How to buy an English Springer Spaniel

Buying a Springer Spaniel is one way of owning one of this beautiful breed, though ‘ownership’ is perhaps the wrong term – it is more about sharing your life with them as they make such wonderful, loyal, fun pets and companions. You may want to start out with an English Springer Spaniel puppy, or maybe a Springer rescue dog from a rescue center or a breed center – there are various aspects to consider. If you have a family, then it is a good idea to discuss the ideas together to decide on coloring, gender and other basics; to decide who will be the dog’s ultimate master and how you will share responsibilities for feeding and exercising the dog.

You should also think about timing and arrange your plans so that for the first few months there are no family holidays away from home so that the pup has enough time to adjust and get used to his new surroundings.

Pedigrees

The main springer spaniel pedigrees are English and Welsh. The English are either liver-and-white or black-and-white (occasionally with tan ‘trimmings’); the Welsh, by contrast are red-and-white.

Dog or bitch? In these breeds the dogs are not too macho and less inclined to wander off than other breeds. Bitches require a bit more care and will also need to be kept close when they are in season. You could have the bitch spayed (neutered), but this make them tend to gain weight; there may be other side-effects.

Next, will you want to show the dog or work it, or just keep it as a family pet? There are different bloodlines for show dog and working dog, but either will make a great family pet. You will need to find a breeding kennel which specialises in the line you want, if that is important. Working dogs tend to be more slender and have a finer bone structure.

Cost

If pedigree is important to you, then you might expect to pay more for a pup which has a long line of prizewinners in its recent ancestry. A good pedigree pup may cost upwards of $700 (£450).

Finding Breeders

Then you will have to find a breeder, avoiding puppy farms where bloodlines are doubtful and standards not of the highest. You can check the Kennel Club – most major countries have one, and many of them are online. They will be able to provide a list of breeders of springer spaniels. The UK has 100 or so breeders advertising with the Kennel Club. Amongst these, there are also Kennel Club Accredited Breeders, with a stricter set of policies applying. The Kennel Club site may have a ‘Find a Puppy’ link, which will tell you what pups the breeder has available, and when they will be ready.

Having decided the basics of the ideal puppy for you, then phone around a few of the breeders and discuss your requirements. They may or may not have a litter ready, and you may have to wait a few months to find the right pup.

The breeders can be particular about the homes to which their pups go, and it may be that your environment does not fit in with their ideas; if so you will have to accept their decision gracefully. For example, if they have a line of prize showdogs, then they may want to see the pups being successfully shown – which will be good for their particular bloodline.

So, once you have a couple of breeders marked down as possibles, then it is time to visit. Find out about the breed standards so that you are able to avoid pups with obvious showring weaknesses (though this is not important to everyone).

Choosing your Pup

Then it is down to selecting your pup – you will need to check eyes, nose, coat, flesh covering, stance, friendliness and confidence; parents’ pedigree papers, vet’s report (if any) and vaccination certificates depending on age.

Depending on the age of the puppy, you may or may not be able to handle it. A general rule though is that if the breeder is keen to let you handle the pet, then he is very keen to sell it. This is not a good sign, and such pups are best examined much more closely or even avoided.

This article should have given you a flavour of the main things to consider when buying a springer spaniel, and an outline of the steps to follow.