The English Springer spaniel is a friendly, intelligent and biddable dog that enjoys lots of exercise, training and outdoor adventures with their owners.
For a family or owner that is able to satisfy a Springer spaniel’s love of the outdoors with activities such as training and other energy sapping ventures, a Springer makes a great first time dog. For families with children, or for a working animal, a Springer is a great choice if you can look after the dog properly.
Do English Springer spaniels make good first time dogs?
I’ve had spaniels for many years, including Springers, in fact one of my first dogs was a working English Spaniel.
Springers, like most dogs, have their quirks and you will need to be prepared for ups and downs if you decide to get this breed.
The two most important considerations are:
- Exercise – a subject that is not unique to Springers. All breeds of spaniels are active dogs who simply love to chase their noses, head down, scenting and hunting. You need to be able to provide a Springer spaniel with, at the very least, 30 minutes of free running exercise daily.
- Training – Springers are intelligent dogs and enjoy and need some form of training. The mental stimulation of training is challenging for most dogs and will help them to burn energy as well as improve skills and understanding. You don’t need to be interested in shooting to train a Springer but my advice would be to train him/her along the gundog route (even if you don’t shoot) for best results. Training Spaniels by Joe Irving is one of the best spaniel training books that you can get.
Where will your Springer spaniel live?
You will need to decide where your Springer spaniel will live. Most dogs are tough and Springers are quite happy living outside in a secure kennel or dog house and there are some people that say that they are healthier outside.
Personally I’ve had spaniels that have lived outside and indoors and I’ve not noticed any differences in health of any. One thing that I would say is that you get to know your dog more and have a better understanding of him when he lives in the house.
My article ‘Can Springer spaniels live outside‘ gives a few good pointers on this subject, the basic things that you need to consider are:
- Security – sadly there are many instances in the UK of dogs being stolen from outdoor kennels. This despicable crime is, in my view, a result of the ‘designer dog’ market of Labradoodles, Cockerpoos and other mongrels that are sold for a fortune. Pedigree gundogs are stolen to fuel breeding for this. You should take great care if you plan to house your Springer outside and should invest in the best security that you can.
- Kennel design – Springers are hardy dogs that can withstand cold weather as long as they are dry and not exposed to winds or draughts. The kennel should be damp free and there should be no draughts. Doors should fit snugly.
- Location – as near to the house as possible is preferred with an aspect that gets some sunshine but which also benefits from some shade, so that in the height of the summer the kennel does not bake.
- Outdoor area – your spaniel should have access to a run which should be attached to the kennel to allow him to freely come and go. Springers will often lie outside, particularly in nice weather, watching the world go by. It is also useful for him should he need to use the toilet.
If you are handy or have an outhouse then you can put together a decent kennel for your dog, or, of course you could choose from one of the many commercially available kennels.
Springer spaniels are perfectly happy living in the house and, if you decide to keep your Springer indoors with you then you will get to know and enjoy life with your dog much more fully than if he/she lives outside.
You will need to have your rules if your spaniel lives indoors and you may decide to not allow him on the furniture or bed, and, the great thing about Springers is that their intelligence and love of training makes this easy.
A few things that you need to think about:
- Bed – where will your dog sleep? There are lots of options for indoor dog beds and even dog houses that look like furniture. I suggest you take a look at the Fido Indoor Kennel from Omlet if you are looking for something that fits in with your interior decor.
- Where in the house – will your spaniel sleep and live when you are not home? Your dog needs somewhere where he can retreat for some peace and quiet and also be when you are not home.
- Rules – for the dog and humans – your spaniel will need to understand what he can and cannot do and, the humans, particularly children, will also need to understand the need to respect the dog’s need for space, sleep and, at times, solitude.
What will you feed your Springer spaniel?
You’ll need to think about what your Springer is going to eat. If you get your spaniel as a puppy then it’s a simple job to just carry on with the food type that the breeder fed.
There are a lot of dog foods available and it’s easy to get confused if you haven’t had a dog before, there are few things to consider:
- Cost – can you afford the food regularly? You should feed the best quality food that you can afford. My article on organic dog food should help you to decide.
- Availability – you should be able to easily get hold of the food for your Springer. This includes if you go away on holiday and take the dog with you. Dogs tend not to do well if their food is changed too often and it is important that you can get hold of your dog’s food easily and quickly.
My personal choices of spaniel food are a mixture of wet, raw feed and a complete dried food that I mix in.
I feed Nature’s Menu Tripe Mix and Eukanuba dog food, mixed together and my spaniels enjoy this.
Training for the first time Springer spaniel owner
Springers are active and intelligent gun dogs that enjoy, training and as a Springer spaniel owner, whether first time or experienced, you should always embark on some form of training with a Springer spaniel.
Thankfully, they are responsive and sensitive dogs that do well with reward based training and are quick to pick up and understand new skills.
This makes them an ideal dog for the first time owner whether the dog is going to be a working spaniel or a family pet.
There are lots of useful sources of training information for the new spaniel owner and a good place to begin this process would be with our basic spaniel training article that you can see here.
Springer spaniels are high energy dogs
Most dogs enjoy exercise but spaniels, particularly the Springer spaniel, take enjoyment to the next level.
It is virtually impossible to wear a Springer spaniel out for long and they need, and love, lots of exercise.
You need to be able to and prepared to get out and about with a Springer. Walking on the lead is simply not enough for a spaniel and, if you are unable to let your dog off the lead then, do not get a Springer. You’ll have a frustrated and bored dog.
Springer spaniels need to run free, as hunting dogs they simply have to run and chase their noses or they will be frustrated pets that could develop behavioural problems.
This is a really important point of spaniel ownership – if you don’t like exercise or don’t have the time or inclination to take your dog out for good periods of time, then you should not get a Springer spaniel.
To sum up - Are Springer spaniels good first time dogs?
Springer spaniels are excellent first time dogs providing that you are prepared for the arrival and are ready to invest time and energy into this intelligent and active breed.
They are an excellent family dog that enjoys fun and play as well as work.
Once you’ve had a spaniel, no other type of dog will ever do.