Spaniel breeds come in all sizes and colors. Spaniels were a mix of many different dogs with the ultimate intention of breeders to develop a dog that was athletic, rather compact, and an enthusiastic hunting companion. The spaniel is intended to be highly skilled at locating prey, flushing out, then retrieving wildlife in different environments, but particularly in water.
Spaniels today are chiefly companion dogs, but they are still hunters at heart. Some owners still utilize spaniels as hunting dogs. There are twenty-four different spaniel breeds that are recognized by the American Kennel Club. However, at least one spaniel breed was removed from the AKC’s recognized list in 1992.
What Makes a Spaniel a Spaniel?
Most spaniels are of medium size, possess a large muzzle, and droopy ears. They typically have a wavy or curly coat that may be described as silky to the touch. The hair on their ears, legs, and tail is often longer than on other parts of the body.
Most spaniel breeds feature the same basic colors: liver and white, black and white, a deep brown, a deep black, or red and white. However, this can vary by breed.
Spaniels have a winning personality. Typically, they are highly intelligent and very loyal. They are very dependent upon their human handlers, and they thrive on companionship. Overall, the spaniel is obedient and very affectionate.
In fact, spaniels are often prone to separation anxiety because they are so dependent upon human companionship.
One problem that tends to plague all breeds of spaniels is persistent dog ear infection. This is chiefly due to the long, droopy ears that mark the breed.
So, with that said, let’s look at the breeds that are classified as spaniels.
American Cocker Spaniel
The Cocker Spaniel of today is more of a companionship dog than a hunter, but those innate abilities have not left the dog. The Cocker Spaniel stands between 13 inches and 15 inches tall, and an adult will weigh between twenty-four and twenty-nine pounds.
Many Cocker Spaniels today are confident show dogs, competing as the smallest of the Sporting Dog group. The Cocker Spaniel is the most popular dog registered with the AKC.
The Cocker Spaniel has a rounded head and long, silky ears. This makes the breed quite recognizable. The coat of the Cocker Spaniel is of medium length with flat or wavy fur. The Cocker Spaniel may come in a variety of colors from cream to red to black or a mixture of color and white fur.
The Cocker Spaniel is fairly intelligent; although the Cocker Spaniel does well under commands in the show ring, he is no longer much of a hunting companion. Rather, the Cocker Spaniel prefers to be a companionship animal. Potential owners should be aware that due to some unethical breeding practices, some Cocker Spaniels have developed lifelong health problems.
American Water Spaniel
The American Water Spaniel is considered a rare breed; however, it is the state dog of Wisconsin . This is because the dog was bred to hunt particularly in the climate of Wisconsin. At adulthood, the American Water Spaniel will be between fifteen and eighteen inches in height and will weigh between twenty-five and forty-five pounds.
The American Water Spaniel is one breed that was exclusively developed in the United States. It is a versatile breed that enjoys working on both lands and in water. Additionally, the American Water Spaniel can withstand very cold temperatures. The American Water Spaniel is not only a great hunter, but they are noted retrieving dogs. They are great at endurance, spending hours out in the field hunting and retrieving. They are more of a “one-person” dog, but they can adapt to family life as well.
The American Water Spaniel possesses a thick, coiled coat that permits the dog to work in cold, wet weather. The breed is one of three colors: brown, liver, and chocolate. The fur will be very curly or wavy.
Blue Picardy Spaniel
Chiefly native to Canada and France, Blue Picardy Spaniels are proven hunting dogs with a lot of energy. At adulthood, the Blue Picardy will usually stand between 22 and 24 inches in height; the Blue Picardy on average weighs between 43 and 45 pounds.
The Blue Picardy has a highly recognizable coat; it is usually flat or wavy and bluish in color. The head of the Blue Picardy is oval-shaped, possesses a long muzzle and the typical long, droopy ears of a spaniel breed.
The Blue Picardy is not recognized by the American Kennel Club, but those familiar with the breed understand the dog is a high-energy hunter, a skilled retriever, and a loving family pet.
The Blue Picardy has two chief needs in order to stay happy and healthy. He will need a great deal of exercise to burn off some of that energy, and he will need frequent ear health checks as the breed tends to experience lots of infections when ears are not cared for properly. Consider using the best dog ear cleaners for regular grooming.
The Boykin Spaniel
Like the Cocker Spaniel, the Boykin Spaniel is a member of the Sporting Group, according to the AKC. The Boykin is the state dog of South Carolina, and it has only been recently recognized as its own breed.
The Boykin is considered a medium-sized dog; at adulthood, the Boykin will weigh between 25 and 45 pounds and stand between 15 and 18 inches in height. The Boykin Spaniel is exclusively liver-colored. There may be some white spots on the chest or toes of the Boykin. Speaking of toes, the Boykin is a web-toed dog, which makes the breed excellent at swimming.
The Boykin is skilled at flushing out prey as well as retrieving. They are considered a medium-sized breed, and they do best in a warm to moderate climate. Boykins are chiefly waterfowl hunters and retrievers, but they are sometimes used to flush deer out and they are excellent tracking dogs.
