English Springer Spaniel
In 1902, the Kennel Club of England recognized the English Springer Spaniel
as a distinct breed. In the 1800 the American Spaniel Club was founded, and
in 1924, the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association was formed and
the breed become more well known.
The name "Springing Spaniel" included one classification the ancestral
stock from which many of our present-day land spaniels emanated. In the 1800s,
Springers and Cockers were often born within the same litter, size alone being
the distinguishing factor. In 1902, the Kennel Club of England recognized the
English Springer Spaniel as a distinct breed.
In 1880, the American Spaniel Club was founded and theirs was the task of
sorting out the breed by size, with anything over 28 pounds being classified
as a Springer. Though several individuals in America had these spaniels for
their shooting, it was not until 1924, when the English Springer Spaniel Field
Trial Association was formed, that they became better known. Field trials
were inaugurated, and three years later (1927) the English Springer Spaniel
Field Trial Association became the parent club of the breed.
This association has aimed to further the English Springer Spaniel both on
the bench and in the field. Its AKC standard, formed in 1927 and first revised
in 1932, was made as nearly as possible to foster the natural ability of the
Springer Spaniel, a hunting dog that, with training, could do the work
required of him. The association has also conducted field trials every year,
and it has endeavored to demonstrate to the public just how good the dogs
are as shooting dogs. As competition becomes greater, they must of
necessity be able to cover their ground rapidly, and if well trained, to
obey signals or orders given them.
Unquestionably the present standard has helped to make the Springer more
uniform as a breed, and as a result the dogs as individuals have become much
more uniform at bench shows and in field trials. They are admittedly great
sporting dogs, hence should not be allowed to lose any of their standard
characteristics; that is, they must not become heavy-boned and stocky
in type and thus risk any loss of usefullness in the field. Their one
purpose is to hunt and find game.
The English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized sporting dog, with a compact
body and a docked tail. His coat is moderately long, with feathering on his
legs, ears, chest and brisket. His pendulous ears, soft gentle expression,
sturdy build and friendly wagging tail proclaim him unmistakably a member
of the ancient family of Spaniels. He is above all a well-proportioned dog,
free from exaggeration, nicely balanced in every part. His carriage is proud
and upstanding, body deep, legs strong and muscular, with enough length to
carry him with ease. Taken as a whole, the English Springer Spaniel
suggests power, endurance and agility. He looks the part of a dog that
can go, and keep going, under difficult hunting conditions. At his best,
he is endowed with style, symmetry, balance and enthusiasm, and is every
inch a sporting dog of distinct spaniel character, combining beauty and
Size, Proportion, Substance
The Springer is built to cover rough ground with agility and reasonable
speed. His structure suggests the capacity for endurance. He is to be
kept to medium size. Ideal height at the shoulder for dogs is 20 inches;
for bitches, it is 19 inches. Those more than one inch under or over
the breed ideal are to be faulted. A 20 inch dog, well-proportioned and
in good condition, will weigh approximately 50 pounds; a 19 inch bitch
will weigh approximately 40 pounds. The length of the body (measured
from point of shoulder to point of buttocks) is slightly greater than
the height at the withers. The dog too long in body, especially when
long in the loin, tires easily and lacks the compact outline
characteristic of the breed. A dog too short in body for the length
of his legs, a condition which destroys balance and restricts gait,
is equally undesirable. A Springer with correct substance appears
well-knit and sturdy with good bone, however, he is never coarse or
The head is impressive without being heavy. Its beauty lies in a
combination of strength and refinement. It is important that its size
and proportion be in balance with the rest of the dog. Viewed in profile,
the head appears approximately the same length as the neck and blends
with the body in substance. The stop, eyebrows and chiseling of the
bony structure around the eye sockets contribute to the Springer's
beautiful and characteristic expression, which is alert, kindly and
trusting. The eyes, more than any other feature, are the essence of
the Springer's appeal. Correct size, shape, placement and color
influence expression and attractiveness. The eyes are of medium size
and oval in shape, set rather well-apart and fairly deep in their
sockets. The color of the iris harmonizes with the color of the
coat, preferably dark hazel in the liver and white dogs and black
or deep brown in the black and white dogs. Eyerims are fully
pigmented and match the coat in color. Lids are tight with little
or no haw showing. Eyes that are small, round or protruding, as well
as eyes that are yellow or brassy in color, are highly undesirable.
