English Springer Spaniel

Two ‘Lines’

English springer spaniels have two main ‘strains’ – the bench or show bred line, and the field-bred line, though the American Kennel Club makes no distinction. The former, clearly, is bred as a show dog (and stands on a bench at a show, ‘bench’ being the US term). The field-bred line is the working line, used in the classic role as a flusher and retriever of game in the field.

The lines differ in that the show line has a darker, heavier coat, showing less ticking (colour flecks) and is more of a ‘home’ dog than the field line – which love the mud. Where tail docking is permitted, the show line has a shorter docked tail, whilst the longer docked tail (or full tail) of the field line is useful for the hunter to keep the dog in sight.

Certainly, the show line loves the mud too, and the field line makes a good family dog – theses differences are generalisations only, but the differences are there for the expert to spot.


The heights/weights of the mature English springer are typically as follows:
Dog:      Height 18-20” (46-51 cm)   Weight 50-55 lb (23-25 kg)
Bitch:   Height 17-19” (43-48 cm)   Weight 35-45 lb (16-20 kg)


Given that there are two distinct lines, it follows that breeders tend to specialise in one line or the other, so when looking for your English springer spaniel, check on the line that the breeder handles. Of course, this is probably only of importance if you are looking for a field line, as you’ll want the best for your hunting.

If you are looking for a family pet, then the line is less important, but do remember that these are energetic dogs and will need plenty of exercise.

Here’s a great example of Humla, an english springer spaniel (field line) at work, retrieving game for real – WARNING – it’s a real duck shoot.

Licence: standard YouTube, thanks to MrDrenten

Seven Jobs for Springer Spaniel Sniffer Dogs

Springer spaniels fill many roles – I have even seen one being used to herd pigs! Mostly though, people think of them as being used for hunting – flushing and retrieving game.

However, their exceptional noses, their agility and their high work rate, in combination give them a clear advantage over all other breeds. Also, they are compact in size. Imagine for a moment a survivor, trapped in an earthquake shattered building. The last thing such a person would want to see would be the nose of, say, a big German Shepherd dog poking through the rubble. That of a springer spaniel would be muck less intimidating.

I discovered seven different ways in which springers are used as sniffer dogs:

1. Explosives detection – a front line job finding buried roadside bombs, for example, they are widely used by the British Army. In a civilian role – security scanning – checking venues for concerts, sports events and so on where VIPs might be in attendance and explosives might be present.
2. Drug detection – they are used by the police, Customs and Excise, FDA and other agencies for checking cargoes, searching ships and planes, trucks, buses and cars.
3. Protecting wildlife – specifically, seeking out specfic endangered species – such as penguins – so that their population can be montitored.
4. Recently, it has been reported that they can detect lung cancer by smelling a sufferer’s breath. How this will develop in the future, who knows?
5. Tracking missing persons (though other dogs may also be used for this).
6. Detecting dead bodies – for example where a murder victim might be buried in the vicinity, the springer can find the exact location of the body.
7. Finding bodies underwater by detecting the smell on the surface of a lake or river. Amazing!

I’m sure that there are other uses, but it’s a shame that so many of these are linked with criminality, death and destruction!

Paddy, a Springer Spaniel Sniffer Dog working at explosives detection in Wales – Video

Paddy – a great video example of a springer spaniel sniffer dog working. He can sniff one billionth of a gram of explosive, and is used to protect the Royal Family and for public events security  in Wales.



Paddy , an Explosive detecting Springer Spaniel working at Public Events in Wales.
Shot for the series “Extraordinary Dogs”
HD Camera / Director charliekinross@gmail.com

fliptop films

Sniffer dogs join fight to protect S. Korea’s heritage – Yahoo! News

Relaxnews    Fri, Oct 14, 2011

Sniffer dogs join fight to protect S. Korea’s heritage

” Bobae, go!” The trainer snaps her fingers and the English springer spaniel dashes off to sniff the lofty wooden pillars at Gyeongbokgung palace, one of South Korea’s most important cultural heritage sites.

Suddenly Bobae stops sniffing and sits and stares at a spot on one of the pillars. She has found what she was searching for — two tiny termites.

Back in England’s West Midlands, Bobae and her canine companions, Woori and Boram, were trained to sniff out drugs or explosives.

Now they search out destructive termites threatening South Korea’s historic palaces and temples, which are built mainly of wood.

“It’s much more efficient (than other methods) and their detection is very accurate,” said Jang Young-Ki, a specialist at the Cultural Heritage Administration.

