Welsh Springer Spaniel
Other names: Welsh Springer
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is an outstanding athlete, who is just as happy playing ball in the garden as he is flushing birds, as a hunting sport. Sometimes the breed is confused with an English Springer Spaniel, but the remarkable red and white coat distinguishes this dog. He is brilliant with children and can certainly improve the family’s fitness levels with his athletic and energetic requirement levels.
Key facts about the Welsh Springer Spaniel
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Origins and history
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is thought to be the oldest recognised Spaniel breed of dog. Although it was first recognised by the UK Kennel Club in 1902, images and depictions of similar dogs with red and white hair have been discovered dating back to the Renaissance period around the 16th century. He is understood to have ancestry from Roman dogs, meaning he is from an ancient breed.
During the 18th century, many Welsh gentry owned one of these gundogs, however their popularity boomed in Britain and Europe in later years. They were originally named Welsh Cockers, however this changed to the Welsh Springer Spaniel, when recognised by the UK Kennel Club.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 8 - Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dogs
Section 2 : Flushing Dogs
Physical characteristics of the Welsh Springer Spaniel
Female : Between 17 and 18 in
Male : Between 18 and 19 in
Female : Between 33 and 40 lb
Male : Between 40 and 44 lb
Kennel Club registration only accepts Welsh Springer Spaniel canines with the coat colour rich red and white.
Type of coat
Medium length hair.
This breed has a stunning, silky coat, which feels flat or wavy when touched, rather than wiry. It is also quite dense to provide protection against the chilly and wet weather. Feathering is present on the dog’s tail, ears, underbody, chest and legs.
This dog’s eyes are medium to dark brown in colour.
Certainly a working dog, the Welsh Springer is of a medium size with a compact body. His slightly rounded head sports a square muzzle and either a brown or black nose. He has oval-shaped brown eyes and long ears that hang down the side of his face. The dog’s stunning, soft coat appears in a red and white pattern, often with ticking shading too. There is feathering around his tail and ears, belly, chest and on the back of the legs.
Good to know
The Welshie takes his name “Springer” from his movement to “spring” at any game he is hunting out. Because of his hunting capabilities, he has been a fond favourite of many sportsmen for over 200 years.
Initially, these canines were bred as working gundogs and as such are lively and active dogs. However, during more recent years, this affectionate breed has found its way into the homes and hearts of many dog lovers. This is of course, due to their charming looks and reliable temperaments and also the fact that they are brilliant and sociable around children. A Welsh Springer Spaniel will be totally devoted and loyal to his owner.
Although this breed is a little mischievous at certain times, on the whole they are very playful dogs. They love to entertain and enjoy any interactive playtimes.
Above all else, these are working dogs, but they also have very gentle mannerisms. However, this mild-manner also makes them detest any harsh treatment or criticism, as they are sensitive dogs too.
These Welshies are very intelligent dogs and their aim is to please their master. In the correct environment and in the right hands, they are a delight to train. In addition to their working gundog skills, they also excel in obedience trials.
Although the Welsh Springer Spaniel is a very sociable pet, he also has an amazing nose that allows him to track down prey very easily. However, with the correct training routines, you can teach him to answer to the command “leave it” when requested.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This breed can be quite reserved around anyone other than his immediate family. To overcome this issue, early socialisation as a young puppy is imperative. This will prevent him from being shy and timid around strangers.
Due to the nature of the work they are required to do in the hunting field, these dogs often look to their masters for guidance, rather than working independently. Because of this, although they are eager to please, they are not usually strong, independent canines.
Behaviour of the Welsh Springer Spaniel
A Welsh Springer will form a strong bond with his family and likewise, he thrives on human contact. When left on his own for long periods of time, he won’t be very happy. This breed of dog is much better suited to a family where someone remains at home during the day, so the dog isn’t left for lengthy periods. He may become stressed and be destructive around the home, as a way of venting his anxieties.
Easy to train / obedience
Providing the pup’s training begins at a young age, this dog will be quite happy and eager to learn new tasks. The Welsh Springer is known to excel at a variety of canine agilities, including obedience skills, agility sessions and fly-ball, too. This dog loves nothing more than to train with his handler and to take part in joint tasks. A very smart dog who will be very focussed and keen to learn new skills, although try to avoid repetition and make sure to keep the training sessions interesting. Positive reinforcement is preferred, rather than any heavy handed methods. As they can sometimes be rather stubborn at times, too, lots of understanding and patience on the handler’s part is needed.
In normal, everyday circumstances, this breed isn’t known to bark unnecessarily. However, a dog left alone for long periods can quickly become bored, often with the resulting bark to gain attention.
