Why We Love English Springer Spaniels
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Maybe you are a hunter, looking for a capable and loyal field companion. Maybe you are a growing family, looking to find a pet that offers a great personality and temperament. In our opinion, the English Springer Spaniel breed offers a great balance of both. We wanted to share a bit of how we got to loving this dog breed, a bit of it's history, and how it has impacted our life.
Where it all began
Our love of English Springer Spaniels starts with a bit of nostalgic allure. Todd's grandfather had a springer. The dog was a great family friend and naturally took the the field. When it came time to find a family pet, a springer was top of mind. Like his childhood experience showed him, the breed offered the same companionship and ability. They were intelligent, taking to training well, and athletic for their medium size. There begins the trial journey, which set the trajectory to change our lives forever.
We not long there after, we had the fortune of coming across a breeder, just outside of Milwaukee. Here enters FC AFC Whisky Rivers Brandy. If you have been a Whisky River Gun Dog community member for some time, you are likely already familiar with her.
Brandy was in a world of her own. She took to training easily, had a natural instinct for navigating the field, and formed a great relationship with the handler. She was everything you would want in your first trial dog, and then some. It seemed like she was in placement after placement, competing with the best of them. We learned a lot from her. She was a great teacher. More than that, she was a great relationship builder. We have formed some enduring lifetime relationships, and she was at the center of it all. She was the beginning of it all.
What Makes English Springer Spaniels Great
The breed has always been intriguing and our experience over the years has validated our curiosity. They are full of life, with unique and generally playful personalities. They are also intelligent and athletic. All this comes in a medium sized dog. Our largest males have been around 50-55 lbs. Our smallest females around 28-32 lbs. In our experience, even the greatest hunters with the most intense drive are full of love and enjoy cuddling. They are playful, great with kids, and very obedient. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has a wealth of knowledge on the breed, as well as it's history, which includes unique facts of when it was recognized as a distinct breed, it's relationship to the English Cocker, and the support of the breed due to the formation of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (ESSFTA).
Bench vs Field...Difference?
If you are a follower of Whisky River Gun Dogs, you already know we are focused on breeding and training quality field dogs. For new followers, what this means is that we focus on breeding and training for hunting purposes. These dogs offer great instinct and amazing athleticism in the field, competing in field trials. The ESSFTA has a good brief on the history of the breeding for English Springer Spaniels and their use as hunting companions.
If you hear of a "bench bread" springer, these are breeders who focus on breeding dogs based on the AKC standard for show competitions, otherwise known as confirmation trials.
Caring for Your English Spring Spaniel
The AKC, as well as the parent club ESSFTA, are organizations committed to maintaining the integrity of the breed by setting standards and guidelines for breeders and owners. Whisky River Gun Dogs participates in AKC Breeders of Merit program, which specifies requirements around the involvement of the breeder in AKC clubs and events, puppy registration, and parent club recommended health screenings. The recommended screenings based on the ESSFTA health statement are in the info graphic. Responsible breeders will have this information readily available. For example, we list this right on our online dog profiles, like our stud dog Guinness. These screenings help ensure the continued health of the breeding standard, but also the well being of your future companion. It is important to understand what goes into the well being of the breed. This also includes getting to know the breed's tendencies, understanding your ability to be available for consistent training, and how to find help when you think you might need it. If you ever find yourself in need of training, be it basic obedience or hunting, give us a call or send us an email. We would be glad to help, or point you in the right direction based on your needs.
Finding a Breeder
A sure fire way to find a reputable breeder is to leverage professional organizations like the AKC and ESSFTA. The AKC manages the standard and registration of the breed, and they offer a search tool to find puppies for sale from quality breeders. The sister site to for ESSFTA, ESSFT.com, also lists reputable breeders on their site with their own distinct referral page. The ESSFTA guidelines also outline what to consider in a responsible breeder. While lengthy, it is good information to consider when purchasing responsibly. They also have a good definition of the different breeder "classifications." For example, "Backyard Breeder" versus "Professional Field Trainers and Handlers." Whisky River Gun Dogs would be one you consider a "Professional Field Trainer and Handler," but you likely already knew that. But, you should really get to know your breeder. Ask for referrals, do research, and reach out with questions! We are always here to answer your questions. You can connect with us on social media, subscribe to our mailing list, and/or email and call us. Of course, there is also Google as well. Many of our community members said they just Google searched. One thing to consider is that many times, their attention is on breeding and training quality dogs, so they may not always have a Google business page, maintain their website, or have a strong social media presence. That is ok, you might just need to do a little more work to call and get some names for referrals.
We have talked about the unique qualities of the breed, why we love it, and some great resources to consider. Getting started with an English Springer Spaniel may not actually be getting a puppy. Depending on your interest, you may want to consider getting involved with a club first. One of the greatest parts about being involved with organizations like the ESSFTA and AKC, is that it draws a community of breed champions and experts from across the nation. A lot of these members bring their passion and enthusiasm to local chapters of clubs, which host regional events for field trials and and competitions. These members are extremely welcoming as ambassadors of their respective sport and more than willing to share their enthusiasm and knowledge. That is what lead to finding our passion and the development of a ton of friendships along the way. We encourage you to checkout both the ESSFTA calendar and the AKC calendar for events happening in your region. These events often, if not always, welcome spectators to come and learn more about the events.
Hopefully that background and the resources give a good representation of the English Springer Spaniel breed, why we love it, and how it has impacted our lives. We truly are passionate about the quality and care of the dogs coming out of kennel. We love the sport of field trials and are very grateful for the amazing impact it has had on our lives. We have made a lot of friends, both human and dog, and we look forward to making many more. Hopefully we have inspired you to consider the same!
If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email If you are interested in future litters, updates on trials, or are interested in training, you can subscribe to our mailing list for future updates. Also, be sure to follow us on facebook and instagram. We will see you in the field!