Well into the 1800s, several British spaniels used by hunters were not classified by breed, as they are today; they were organized by size and job description. Any particular type of spaniel, born of Cocker, English Springer, and Sussex crosses, was designated as the Field Spaniel.
Dedicated fans of the 20th century worked to rehabilitate the Field. By the late 1960s, enthusiasts got back to basics and, with the re-introduction of Cocker and Springer blood, rebuilt the dog along its original lines. In the decades since, the Field Spaniel’s rise and fall and rise-again has served as a cautionary tale for dog breeders.
Field Spaniel Appearance
Field Spaniels are 17 to 18 inches tall, weigh 35 – 50 pounds, and are slightly longer than tall. Their tail can be docked or undocked. Their hair is moderately long and can be flat or slightly wavy. The coat comes in black, liver, golden liver, roan, or any of those colors with tan points.
Some Field Spaniels have a small amount of white on the chest or throat. The long, feathery ears frame a facial expression conveying a grave, gentle intelligence.
Their dense, water resistant coat is one of the breed’s most attractive features but requires regular care and maintenance. Weekly brushing and combing will keep the coat shiny and help to reduce shedding. Fields may need minimal trimming about the head and feet. The breed is not to be body clipped as some other spaniels. Bathe as needed to remove dirt and any doggy smell.
Field Spaniel’s life expectancy is 12 to 13 years. At a glance the Field Spaniel is an independent breed however pleasantly mixed with sincere devotion, a sensitive nature and a willingness to please. A family dog in every sense of the word they thrive at constant companionship and affection; they become neurotic if locked away in a kennel or out in a yard with no human companionship. Socialize them well when young to avoid timidity and problems with other dogs.
They are excellent with children but aren’t fond of rough, loud play, preferring to walk away and find a quieter activity. Field Spaniels are alert and will bark a warning when visitors approach, but they are not guard dogs. The Field Spaniel is known for its docile nature and may be commonly reserved with strangers when first meeting them and warm up at their own pace. This reserved tendency should never be confused with shyness. The breed simply just tends to be cautious at times.
Field Spaniels are sweet, sensitive souls with just enough independence to make life interesting. They are tolerant of their fellow mammals, and responsive to training. The U.S. breed standard calls these tranquil house dogs “unusually docile,” but they are nonetheless playful and enjoy a good backyard romp.
Field Spaniels love water and will play in any water they find, including their water bowl in the house. They will share the fun by bringing the water to you also. Also, they love to eat and will steal food when possible.
Caring for a Field Spaniel
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Field Spaniel.
Field Spaniels adore their meals and treats and can be quite motivated in training by their drive for food. It is generally agreed that the breed will thrive on a good-quality, balanced diet that is nutritionally bioavailable. All diets need to be appropriate for the dog’s age. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Of course, a veterinarian is the best resource when there are questions regarding diet.
An active sporting breed, the Field possesses an energetic spirit that does best with regular exercise and mental stimulation. They are suitable for many canine sports and activities and enjoy brisk activity, as well as downtime at home with their families. Fields are found in a wide variety of lifestyles, from city to country, but do best when given challenges for both the mind and body.
They do best when given a great deal of exercise with chances to run and explore. Be aware that they have a tendency to follow their nose. They also enjoy long walks on leash.
The Field Spaniel is an intelligent problem-solver who is trainable and can excel at any game when properly motivated. These “thinking dogs” thrive best on clear communication and reward, with minimal correction. They require early socialization and a family sensitive to their needs. Fields love their people and range from serious to clownish in attitude. Once they understand expectations, they are solid in training, and the breed excels in multiple canine sports and activities. Fields are an amazing, soft breed that are not for everyone, but owners feel their sometimes-oafish habits such as snoring, sloppy drinking, and perpetually shedding coats are well worth their companionship.
Field Spaniels are generally healthy but they’re prone to certain health conditions of which not all Field Spaniels will get.
- Ear Infections: Field Spaniels can be prone to ear infections because of their floppy ears.
- Hip Dysplasia: A degenerative disease in which the hip joint is weakened due to abnormal growth and development.
- Allergies: There are three main types of allergies: food-based allergies, contact allergies, and inhalant allergies.
- Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AHA): A life- threatening disease that causes the body to attack its own red blood cells.
- Cancer: Dogs can develop cancer. There are many different types of cancer, and the success of treatment differs for each individual case.
- Cataracts: A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye, which causes difficulty in seeing.
- Ectropion: Ectropion is the rolling out or sagging of the eyelid.
- Epilepsy: The Field Spaniel can suffer from epilepsy, which is a disorder that causes seizures.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is caused by deficiencies of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A degenerative eye disorder which causes blindness.
Their ears should be checked regularly for any signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs to avoid infection.