Ears are long and fairly wide, hanging close to the cheeks with no
tendency to stand up or out. The ear leather is thin and approximately
long enough to reach the tip of the nose. Correct ear set is on a
level with the eye and not too far back on the skull. The skull is
medium-length and fairly broad, flat on top and slightly rounded at
the sides and back. The occiput bone is inconspicuous. As the skull
rises from the foreface, it makes a stop, divided by a groove, or
fluting, between the eyes. The groove disappears as it reaches the
middle of the forehead. The amount of stop is moderate. It must
not be a pronounced feature; rather it is a subtle rise where the
muzzle joins the upper head. It is emphasized by the groove and by
the position and shape of the eyebrows, which are well-developed.
The muzzle is approximately the same length as the skull and one
half the width of the skull. Viewed in profile, the toplines of
the skull and muzzle lie in approximately parallel planes. The
nasal bone is straight, with no inclination downward toward the
tip of the nose, the latter giving an undesirable downfaced look.
Neither is the nasal bone concave, resulting in a "dish-faced"
profile; nor convex, giving the dog a Roman nose. The cheeks are flat,
and the face is well-chiseled under the eyes. Jaws are of sufficient
length to allow the dog to carry game easily: fairly square, lean
and strong. The upper lips come down full and rather square to
cover the line of the lower jaw, however, the lips are never
pendulous or exaggerated. The nose is fully-pigmented, liver or
black in color, depending on the color of the coat. The nostrils
are well-opened and broad. Teeth are strong, clean, of good size
and ideally meet in a close scissors bite. An even bite or one or
two incisors slightly out of line are minor faults. Undershot,
overshot and wry jaws are serious faults and are to be severely penalized.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is moderately long, muscular, clean and slightly arched at
the crest. It blends gradually and smoothly into sloping shoulders. The
portion of the topline from withers to tail is firm and slopes very
gently. The body is short-coupled, strong and compact. The chest is
deep, reaching the level of the elbows, with well-developed forechest;
however, it is not so wide or round as to interfere with the action
of the front legs. Ribs are fairly long, springing gradually to the
middle of the body, then tapering as they approach the end of the
ribbed section. The underline stays level with the elbows to a slight
upcurve at the flank. The back is straight, strong and essentially
level. Loins are strong, short and slightly arched. Hips are nicely-rounded,
blending smoothly into the hind legs. The croup slopes gently to the
set of the tail, and tail-set follows the natural line of the croup.
The tail is carried horizontally or slightly elevated and displays
a characteristic lively, merry action, particularly when the dog
is on game. A clamped tail (indicating timidity or undependable
temperament) is to be faulted, as is a tail carried at a right angle
to the backline in Terrier fashion.
Efficient movement in front calls for proper forequarter assembly.
The shoulder blades are flat and fairly close together at the tips,
molding smoothly into the contour of the body. Ideally, when measured
from the top of the withers to the point of the shoulder to the elbow,
the shoulder blade and upper arm are of apparent equal length,
forming an angle of nearly 90 degrees; this sets the front legs well
under the body and places the elbows directly beneath the tips of the
shoulder blades. Elbows lie close to the body. Forelegs are straight
with the same degree of size continuing to the foot. Bone is strong,
slightly flattened, not too round or too heavy. Pasterns are short,
strong and slightly sloping, with no suggestion of weakness. Dewclaws
are usually removed. Feet are round or slightly oval. They are compact
and well-arched, of medium size with thick pads, and well-feathered
between the toes.
