The Origin of Spaniels
If we go by some researchers’ assumptions, the spaniel breed of gun dogs has its origin in Spain, and that is how it got its name. They back this argument by stating that apparently, the word ‘Spaniel’ is derived from ‘espaigneul’, an Old French term for ‘Spanish dog’. Moreover, it is believed that ‘espaigneul’ comes from ‘Hispaniolus’, which is the Latin word for Spanish. Some others argue that it was Asia where the spaniels initially originated from. Then, they kept moving to Europe as well as to the western side.
The believers of this theory claim that these dogs were introduced to Spain by the Celts while shifting to that region. There is also a third theory suggesting the Middle East be the origin of spaniels.
The History of Spaniels
As per beliefs, spaniels have been on the planet since the fourteenth century. Furthermore, the ancestral breeds of spaniels are believed to have lived even before that. Usually utilized as gun dogs, spaniels were classified into several categories later in the seventeenth century. Very soon, they became dogs for companionship and pet, land game retrievers, show dogs, and flushing dogs. In modern times, spaniels have become trendy pets. Among all the different kinds of breeds, cocker spaniels are the most popular when choosing a pet.
Characteristics of a Spaniel
Spaniel dogs have some very obvious and common characteristics that include droopy ears, an average small to medium size, and a silky, long, and wavy coat of hair. Their ears are surprisingly full and long, and their brilliantly waved hair extends to their tail, thighs as well as legs. What makes these dogs one of the most expensive breeds and special companions are their innate qualities. These include liveliness, obedience, sheer intelligence, as well as a profound sense of affection for every being around them. Spaniels come in various types. While some are popular as pets, others are preferred by hunters for all kinds of dog sports, flushing, and hunting.
American Cocker Spaniel
Native to the United States, the American Cocker Spaniel is known by various other names like Cocker, Merry Cocker, and Cocker Spaniel. The English Cocker Spaniels are the ancestors of this breed. Hence, both these types of spaniels are very similar to each other. Typically, these dogs are small to medium in size and are bred as watchdogs. They are also bred for tracking and hunting purposes.
On average, these dogs have a height of 13 to 15.5 inches and can weigh about 11 to 15 kilos. They have round heads and long and too fluffy ears, which fall on both sides of their heads. The American Cocker Spaniel is known to be merry and joyful in nature. They have a steady and trusting temperament which makes them excellent pets.
American Water Spaniel
The breeding of the American Water Spaniel first started in Wisconsin in the nineteenth century. Native to the United States, they are mainly from the lake country of the Upper Midwest. This breed is a descendant of the Irish water spaniel and English water spaniel breeds. These spaniels are medium in size and can grow up to 15 to 18 inches. Their weight can be from 25 to 45 lbs. Mostly brown, on average, these dogs live up to 10 to 13 years. These spaniels have bodies covered with a dense, waterproof coat along with webbed toes and thickly padded feet.
This is why, originally, these are bred to hunt and swim in the icy waters of the Great Lakes area. These spaniels are characteristically very happy, charming, and curious. They are very resistant as well as extremely skilled as well.
Blue Picardy Spaniel
Blue Picardy Spaniels are a rare breed and native to France. In the twentieth century, these dogs appeared near the Somme River region for the first time. It is said that they descend from the Picardy Spaniel and English Setter. They are also called by different names, such as Épagneul Bleu de Picardie and Bleu Picard. On average, they can grow up to 22 to 24 inches in height, and their weight is about 42 to 45 lbs. These are pretty big dogs, and the long legs make up for most of their bodies’ weight.
An average Blue Picardy Spaniel can live up to ten to thirteen years. Primarily, they are bred for using them as hunting dogs. It is because they can perform exceptionally well as flush in the waters and on the rugged terrains. These dogs are known for being very playful, extremely active, and gentle, making them the perfect pets.
