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English Springer Spaniel


English Springer SpanielIt is only quite recently that the Kennel Club has officially recognised the variety known by the name at the head of this section. For a long time the old-fashioned liver and white, or black Spaniels, longer in the leg than either Sussex or Field Spaniels, had been known as Norfolk Spaniels, and under this title the Spaniel Club has published a description of them.

There had, however, been a considerable amount of discussion about the propriety of this name of “Norfolk,” and the weight of the evidence adduced went to show that as far as any territorial connection with the county of that name went, it was a misnomer, and that it probably arose from the breed having been kept by one of the Dukes of Norfolk, most likely that one quoted by Blaine in his Rural Sports, who was so jealous of his strain that it was only on the expressly stipulated condition that they were not to be allowed to breed in the direct line that he would allow one to leave his kennels.

But, when this old breed was taken up by the Sporting Spaniel Society, they decided to drop the name of “Norfolk,” and to revert to the old title of “Springer,” not, perhaps, a very happy choice, as all Spaniels are, properly speaking, Springers in contradistinction to Setters.

The complete official designation on the Kennel Club’s register is “English Springers other than Clumbers, Sussex, and Field,” a very clumsy name for a breed. There is no doubt that this variety of Spaniel retains more resemblance to the old strains which belonged to our forefathers, before the long and low idea found favour in the eyes of exhibitors, and it was certainly well worth preserving. 

The only way nowadays by which uniformity of type can be obtained is by somebody having authority drawing up a standard and scale of points for breeders to go by, and the Sporting Spaniel Society are to be commended for having done this for the breed under notice, the fruit of their action being already apparent in the larger and more uniform classes to be seen at shows.

As the officially recognised life of the breed has been such a short one, there are naturally not very many names of note among the prize-winners. The principal breeders and owners have so far been Mr. W. Arkwright, Mr. Harry Jones, Sir Hugo FitzHerbert, Mr. C. C.  Bethune Eversfield, and Mr. Winton Smith.

They are undoubtedly the right dogs for those who want Spaniels to travel faster and cover more ground than the more ponderous and short-legged Clumbers, Sussex, or Field Spaniels do, but their work is hardly equal in finish and precision to that of either of the two former breeds.

The following revised description of the English Springer has been issued by the Sporting Spaniel Society:

SKULL: Long and slightly arched on top, fairly broad, with a stop, and well-developed temples.

JAWS: Long and broad, not snipy, with plenty of thin lip.

EYES: Medium size, not too full, but bright and intelligent, of a rich brown.

EARS: Of fair length, low set, and lobular in shape.

NECK: Long, strong, and slightly arched. 

SHOULDERS: Long and sloping.

FORE-LEGS: Of a moderate length, straight, with flat strong bone.

BODY: Strong, with well-sprung ribs, good girth, and chest deep and fairly broad.

LOIN: Rather long, strong, and slightly arched.

HIND-QUARTERS AND HIND-LEGS: Very muscular, hocks well let down, stifles moderately bent, and not twisted inwards or outwards.

FEET: Strong and compact.

STERN: Low carried, not above the level of the back, and with a vibratory motion. 

COAT: Thick and smooth or very slightly wavy, it must not be too long. The feathering must be only moderate on the ears, and scanty on the legs, but continued down to the heels.

COLOUR:Liver and white and black and white (with or without tan), fawn and white, yellow and white, also roans and self colours of all these tints. The pied colours are preferable, however, as more easily seen in cover.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: An active compact dog, upstanding, but by no means stilty.His height at shoulder should about equal his length from the top of the withers to the root of the tail.

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