If you have decided that an English Springer Spaniel is the dog for you (well, they are affectionate, loyal, intelligent and active), then you have a couple of broad choices – puppy or rescue dog. There are many pros and cons, but for many families a rescue dog is not the best option – they are usually mature dogs, often with unknown behaviour and background, and training can be challenging. To be fair though, an exceptional dog can sometimes be found. But, let’s assume you’ve decided to opt for a puppy – probably the best choice for a growing family. How do you find a breeder?
Now, some people will have strong views on colouring, and with the English springer there are two main colourings – black on white or liver on white (some people call the latter a chocolate springer). Either of these colours may have tan markings in addition. Choice of colour (if it is important to you) will reduce your range of breeders and may mean significant travel – you need to think about that as you will need to visit at least a couple of breeders and then bring your puppy home.
Then, do you want a pure working dog or a show dog? These are distinct lines and could influence your choice of breeder. Both types are fine as family pets provided you are able to exercise them adequately.
It is very important that you avoid so-called ‘puppy farms’ if you want a pure dog with no doubtful genetic background. This is important because all pure breeds have hereditary conditions (the English Springer is pretty good in this respect, but hip dysplasia, eye and ear weaknesses the main ones). Some puppy farms can be less than scrupulous, and know that once a dog with appealing eyes is in your arms then it is hard to say no. So, you need to find a dog with a fully documented bloodline and pedigree certification which is in order.
Also, by choosing a fully certificated pedigree, you would be able to enter the dog in class in a dog show – well, you never know, the kids might like that! If your dog is exceptional you might even want to breed from it.
Finding the Right Breeder
So, to find the right breeder the best way is to log-on to official Kennel Club sites (there are Kennel Clubs in many countries), and get a list of approved breeders. Not all breeders listed will be accredited. In some countries, Kennel Clubs will refer you to Breed Clubs to find a breeder. In the UK, there are currently of the order of 100 breeders registered with the Kennel Club.
Kennel Club websites or Breed Clubs will provide you with the Breed Standard and also details of the hereditary and other weaknesses of the breed. It is well worth reading up on these and preparing a summary, so that when you visit breeders you will be able to have informed discussions about particular pups and bloodlines.
Visiting at least a couple of breeders will enable you to compare them and give you confidence. They will not all have pups ready for you at the same time, but if you have found a breeder you like, with a bloodline you like, then it is worth waiting for the right litter. Of course, the best breeders will also have high demand for their litters and that will affect cost.
Finally, accredited breeders are very concerned for the future and welfare of their springers and they will also be assessing you (and your family) as potential owners of their valued bloodline.