Field Spaniel Guide

Sporting Dog Breeds

Somewhat longer than tall, solidly built with moderate bone, the field spaniel is a dog without exaggeration, a combination of beauty and utility. Its stride is long and low, with head held proudly and alertly and the tail wagging but not carried high. The field spaniel is built for both activity and stamina, enabling it to hunt in dense cover or water. It has a single coat, which is flat or slightly wavy and moderately long, giving it protection from thorns and water. The expression is grave and gentle.

The field spaniel is happiest when it has a job to do. Although independent in nature, it is devoted, sensitive and willing to please. Always cheerful and affectionate, it is an excellent family companion as long as it is given regular exercise. The field spaniel is especially known for its tractable nature. It is typical for a field spaniel to be somewhat reserved with strangers.

AKC RANKING 124

FAMILY gundog, spaniel

AREA OF ORIGIN England

DATE OF ORIGIN 1800s

ORIGINAL FUNCTION bird flushing and retrieving

TODAY'S FUNCTION bird flushing and retrieving, spaniel field trials

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 18 Weight: 35-50

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 17 Weight: 35-50

OTHER NAME none

Energy level High energy

Exercise needs High

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly

Ease of training Hard to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

The field spaniel needs daily exercise, and even though it is happiest when given the chance to run and explore, its needs can be met with a long walk on leash. It can live outside in temperate climates if given warm shelter, but it does best when allowed to divide its time between house and yard. It thrives on human companionship and should not be deprived of its family. Its coat needs brushing and combing once or twice weekly. Straggling hairs should be scissored every few months, and some clipping and thinning is needed for show dogs. The ears should be checked and cleaned regularly. Some can be somewhat sloppy, and some snore.
• Major concerns: CHD
• Minor concerns: otitis externa, patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: PRA, SAS
• Suggested tests: hip, eye
• Life span: 12 – 14 years
The field spaniel shares its early history with the English cocker spaniel, the only difference between the two breeds initially being one of size. The field spaniel was composed of those land spaniels weighing over 25 pounds. These larger field spaniels were derived from the cocker, Sussex and English water spaniels and were initially required to be black. After becoming recognized as a separate breed in the late 1800s, the field spaniel succumbed to breeding for exaggeration, and the repeated infusion of Sussex spaniel blood resulted in dogs of excessive length, overly heavy bones and short legs. The breed lost its usefulness as a hunter, and although it enjoyed a short vogue in the early 1900s, it ultimately teetered on the brink of extinction. Crosses to English springer spaniels were made in an effort to re-create the original field spaniel. The crosses were successful, and the modern field spaniel is not only a handsome replica of its former self but also an able hunter. All modern field spaniels can be traced back to four field spaniels from the 1950s: Ronayne Regal, Gormac Teal, Colombina of Teffont and Elmbury Morwena of Rhiwlas. Despite the fact that field spaniels were being shown in America in the late 1800s, no champions were made up between 1916 and 1966; in fact, the breed was essentially extinct in America for much of that time. The breed was reintroduced into America in the late 1960s. The field spaniel remains among the rarest of breeds in America.