The Springer should be worked and shown in hard, muscular condition
with well-developed hips and thighs. His whole rear assembly suggests
strength and driving power. Thighs are broad and muscular. Stifle joints
are strong. For functional efficiency, the angulation of the hindquarter
is never greater than that of the forequarter, and not appreciably less.
The hock joints are somewhat rounded, not small and sharp in contour.
Rear pasterns are short (about 1/3 the distance from the hip joint
to the foot) and strong, with good bone. When viewed from behind,
the rear pasterns are parallel. Dewclaws are usually removed. The feet
are the same as in front, except that they are smaller and often more compact.
The Springer has an outer coat and an undercoat. On the body,
the outer coat is of medium length, flat or wavy, and is easily
distinguishable from the undercoat, which is short, soft and dense.
The quantity of undercoat is affected by climate and season. When in
combination, outer coat and undercoat serve to make the dog substantially
waterproof, weatherproof and thornproof. On ears, chest, legs and belly
the Springer is nicely furnished with a fringe of feathering of
moderate length and heaviness. On the head, front of the forelegs, and
below the hock joints on the front of the hind legs, the hair is short
and fine. The coat has the clean, glossy, "live" appearance
indicative of good health. It is legitimate to trim about the head,
ears, neck and feet, to remove dead undercoat, and to thin and shorten
excess feathering as required to enhance a smart, functional appearance.
The tail may be trimmed, or well fringed with wavy feathering. Above all,
the appearance should be natural. Overtrimming, especially the
body coat, or any chopped, barbered or artificial effect is to be
penalized in the show ring, as is excessive feathering that destroys
the clean outline desirable in a sporting dog. Correct quality and
condition of coat is to take precedence over quantity of coat.
All the following combinations of colors and markings are equally
acceptable:(1) Black or liver with white markings or predominantly white with
black or liver markings; (2) Blue or liver roan; (3) Tricolor: black and
white or liver and white with tan markings, usually found on eyebrows,
cheeks, inside of ears and under the tail. Any white portion of the coat
may be flecked with ticking. Off colors such as lemon, red or orange are not to place.
The final test of the Springer's conformation and soundness is proper
movement. Balance is a prerequisite to good movement. The front and
rear assemblies must be equivalent in angulation and muscular development
for the gait to be smooth and effortless. Shoulders which are well
laid-back to permit a long stride are just as essential as the excellent
rear quarters that provide driving power. Seen from the side, the Springer
exhibits a long, ground-covering stride and carries a firm back, with no
tendency to dip, roach or roll from side to side. From the front, the
legs swing forward in a free and easy manner. Elbows have free action
from the shoulders, and the legs show no tendency to cross or interfere.
From behind, the rear legs reach well under the body, following on a
line with the forelegs. As speed increases, there is a natural tendency
for the legs to converge toward a center line of travel. Movement faults
include high-stepping, wasted motion; short, choppy stride; crabbing;
and moving with the feet wide, the latter giving roll or swing to the body.
The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn
and willing to obey. Such traits are conducive to tractability, which
is essential for appropriate handler control in the field. In the show ring,
he should exhibit poise and attentiveness and permit himself to be examined by
the judge without resentment or cringing. Aggression toward people and aggression
toward other dogs is not in keeping with sporting dog character and purpose
and is not acceptable. Excessive timidity, with due allowance for puppies and novice exhibits, is to be equally penalized.
In evaluating the English Springer Spaniel, the overall picture is a primary
consideration. One should look for type, which includes general appearance
and outline, and also for soundness, which includes movement and temperament.
Inasmuch as the dog with a smooth easy gait must be reasonably sound and
well-balanced, he is to be highly regarded, however, not to the extent of
forgiving him for not looking like an English Springer Spaniel. An atypical
dog, too short or long in leg length or foreign in head or expression,
may move well, but he is not to be preferred over a good all-round specimen
that has a minor fault in movement. It must be remembered that the English
Springer Spaniel is first and foremost a sporting dog of the Spaniel family,
and he must look, behave and move in character.
Approval Date: February 12, 1994
Effective Date: March 31, 1994
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