The Boykin’s coat is shorter than the average spaniel coat; it may be only somewhat curly or even straight. However, the Boykin does maintain the long, droopy ears of the spaniel. The Boykin loves to be a part of a family, but, due to their high energy levels, the Boykin will need ample exercise time each day.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Considered one of the smaller spaniel breeds, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of today is chiefly a companion dog. They are considered a “toy” breed because of their small stature. At adulthood, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will only be 12 to 13 inches in height and weigh between 13 and 18 pounds.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is highly popular in American homes; they are great companion animals, and they thrive off interaction with their family members. They are extremely loving dogs who need and provide a lot of affection for their pet parents.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a longer coat that is silky to the touch and is typically one of four colors. They possess high-set ears that are long and have feathery fur.
One caveat of the Cavalier King Charles is that this breed doesn’t need a lot of exercises, and the breed is genuinely just happy to be in the presence of its family. While they are fairly intelligent, they are not utilized for hunting; today, they are chiefly companion animals.
The Clumber Spaniel
The Clumber Spaniel is the largest of all spaniel breeds, and it is unique as it is almost entirely white in color. Most Clumber Spaniels will have some orange or lemon markings over its body.
The Clumber Spaniel stands between 17 and 20 inches tall, and, at adulthood, the Clumber will weigh between 55 and 85 pounds.
The Clumber Spaniel is known to be a dog that snores, drools, and sheds notoriously. As such, not only will the Clumber Spaniel need a moderate amount of exercise, but a fair amount of grooming too. Like other spaniel breeds, you’ll need to keep his ears dry and clean as a part of his grooming routine.
Although the Clumber Spaniel requires a little more “work” on the part of pet parents when compared to other spaniel breeds, the Clumber Spaniel is a gentle, sweet family pet. Don’t let the droopy ears and eyes of the Clumber Spaniel fool you, however—they are adept hunters and enjoy working.
Also known as the Dutch Partridge Dog, the Drentse Patridjshond is an agile, skilled hunting companion that has only recently been recognized by the AKC. They are muscular and powerful, with a short coat. The coat is typically white with some brown markings. The Dutch Partridge Dog is a great working dog; they are hunters, watchdogs, nannies, and overall workers.
The English Cocker Spaniel
Often confused with the American Cocker Spaniel, the English Cocker Spaniel is slightly larger than the American. The English also possesses a longer muzzle and the ears of the English are set lower on the head than the American version of this dog.
Like the American Cocker, the English is intelligent and loves simply spending time with their family.
The English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel is a part of the Gundog Breed Group, and it is still used today as a hunting companion. The English Springer is between 19 and 20 inches in height as an adult, and an adult English Springer will weigh between 40 and 50 pounds.
The English Springer Spaniels learn quickly and they thrive in an environment where they can get plenty of work. They were originally utilized for flushing out prey, but over time, they have also become proficient in retrieving too.
The English Springer Spaniel is a great hunting companion, but they are also wonderful family pets. They do best with an active family that can provide the English Springer Spaniel with plenty of exercises.
The Field Spaniel
The Field Spaniel was intended to be a show dog primarily. They possess a long body that is short in height—and adult Field Spaniel is between seventeen and eighteen inches in height and weighs between 35 and 50 pounds.
The Field Spaniel is one that has no undercoat, which makes them unique among other spaniels. The Field Spaniel will be either roan, liver, or black; some coats will have white ticking.
The Irish Water Spaniel
Another of the larger spaniel breeds is the Irish Water Spaniel. This tough and rugged spaniel excels at hunting. The Irish Water Spaniel is typically liver in color, and they normally have dense curly coats with longer curls on the legs of the dog.
The Irish Water Spaniel stands between 21 and 24 inches and weighs between 45 and 65 pounds. They are hard-working dogs, but they can be great family pets too.
The English Toy Spaniel
Also known as King Charles Spaniel, this breed is between 9 and 10 inches in height at adulthood and usually weighs less than six pounds. They are chiefly companions, and most of them make great lap dogs.
One might be surprised that the Papillon is a spaniel, but its original name is the Continental Toy Spaniel. This dog originated in France, and it is also a small dog. It will weigh no more than five pounds in adulthood.
The Papillon is a great companion animal, and they are distinguishable by their “butterfly” ears.
Other Notable Spaniel Breeds
- The Dutch Spaniel
- The German Spaniel
- The French Spaniel
- The Dutch Tulip Hound
- The Phalene
- The Picardy Spaniel
- The Pont Audemer Spaniel
- The Russian Spaniel
- The Frisian Pointer (or Stabyhoun)
- The Sussex Spaniel
- The Welsh Springer Spaniel
1. Which is the calmest spaniel?
The Clumber Spaniel just seems to be a go-with-the-flow type of spaniel. He is laidback, and he is great with children.
2. Is a spaniel a good family dog?
Spaniels are great family dogs. They typically love children, and, even in spaniel breeds that need a little more exercise, they are loyal and intelligent. Most spaniel breeds are very smart, and they thrive on human interaction.
3. What makes a dog a spaniel?
Most spaniels are considered medium-sized breeds, highly athletic, and great hunting companions. They are also known for having long, droopy ears.
4. How many different spaniel breeds are there?
There are at least twenty-four breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.