Excerpts from:
"An Illustrated Discussion of the Standard for the English Springer Spaniel"

Thank you to the current ESSFTA Judges Education Chairman - Judi Anderson.  Judi has given me permission to use some of the drawings from our Illustrated Standard.  Judi also wrote the brief descriptions below.


Spaniels were known in pre-Christian Britain, perhaps introduced there by Roman legions.  Spaniels were thought to have originated in Spain - this is believed to be the derivation of the word "spaniel".  Spaniel-type dogs appear in prints and paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, some with docked tails.  These dogs were used to start game for hawks, coursing hounds and nets. A revolution in hunting occurred with the invention of the wheel lock firearm in the 17th century, and the spaniel, already adept at boldly flushing game, emerged as ideal for this style of hunting.

The term "springer" came into use in the 19th century for those spaniels who grew large enough to flush game.  Smaller spaniels in the same litters as their larger "springing"  siblings were used to hunt woodcock and became known as "cockers".  Early importation of Springers from Great Britain to "our side of the pond" began around 1920.  Careful and selective breeding made no distinction between "show" and "field" bred Springers, and true dual type endured in this country until the 1940s when our last dual champion finished.


The standard tells us that the English Springer Spaniel, in order to be judged as having "correct" breed type, must look as if it can do its work.  The breed was developed as a companion gun dog; he is a worker and an athlete.

Descriptive adjectives from the first paragraph of the standard reinforce this point, --- "medium sized, sporting, compact, balanced, sturdy, soft gentle expression, friendly".

The four essential elements of correct breed type are:
1. General appearance (size, proportion, substance and balance).
2. Head and expression.
3. Movement.
4. Temperament.

Clarifications of our breed standard, approved by the American Kennel Club in 1994, changed the measuring points by which length and height are determined, thus clarifying proportion.  Measuring points to determine correct proportion are seen on the drawing of the standing Springer with appropriate lines drawn in.

The Springer is a sturdy breed, built for work. He needs a well-developed forechest, sturdy bone and ribs that meet the elbow. He has a slightly sloping topline, well-arched feet.

Hindquarters are broad and well-developed with correct front and rear angulation.  Excessive angulation is never correct in a working spaniel.

Essential to breed type are head and expression.  A Springer head, with its beautiful chiseling and "window to the soul" expression, truly define the breed.

The Springer should move with smooth, effortless and easy gait.

Acceptable coat colors can be found in the standard.  The Springer has an outer coat and an undercoat, the combination of which renders him waterproof,  weatherproof and thornproof.  Coat quality and condition, according to the standard, take precedence over quantity. Any marking pattern is essentially correct.  Flattering markings can enhance glamour and may seem to add to, or detract from, virtues or faults, however, markings, are never to be considered virtues, and they are never to be considered faults.

These Springers are identical in structure.

Springer temperament derives from intelligence and tractability.  The typical Springer Spaniel is intelligent, confident, sensitive and spontaneous.  He is equally comfortable in the field and at home.  He is a hard worker and devoted companion

To order the publication

"An Illustrated Discussion of the Standard for the English Springer Spaniel"

send $5.00 (US Funds - includes shipping) to:

ESSFTA c/o Julie Hogan, Treasurer
9929 Lake Jackson Drive
Manassas, VA 20110


The Illustrated Standard for ESS is a must for anyone that is truly interested in learning about the breed.  This  was published in 2000 and released at the National Specialty Show.   The ESSFTA store also has "The Spaniel Manual" and other items available.  The store is not set up for web-ordering.  All orders must be mailed to Julie Hogan at the address shown above.