Your Questions

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This page contains some questions that readers have emailed to me, together with my answers. Need some advice? Why not email me?

From: Bryony F

My family adopted a young Springer Spaniel about a year ago; he’s very well behaved and always follows commands. However, he has one trait that worries us. Tom, our Springer, has a bad habit of exerting a deep growl at times, it’s very threatening. Moments such as when he’s being physically punished, or some moments when you pet him and he’s sleeping, or sometimes if you touch him while he’s eating. Normally, I just give him personal space, for I assume that he doesn’t understand what his growl means.

It bothers my father, but Tom has NEVER snapped or advanced when he growls. I, personally, feel that it is his way to VOICE his annoyance or fear. We have made it obvious that his growls are intolerable by punishing him (not always physically).

Now to the problem: my sister is expecting a baby in a couple months, and my father is considering adopting Tom out to another family. He fears that the baby might push Tom into biting her when she comes to visit… I truly don’t wish to lose our family pet, but I can understand his fear of the baby being injured.

I would love some advice as to what I could do to keep Tom a part of the family.

Thanks so much,


Hi Bryony

Springers would normally growl when defending their food if someone is ‘too pushy’, also they can (just like us) be grumpy when awoken from sleep.

They can be aggressive in the company of other dogs of the same gender.

– Is his health normal in other ways?
– Is the growling related only to say a male ‘intervention’ or to both male/female people?

I can’t speculate on the underlying reasons which could lie with his previous owners; if you are desperate to avoid having him adopted then you could try a pet psychologist – check them out carefully first as there are some quacks around.

Was he from a rescue center or did you know the previous owners? Rescue center dogs can be a bit of a lottery as they sometimes have a background which includes neglect and/or abuse.

Generally, springers are good in the company of small children, though they can be a bit boisterous.


From: Rita P
My name is Rita P and I’m writing from Portugal.

I bought a Welsh springer spaniel pup 5 month ago, from an amateur breeder  that I can no longer contact. He told me that the puppy is really pure, and sold it to me with only 3 weeks and a half because the mother rejected him.

He tried to sell me the LOP (the portuguese book of origens – that is basically the proof that a dog is pure breed), but i did not bought it because it was too expensive and I just want the dog to be a family pet, I want it to be a pureblood dog, but i don’t need LOP because I’m not going to contests or things like that.

In Portugal, no one knows the breed. I’ve never seen a Welsh Springer Spaniel in Portugal, and no one I know have seen in. Not even the vets know it. In fact, I have to spell the name of the breed for them, because they have really never heard about it.

The problem is that, as my puppy started growing, I’ve done a lot of research about the breed, and I think my dog is really not a Welsh Springer.

The personality is the same, but there are a lot of physical aspects that are wrong. Could you please see a picture of my dog and say to me if there’s a chance of him beeing a Welsh Springer? And if not, if you have any idea of the breed it might be? I’ve made an youtube movie with photos of him.

I love my dog, and I will not love him any less even if he turns up to have
no breed at all. I just want to know.

Hi Rita

Sorry to hear about concerns with your dog. Welsh Springers are a golden colour (only), usually with hazel coloured eyes. Size is about 46 cm at shoulders (withers) for an adult male.

I’ve looked at the picture you sent, but the pup is too young for me to make an assessment (puppy fat and all that) beyond saying that he could be a Welsh Springer. Send me another picture in a couple of months time when there will be more definition to the body and head.

I hope that this helps. The main thing is that you are happy with your dog, and he is with you!


Exercising Springer Spaniels

Here’s a recent question posed by a reader:

Hi Phil

I have been reading some of your articles as we have got an 8 month old springer puppy and we are concerned we may be inadvertently over-exercising her. We have started doing about a 3 mile run with her daily with her following us on a quad bike at a pretty fast pace over fields which she seems to absolutely love. She is fit and healthy and on a good diet. She cannot wait to go out each afternoon for this regular trip now and gets terribly excited each time. She does not seem tired afterwards but sleeps very well all night so we want to ensure that this is not too much for her at this age. You advice would be much appreciated.
Many thanks


Hi Sarah

Thanks for your email.

Say that healthy dogs live 15 years – that’s 5 times shorter than a human being. For an 8 month old springer, that gives yours a human-equivalent age of 40 months – say 3.5 yrs.

Would you fast-pace a child of 3.5 yrs over fields? Probably not.

Over-exercise is a danger to very young dogs, as the hip and shoulder joints might not develop properly if subjected to excessive impact loading.

So, the key here is to take it a bit more slowly and at this stage I would say not too far in distance.

Springers love water and swimming provides plenty of exercise without placing impact loadings on the joints. If it’s possible and you have suitable water nearby, then swim your dog, alternating days with walking days.  Your dog will know how to swim – don’t worry about that. They love retrieving and that’s a way to exercise them in water – and make sure that they come out to you.

They are such lively dogs that they will naturally work themselves hard, so watch your dog for signs of tiredness, slowing down. And don’t overfeed.

I hope that helps.

Have fun and enjoy – they are such fun animals.


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