The Field Spaniel is a rare, good-looking, hunting dog that hails from England, and which successfully survived extinction to emerge as a domestic companion. Despite a pleasant and relatively grounded temperament, the breed is not really suitable for modern apartments.
This breed shares its ancestry with the English Cocker Spaniel, weight being the only differentiator between these breeds; individual dogs over 25 kg were deemed Field Spaniels. These large Spaniels subsequently were cross-bred to result in shorter, longer and heavier progeny, which was no longer suitable for hunting purposes and nearly became extinct.
The breed was revived to restore its original form with enhanced hunting capabilities by crossing it with English Springer Spaniels – the present-day population literally being traceable to four individual Field Spaniels from the '50s.
The Field Spaniel has all the characteristics desirable in a companion dog – be it outdoors or indoors. He is affectionate, playful, intelligent, and can get assertive and dominant in the hands of a passive master. Naturally calm and confident, they aren’t over aggressive.
A keen sense of smell is also an innate tendency to be watched out, for Field Spaniels are quick to follow the scent.
Socialising is necessary to make them comfortable with the immediate environment. They respond eagerly to vocal instructions and are delighted when kept busy, and have the space to roam around. However, harsh tones may not be well-received.
Human company is mandatory, minus which they can get anxious. A calm, yet firm approach to training usually works well. The Field Spaniel is sensitive to rough treatment and words. Locking up Field Spaniels in a kennel can trigger neurotic responses.
Present-day Field Spaniels are mid-sized with a strong and muscular build, most apt for hunting in water or amidst dense vegetation. A meek, grim and proud posture, droopy ears with ample feathering, a single coat of flat or wavy hair with moderate feathering across the body, and low tail are some characteristic features of this breed.
The colour of the coat usually varies between black and different shades of liver (gold). Markings may be present.
The average height of the Field Spaniel is 18”, while weight maxes out at 22.5 kg. Female dogs stand a tad shorter.
Health and Care
The lifetime of the Field Spaniel can be anywhere between 10 and 14 years, and common health problems faced include ear, eye diseases and hip dyslexia.
Preventive tests for general health, especially eye and ear infections, often prove beneficial.
Washing and brushing the coat a couple of times during the week, and occasional trimming of irregular strands are ideal to maintain a well-groomed appearance.
The training needs of the Field Spaniel actually vary depending on whether the dog will help hunting teams out in the open, participate in contests/shows or make a good pet.
Either way, the breed is slightly challenging to train, primarily because – although a keen and intelligent learner – it is quite sensitive to the trainer’s voice and temperament, and does not respond well to harsh treatment.
Being quite friendly and attached, it can take advantage of the trainer’s leniency to assume the role of a leader – chain of command cannot be abruptly snapped!
Field Spaniels need:
• To regularly stay in touch with people.
• Socialise to overcome shyness and timid responses towards visitors, pets at home, and other dogs encountered outdoors.
• Gentle and consistent training to quickly learn a lesson without getting agitated.
Highly sensitive, agile, friendly, sombre, yet lovable, Field Spaniels need moving space and regular activity to stay contented and healthy.