English Springer Spaniel Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
English Springer Spaniel Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
This high-spirited tail-wagger needs at least one long vigorous run every day. Without exercise an English Springer Spaniel can be a boisterous handful, especially when young.
His opinion of strangers varies from friendly to reserved. Most are good watchdogs, but not guardians.
Caution: There is serious dominance/aggression lurking in the background of some lines. Early socialization and stable parents are essential in this breed.
Most English Springers are gregarious with other animals, though there is some same-sex aggression.
Some individuals can be so persistently affectionate that they become clingy, which can result in separation anxiety and destructiveness when left alone.
Many Springers love getting into puddles and water bowls and tracking mud through the house. This is not a dainty breed, nor one for fastidious housekeepers.
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium-sized and sturdy
- Has a pretty feathered coat in a variety of colors
- Thrives on vigorous athletic activities
- Has a tail-wagging nature
- Is usually polite with everyone
- Is usually peaceful with other pets
An English Springer Spaniel may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Providing enough exercise to keep him satisfied and avoid rambunctiousness
- "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
- Frightening dominance/aggression that can suddenly flare up in some Springers
- Fearfulness or shyness when not socialized enough
- Frequent brushing, combing, and clipping of the silky coat
- Excitable or submissive urination (tendency to dribble urine when excited or nervous)
- Serious health problems
An English Springer Spaniel may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult English Springers have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your English Springer Spaniel to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the English Springer Spaniel
If I was considering an English Springer Spaniel, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. English Springer Spaniels need regular opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
- Potential separation anxiety. All of the spaniel breeds need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.
- Providing enough socialization. English Springer Spaniels need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Obedience instructors see too many English Springers who are fearful, suspicious, occasionally even aggressive. Sometimes this is from poor socialization – but sometimes a bad temperament is inherited.
So be very careful when you're looking for an English Springer Spaniel. Socialization can't change a genetically bad temperament.
- Grooming. Coat care is a big responsibility when you own a Springer. Especially an individual from show lines, since these dogs tend to have heavy coats with lots of feathering. Just think of all the mats and tangles that can form! You ward those off by catching them early, with weekly brushing and combing. Every couple of months, you (or a groomer) need to trim and clip the coat to keep it neat and sanitary.
- Shedding. Expect a lot!
- Potential health problems. From hip problems to eye problems to metabolic diseases, English Springer Spaniels are risky in the health department. See English Springer Health. Of particular concern is a rare neurological disorder that causes sudden flare-ups of extreme dominance or aggression. The cause is unknown, though research suggests a link to brain seizures.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.