English Springer Spaniel - breed information and advice

The English Springer Spaniel is an energetic dog that loves water, is great with children and other pets (though not birds), and is tirelessly enthusiastic. A friendly, loyal, affectionate, highly intelligent and very active breed, the English Springer needs early training and plenty of exercise to help keep it out of mischief.

Breed information

Essentials

Size: Medium to large

Coat: The medium-length coat needs to be groomed at least once a week

Exercise: Once they’re adults, these energetic dogs need to be exercised for more than two hours every day

Life span: 10+ years

Breed group: Gundogs were bred to flush out, locate or retrieve game shot down by hunters. They are usually highly trainable, keen to please and have a balanced, pleasant temperament.

Ear conditions

Like all dogs, Springer Spaniels are susceptible to various forms of skin problems, often involving the skin within the ear. The ear canal can become irritated by parasites, allergies or infections, and Springer Spaniels are particularly prone to getting grass seeds lodged in their ear canals. Irritation can lead to a condition called otitis, which simply means ‘inflammation of the ear canal’. It causes an intense itch, leading the dog to shake its head, flap its ears and scratch them using its back paws. If the otitis is due to an allergy, treatment is required for the lifetime of the dog.

Fact

We paid £1,223 to treat Bertie the Springer Spaniel for an ear disorder in 2016

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Lumps and bumps

Like all dogs, Springer Spaniels can develop masses (lumps and bumps) in the layers of fat, skin and muscle that cover their bodies. These might be warts, cysts, abscesses, lipomas or tumours, such as mast cell tumours. Mast cells are normal skin cells that help dogs respond to trauma and damage by releasing histamine. However, these cells can sometimes replicate into a serious type of tumour called a mast cell tumour. They vary widely in size and shape, but most take the form of a solitary lump within the skin. Lipomas are benign (noncancerous), slow-growing fatty lumps. Generally, treatment depends on the size, location and exact nature of the lump, but almost always involves surgical removal.

Fact

Lumps and bumps are the third most common illnesses we see in Springer Spaniels

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Gastrointestinal disorders

Springer Spaniels, like all dogs, can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a long, winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way. Conditions such as gastroenteritis or an obstruction within the bowel (due the dog to eating stones, cloth or string, for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Because of their big appetites, Springer Spaniels are particularly prone to eating things they shouldn’t, in which case veterinary advice should be quickly sought. Surgical removal of obstructions usually means a dog will go on to lead a normal life.

Fact

We paid £3,830 to treat Wilf the dog for gastrointestinal disorders in 2016

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Hip and elbow dysplasia

Larger breeds like the Springer Spaniel can be prone to hip or elbow dysplasia. This develops when the bones that form the hip or elbow joint develop abnormalities in the cartilage that lines the surface of the joint or structures around it. This leads to the development of arthritis, which shows as stiffness (especially after lying down), and a reluctance to exercise or go up and down stairs. Long-term treatment or surgery will be required to keep the dog active.

Fact

Joint problems are the second most common illnesses we see in Springer Spaniels

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Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence describes conditions that lead to a dog losing control over when he or she urinates. Urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence (USMI), which is like a leaky tap, is the most common cause of urinary incontinence. Although it sometimes affects male dogs, it’s most common in females that have been spayed (which is not to say that all spayed females will become incontinent). Medication or, very rarely, surgery, is used to manage USMI, allowing the dog to remain active and happy.

Fact

Incontinence is the most common urinary problem we see in Springer Spaniels

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