English Springer Spaniels
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Kennel Club English Springer Spaniel Breed Standard:
The English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized sporting dog with a
most compact body, and a docked tail. His coat is moderately long,
glossy, usually liver and white or black and white with feathering
on his legs, ears, chest and brisket. His pendulous ears, soft and
gentle expression, sturdy build and friendly wagging tail proclaim
him unmistakably a member of the ancient family of spaniels. He is
above all a well-proportioned dog, free from exaggeration, nicely
balanced in every part. His carriage is proud and upstanding, body
deep, legs strong and muscular with enough length to carry him
with ease. His short level back, well-developed thighs, good
shoulders, and excellent feet suggest power, endurance, and
agility. Taken as a whole he looks the part of a dog that can go
and keep going under difficult hunting conditions, and moreover he
enjoys what he is doing. At his best he is endowed with style,
symmetry, balance, and enthusiasm and is every inch a sporting dog
of distinct spaniel character, combining beauty and utility.
In judging the English Springer Spaniel the over-all picture is a
primary consideration. It is urged that the judge look for type
which includes general appearance, outline, and temperament and
also for soundness, especially as seen when the dog is in motion.
Inasmuch as the dog with a smooth easy gait must be reasonably
sound and well balanced, he is to be highly regarded in the show
ring; however, not to the extent of forgiving him for not looking
like an English Springer Spaniel. A quite untypical dog, leggy,
foreign in head and expression, may move well. But he should not
be placed over a good all-round specimen that has a minor fault in
movement. It should be remembered that the English Springer
Spaniel is first and foremost a sporting dog of the spaniel family
and he must look and behave and move in character.
The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn,
willing to obey. In the show ring he should exhibit poise,
attentiveness, tractability, and should permit himself to be
examined by the judge without resentment or cringing.
The Springer is built to cover rough ground with ability and
reasonable speed. He should be kept to medium size--neither too
small nor too large and heavy to do the work for which he is
intended. The ideal shoulder height for dogs is 20 inches (51 cm);
for bitches, 19 inches (48 cm).
Length of topline (the distance from top of the shoulders to the
root of the tail) should be approximately equal to the dog's
shoulder height , never longer than his height and not
appreciably less. The dog too long in body, especially when long
in loin, tires easily and lacks the compact outline characteristic
of the breed. Equally undesirable is the dog too short in body for
the length of his legs, a condition that destroys his balance and
restricts the gait.
Weight is dependent on the dog's other dimensions: a 20 inch (51
cm) dog, well proportioned, in good condition should weigh about
49-55 lb. (22-25 kg). The resulting appearance is a well knit,
sturdy dog with good but not too heavy bone, in no way coarse or
Colour may be liver or black with white markings; liver and white
(or black and white) with tan markings; blue or liver roan; or
predominantly white with tan, black or liver markings. On his
ears, chest, legs and belly, the Springer is nicely furnished with
a fringe of feathering (of moderate heaviness). On his head, front
of forelegs, and below hocks on front of hind legs, the hair is
short and fine. The body coat is flat or wavy of medium length,
sufficiently dense to be waterproof, weatherproof and thornproof.
The texture fine, and the hair should have the clean glossy, live
appearance, indicative of good health. It is legitimate to trim
about head, feet, and ears; to remove dead hair; to thin and
shorten excess feathering particularly from the hocks to the feet
and elsewhere as required to give a smart, clean appearance.
The head is impressive without being heavy. Its beauty lies in a
combination of strength and refinement. It is important that the
size and proportion be in balance with the rest of the dog. Viewed
in profile, the head should appear approximately the same length
as the neck and should blend with the body in substance. The skull
(upper head) to be of medium length, fairly broad, flat on top,
slightly rounded at the sides and back. The occiput bone
inconspicuous, rounded rather than peaked or angular. The foreface
(head in front of eyes) approximately the same length as the
skull, and in harmony as to width and general character. Looking
down on the head the muzzle to appear to be about one-half the
width of the skull. As the skull rises from the foreface it makes
a brow or stop, divided by a groove or fluting between the eyes.
