English Springer Spaniel Dog’s History
It is thought that all Spaniels can trace their origins back to Spain and that it was these dogs that were introduced to other parts of Europe by the Romans. As such, many breed enthusiasts believe it was the Romans during their invasion of foreign lands who introduced the breed to other European countries.
It was Gaston de Foix, a powerful French lord who ruled lands in Southern France during the 14th century who wrote a now classic book on hunting called “Le Livre de Chasse” which translated means The Hunting Book in which he described highly skilled dogs that were capable of flushing and retrieving game on land or water which many believe were the ancestors of the highly regarded Springers we see today.
Land Spaniels were also mentioned in records during the 16th century and at the time they were referred to as being different to the Water Spaniel. During the 17th century, Land Spaniels were divided into two types, namely the Springing Spaniel and the Crouching Spaniel, but later in the 19th Century, they were divided into another two groups when Springer Spaniels were divided into 2 sizes with the smaller of the two dogs later being called Cocker or Cocking Spaniels and the larger ones being called English Spaniels or Field Spaniels.
In 1812, enthusiasts began producing a pure strain of the English Springer Spaniel with a dog called “Mop 1” having been bred in Shropshire by the Boughey family and although at the time the spaniel resembled a Clumber, he was in fact true to the English Springer Spaniel type. These spaniels enjoyed great success with the sporting community more especially in the county of Norfolk and as such they were always in high demand. The Boughey strain of English Springer Spaniel continued to be a huge success for generations and just one year after the Kennel Club was first established in 1903, English Springer Spaniels were officially recognised. The first Springer was exhibited in the show ring that same year. A liver and white spaniel called Beechgrove Will was the first English Springer to have been awarded a Challenge Certificate in 1906 and a Springer called Fansome was the first female of the breed to win a championship.
It was only after the First World War that English Springer Spaniels really came into their own in modern times with many true to type and exceptionally good lines appearing on the scene both in the field and the show ring. Breed clubs were set up all over the country ensuring the wonderful lines of the Springer Spaniel were kept as pure as possible which is true even today.
The English Springer Spaniel Club was established in 1921 and as previously mentioned, many kennels were founded which included Avendale, Beechgrove, Velax, Horsford, Tissington, Denne, Rivington and Laverstock to name some of the most well-known and respected breeders of both show and field English Springer Spaniels. By 2008, these charming dogs were among the top 10 most popular breeds in the UK and their popularity continues to this day whether in the field or home environment.
Interesting facts about the breed
- Is the Springer Spaniel a vulnerable breed? No. they are among the most popular in the UK having remained at the top of the list of most popular breeds for decades thanks to their loyal, kind and even-tempered natures
- They were given their name because of the way they hunt namely to flush and “retrieve” game for their handlers
- In the past Springers and Cockers were in fact the same breed having been recognised as separate breeds during the 17th Century
- Today there are two “types” of Springer Spaniels namely the Working and the Show Spaniel
- It is thought that William Wallace owned an English Springer Spaniel
- The breed is known to be exceptional in the showring and highly regarded in the field
- Springers are exceptional “sniffer” dogs highly regarded by the Police and other forces
- Springers are registered in the top 10 most popular breeds with the Kennel Club
- They are the oldest of all native gundogs
- A Springer called Buster was awarded the Dicken Medal in 2004 which is the highest award given to animals that serve with the British and Commonwealth forces during times of war
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