The field spaniel stands 17–18 inches tall and weighs 35–50 pounds. They are solidly built with firm, smooth muscles and, like a lot of other dog breeds, the males tend to be larger than females. "This breed is sturdy and medium-size," says Claudine Sievert, DVM, a veterinary consultant for Stayyy. "They were initially bred to retrieve game from land and water. Today, while they are still known for their great hunting skills, they are most often used for show dogs and loving family dogs."
Similar to their relatives—the cocker, springer, and Sussex spaniel—fieldies have long, feathery ears that hang below their long noses and wide, almond-shaped brown eyes. Their moderately long, dense coats are silky, wavy, and repel water, according to The Field Spaniel Society of America (FSSA).
Field spaniels come in a limited number of colors (varying shades of liver and brown, black, and blue) and can be solid or bi-colored. They are prone to regular shedding, but their coats can be easily maintained by an easy grooming routine, which involves brushing them weekly to keep their fluffy bodies shiny and healthy.
When you first look at a field spaniel, you might think she's a cocker spaniel. And while the two dogs were once frequently interbred, according to the FSSA, they are now considered two separate breeds. So, what is the difference between a cocker spaniel and a field spaniel? Cockers come in more colors, and field spaniels are 5–20 pounds heavier than their smaller cousins.
Known for their cheerful, sweet, and eager-to-please dispositions, field spaniels are good pets for any dog-lover seeking a loyal best friend. They are versatile pups that relish a romp around the backyard followed by cuddling in the laps of their favorite humans. "They do well with all ages and make excellent, loving companions," Sievert says.
The field spaniel doesn't bark excessively, but centuries of training to be skilled hunters means she has the tendency to speak up in certain situations. For instance, approaching unfamiliar animals and people may inspire the pups to alert their humans.
Thanks to their high intelligence and people-pleasing tendencies, the field spaniel is easy to train, making her a mainstay on the dog show stage. But these are sensitive canines that want to be near their owners at all times, so leaving them home alone all day is not an option (even with crate training).
The field spaniel is happy in almost any home, including apartments in bustling cities, but they do require daily exercise and room to roam. "They need to run, play, and work out on a daily basis to stay healthy and happy," says Aaron Rice, a dog trainer with more than 15 years of experience and co-owner of Stayyy. "Luckily, they are intelligent enough to get their exercise from playing with you or other dogs in your neighborhood."
Some of the earliest field spaniels—which have origins in the United Kingdom—specialized in seeking and flushing small game including rabbits and birds, according to the breed club. These skills make them excellent hunting dogs, but they also might find quick-moving small creatures to be very enticing and chase-worthy. That means you should always keep your fieldie leashed on trails and other open spaces, particularly in areas where wild things roam.
"They are highly intelligent and want to please their family," Sievert says. "The best way to train them is by using treats to encourage them. You should make sure to give them a few short training sessions throughout the day. You don't want to yell or punish them when they make mistakes; instead, correct their behavior and reward them often."
Fieldies have beautiful, shiny coats. Weekly grooming at home helps minimize shedding and keep your fluffy-eared BFF looking her best. Unlike other spaniel breeds, the field doesn't require a clipped body hair style. "Since the field spaniel has a single coat, they don't require a lot of grooming like other breeds," Sievert says. "All you need to do is brush, comb, and fluff their coats weekly. If you notice any twigs or debris in their fur, you can just give them a quick brush to remove them."
To live the healthiest life possible, field spaniels need the proper amount of high-quality dog food. Consult a veterinarian on how much to feed a field spaniel; the amount will vary depending on the individual dog's size, weight, age, exercise levels, and other factors. Because the breed has long, floppy ears, you should check them often for signs of infection. And, like other pups, their nails should be trimmed as needed and their teeth should be brushed regularly to keep doggy breath at bay.
A typical field spaniel life expectancy ranges between 12–13 years. They are prone to hypothyroidism, which can negatively affect a dog's metabolism in different ways and is particularly common in middle-age to senior canines. While hypothyroidism isn't curable, it doesn't have to affect your dog's quality of life. Visiting your vet when you notice common signs of the condition—such as weight gain, lethargy, and excessive shedding—will ensure your fieldie receives proper diagnosis and treatment.
Field spaniels are also susceptible to eye problems such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and retinal dysplasia. "To help avoid this, ask the breeder to show evidence that the pup's parents are in good health," Sievert says. "If a breeder can't show certification, you need to look for one that can."
The field spaniel's floppy ears also make her susceptible to ear infections, Rice says. Owners can avoid this issue by making sure your pup keeps her ears dry, particularly after bathtime and swims, and by cleaning them regularly.
"They also have very sensitive skin and their feet can be prone to developing corns, which can be treated with a corn pad," Rice says.
The field spaniel was one of the first dogs to be shown and registered in the U.S. In fact, the breed's show career traces back well before the American Kennel Club was even founded in 1883, according to The Field Spaniel Society of America.
The pups have been documented for many centuries, particularly in the United Kingdom. The earliest field breeds were developed by breeding larger cocker spaniels with regional English strains, such as the Sussex spaniel. The field spaniel gained its name for the breed's stellar ability to seek and flush out small game in dense landscapes—making the dogs a prized hunting companion.
After dominating the show ring until the early 20th century, the field spaniel fell out of popularity. Beginning in the late 1960s, however, the canines have been revived from near extinction, thanks to a handful of passionate breeders. While they're still rare in the U.S., they are becoming more coveted here and across the world.
- While a field spaniel is yet to be named Best in Show at the renowned Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, several of the breed's close cousins have earned top honors. For example, a Sussex spaniel named Clussex Three D. Grinchy Glee and an English springer spaniel named Felicity's Diamond Jim won in 2009 and 2007, respectively.
- According to The Field Spaniel Society of America, all of today's field spaniels in the United States can be traced back in lineage to four show canines that lived in the 1950s and 1960s—when the breed was revived from near extinction. Their names were Elmbury Morwenna of Rhiwlas, Columbina of Teffont, Ronayne Regal, and Gormac Teal.