to springers referred to land spaniels in the late 1500s. Around 1800, distinct strains of carefully bred springers began to develop; one of the best known were those bred by the Duke of Norfolk. His dogs so heavily influenced the breed that for a while the breed was called Norfolk Spaniels.
The name was changed to Springer Spaniel in 1900. The matter is complicated by the fact that the larger Springer and smaller Cocker Spaniels were simply size variations of the same breed. Only in 1902 did the English Kennel Club recognize the Springer as a distinct breed. In America, the American Spaniel Club was formed in 1880 and began the task of separating the Springer and Cocker sizes.
The English Springer Spaniel is cheerful, playful, and energetic, ready for a day in the field and an evening by the hearth. He does everything with gusto and may be overly enthusiastic unless given plenty of exercise. The typical Springer is the ideal family companion.
As an energetic and inquisitive dog, the Springer needs daily mental and physical exertion. An outing in the field, long walk on leash, and good obedience lesson can go far to making the Springer a calm and well-behaved house dog. Their coat needs brushing or combing one or two times weekly plus clipping and scissoring every two to three months.