This groove continues upward and gradually disappears as it
reaches the middle of the forehead. The amount of stop can best be
described as moderate. It must not be a pronounced feature as in
the Clumber Spaniel. Rather it is a subtle rise where the muzzle
blends into the upper head, further emphasized by the groove and
by the position and shape of the eyebrows which should be well
developed. The stop, eyebrow, and the chiseling of the bony
structure around the eye sockets contribute to the Springer's
beautiful and characteristic expression.
Viewed in profile, the topline of the skull and the muzzle lie in
two approximately parallel planes. The nasal bone should be
straight, with no inclination downward towards the tip of the nose
which gives a down-faced look so undesirable in this breed.
Neither should the nasal bone be concave resulting in a
'dish-faced' profile; nor convex giving the dog a 'Roman nose'.
The nostrils, well opened and broad, liver colour or black
depending on the colour of the coat. Flesh-coloured ('Dudley
noses') or spotted ('butterfly noses') are undesirable. The cheeks
to be flat (not rounded, full, or thick) with nice chiseling under
the eyes. Jaws to be of sufficient length to allow the dog to
carry game easily; fairly square, lean, strong, and even (neither
undershot or overshot). The upper lip to come down full and rather
square to cover the line of the lower jaw, but lips not to be
pendulous or exaggerated. Teeth should be strong, clean, not too
small; and when the mouth is closed the teeth should meet in an
even bite or a close scissors bite (the lower incisors touching
the inside of the upper incisors).
More than any other feature the eyes contribute to the Springer's
appeal. Colour, placement, size influence expression and
attractiveness. The eyes to be of medium size, neither small,
round, full and prominent, nor bold and hard in expression. Set
rather well apart and fairly deep in their sockets. The colour of
the iris to harmonize with the colour of the coat, preferably a
good dark hazel in the liver dogs and black or deep brown in the
black and white specimens. The expression to be alert, kindly,
trusting. The lids, tight with little or no haw showing. The
correct ear-set is on a level with the line of the eye; on the
side of the skull and not too far back. The flaps to be long and
fairly wide, hanging close to the cheeks, with no tendency to
stand up or out. The leather, thin, approximately long enough to
reach the tip of the nose.
The neck to be moderately long, muscular, slightly arched at the
crest, gradually blending into sloping shoulders. Not noticeably
upright or coming into the body at an abrupt angle.
Efficient movement in front calls for proper shoulders. The blades
sloping back to form an angle with the forearm of approximately 90
degrees which permits the dog to swing his forelegs forward in an
easy manner. Shoulders (fairly close together at the tips) to lie
flat and mould smoothly into the contour of the body. The forelegs
to be straight with the same degree of size to the foot. The bone
strong, slightly flattened, not too heavy or round. The knee
straight, almost flat; the pasterns short, strong; elbows close to
the body with free action from the shoulders.
The topline slopes very gently from withers to tail, the line from
withers to back descending without a sharp drop; the back
practically level; arch over hips somewhat lower than the withers;
croup sloping gently to base of tail; tail carried to follow the
natural line of the body. The body to be well coupled, strong,
compact; the chest deep but not so wide or round as to interfere
with the action of the front legs; the brisket sufficiently
developed to reach to the level of the elbows. The ribs fairly
long, springing gradually to the middle of the body then tapering
as they approach the end of the ribbed section. The back (section
between the withers and loin) to be straight and strong, with no
tendency to dip or roach. The loins to be strong, short; a slight
arch over loins and hip bones. Hips nicely rounded, blending
smoothly into hind legs. The bottom line, starting on a level with
the elbows, to continue backward with almost no up-curve until
reaching the end of the ribbed section, than a more noticeable
up-curve to the flank, but not enough to make the dog appear small
waisted or tucked up.
The Springer should be shown in hard muscular condition, well
developed in hips and thighs and the whole rear assembly should
suggest strength and driving power. The hip joints to be set
rather wide apart and the hips nicely rounded. The thighs broad
and muscular; the stifle joint strong and moderately bent. The
hock joint somewhat rounded, not small and sharp in contour, and
moderately angulated. Leg from hock joint to foot pad, short and
strong with good bone structure. When viewed from the rear the
hocks to be parallel, whether the dog is standing or in motion.
The feet to be round, or slightly oval, compact, well arched
medium size with thick pads, well feathered between the toes.
