French Spaniel

Other names: Epagneul Français, French Setter, Canadian Setter

French Spaniel

The French Spaniel is a graceful, athletic, and very intelligent dog. They bare a striking resemblance to the English Springer Spaniel and have many of the same character traits. Bred as a working dog, they thrive off human company and love to feel part of the pack. This friendly dog is always eager to please and requires up to two hours of exercise every day. 

Key facts about the French Spaniel

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Origins and history

The French Spaniel can be traced all the way back to Gaston Phoebus’s "Book of Hunting" in the 13th century.  They were popular hunting dogs used to track and retrieve small game. Prized for their stamina, loyalty, and persistent nature, their numbers continued to grow until the early 20th century. Then, as more small villages turned into industrial towns, there was less demand for hunting dogs. Thankfully, French Spaniel clubs started to spring up in the UK, USA, and Canada during the middle of the century. They helped raise awareness of the breed and played an instrumental part in saving these very special animals. 

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 7 - Pointing Dogs


Section 1 : Continental Pointing Dogs

Physical characteristics of the French Spaniel

  • French Spaniel
    French Spaniel
  • French Spaniel
    French Spaniel
  • French Spaniel
    French Spaniel

    Adult size

    Female : Between 21 and 24 in

    Male : Between 22 and 25 in


    Female : Between 53 and 57 lb

    Male : Between 53 and 57 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The French Spaniel is a medium-sized, well proportioned dog. They look a little like the Brittany, but are up to 10cm taller. They have a sturdy, athletic physique with powerful hindquarters. French Spaniels tend to have flat silky coats which become wavy around the ears, underbelly, and tail, and they have a sweet expression in their oval eyes.

    Good to know

    French Spaniels are known for having large litters. New mums can produce as many as  8 pups. These guys need lots and lots of exercise, and a stroll around the block won’t do. They need to run free and explore. 


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      The French Spaniel is a highly affectionate dog.  A real people-dog, they tend to latch onto their owners and love strokes and affection.

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      The French Spaniel is another working dog with a playful personality. Stimulating games helps puppies develop into healthy, well-adjusted adult dogs.

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      This active dog gets very excited during walkies and can become a bit boisterous if they haven't seen their favourite humans for a while. But they know when to switch off. They become especially docile after a good run.

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      These dogs are docile, and understand quickly what’s expected of them.

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      The French Spaniel is a born hunter. They have a natural desire to hunt, track, and explore, especially in water. 

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      French Spaniels are social dogs who love being around people. They want to make friends with as many humans as possible and will rarely become nervous or shy around strangers.

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      Smart dogs like the French Spaniel often have an independent streak. This needs to be managed carefully. They can take the initiative and go about their business without the need of a master.

      Behaviour of the French Spaniel

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        Tolerates solitude

        Pack dogs like the spaniel were not designed for long periods of solitude. They can, however, accept the absence of a human if they are used to it from an early age.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        French Spaniels are fairly easy to train, but they do have some very specific requirements. Training needs to be fun and engaging. Keep the sessions short, kind, and consistent. 10-15 minutes a day is ideal.

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        French Spaniels are  much quieter than many other breeds.

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        Tendency to run away

        This is a real possibility. Working dogs are curious creatures who love to explore. They also need time off the leash to run free. Keep a close eye on them. 

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        French Spaniels are susceptible to separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behaviour. So make sure they're always getting enough companionship and stimulation. 

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        French Spaniels definitely have a greedy side. Food can be a great source of motivation for education, but make sure you don’t overfeed them!

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        Guard dog

        These lovable dogs are too affectionate to make good guardians.

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        First dog

        First time owners need to be aware of a few things: these dogs need lots of exercise, lots of company, and must be trained in the right way. If you’re comfortable with this, a French Spaniel will make an excellent “starter” dog. 

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          French Spaniel in a flat

          Although this dog can adapt to city life and be kept in a flat or small house, they were bred to run free in wide open, rural environments, and would be better in the countryside, in a house with a well-closed garden.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          They need around two hours of exercise each day to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. They also need to run free; it’s best to exercise them in large parks or the countryside. 

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          These medium sized dogs are fairly easy to travel with, but they're too big to travel with many commercial airline companies.


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            French Spaniel and cats

            French Spaniels were designed to chase small furry creatures. That being said, early socialisation can help them live alongside cats.

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            French Spaniel and dogs

            French Spaniels rarely display any aggressive behaviour. If they learn to socialise from a young age, they are very sociable and fluent in all the dog codes.

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            French Spaniel and children

            This is a perfect dog for families with young children. French Spaniels are gentle animals who love being around children.

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            French Spaniel and the elderly

            Their balanced temperament allows them to adapt to many lifestyles, but a sedentary page will not suit. Whatever the age of the masters, they must have enough energy to meet their needs.



            We do not have enough data to set an average price. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £90 to £120 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.


            The maintenance of the French Spaniel is not tedious but must be regular to avoid knots or parasites. Their large ears should be cleaned regularly to prevent infection, especially after playing in water.


            Moderate shedder. 

            Nutrition of the French Spaniel

            3-4 cups of high quality dog food depending on age and activity levels. Both traditional and industrial diets are fine, since this dog is not difficult to feed.

            Health of the French Spaniel

            Life expectancy

            Thanks to centuries of careful breeding, the French Spaniel is a very healthy dog with an average life expectancy of 13 years.

            Strong / robust

            They’re not the biggest or strongest, but they’re definitely one of the most robust breeds. They’re sturdy, athletic, and have loads of stamina.

            Withstand heat

            Spaniels have no problems coping with the average British summer, but you should always exercise them during the coolest parts of the day. It will stop them from overheating. 

            Withstand cold

            These dogs were designed for the great outdoors, meaning they can cope with cold weather very well. 

            Tendency to put on weight

            High-energy breeds like the Spaniel tend to maintain a healthy body weight. Any excess weight will only come from overfeeding, a lack of exercise, or certain health issues. 

            Common illnesses

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