15 Different Types of Spaniels Ready for the Great Outdoors
One glance from a doe-eyed spaniel and your heart skips a beat. Maybe it's because we watched too many scenes from Disney's Lady and the Tramp and just think Lady, as an American Cocker spaniel, is the sweetest dog ever to ever grace the big screen. But with more than a dozen types of spaniels—each just as charming, attentive, and bright as the next—it seems there's more than meets the eye with these spunky pups.
15 Types of Spaniels—and One Imposter!
Breed historians believe the spaniel is 'The Dog of Spain', and might have traveled throughout Europe as early as 55 BC. With a history that extensive, these dogs have diversified and gained popularity all over the world today. So what characteristics do spaniel dog breeds have in common? Jo Myers, DVM, a telehealth practitioner on Vetster, tells Daily Paws that their adventurous hunting history shaped who they are today. "These small– to–medium dogs with an aptitude for flushing and retrieving game were popular with their owners for how well they did their job," she says. "Their appearance was secondary, but since they had a common ancestry, they also shared common physical characteristics like droopy and hairy ears, feathery coats, and long tails."
Myers adds there's a lot of variation in spaniel breeds, too. "They can be short or tall, heavy or slight, large or small, curly-coated, long-haired, or short-haired." And at least one (OK, maybe two for the right spacious yard) will be just perfect for you!
Lively and affectionate cocker spaniels are considered 'Velcro dogs': they follow you from room-to-room, just to be ready in case you need to snuggle something pleasing and soft. They heart their humans big time!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This gorgeous pup clearly knows how cute he is—just look at that sweet face gazing off into the distance like a runway model in the middle of New York Fashion Week. Aside from being a lovely face framed by those big, long ears, the gentle Cavalier King Charles spaniel is completely adaptable: frisky for a game of fetch, but also delighted to curl up on your lap for hours on end.
Game hunters rely on the alert Brittany to point to their prey instead of flushing it out. Dog lovers of all types choose these bright, energetic companions to participate in cool canine sports, such as dock diving.
English Cocker Spaniel
Who won Best in Show at the famed Crufts dog show seven times—more than any other breed? This guy! A deserving honor for the loyal and intelligent English cocker spaniel, often a top choice for families with older children.
If you need an amazing bird dog, the Boykin spaniel has an extensive resume. The official canine of South Carolina, where they were first bred, this highly-athletic and good-natured pup is known to love all water sports, including kayaking.
English Springer Spaniel
The kind and people-pleasing English springer spaniel will be your best four-legged buddy (maybe more so than two-legged ones!) whether you're a runner, a hunter, or an outdoor adventure enthusiast.
American Water Spaniel
Hailing from the upper Midwest, an American water spaniel is a cheerful and faithful water dog and medium-sized family friend who, if not retrieving, might even be game for some paddle boarding with you.
Irish Water Spaniel
A low-shedding but fluffy pup who's ready to be your children's favorite secret-keeper? Must be an Irish water spaniel! Rambunctious and raring to go, she usually gets all A's in puppy kindergarten, which helps her be the best dog ever.
English Toy Spaniel
As a wee and delightful companion, especially for seniors and apartment dwellers, English toy spaniels were once known as 'the comforter' in Shakespeare's time. These tender pups enjoy daily walks and neighborly chats.
A true-blue and sweet Sussex spaniel excels at nose work, so take him on a marsh hunt or navigate a 'sniffari' through the park to take in the world. Instinctive swimmers, this type of spaniel needs less exercise than most of the others on this list.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
First-time dog owners hit the jackpot with a Welsh springer spaniel, as these affectionate and vibrant pups thrive with socialization training and want nothing more than to be with their attentive humans.
OK, so these pups may drool more than most doggos, and make it snow with fur when they 'blow coat'. But mellow and noble Clumber spaniels are revered as sporting dogs and household pets. They were also one of nine charter breeds of the American Kennel Club in 1884.
Once known as the 'dwarf spaniel' or continental toy spaniel, papillons are daring and darling. Being a toy dog breed that weighs in under 10 pounds doesn't tame her adventurous nature one bit, so don't hesitate to take her hiking—with a little carrying assistance, of course.
As comfortable in the field as they are in the show ring—or on your couch!—field spaniels have sunny dispositions, quick intellect, and an even temperament. These qualities mean they'll make doting and lovable family dogs.
This Spain– to–Netherlands transplant, the Kooikerhondje (pronounced 'koy-ker-hun-juh'), is a spunky spaniel whose main job used to be luring ducks into a cage, or 'kooi'. Adaptable, sensitive, and good-natured, this pup is quite in-tune with his humans.
Waaaait a second, who gave this loving, cuddly, cutie-pie a pass into the spaniels party? A Tibetan spaniel doesn't even share genetic links with the other pups on this list! But experts suggest that in the Middle Ages, the French word epagneul was mistakenly used to describe this 2,000-year-old non-sporting breed.
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Caring for Spaniel Dog Breeds
By nature, most types of spaniels are level-headed, dedicated, easy to train, and loyal, which make them appealing canine companions. These characteristics are also why toy breeds were developed, so the same amiable dogs in the field could become household pets. Provide them with plenty of enrichment activities and exercise, and they won't stop adoring you.
Just be on the lookout for a few health issues that may spaniels can be prone to, especially their long ears. Myers says the heavy, hairy ears of spaniels predispose them to ear infections. "Cocker spaniels in particular have a reputation for chronic recurrent otitis that can be very difficult to fully eliminate." She adds that Cavalier King Charles spaniels and similar breeds are predisposed to heart disease. For example, "mitral valve disease is so common with these breeds that veterinarians essentially expect it to develop it for all of them," she says. Also talk to your vet about breed-specific conditions—which might include anything from brachycephalic syndrome to a propensity for obesity—to develop a wellness plan.
Finally, you'll want to stock up on grooming supplies, because no matter what type of spaniel you choose, you want them to be healthy and look their best. Some of the more water-bound spaniels sport a double coat, which means they'll also and shed a lot—they'll blow their coat at least twice a year. Other pretty pups of this line are long-haired, single-coated dogs who often require professional grooming to keep their fur sleek and clean.