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Autumnskye Stinger Rocket (1995-2008)


Our dogs are English springer spaniels, but not the show type. Ours are the hunting type known as 'field bred'. The field bred springer is the original English springer spaniel, known in the UK for hundreds of years. The angulated body style of show breed, as it is seen in the US, has only evolved in the last 50-60 years. Modern day show springers in the UK bear little resemblance to their counterpart in the States.

The breed was carefully developed to serve the hunter as a working dog. A springer is a flushing spaniel. Typically, they quarter back and forth in front of the hunter, they flush the game and retrieve it to their handler. A spaniel with a good nose and a soft mouth are of great value to the hunter.

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Health Issues

We have had the show type in the past, before we were aware of the existance of the field type. Our first effort to obtain a field bred English springer spaniel was unfortunate. We visited a breeder who advertised in the local newspaper as having "field bred" springers. We purchased a pup from him. About two months later after we received his AKC papers and ordered his pedigree we discovered that he was only about 1/4 field and 3/4 show. And to make matters worse, a product of a father-daughter inbreeding. That was a fact that the breeder concealed from us. We were disappointed and felt as though we had been "took", but decided to keep him. He was a smart dog, a retrieving fool, and we loved him very much.

Disaster struck. At about two years of age he developed canine aggression - which is sometimes called "springer rage" - an unfair label since many other breeds of dog are also prone to aggression-rage problems. For no apparent reason whatsoever, he would exhibit explosive episodes of aggressive, and sometimes violent, behaviour. After several minutes, he would return to his usual jovial self, seemingly unaware of what had just transpired. This Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde behaviour became progressively worse until it reached a point where we had no option but to put him down for fear that he might attack a family member. It was a frightening and heartbreaking ordeal.

Finally, we discovered the true (field bred) English springer spaniel.

There are other important health concerns associated with springers and regardless of where you look for a puppy or dog, I would strongly recommend that you make sure the breeder checks the parents for hereditary eye problems, PFK, and hip dysplasia. The eyes should be checked by an ACVO certified canine ophthalmologist, then registered with CERF. Hips should be certified by OFA or PennHip.

If you are interested in a show type springer, you should also be sure to ask the breeder about testing for thyroid disorders, seizure disorders - epilepsy, heart disorders, and von Willebrand's disease.

Be aware that there are breeders of show type springers who actively market their dogs as "hunting" springers. Granted, some might hunt - but not anything like the field bred does! The vast majority of show style springers have completely lost their hunting instincts. If you are planning to hunt your springer save yourself some frustration and be sure that you get a real field bred English springer spaniel... accept no substitute! And above all, please purchase your next pup from a reputable breeder.

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Show and field-bred Springers

A Tale of Two Breeds

What are the physical differences between the field bred and show type springers?

The field bred springer is generally smaller than the show type. Adult females average 35-45 lbs and males, about 40-55 lbs. Adult show types will generally weigh in between 50-85 lbs. The body style of the American show springer appears very angulated - whereas the field bred's shape is more athletic and streamlined in appearance. The typical field bred's coat is usually coarser, but it is much easier to groom than the silky hair of a show type. Tails are traditionally docked at 2/3 to 3/4 length while the show type usually only have a short stub of a tail. The longer tail is a valuable asset to the hunter. Another plus is that ear infections/mites are rarer in the field type as their ears are set higher on their heads, less hairy, and so they get better air circulation.

Yes! there are many differences between the field bred English springer spaniel and the common American show-type springer. They are indeed two distinct and separate breeds of dog. Each has been specifically bred to serve it's purpose - be it the show ring or for working ability in the field.

The family photo above with Buttons, our last show type springer and Trixie, our first field bred springer on the right.

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Dew Claws & Docked Tails

Why are the puppies tails docked and dew claws removed?

While out hunting, the springer's tail will begin to rapidly wag as they encounter game scent. The puppies tails are docked to prevent them from being damaged while hunting in briars or other nasty cover as a result of their natural tail action. Springers whose tails aren't docked can recieve serious injury as an adult from their tails being shredded in a briar patch while hunting, causing much pain and sometimes requiring surgery.

They are generally docked between 3-5 days old at which time the dew claws are also removed.

Likewise leaving dew claws on can cause them to be ripped off while out hunting, playing in the yard, or in any other circumstance where they might get caught on something. This would also be a serious injury. And there are also cosmetic reasons.

The tail docking procedure involves cutting off 1/4 to 1/3 of it's overall length, then it is stitched close. The dewclaws are also snipped off and stitched shut. The puppies are so young at this age that they quickly forget about it.

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Whether you plan to hunt or field trial your new field bred English springer spaniel, he or she will undoubtedly spend the majority of their time as a companion or the family pet.

Our own dogs all spend time as the housedawg. It's not difficult to teach them the "house rules" since they are quick learners. They love to be with people - and are quick to claim a spot on the rug by the fireplace - or on the sofa!

Do you have children in your life? Kids and dogs go together like ham and cheese! These dogs are great family dogs - or as that special companion for a single person - and will quickly win a special place in your heart.

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A Happy Girl!
Baughan's Starlight Trixie (1993-2002)

A Versatile Dog

The field type are known for their merry personality and an eagerness to please. They make wonderful companions in the home, but also enjoy time outside. These dogs require adequate exercise and time spent outside on a daily basis. They also love the water.

These dogs are not difficult to train. We highly recommend involvement with others who train their springers on a regular basis for field trials, hunt tests, or to hone their hunting skills. A well-trained dog is a joy to be around.

Field bred springers excel at hunting. Not only are they great upland hunting companions, but they perform equally well when hunted on small game and waterfowl. Their style of hunting is to flush the game and retrieve it to hand.

Aside from hunting, there are organized field trials and hunt tests sanctioned by the AKC that you may be interested in participating in. The English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, or ESSFTA, is the parent club of our breed. This organization oversees the local clubs across the country and the various events which are sponsored and held by these local clubs. Many areas have small, informal groups who get together for regular training sessions. I highly recommend involving yourself with such a group or to consider forming one yourself. Contacting your regional ESSFTA associated club is a good way to find others in your area.

The field bred English Springer Spaniel is truly a versatile dog!

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Direct inquiries to Loretta Baughan email:

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