About Spaniels

The word used most often to describe Spaniel’s temperament is happy. Who doesn’t want a happy dog?

 

 

Spaniels are happy, affectionate, and easy-going dogs that make excellent family pets. They are intelligent, loyal, and enjoy being with their family and other family pets. Most spaniels shed require regular grooming and are not hypoallergenic other than the Irish Water Spaniel.

Spaniels range in size from the 10 pounds Papillon,  under 20-pound Cavalier Kings Charles, to the big Clumber, which can weigh up to 85 pounds. You can easily find a Spaniel that is just the size you want.

American Cocker Spaniels are small dogs, usually weighing under 30 pounds. The English version is a bit larger and is a medium dog weighing up to 34 pounds. Before current standards, the difference between a Springer and a Cocker in England was determined by weight. Dogs from the same litter were sometimes a different breed based on weight alone.

 

 

Most dog breeds in this group have Spaniel as part of their officially recognized AKC name. Three that we will also cover do not have Spaniel in their names: the Brittany, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje, and the Papillon.

American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is intelligent, loyal, and easy to train. They started as hunting dogs, but today, they are more popular family pets, ranking number 30 on the AKC popularity chart. The term “Cocker” is part of their name because the primary game they hunted was the American woodcock.

 

 

The requirements to qualify as an AKC show dog are pretty strict for size and color. Cockers are small to medium size ranging from 20 to 30 pounds. They are big enough for sports and rough and tumble play but small enough so you can carry one if you need to. They can be in various colors, including black, white, brown, and red. 

Cockers are generally healthy and have a lifespan of 10 to 14 years. They will meet almost everyone’s expectations of a good family dog. They need regular exercise and grooming.

 

 

American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin, where the breed originated. This is a hunting dog, but it has been bred for a calm temperament suitable for a family pet over the years.

This breed has a thick, two-layer waterproof coat needed for hunting in the Great Lakes region’s cold climate and waters. Their coat will need to be brushed regularly to remove loose hair. Their coat is a curly or wavy shade of brown or liver (color). Before you take out your liver to see what color it is, let’s say it’s a brown shade.

Liver Color

This breed is relatively healthy, with a life span between 10 to 14 years. Although it is a good family pet, it is not a very popular breed, ranking 166 in AKC’s most popular dog list.

The American Water Spaniel Club publishes a club flyer with information about the breed. Also, you may want to read the breed standards established by the AKC.

Boykin Spaniel

The Boykin Spaniel is a friendly, affectionate, and easy-to-train hunting dog who likes home life near a lake. Its medium size means it’s not too fragile for play and not too big to be a threat. If you want the liver color, this dog will fit your color taste.

The dog hails from Boykin, South Carolina, and is the official South Carolina state dog. It is an excellent bird-hunting dog equipped with feet that make it a great swimmer.

Its coat is not high maintenance; a weekly brushing is usually enough. It has an average life span of 10 to 15 years and is generally healthy.

The Boykin Spaniel is a great family dog and is especially good with children. If you are interested in finding a Boykin to adopt, the Boykin Rescue website is an excellent place to start.  

Brittany (Spaniel?)

Once upon a time, the Brittany was known as the Brittany Spaniel. It is a hunting dog and behaves more like a pointer or setter in the field. Spaniel was dropped from its AKC official name in 1982.

I am unfamiliar with the finer points of bird hunting, so I will still include Brittanies as a member of the Spaniels family of dogs.

The Brittany originated and got its name from the Brittany region of France. It is suitable as a family pet but may be happier with an active family that spends a lot of time outdoors. It has a lot of energy and needs plenty of exercise, but it will also sit quietly when its owners watch television.

It has a two-color coat of white and brown (or liver color), with short hair that only needs occasional grooming. It is very healthy, with a life span of 12 to 14 years.

American Brittany Club publishes a club flyer and a monthly magazine for its members.

Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel

Named after a King of England (you can guess the King’s name, but what about his number?), this little dog may be royalty, but it is also a favorite of mere commoners. It may be a toy dog, but it still has plenty of Spaniel personality in its tiny body.

The Cavalier is a special breed that fits in almost any family. They do great with children and other pets and want to be friends with everyone. They are very social animals and do not want to be left alone. They weigh up to 18 pounds and are included in the AKC toy dog group. They can be lap dog who enjoys frolicking in the backyard, perhaps chasing a bird or squirrel.

They have a few health issues but a good life span of up to 15 years. They have a long silky coat, which needs some attention but is not a real burden. Their color includes black, brown, tan, ruby, and white. The most common color combination is Blenheim, white with chestnut markings.

A club flyer contains more about the Cavalier, or visits the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club website.

King Charles I and his son King Charles II were dog lovers and favored the small Spaniels. King Charles II was more interested in looking after his dogs than in running state affairs. He had his priorities right! Charles, I lost his head, so the dog breed is named after his son.