South Carolina is the region where the medium-sized Boykin Spaniels were bred for the very first time. It was done in the earliest twentieth century with the main motive of hunting turkeys. These dogs are popular in flushing and retrieving, and given their tiny size, these spaniels are pretty great swimmers. An average Boykin Spaniel can be around 13 to 16 inches in height and can weigh about 24 to 39 lbs typically. They tend to appear supremely muscular and bulky. They can live up to 13 to 16 years and are very energetic, outdoorsy, and friendly. They not only love the hunting grounds and lakes but get immense joy even when kept in homes.
Their huge, feathery ears hanging near their cheeks along with the solid-brown coat are among their most distinct features. These dogs are known for being “an absolute tiger in the field and a sweet dog to have around the family.”
Brittany Spaniels were originally bred for being gundogs. They are known for their agility, energy, and immense smartness. It is also easier to train these dogs as compared to various other breeds of spaniels. They were initially called “Brittany Spaniels”, but in 1982, the word “spaniel” was removed. France is the country where these spaniels originated from. They can live up to 13 to 15 years. They can weigh up to 30 to 40 lbs with an average height of 17 to 21 inches.
What attracts the sportspeople is the medium size of the Brittany Spaniels, which make them perfect for the purpose of dog sports as well as hunting. Even families love to have these as pets. Their hallmark features include their patterned and bold coat, which you can see in different shades of bright orange, reddish-brown, and white. If you are looking for an all-in-one breed of dogs for companionship, hunting as well as dog sports, these spaniels would be a great choice.
They make for great teammates, be it any kind of dog sport. You will be surprised to know that Brittany Spaniels are pretty task-oriented and are always exuberant. They feel the constant need of being active. They are always running and getting things going.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Staying true to its name, this breed of spaniel has a special link to the history of Britain. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are native to the U.K. and are regarded as an all-rounder breed of dogs with regal grace and true beauty. On average, these dogs grow up to be 11 to 13 inches long and 13 to 17 lbs in weight. They live up to 9 to 13 years, and people often call these dogs ‘toy spaniels’. These spaniels make for great companions and pets. Moreover, they possess a pretty sporty nature which they have inherited from the spaniel ancestors.
With big, round eyes as their distinctive feature, these dogs look supremely adorable. Their sweet and innocent expression will surely melt your heart. Their rich coat in the shade of silk makes it look different from other spaniel breeds. They are wonderful for several dog sports, hiking and they even love to run on beaches.
Clumber Spaniels are popularly known for being the favourite of the British royalty for numerous decades. Native to the United Kingdom, these dogs are known for being very vulnerable. They are usually called the “mellow and dignified hunting companion of the kings”. They have a huge head along with bulky bones. On average, they can grow up to 13 to 16 inches in height, and they weigh around 11 to 18 kilos, that is, 24 to 39 lbs. These dogs are bred for pushing through the covers in the fields and hunting wildfowl on rough terrains. This results in the ‘clumber movement’, and so, they are called the Clumber Spaniels.
As opposed to various other breeds of spaniels, Clumber Spaniels have a flat and straight coat. Usually, it is yellow and brown in colour with orange or brown freckle-like spots. These dogs are known for their outdoorsy nature on the fields. When at home, this breed is delightful and easygoing. They love to swim and fetch and hence, are very sturdy and brilliant playmates. (See Why is My Dog Coughing Up White Foam?)
English Cocker Spaniel
Native to Great Britain, these dogs are called ‘Cocker Spaniels’ in the U.S.A. The lovers of this breed usually describe these spaniels as “merry” primarily because of the happy disposition that they have. In England, they were used for hunting woodcock, and that is why they have ‘cocker’ in their name. They are medium-sized dogs and can be 14 to 16 inches in height. On average, they can weigh around 28 to 30 lbs. When at home, they are very mellow, adorable, and sweet, but they get pretty upbeat and energetic when set on the fields. This breed is loved and admired for its charming personality and beautiful look that makes it totally irresistible.
Apart from that, its highly dignified expression, puppy eyes, softly contoured heads, and rich and silky coat are its other distinct features. These dogs are brilliant, optimistic, loving, active, and friendly.