“The dogs’ job is to scan and filter the area to narrow down places which researchers at the administration should be looking for.”

Using two of the spaniels and their trainers, it takes only two to three hours to sweep the whole of Gyeongbokgung.

The search for termites could otherwise take many more hours, or even days. Gyeongbokgung, the grandest of Seoul’s five main historic places, has 13 main buildings spread over 34 hectares (84 acres) in the heart of the city.

The dogs are trained not to scratch or bite the wood when they detect termites, to avoid damaging it. Instead, they sit rigid to indicate the spot.

The dogs are supplied by the Samsung Detector Dog Centre, which bought them from a police dog training school in the West Midlands.

In a training process similar to that used for explosives or drug detection, trainers let the spaniels smell termites, hide the insects and let the dogs practise searching until they get it right.

The Cultural Heritage Administration sets annual work schedules for the dogs after its researchers assess the possibility of termites in various buildings. The aim is to stop the bugs chewing up the woodwork from the inside before it’s too late.

“If termites can be seen with the human eye, it means there’s nothing left inside the pillars. Dogs are able to smell the termites, so that we can work on it before it’s too late,” said Jang.

Bobae, Woori and Boram started their Korean assignment in 2007 and typically take 10-12 trips a year all over the country. While two are on the road, the third takes a rest.

Ful Story at Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/sniffer-dogs-join-fight-protect-koreas-heritage-155933193.html


Springer Spaniel Working Dogs

Many Roles

It’s amazing how many roles springer spaniel working dogs fulfil. When you mention it, many people think of the traditional definition of a working dog as one which is used in the field – that is, for flushing and retrieving game. Springer spaniels are probably the most versatile in this respect, as they can work over and in water.

Certainly, labs and other breeds can work well with water too, but I believe the springer is best in this respect, and makes the best all-round sniffer dog. However, this breed works in many other ways too, not just in the field – even, believe it or not, in wildlife protection.

Search and Rescue Dogs

Traditionally, many organisations (especially police forces) have used German Shepherd dogs for searching. However, this breed can make rescued people apprehensive, or even very frightened, so springer spaniels are now being trained for this purpose – for example by Devon and Cornwall Police in the UK.

Explosives Search

Springer spaniels are used extensively as sniffer dogs in security operations, by the police, bomb squads and armed forces – on the front line, searching for IEDs (improvised explosive devices) in Afghanistan, for instance; also for pre-event security searching – for example where senior politicians or VIPs will be in attendance. Not that VIPs need protection per se, but because they are targets for terrorists and other people are also threatened.

Drug Search

At harbours and airports particularly, springer spaniel sniffer dogs are widely used for detecting illegal drugs. The air cargo business has been increasing at a high rate, particularly for high value/low volume cargoes – and drugs fit well into this bracket; air freight also removes the need to dupe genuine travellers or pay couriers to carry it, which increases risk. People and their luggage, or freight, the springers can sniff it all.

Dead Body Search

Good sniffer dogs can detect human scent easily at a hundred yards and much more (depending on wind speed and direction), but also the gases escaping from decomposing flesh underground.

Underwater Bodies

In Scotland, a springer spaniel is used to locate dead bodies underwater, in the River Clyde. Apparently, the decomposition gases can be detected on the surface by the springer spaniel.

Wildlife Protection

In Australia, the New South Wales Parks Department has a springer spaniel sniffer dog which has been trained to detect Small Penguins. The breed is under threat as the number of breeding pairs has fallen, and a springer spaniel is used to locate and track them so that an accurate count can be kept.

Preservation of Ancient Buildings

In South Korea, ancient monuments – many of which are made of timber – are threatened by termite attack. Three springer spaniel sniffer dogs are used to detect termite nests and potential infestation. The dogs are taken around the various monuments regularly, checking against the threat.

Why Are Springer Spaniels Used as Sniffers?

They have one of the best ‘sense of smell’ of any breed, able to detect one billionth of a gram of explosives or drugs. With a very high workrate they cover ground very quickly. They are compact in size and can therefore get into nooks and crannies in ships and planes that would be inaccessible to larger breeds. Besides size, their agility is a great benefit in searching. Compare a springer to a bloodhound! Many are trained in the UK Search Dogs and the International Rescue Training Centre in Wales.

It’s amazing isn’t it, what these marvellous dogs are used for? And when you see the films of them in action, they enjoy their work so much – it seems to be so much fun to them! And yet, their purpose is often serious.