Clumber Spaniel

You might want to be a big dog named like Clumber, and the Clumber Spaniel is. Weighing up to 85 pounds (males), the Clumber is the largest of the Spaniels. 

It is a pleasant, amusing, and well-behaved dog that can also be indifferent to strangers. Its name comes from where it was developed, the Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom.

Their size and gentle nature make them robust playmates for children. Like most of us, it also enjoys eating and taking a long nap.

Its coat is primarily white with orange, brown, and yellow markings. It has a heavy weather-resistant coat that only needs occasional brushing.

They are usually healthy and live to be 10 to 12 years old. They sometimes grow too fast for their bones to keep up, so sometimes they are lame while puppies until their bone growth catch up.

As most dog breeds do, they have a fan club, the Clumber Spaniel Club of America.   

English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel, like its cousin, the American Cocker Spaniel, is a hunting dog who is a friendly, happy family companion dog. The main difference between the two breeds is the English Cocker is bigger by a few pounds. It is a bird-hunting dog, with the woodcock being its specialty.

They have a medium-length silky coat that needs regular brushing. It will also need trimming about once a month. Its coat comes in several colors, including our old liver color. When I was a child, my family had a red English Cocker Spaniel, Shiek, with a very handsome red coat. Shiek was one of the most pleasant, easy-going dogs I ever knew.

These hunting dogs are healthy overall and live to be 12 to 14 years old. They should get plenty of time outdoors but are happy being inside with the family.

The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America website has more information on this breed.

English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel is an intelligent, friendly, and affectionate dog. They love family and do not like being left alone or ignored. They are good with kids and other family pets.

As a hunting dog, this dog breed had the job of flushing birds from cover, causing the birds to “spring” into the air. They are closely related to Cockers, and in the past, dogs from the same litter were classified as either Cockers or Springers based on the dog’s size. The bigger dogs became Springer Spaniels.

They have several coat colors, most combined with white. They need regular grooming to keep their coats clean and shiny. Their lifespan is from 12 to 14 years, and they are generally healthy.

You should visit the English Springer Spaniel website.

English Toy Spaniel

The English Toy Spaniel also was a favorite of Kings Charles. Often this breed is called King Charles Spaniel.

The English Toy is very similar to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The Cavalier has a longer nose. The Toy Spaniel was bred to have more of a pug nose like the Pekingnese.

This dog is not highly energetic and fits the description of a lap dog. They are friendly and affectionate. They are unreliable watchdogs due to their friendly nature but may bark to alert when strange people are around.

They have long silky coat that needs regular grooming. The coat colors are typically black and tan or black and white. Some are red. The various coat colors have unique names: solid red is Ruby; brown and white are Blenheim; black and white are Prince Charles; black and brown is King Charles.

This dog has some genetic health issues, but it is generally healthy. Its lifespan is 10 to 12 years.

The English Toy Spaniel Club of America is the website for more information on this breed.

Field Spaniel

Brown Spaniel dog running across a field, retrieving pheasant.The Field Spaniel is a calm, well-mannered dog that makes a great family pet. It is patient with children and gets along with other family pets when properly socialized. They are up for vigours and play in the backyard but relax when indoors.

This breed is similar to its Spaniel cousins, the Cockers and Springers. In the past, the only criterion for separating a Cocker from a Field was its size.

They have a single-layer coat that needs routine brushing. The coat colors include black, blue roan, liver, white, and tan. They may also have a combination of these colors. Its lifespan is 12 to 14 years, and its health is generally reasonable.

The website for this breed is the Field Spaniel Society of America

Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is a good family pet but will need proper socialization if children or other pets are in the home. Weighing around 50 pounds, it is just at the border between being a medium or large dog.

This breed has been around for a long time, and its history may go back to the 700s. They have outgoing personalities and have the reputation of being the clown of the family.

Unlike most other breeds, this breed comes with only a single color coat; you guessed it, liver! They have thick curly fur that needs grooming. They shed very little and are hypoallergenic. Their coat helps protect them when they do what they love to do, jump into the water, even the cold waters of the North Sea.

They are a healthy breed with a lifespan of 12 to 13 years. Some are allergic to some drugs and medication, so be sure to have your vet check if they are unfamiliar with the breed.

The Irish Water Spaniel Club of America is a good source for more information. You may also want to read their club flyer.

Nederlandse Kooikerhondje

The Kooikerhondje (trans. small orange and white dog) is the Netherlands’ contribution to our Spaniel family of dogs. It also is a hunter that does well with families with well-behaved children. It may need training and socialization to accept other dogs. It is a small dog weighing from 20 to 30 pounds.

Kooikers are showy dogs that are very intelligent, well-behaved, and relatively easy to train. Their coat is red and white, sometimes with black tips. The coat needs routine brushing.

Generally, kooikers are healthy, but they come from a small gene pool. They may have genetic-related issues. Their lifespan is a good 12 to 15 years.

