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