There’s no single breed of hunting dog that is perfect for every situation, but with a little knowledge about the breeds you’re considering, you can narrow your search for your next partner.
We asked our good friend and English Springer Spaniel trainer Roger why the English springer spaniel are probably the best allrounder.
Their even temperaments and eager-to-please personalities make them perfect companions. Those attributes that make springers great family pets also make them unequalled in the field.
Originally bred to flush upland game birds such as pheasant, partridge and grouse, the springer combines multiple jobs into one. They will hunt, flush and retrieve the prey on land or even swim for it in case of a water landing. Their scent ability is second to none and even though their coat seems like it would be a magnet for brush and undergrowth, the opposite is true. Springers glide through the under growth with minimal effort, and their superb endurance and trainability makes them perfect for long trips in search of game.
Roger tells us “Springers are tough, muscular hunters, weighing between 12 and 20 or so kilos, their compact size makes them easy to kennel for long trips into the field. Their stout muscular structure gives them the power they need for short bursts of energy over a long period of time. Springers generally stay within command range, casting back and forth over not too wide an area, they definitely cover a lot of ground on a typical shoot”
The combination of relatively low ground clearance, long ears and powerful nose means that springers are perfect for tracking down land-dwelling birds and mammals. Their long ears funnel scent forward as they bust through cover to initiate that flush of game that gets any handlers heart beating faster and that’s what makes the day worthwhile, whether you have been successful in supplying food for the table or not.
When it comes time to retrieve birds that fell into a pond or lake, the springer’s webbed feet make for great water mobility.
The typical working spaniel is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and willing to obey. They are generally affectionate and an easy-going family dog. Its alertness and attentiveness make them the best all round hunting companions. It has exceptional stamina and needs moderate amounts of activity, if left alone for too long, they can become destructive and mischievous through boredom
Any dog with long, floppy ears should have those ears checked regularly for infection or mites, and in the springer’s case, it’s important to keep those mats and tangles off the ears.
Springers are moderately energetic and while they can be happy just hanging out on the couch with the family, they are at their best with daily exercise. Since they’re bred for the great outdoors, scent training and agility courses can help burn some energy for those in pet homes, whilst prepping for the hunting season can be done with equipment like dummies and dummy launchers.
As ambitious as they are intelligent, springers are easy to train if you stick with it and with methods such as place boards like we use, along with early Neurological Stimulation, they are far easier than many people think. If training lapses, the springer’s natural instinct to wander and explore can get the better of them, however it doesn’t take long to get them back on track. It’s not that they’re actively stubborn or prone to ignore commands; it’s that they’re hard-wired to move forward. However, they’re very eager to please and more than happy to play “number two” to a good leader.
Roger says “English springer spaniels need a well-balanced diet specially designed for performance dogs. Their typical day in the field consists of lots of quick-burst activity over a long period of time, and they can cover a lot more ground than it seems. They need nutrients that support a long day of hard work, so a food that’s high in fat and protein is ideal. A high-fat diet provides the fuel they need to cover many miles in search of game, while quality protein helps them bounce back from that effort. I will only use and recommend FourFriends Power, its high fat and protein content enable my working spaniels to work at their best and our pups will only ever be raised on FourFriends Puppy, nothing else compares and that’s why I’ve used it for many seasons now.”
Working English Springer Spaniels are dogs that love their people, and they can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long, but if you’re looking for a smart, even-tempered dog who will spend all day hunting game and all-night hunting for love then we recommend you talk with Roger at Gwerthonor Gundogs on 07411 212268.