English Springer Spaniel
Native to the United Kingdom, the English Springer Spaniels were first bred in the nineteenth century. This breed comes in two kinds: one with coarse and short coats meant to work, and the second type has soft coats and huge ears mainly used for shows. They can grow up to 18 to 20 inches in height and 35 to 45 lbs in weight.
On average, they can live for 11 to 14 years. Originally, these were bred as gundogs for springing and flushing in the fields. But now, they are also known for being excellent pets and companions. They are also famous for actively participating in several hunting tests as well as for enjoying hiking and camping activities. They have ‘springer’ in their name owing to the way these spaniels ‘spring’ during hunting sports or other dog games. It is also because of the way the smooth stride and covers the ground while moving.
They have a very strong sense of smell and hence, are often used as sniffers and police dogs during search and rescue missions. They love to swim, take long walks as well as play games of chasing and fetching.
English Toy Spaniel
Also known as “King Charles Spaniel”, the English Toy Spaniels are nicknamed “Charles” because King Charles II adored and loved this breed. It is a very well recognized breed of Britain that made its first appearance in the sixteenth century. It’s been some centuries since they have been holding a reputation in English court. English Toy Spaniels have a height of 9 to 11 inches on average and weigh only 14 pounds.
These dogs are not fit for hunting as they are small in size and lack energy and stamina. They can live up to ten to twelve years and are usually used as pets and companion dogs. They have a compact, square body with a domed head, long fringed ears, and a rich, silky coat. Their tail is also covered in glossy silk, which makes it look different from other breeds. Their coats come in four different colours, and each variety has a different name. The black and tan are called ‘King Charles’, the red and white are ‘Blenheim’, the black, white and tan are ‘Prince Charles’ and the solid red is known as ‘Ruby’.
These dogs have royal origins and hence, can possess characteristics similar to what their noble owners possessed. For instance, the English Toy Spaniels can be discriminatory while choosing their friends. Moreover, they often exhibit immense willfulness and pride. Having said that, these dogs are extremely friendly and affectionate towards the ones they favour and love.
There was a time when Field Spaniels were popularly used as retrieving dogs which were trained in retrieving fames from land or water. However, now these are primarily used as ‘show dogs’. Even though they are good at hunting even now, these spaniels have become more of a companion and pet dog. You will rarely see them out on the fields. With their origin in England, Field Spaniels can live for 10 to 12 years. They can also grow up to 16 to 18 inches in height and are around 40 to 55 lbs in weight. They look very similar to the Sussex, Cocker as well as Springer Spaniels.
You will be surprised to know that until the 1900s, the spaniels were classified into categories on the basis of weight. So, puppies that weighed more than 25 pounds were categorized as Field Spaniels. Puppies weighing below 25 pounds were known as Cocker Spaniels. Field Spaniels are famous for being super active, and they need a daily dose of physical activity and exercise. These dogs are very sweet and sensitive, traits that make them an ideal companion and pet.
Also known as ‘Deutscher Wachtelhund’, the German Spaniels get their name from the fact that this breed was used for hunting quails in the olden days. Hence, the German name used for them means ‘quail’ in English. This breed of spaniels can grow up to 17 to 20 inches in height and 45n to 65 lbs in weight. As per the name, the origin of these dogs lay in Germany. German Spaniels can live up to 11 to 14 years and are mainly used for hunting because of their increased versatility, stamina, and strength. Among its most distinctive features is the long and thick brown coat, which is often covered in white spots. They have a stable and sturdy build with a wonderful sense of smell. This makes them an excellent option for investigating and tracking.
Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Water Spaniels are the native Irish breed of spaniels originating from Ireland. They have also made their appearance in folklore. They can weigh around 55 to 65 lbs and grow up to 20 to 23 inches in height. Their coat is the most unique and noticeable feature of this spaniel. Their super curly coat is reddish-brown in colour and shines under the light, making it look like a beautiful purple shade. Originally, these spaniels were bred as water retrievers but are now used as brilliant, fun companions. Dog owners who are very experienced and active consider the Irish Water Spaniel as their perfect partner. This is because these spaniels can be very headstrong and turn out to be independent thinkers. These are not meant for people with no experience and getting a pet for the first time.
