Country of Origin: The Field Spaniel shares its early history with the Cocker Spaniel and English Springer Spaniel. ‘Spaniel’-type dogs existed in England as early as the 1500’s but were not classified into distinct breeds until the 1800’s. Those weighing over 11 kg (25 lbs) were classified as Field Spaniels. In the late 1800’s, the Field Spaniel was crossed with the Cocker Spaniel and Irish Water Spaniel for an all-black coat, becoming the first Spaniel adapted for the show ring rather than the field. The resulting breed was initially very popular, but further crosses with the Sussex Spaniel and Basset Hound gave the Field Spaniel an overly long and short body shape, leading to a number of health problems and decreased usefulness in the field. This caused the Field Spaniel to plummet in popularity to the point of near extinction. In the 1950’s, an effort was made to restore the classic Field Spaniel form through crosses with the English Springer Spaniel. The Field Spaniel was successfully restored to its classic shape, but it remains a very rare breed—most Field Spaniels today descend from that effort and four Field Spaniels named Ronayne Regal, Gormac Teal, Colombina, and Elmbury Morwena.
Size: The Field Spaniel has a shoulder height of approximately 46 cm (18 in) and weighs 16-23 kg (35-50 lbs). It has a moderate stop (depression where the muzzle meets the forehead), almond-shaped eyes, and low set, wide ears. Field Spaniels have large webbed feet and a tail which slants downward and may be docked.
Coat: The Field Spaniel has a long, silky coat which is shiny, wavy and somewhat water-resistant. It may be solid colored, bicolor, or roan (close mix of dark and white hairs) in liver, golden liver, mahogany, or black, with possible tan or white markings.
Character: Field Spaniels are gentle, affectionate, and intelligent. Some tend to become attached to one particular member of the family. The Field Spaniel is very adaptable. It is suspicious of strangers and makes a good watchdog, but it not a guard dog. Field Spaniels are happiest when they have a job to do.
Temperament: The Field Spaniel is friendly to everyone, including children, dogs, and cats. It has a high prey instinct with rabbits, birds, and other small animals unless socialized when young. Field Spaniels are good with children, provided they do not play too roughly.
Care: The Field Spaniel requires a weekly brushing. Show dogs require a clipping or professional grooming several times a year. Dead hair should be hand-plucked, particularly from the ears and footpads. The Field Spaniel has a lifespan of 12-14 years. It is generally healthy, but susceptible to hip dysplasia (malformed hip joint which can cause lameness or arthritis) and hypothyroidism.
Training: The Field Spaniel must be trained with a kind, consistent approach. The Field Spaniel learns quickly and reacts strongly to the sound of its master’s voice.
Activity: The Field Spaniel requires daily exercise. It is primarily a field dog, so it is best suited to outdoor activities and exploration, but it will gladly adapt itself to the exercise habits of your family.
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