Excess hair to be removed to show the natural shape and size of
The Springer's tail is an index both to his temperament and his
conformation. Merry tail action is characteristic. The proper set
is somewhat low following the natural line of the croup. The
carriage should be nearly horizontal, slightly elevated when dog
is excited. Carried straight up is untypical of the breed. The
tail should not be docked too short and should be well fringed
with wavy feather. It is legitimate to shape and shorten the
feathering but enough should be left to blend with the dog's other
In judging the Springer, there should be emphasis on proper
movement which is the final test of a dog's conformation and
soundness. Prerequisite to good movement is balance of the front
and rear assemblies. The two must match in angulation and muscular
development if the gait is to be smooth and effortless. Good
shoulders laid back at an angle that permits a long stride are
just as essential as the excellent rear quarters that provide the
driving power. When viewed from the front, the dog's legs should
appear to swing forward in a free and easy manner, with no
tendency for the feet to cross over or interfere with each other.
Viewed from the rear, the hocks should drive well under the body
following on a line with the forelegs, the rear legs parallel,
neither too widely nor too closely spaced. Seen from the side, the
Springer should exhibit a good long forward stride, without
high-stepping or wasted motion.
1. Lack of true English Springer type in conformation, expression,
or behavior. Excessive timidity, with due allowance for puppies
and novice exhibits. But no dog to receive a ribbon if he behaves
in a vicious manner towards handler or judge. Aggressiveness
towards other dogs in the ring not to be construed as viciousness.
2. Over-heavy, cloddy build. Legginess, too tall for length and
substance. Oversize or under size (more than 1 inch (3 cm) under
or over the breed ideal).
3. Rough curly coat. Over-trimming especially of the body coat.
Any chopped, barbered or artificial effect. Excessive feathering
that destroys the clean outline desirable in a sporting dog. Off-colours
such as lemon, red or orange not to place.
4. Oval, pointed, or heavy skull. Cheeks prominently rounded,
thick and protruding. Too much or too little stop. Over-heavy
muzzle. Muzzle too short, too thin, too narrow. Pendulous,
slobbery lips. Under or overshot jaws a very serious fault, to be
heavily penalized. Any deviation from standard for teeth. One or
two teeth slightly out of line not to be considered a serious
fault, but irregularities due to faulty jaw formation to be
5. Eyes yellow or brassy in colour, noticeably lighter than the
coat. Sharp expression indicating unfriendly or suspicious nature.
Loose droopy eyelids. Prominent haw (the third eyelid or membrane
in the inside corner of the eye).
6. Short round ears. Ears set too high or too low or too far back
on the head.
7. Short neck, often the sequence to steep shoulders. Concave
neck, sometimes called ewe neck or upside down neck ( the opposite
of arched). Excessive throatiness.
8. Shoulders set at a steep angle limiting the stride. Loaded
shoulders (the blades standing out from the body by over
development of the muscles). Loose elbows, crooked legs, bone too
light or too coarse and heavy. Weak pasterns that let down the
feet at a pronounced angle.
9. Body too shallow, indicating lack of brisket. Ribs too flat
sometimes due to immaturity. Ribs too round (barrel-shaped),
hampering the gait. Sway back (dip in back), indicating weakness
or lack of muscular development, particularly to be seen when dog
is in action and viewed from the side. Roach back (too much arch
over loin and extending forward into middle section). Croup
falling away too sharply, or croup too high--unsightly fault,
detrimental to outline and good movement. Topline sloping sharply,
indicating steep withers (straight shoulder placement) and a too
10. Too little or too much angulation. Narrow, underdeveloped
thighs. Hocks too short or too long (a proportion of 1/3 the
distance from hip joint to foot is ideal). Flabby muscles,
weakness of joints. Thin, open or splayed feet (flat with
spreading toes). Hare-foot (long, rather narrow foot).
11. Tail habitually upright. Tail set too high or too low. Clamped
down tail (indicating timidity or undependable temperament, even
less to be desired than the tail carried gaily).
12. Short, choppy stride, mincing steps with up and down movement,
hopping. Moving with forefeet wide, giving roll or swing to body.
Weaving or crossing of fore or hind feet. Cow-hocks--hocks turning
in towards each other.
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