This breed is energetic, friendly, loving, and playful.
- Dog Breed Group
- Sporting Dogs
- Life Span
- 10 to 12 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
See All Characteristic Ratings
The sturdy, medium-sized Field Spaniel dog breed was originally developed to retrieve game from land or water. Today, while he retains his excellent hunting skills, he is mainly a family companion and show dog and is rarely seen in the field. He loves people and is a loyal family friend.
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If you and your active family are looking for a medium-sized dog with energy to spare, consider the Field Spaniel. He is larger than the English Cocker Spaniel and smaller than the English Springer Spaniel.
He's a wonderful companion for family that can meet his needs for exercise, training, and companionship, and he will give you years of competition in such dog sports as obedience, agility, rally, tracking, hunt tests and conformation. Hunters will appreciate their ability to quarter in dense cover — that means he hunts by running a zigzag pattern through heavy brush — and flush birds such as pheasants, quail, and chukars.
Field Spaniels love people, and they are eager to please, loyal, and loving. At playtime, their water-loving nature comes out. They will sometimes use their water dish as the local swimming hole, making quite a mess around the house.
While they can sometimes be reserved with strangers, they should never be fearful, shy, or aggressive. Some Field Spaniels bond with just one family member, but most accept everyone in the family as their best friends. 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.
Training, whether it's for dog sports or nice household manners, helps prevent your Field Spaniel from becoming bored and getting into mischief. It's important to work around the independent streak that allows this breed to perform so well in the field. If you use motivational methods and frequent rewards, you will end up with a happy dog who is a joy to work with. Field Spaniels are extremely sensitive dogs and do not respond well to loud tones of voice or harsh handling.
Field Spaniels require less grooming than most other spaniel breeds. Even to get them ready for the conformation show ring is not an involved process as they are to be shown looking as natural as possible. No fancy trimming necessary!
The Field Spaniel is a rare breed that can be hard to find. Take the time to research breeders and find one who is willing to help you find just the right puppy. A responsible breeder will ensure that your puppy's parents are screened for any genetic conditions that may exist in the breed and will be diligent in removing from the gene pool any dogs with serious health conditions for which no screening test is yet available.
- Field Spaniels need regular contact with people; 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 active dogs and require regular exercise.
- They will follow their nose so a securely fenced yard is a must.
- 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.
- They love to eat and will steal food when possible.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
HistoryThe Field Spaniel was developed in England in the latter half of the 19th century to be a medium-sized, all-black dog, which was unusual at the time as most hunters preferred dogs with some white so they could be easily seen in the field. The Field Spaniel was created at the same time that dog shows were becoming popular and is considered the first spaniel developed for conformation showing while at the same time retaining his excellent skills in the field.
Until 1901, spaniels were divided by weight, so if one puppy in a litter grew to be more than 25 pounds, he was called a Field Spaniel. If he weighed less than 25 pounds, he was classified as a Cocker Spaniel.
The breed started out as a popular dog, but through some not-so-successful cross-breeding, fanciers turned him into a dog that was longer than he was tall, with short legs, a large head, and too much coat. That didn't make for a very good or very attractive hunting dog, and the public expressed its displeasure. The Field Spaniel's popularity bottomed out. Fortunately, a man named Mortimer Smith made the effort to bring back the Field Spaniel's functional good looks.
The AKC registered its first Field Spaniel, Colehill Rufus, in 1894, but when a fire destroyed a major kennel in 1909, the breed practically disappeared in the United States. The last registration of a Field Spaniel occurred in 1930. The next importation of Field Spaniels occurred in 1967, and those three dogs along with subsequent imports are the basis of the breed today. Despite his fine qualities, he remains a rare breed compared to other spaniels.
SizeGive or take an inch, males stand 18 inches at the shoulder, females 17 inches. The average Field Spaniel weighs 37 to 45 pounds.
Field Spaniels are easygoing, sensitive, fun-loving, independent, and smart. They enjoy being with people, although they may be reserved when they first meet strangers. No Field Spaniel should ever be shy, fearful, or aggressive.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.
Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.
Like every dog, the Field Spaniel needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Field Spaniel puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Field Spaniels are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Field Spaniels will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Field Spaniels, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
- Ear Infections: Field Spaniels can be prone to ear infections because of their floppy ears. The ears trap moisture and should be regularly checked.
- Hip Dysplasia: A degenerative disease in which the hip joint is weakened due to abnormal growth and development. This disease is found in many breeds. Although it is a genetic disease that breeders screen for, it can be found in a puppy with parents free of the disease. When it is found in such a puppy, it is usually linked to environmental factors such as poor nutrition or too much weight gain during puppyhood.
- Allergies: Allergies are common ailment in dogs. There are three main types of allergies: food-based allergies, which are treated by an elimination process of certain foods from the dog's diet; contact allergies, caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals, and treated by removing the cause of the allergy; and inhalant allergies, caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. The treatment for inhalant allergies depends on the severity of the allergy. It is important to note that ear infections often accompany inhalant allergies.
- Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia: Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) is a life- threatening disease that causes the body to attack its own red blood cells. Signs of AIHA are jaundice; fainting; pale gums, lips and eye margins; dark tea- colored urine; lethargy; and a rapid heartbeat. When tested the blood will have a low red blood cell count. If AIHA is left untreated, it will generally result in death. Treatment can take months to years and usually involves the administration of the steroid prednisone and in some cases blood transfusions.
- Cancer: Dogs, like humans, can develop cancer. There are many different types of cancer, and the success of treatment differs for each individual case. For some forms of cancer, tumors are surgically removed, others are treated with chemotherapy, and some are treated both surgically and medically.
- Cataracts: A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye, which causes difficulty in seeing. The eye(s) of the dog will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur with old age and can be treated by surgically removing the cataract.
- Ectropion: Ectropion is the rolling out or sagging of the eyelid, leaving the eye exposed and prone to irritation and infection such as conjunctivitis. If ectropion is severe the eye should be repaired surgically, but in mild cases no treatment is necessary.
- Epilepsy: The Field Spaniel can suffer from epilepsy, which is a disorder that causes seizures. Epilepsy can be treated by medications but it cannot be cured. A dog can live a full and healthy life with the proper management of this hereditary disorder.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is caused by deficiencies of the hormone produced from the thyroid gland. A mild sign of the disease may be infertility. The more apparent signs are obesity, mental dullness, lethargy, drooping of the eyelids, low levels of energy, and irregular heat cycles. The dog's fur becomes coarse and brittle and begins to fall out, while the skin becomes tough and dark. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a daily thyroid replacement and usually requires lifetime treatment. A dog that is having daily treatment can live a full and happy life.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A degenerative eye disorder. Blindness caused by PRA is a slow process resulting from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. A reputable breeder will have dogs' eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Moderately active indoors, Field Spaniels aren't recommended for apartment or condo living. They do best with a large yard to run in. With their strong hunting instincts, it's best that they have a securely fenced yard so they don't wander off into trouble.
Locking this breed away in a kennel or chaining him in the yard with minimal human contact will make him neurotic. He does best when given a great deal of exercise with chances to run and explore. Just be aware that he has a tendency to follow his nose. He will also enjoy long walks on leash.
Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Keep your Field Spaniel in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.
First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.
For more on feeding your Field Spaniel, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
The Field Spaniel has a dense, water-repellent single coat, meaning there's no undercoat. His hair is moderately long and can be flat or slightly wavy. The chest, underbody, backs of the legs, and rear end are adorned with moderate feathering but not the masses of fur you might see on a Cocker Spaniel.
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.
Brush your Field Spaniel's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.
His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.
Begin accustoming your Field Spaniel to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other petsField Spaniels are fond of children, but noisy roughhousing isn't their style. As with any breed, always supervise the interaction between Field Spaniels and young children to prevent any ear-tugging and tail pulling on the part of either party.
Field Spaniels are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Field Spaniels in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Field Spaniel rescue.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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