Visit the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje Club of the USA website for more information.

Papillon

The Papillon is the smallest of the Spaniels. Known as the butterfly dog because of its distinctive ears, the Papillon is a happy and friendly family pet. It usually gets along well with everyone, including other pets.

The Papillon is an intelligent dog and is easy to train. They have a high energy level and need more exercise and activity than other lap dogs. Not enough exercise can make Papillons irritable. They are excellent watchdogs.

They have a single coat with long silky hair that needs grooming every month. Their coats come in several colors, even liver, most in combination with white.

They have an excellent long lifespan of 14 to 16 years and spend most of those years in good health. Their biggest threat is their small size, making them very easy to injure with rough or careless treatment.

The Papillon Club of America was founded in 1935 and is devoted to this dog breed. The Club is responsible for the Papillon breed standards.

Sussex Spaniel

The Sussex Spaniel is built low to the ground and takes the easy lane of life. They are hunters with a lot of endurance. It likes to be around people and children and will be protective of its family. This breed will make an excellent family pet.

It has a slow-growing coat that does not need much attention other than a regular bath and brushing. It has a single color, golden liver.

The Sussex is challenging to breed, and it may be hard to find one to adopt. Although they were among the first ten breeds recognized by the AKC in 1884, their popularity steadily decreased over time, especially during and after World War II. They are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 13 to 15 years.

For more information, go to the Sussex Spaniel Club of America website.

Welsh Springer Spaniel

The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a good-looking, active dog that becomes very attached to its family. It may vary among strangers and may bark at times. It gets along with any other family pets.

They are easy to train, although they may have a bit of a stubborn streak. With training, they become obedient and are excellent hunting companions.

Their coats are red and white and need some brushing. They are similar in appearance to the English Springer Spaniel, but the Welsh Springer is red and white while the English Springer is black and white. The Welsh dog is also slightly smaller.

Welsh Springer Spaniels are healthy and have 12 to 15 years of lifespan. They need regular exercise, as most Spaniels do, and do not like being left alone.

Visit the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America website for the latest Welsh Springer Spaniel information.

Spaniels Compared

BreedStatsCountry
American Cocker Spaniel
Height: 14.5-15.5
Height (Inches): 14.5-15.5
Weight (Pounds): 23-30
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-14
Popularity (AKC): 30
Group (AKC): Sporting
United States
American Water Spaniel
Height (Inches): 15-18
Weight (Pounds): 25-45
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-14
Popularity (AKC): 166
Group (AKC): Sporting
United States
Boykin Spaniel
Height (Inches): 15.5-18
Weight (Pounds): 25-40
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-15
Popularity (AKC): 100
Group (AKC): Sporting
United States
Brittany
Height (Inches): 17.5-20.5
Weight (Pounds): 30-40
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-14
Popularity (AKC): 26
Group (AKC): Sporting
France
Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel
Height (Inches): 12-13
Weight (Pounds): 12-18
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-15
Popularity (AKC): 18
Group (AKC): Toy
United Kingdom
Clumber Spaniel
Height (Inches): 17-20
Weight (Pounds): 55-85
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-12
Popularity (AKC): 143
Group (AKC): Sporting
United Kingdom
English Cocker Spaniel
Height (Inches): 15-17
Weight (Pounds): 26-34
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-14
Popularity (AKC): 52
Group (AKC): Sporting
United Kingdom
English Springer Spaniel
Height (Inches): 19-20
Weight (Pounds): 40-50
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-14
Popularity (AKC): 27
Group (AKC): Sporting
United Kingdom
English Toy Spaniel
Height (Inches): 9-10
Weight (Pounds): 8-14
Life Expectancy (Years): 10-12
Popularity (AKC): 135
Group (AKC): Toy
United Kingdom
Field Spaniel
Height (Inches): 17-18
Weight (Pounds): 35-50
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-13
Popularity (AKC): 149
Group (AKC): Sporting
United Kingdom
Irish Water Spaniel
Height (Inches): 21-24
Weight (Pounds): 45-68
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-13
Popularity (AKC): 159
Group (AKC): Sporting
Ireland
Nederlandse Kooikerhondje
Height (Inches): 14-17
Weight (Pounds): 20-30
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-15
Popularity (AKC): 150
Group (AKC): Sporting
Netherlands
Papillon
Height (Inches): 8-11
Weight (Pounds): 5-10
Life Expectancy (Years): 14-16
Popularity (AKC): 54
Group (AKC): Toy
Italy/Spain
Sussex Spaniel
Height (Inches): 13-15
Weight (Pounds): 35-45
Life Expectancy (Years): 13-15
Popularity (AKC): 180
Group (AKC): Sporting
United Kingdom
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Height (Inches): 17-19
Weight (Pounds): 35-50
Life Expectancy (Years): 12-15
Popularity (AKC): 128
Group (AKC): Sporting
United Kingdom