The English Springer Spaniel is a friendly, merry dog, wonderful as a family pet and as a performance dog in obedience, agility, field and any other sport you wish to try with him. Like all spaniels, the springer loves to do what you’re doing, and would prefer to always be by your side. Thus the springer is NOT a kennel dog, and to develop properly should live in the home with his people. Springers also have lots of energy, especially as young dogs, and a fenced yard and some daily walks are a must.
They are also quite intelligent, so early obedience classes are not only good for them, but very fun! You can start your puppy early in classes, as the old days of “jerk the pinch collar” are gone. Springers should also be carefully socialized to other dogs and people from a very young age, as occasional shyness can occur in the breed. Dominance aggression (not to be confused with springer “rage”, which is quite rare) has also occurred in the breed. Make sure you meet or get reliable reports about the sire and dam, and talk over the pedigree carefully with the breeder. A well tempered springer should love people and be well mannered with other dogs, but these traits must be encouraged and brought out by the owner!
Health problems exist in springers, as with all other dogs, purebred and mixed breed alike. Your springer puppy’s parents should have hips and elbows with OFA clearances, as well as CERF tests on their eyes. Your breeder should be able to document these tests in their pedigree going back 2 or 3 generations (when OFA began recording hip x-rays in the 1970’s). Other issues such as epilepsy and allergies do occur; your breeder should be able to talk about these issues openly and knowledgeably with you.
The ESSFTA website provides extensive information on springer health and temperament issues at http://www.essfta.org/essfta/health_research.htm. The ESSFTA also works with the ESS Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving springer health through funded research. Their link may also be found on the ESSFTA site at http://www.essfta.org/essfta/foundation.htm.