Springer Spaniels Rage – An Urban Myth?

Is springer spaniels rage an urban myth, or does it really exist as a condition? Dog rage in general is also a term one hears. We do know that ‘mad dog’ harks back to rabies (which is usually fatal to humans), and we hear of ‘mad dogs’ in everyday speech, without any reference to rabies. Let’s be clear that we are not here associating dog rage or springer spaniels rage with rabies.

We are talking here about episodic (occasional) events where some sort of ‘rage’ behaviour occurs in otherwise well-behaved springer spaniels or other dogs. Symptoms might be any or all of:

  • Sudden aggression that happens without warning.
  • Aggressive behaviour in the absence of other dogs.
  • Snarling, growling, attack posture.
  • Changes to the eyes (temporary).

This usually happens when there are no obvious external triggers (though there may be exceptions), and the episode stops suddenly. Springer spaniels appear to suffer no after effects, or ill-effects. Their behaviour reverts to normal after the event, which typically lasts a few minutes.

The fact is that any biological organism is subject to disrupted behaviour, and higher mammals (which includes dogs), are included. The more complex the brain, then the more disorders it can be subject to. For the purposes of this discussion, springer spaniels brains (and dog brains in general) are broadly equivalent to ours, and any brain disorders to which we humans are subject are broadly presented in dogs – and therefore springer spaniels.

On balance, expert opinion is that ‘rage syndrome’ in springer spaniels (and other dogs) is caused by an epileptic fit. It is quite rare – typically, only 4 in 10,000 dogs are subject to these fits.

If you suspect that your springer may have this condition, keep the springer away from any children, then get expert advice. Diagnosis requires expert input, and there is evidence that springer spaniels are slightly more pre-disposed to this conditions than dogs in general, though suspect bloodlines are being terminated. In English springer spaniels, the condition is limited to the ‘show’ (US ‘bench’) bloodlines. It is not present in the field line of the breed.

In Welsh springers, the incidence is no different to that in all dogs, but Cocker spaniels have a slightly higher incidence than average.

Treatment for springer spaniels rage (and dog rage) is possible following accurate diagnosis.

If you decide to take the dog to a springer spaniels rescue center, then be sure to tell them that you suspect the dog of having the condition, so that the staff are not endangered.

Cash-hunting Springer Spaniel Sniffer Dogs Helping to Collar Criminals – Scotsman.com

Yet another job for springer spaniel sniffer dogs! I think it’s 8 jobs now and still counting. They are amazing dogs – I wish mine would sniff out some cash for me!

Edinburgh Evening News

Cash-hunting sniffer dogs helping to collar criminals

Sniffer dog Roddy at work in Edinburgh Airport

Published on Thursday 16 February 2012 12:10

POLICE today carried out a search operation at Edinburgh Airport with sniffer dogs deployed to track down criminals smuggling cash abroad.

The operation by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) saw specially trained dogs check passengers in the airport’s departure area as they prepared to take flights from 6am today.

The crackdown was mounted in a bid to detect money being taken out of Scotland to avoid tax, or to be hidden in foreign bank accounts.

Around 1800 passengers departing on international flights between 4am and 8am today were checked for cash.

A Lithuanian man flying out to Kaunis was stopped after a dog detected money in his jacket. The man was found to be carrying £2000 and interviewed by officials, but was released after officials determined he was taking the money back to his homeland after working in the UK.

Passengers departing on flights to Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Tenerife, Krakow, Prague, Alicante, Budapest, New York and Copenhagen were searched as part of the operation.

Security personnel, assisted by officers from Lothian and Borders Police, separated passengers leaving on domestic and international flights into sections, with the dogs a yellow labrador called Marley and a springer spaniel called Roddy checking the bags and clothing of anyone going abroad.

UKBA officers also checked domestic passengers using a profiling system to identify potential smugglers to be checked by the animals and their handlers for money.

A number of passengers were also stopped with small amounts of cash notes before being allowed to proceed. Colin Fraser, senior officer at UKBA, pledged that the cash spot-checks would be carried out on a very regular basis at the airport to snare criminals.

He added that locations such as Dubai and mainland Spain were popular with criminals taking money abroad.

As well as depositing cash in foreign accounts, criminals also take money abroad to buy drugs or cigarettes to be smuggled back into Britain.

Full Story: Cash Hunting Springer Spaniel

Acknowledgements: grateful thanks to www.scotsman.com

Rhys Itching To Sniff Out Deadly Ants – Science – NZ Herald News

I picked up this story and picture from the New Zealand Herald News, reporter John Weekes, with thanks. Yet another springer spaniel sniffer dog  job. That’s eight jobs and still counting. It’s great to see that the dog has a real Welsh name.

Springer spaniel sniffer dog - ant seeker
Rhys Jones, a Welsh springer spaniel sniffer dog.

“New Zealand’s first ant-sniffing canine is training for battle against hordes of Argentine invaders.

Local biosecurity experts hope Welsh springer spaniel Rhys Jones will soon hunt Argentine ants.

“He’s about halfway through his training and he’s ticking all the boxes,” said Auckland Council biosecurity manager Jack Craw.

The dog’s trainer, Brian Shields, said Argentine ants were notorious for attacking native bird species.

Rhys Jones will work on finding pheremone trails the ants leave when moving from their nests to food sources. “When he smells one, he’ll sit and get a reward,” Shields said. ”

…more (including details about this nasty ant) at


© Copyright 2012, APN Holdings NZ Limited

There’s another story here about springer spaniels being used to hunt termites attacking ancient buildings in South Korea. Enjoy!

Springer Spaniel Problems – A Guide

This article is a list of the most common springer spaniel problems, with links to the more detailed articles on this site. Click the underlined words for more information.

Hereditary Problems

Most hereditary problems with springers can be screened for, and may be known about by the breeder from the history of the parents and grandparents. Fortunately, the more common problems such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia are being bred out of the springer stock.

Some bloodlines may have a higher incidence of cataracts.

Growing Problems

If a young springer (less than 1 year old) is exercised too hard (particularly with jumping), then hip joints may not grow into a healthy adult shape, causing joint pain and arthritis in later life.

Eye Problems

Apart from the hereditary eye problems mentioned above, there are a couple of other conditions which are not uncommon.

Entropion is the inward growth of eyelashes. This can be corrected. Outward growth (ectropion) is less common.

Cataracts may occur with any dog (indeed, as with any older person).

Ear Problems

Inflammation of the ears (otitis) is fairly common in dogs with long hairy ears if the ears are not groomed and cleaned regularly.

Skin Problems

These are usually due to infectious diseases, damage or allergic reactions. In general, treatment is straightforward.

Behavioural Problems

Springers are, in general, well behaved. Although ‘rage’ is talked about from time to time, it has been hard to pin down, and evidence tends to be anecdotal. Springer spaniels have an even, affectionate and loyal temperament, though they love fun and can get excited. Any behavioural problems are usually due to a lack of, or poor, training.

Springers occasionally react when in the company of other dogs of the same sex.

General Problems

As with most domesticated animals, excessive feeding or poor diet, without exercise to compensate, can lead to other problems such as constipation, diabetes, weight problems and hypertension. Avoiding these is a matter of following suitable feeding and exercise guidelines for springer spaniels.