Tendency to run away
As a working and hunting dog, he does need lots of exercise each day. It is advisable to spend any exercise period’s off-leash in a confined location, as this breed often tends to wander.
As a high-energy and athletic dog, the Welsh Springer needs intense and adequate exercise sessions to prevent him becoming hyperactive. This hyperactivity is often the result of a bored and unstimulated dog, and can lead to chewing, digging or destructive behaviours.
Greedy / Gluttony
Although not known to be a greedy dog, with his amazing scenting skills, he can sniff out even the smallest amount of food, especially any titbits that have fallen to the floor.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel isn’t a natural watchdog and is generally non-confrontational, although this doesn’t mean that he won’t alert his owner to a stranger in the vicinity. He is actually more likely to bark to alert you, then run up to the person at the door, with a friendly welcome.
These very amenable and friendly dogs love nothing better than spending time with, and entertaining their master. In most situations however, they are quite high maintenance. They require adequate daily exercise, often of a high intensity, and as intelligent dogs they need to be kept mentally active too. They really need an owner who can dedicate sufficient time to them, to meet their physical and mental needs.
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Welsh Springer Spaniel in a flat
As a dog who loves to be active and on the go most of the time, he isn’t really suited to living in an apartment or small house. He loves to roam around outside, so it’s much better if he has access to a large, enclosed, outside garden area.
Need for exercise / Sporty
This Spaniel is better suited to an owner who loves spending time outdoors and is quite active. These intelligent dogs enjoy taking part in many canine activities and sports, and if his owner is taking part too, so much the better.
Travelling / easy to transport
This medium-sized dog is happy to be transported in the rear of a car, possibly in a dog crate. As a working dog, he is liable to get quite muddy and dirty on his hunting explorations, so this is the best way of transporting him afterwards. As a sociable pet, he is also content when travelling on public transport, but this would probably only be advised for short journeys.
Welsh Springer Spaniel and cats
As a hunting dog whose aim is to chase out game, this Welsh Springer Spaniel will possibly do the same to a strange cat they meet. However, if he has been socialised at home from being a young puppy, with a feline, they will live happily together.
Welsh Springer Spaniel and dogs
As a calm, intelligent breed, the Welshie will usually get along fine with any other dogs he meets. This is certainly an advantage if he has been brought up living together with another dog in the home, from an early age.
Welsh Springer Spaniel and children
With a friendly personality and the fact that he loves being involved in things, the Welsh Springer Spaniel is an ideal playmate for children. This is even more so, if the children love messing around in the garden, getting dirty and wet during playtimes. This energetic dog will be a willing companion. As he is sometimes quite high-spirited, playtime can often be boisterous and this means any games with a young toddler needs to be supervised.
Welsh Springer Spaniel and the elderly
As this dog breed requires up to two hours of energetic exercise daily, he is probably not the best choice of pet for a couch potato or someone not able to meet these needs.
Expect to pay between £420 and £835 depending on if the dog is a registered bloodline or not.
As a rough guide, the average monthly cost to care for and maintain a Welsh Springer dog is around £70 to £100. Of course, this depends on the type of food you give him, his veterinary care and vaccinations and his insurance policy premium.
The coat of this dog is relatively easy to groom, with just a weekly brushing recommended. As he has floppy ears that easily get caught up in the shrubs when hunting, it’s advised that you inspect and clean them frequently, to prevent any ear infections.
The coat of the Welsh Springer Spaniel sheds an average amount of hair throughout the year. You will probably notice balls of hair fluff collecting around the floor.
Nutrition of the Welsh Springer Spaniel
As this breed is known to be lively and energetic, the dog needs to be given a food formula specifically for active pets. A dry kibble is best, as it's essential to help prevent poor oral canine health.
Health of the Welsh Springer Spaniel
When the Welsh Springer is well cared for, and fed a good quality, nutritious diet, his life expectancy is between 12 to 14 years.
Strong / robust
Certainly a vigorous, hardy worker in a hunting capacity. This dog just loves being outdoors and enjoys hiking, running or engaging in other energetic activities.
The thick coat of the Welsh Springer provides comfort for him in both hot and cold temperatures. However, as a very active breed, care should be taken during very high temperatures to ensure he doesn’t suffer from heat exhaustion.
The dog’s dense coat certainly provides sufficient protection against the cold or wet weather.
Tendency to put on weight
In general, after any canine has been neutered or spayed, they are often prone to weight gain. This is exactly the case with the Welsh Springer Spaniel. Similarly, older dogs who are less active are more susceptible to gaining weight, which can be a problem in his later years.