Do you know of any other interesting work that they do? If you do, email me with details.

Springer Spaniel Training – Clever Trevor Sniffs The Goods

Made me smile! The things that springer spaniel training leads to…

Clever Trevor, a springer spaniel sniffer dog, discovered drugs that a South African  Airways air hostess had hidden in her underwear.

3 kg cocaine at Heathrow Airport.

Another great example of a springer spaniel working!

Full story here at the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11418792

Springer Spaniel Training – Finding Bodies Underwater

Glasgow Evening Times


21 Oct 2011

HE is believed to be the only dog in Scotland trained to recover human remains from under water.

And now Barra is ready to start work on the River Clyde or wherever he is needed.

The 19-month-old Springer Spaniel belongs to Iain Marshall, 44, from Dumbarton, who read about using dogs to find missing people on the sea bed in a magazine.

The station officer at Helensburgh Coastguard and a boatman on the Clyde for Glasgow City Council, decided on his own to research the idea then travelled to Wales to get Barra and train him.

He said: A lot of things happen on the river and unfortunately people go missing, they sink to the bottom and it can take weeks if not months for these people to refloat.

I was reading an article in a magazine about these dogs that can locate bodies under the water and I thought this would be ideal for the river because it could bring closure to peoples’ families.

He contacted Nick Swindells, from UK Search Dog, who agreed to train both Iain and Barra on a year-long course at the International Rescue Training Centre in Wales.

Barra locates bodies by smelling gases they release.

He said: A dog’s natural ability is to go and locate scent, but when you are using him on the boat you are bringing him to the scent, the scents coming to him rather than him going away looking for it. It is a difficult discipline to do with a dog.

As far as I am aware Barra is the only qualified submerged remains search dog in Scotland.

Barra has already helped find a missing person.

Full Story: http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/barra-ready-to-dive-into-work-1.1130557

© Copyright 2011 Herald & Times Group. All rights reserved.


Springer Spaniel Health With a Twist – Ziggi Saves Charley Boorman’s Life

To mark Movember, a charity initiative held throughout November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, adventurer Charley Boorman reveals how he discovered his own cancer

Charley Boorman gives an affectionate pat to Ziggi, the springer spaniel sitting at his side, and says:”It’s thanks to him and my wife that I’m alive.”

The adventurer and biker, famous for his televised travels both on his own and with best friend Ewan McGregor in TV series such as Long Way Round, has survived numerous crashes and mishaps on the road, and despite them all, he felt fighting fit, apart from one small, niggling problem.

But in January last year, his wife of 24 years, Olivia, took their dog to the vet for his annual check-up. The vet raised concern that one of the dog’s testicles was harder than the other, which could be a sign of testicular cancer.

“By pure coincidence, a few weeks before that I’d mentioned a similar change in one of mine to Ollie.

“Now and then I’d get a throbbing ache there, a bit like after you’ve been kicked where it hurts,” says Boorman, who’s currently touring in his Charley Boorman Live UK Tour.

“It wasn’t really that painful, though, and I’d dismissed it as just one of those aches and pains you get now and again and ignored it.

“In common with many men I was pretty hopeless about having check-ups and had never given much thought to testicular cancer.”

Boorman, 45, is revealing his experience to support Movember – a charity initiative that takes place in November where men worldwide raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues and cancers which affect them, specifically testicular and prostate cancer.

Clean-shaven men are sponsored to grow moustaches during the month and last year, in the UK, £11.7 million was raised for cancer charities.

“Ollie came straight back from the vets and insisted I get myself checked out and even then I still wasn’t alarmed,” he says.

“Reluctantly, I went to the GP and he immediately took it incredibly seriously and everything moved very quickly.”

Around 2,100 cases of testicular cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK.

Full story: http://www.independent.ie/health/health-news/charley-boormanrsquos-brush-with-testicular-cancer-2925290.html


Springer Spaniel Training – Water Retrieve of a Canvas Dummy

Video. Bess an English Springer Spaniel retreives a 1LB canvas dummy from across the River Derwent. I’m a little cautious when asking her to do this as I have no way other than swimming to get across to the other side should she decide to mess about. Paul Coates.

Licence: Standard YouTube, thanks to Paul Coates

Springer Spaniel Training – How To Find Little Penguins

Video: An English springer spaniel named Eco has been trained by the NSW Parks and Wildlife Services to sniff out a colony of little penguins on Sydney’s North Head.