Also known as ‘Continental Toy Spaniels’, Papillion Dogs is an Old French breed with their origin in France. These are very small in size and can be 7 to 11 inches in height with a weight of around 6 to 9 lbs. Even though they are small in size, Papillion Dogs can easily be spotted from a difference, thanks to their massive ears that are shaped like wings. In French, Papillion means ‘butterfly’, and it is because of their huge, winged-shaped ears that they are known as Papillion Dogs. These dogs have been around for a long time. You can even see them in Renaissance paintings. Higher classes of people often used these as their lapdogs.
This breed of dogs is pretty delicate and elegant, with long silky coats and spiral tails. They are famous for being friendly, alert, energetic, and lively. These traits make them wonderful agility dogs which enjoy participating in different kinds of dog games.
Pont Audemer Spaniel
Originating in the nineteenth century, Pont Audemer Spaniels are a French breed and are considered to be quite rare. They are not really known for being companions or family pets. Originally, these were bred for the purposed of hunting. With a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years, they can be 19 to 22 inches on average and weigh about 55 to 60 lbs. These spaniels have a brown and white coat which is a mix of wavy and curly throughout their body, except the face. These dogs are very hard-working and hardy. This makes them perfect for people in search of working dogs.
Even though these are not commonly used as pets, Pont Audemer Spaniels are still very friendly and affectionate. They are also known by the fascinating name “le petit clown des Marais”. This means “the little clown of the marshes” due to their supremely fun-loving and clownish personalities. (See Do Animals Sweat?)
Russian Spaniels are a pretty modern breed with their origin in the Soviet Union. They came into being in the middle of the twentieth century. In ancient times, these dogs were used for hunting in the woodlands, marshes, and other such rugged terrains. In today’s time, however, these made for brilliant family pets as well as companions all across Russia, which is also where they originate from. They weigh around 19 to 35 lbs and grow up to 14 to 17 inches in height. They can live for a maximum of 13 to 14 years. Given their weight and size, Russian Spaniels are pretty small and have sturdy bodies. Usually, their silky coats come in a variety of colour combinations. The colour of their bodies is mostly lighter than that of their ears. They are very trustworthy and devoted little fellows with a calm, loyal and amicable nature.
Sussex Spaniels are a breed of southern British dogs with close resemblance to the Clumber Spaniels. These were initially bred in the eighteenth century and originated from England. They can grow up to 12 to 14 inches in height and weigh around 35 to 45 lbs. They can live up to 11 to 12 years. This breed has a unique feature- their thick double coat is wavy and comes in a reddish-brown and golden shade. They possess a great sense of smell that makes them perfect for search and rescue work. Sussex Spaniels are massive dogs as their chest is reasonably deep along with a bulky bone.
Their huge hazel eyes are always gleaming with joy which gives away their innate cheerful nature. They are known to be lively temperament, affectionate, and very playful. These personality traits make them the perfect companions and pets.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Also called the Welsh Cocker Spaniels, these dogs were nearing their extinction but, fortunately, were re-bred in the twentieth century. Welsh Springer Spaniels are native to Wales and are often used in various dog trials. They can live up to 12 to 15 years and are 16 to 18 inches in height. They weigh nearly 35 to 40 lbs. They have a uniquely tapered head along with a beautiful coat with patterns of red and white. These make them look a cut above the rest. Their coats are not only good to look at but are also weatherproof, thornproof as well as waterproof.
All this comes together to make this the most versatile breed of spaniels. It also makes them an ideal choice for use in all types of terrains and climates.
21 Types of Spaniels
Which is the calmest spaniel? There are 15 Spaniel Dog Breeds. American Cocker, American Water, Blue Picardy, Boykin, Brittany, Cavalier King Charles and many more.