The English Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized sporting dog, with a
compact body and a docked tail. His coat is moderately long, with
feathering on his legs, ears. chest and brisket. His pendulous ears,
soft gentle expression, sturdy build and friendly wagging tail proclaim
him unmistakably a member of the ancient family of Spaniels.
is above all a well-proportioned dog, free from exaggeration, nicely
balanced in every part. His carriage is proud and upstanding, body deep,
legs strong and muscular, with enough length to carry him with ease.
Taken as a whole, the English Springer Spaniel suggests power, endurance
and agility. He looks the part of a dog that can go, and keep going,
under difficult hunting conditions. At his best, he is endowed with
style, symmetry, balance and enthusiasm, and is every inch a sporting
dog of distinct spaniel character, combining beauty and utility.
The Springer is built to cover rough ground with agility and reasonable
speed. His structure suggests the capacity for endurance. He is to be
kept to medium size. Ideal height at the shoulder for dogs is 20 inches;
for bitches, it is 19 inches. Those more than one inch under or over the
breed ideal are to be faulted. A 20 inch dog, well-proportioned and in
good condition, will weigh approximately 50 pounds; a 19 inch bitch will
weigh approximately 40 pounds. The length of the body (measured from
point of shoulder to point of buttocks) is slightly greater than the
height at the withers.
dog too long in body, especially when long in the loin, tires easily and
lacks the compact outline characteristic of the breed. A dog too short
in body for the length of his legs, a condition which destroys balance
and restricts gait, is equally undesirable. A Springer with correct
substance appears well-knit and sturdy with good bone, however, he is
never coarse or ponderous.
The head is impressive without being heavy. Its beauty lies in a
combination of strength and refinement. It is important that its size
and proportion be in balance with the rest of the dog. Viewed in
profile, the head appears approximately the same length as the neck and
blends with the body in substance.
stop, eyebrows and chiseling of the bony structure around the eye
sockets contribute to the Springer's beautiful and characteristic
expression, which is alert, kindly and trusting.
eyes, more than any other feature, are the essence of the Springer's
appeal. Correct size, shape, placement and color influence expression
and attractiveness. The eyes are of medium size and oval in shape, set
rather well-apart and fairly deep in their sockets. The color of the
iris harmonizes with the color of the coat, preferably dark hazel in the
liver and white dogs and black or deep brown in the black and white
are fully pigmented and match the coat in color. Lids are tight with
little or no haw showing. Eyes that are small, round or protruding, as
well as eyes that are yellow or brassy in color, are highly undesirable.
are long and fairly wide, hanging close to the cheeks with no tendency
to stand up or out. The ear leather is thin and approximately long
enough to reach the tip of the nose. Correct ear set is on a level with
the eye and not too far back on the skull.
skull is medium-length and fairly broad, flat on top and slightly
rounded at the sides and back. The occipital bone is inconspicuous. As the
skull rises from the foreface, it makes a stop, divided by a groove, or
fluting, between the eyes. The groove disappears as it reaches the
middle of the forehead. The amount of stop is moderate. It must not be a
pronounced feature; rather it is a subtle rise where the muzzle joins
the upper head. It is emphasized by the groove and by the position and
shape of the eyebrows, which are well developed.
muzzle is approximately the same length as the skull and one half the
width of the skull. Viewed in profile, the top lines of the skull and
muzzle lie in approximately parallel planes. The nasal bone is straight,
with no inclination downward toward the tip of the nose, the latter
giving an undesirable down faced look. Neither is the nasal bone concave,
resulting in a "dish-faced" profile; nor convex, giving the
dog a Roman nose. The cheeks are flat, and the face is well-chiseled
under the eyes.
are of sufficient length to allow the dog to carry game easily: fairly
square, lean and strong. The upper lips come down full and rather square
to cover the line of the lower jaw, however, the lips are never
pendulous or exaggerated. The nose is fully-pigmented, liver or black in
color, depending on the color of the coat. The nostrils are well-opened
and broad. Teeth are strong, clean, of good size and ideally meet in a
close scissors bite. An even bite or one or two incisors slightly out of
line are minor faults. Undershot, overshot and wry jaws are serious
faults and are to be severely penalized.
Neck, Top Line, Body
The neck is moderately long, muscular, clean and slightly arched at the
crest. It blends gradually and smoothly into sloping shoulders. The
portion of the top line from withers to tail is firm and slopes very
body is short-coupled, strong and compact. The chest is deep, reaching
the level of the elbows, with well-developed forechest; however, it is
not so wide or round as to interfere with the action of the front legs.
Ribs are fairly long, springing gradually to the middle of the body,
then tapering as they approach the end of the ribbed section. The
underline stays level with the elbows to a slight up curve at the flank.
back is straight, strong and essentially level. Loins are strong, short
and slightly arched. Hips are nicely-rounded, blending smoothly into the
hind legs. The croup slopes gently to the set of the tail, and tail-set
follows the natural line of the croup. The tail is carried horizontally
or slightly elevated and displays a characteristic lively, merry action,
particularly when the dog is on game. A clamped tail (indicating
timidity or undependable temperament) is to be faulted, as is a tail
carried at a right angle to the backline in Terrier fashion.
Efficient movement in front calls for proper forequarter assembly. The
shoulder blades are flat and fairly close together at the tips, molding
smoothly into the contour of the body. Ideally, when measured from the
top of the withers to the point of the shoulder to the elbow, the
shoulder blade and upper arm are of apparent equal length, forming an
angle of nearly 90 degrees; this sets the front legs well under the body
and places the elbows directly beneath the tips of the shoulder blades.
Elbows lie close to the body.
are straight with the same degree of size continuing to the foot. Bone
is strong, slightly flattened, not too round or too heavy. Pasterns are
short, strong and slightly sloping, with no suggestion of weakness.
Dewclaws are usually removed. Feet are round or slightly oval. They are
compact and well-arched, of medium size with thick pads, and
well-feathered between the toes.
The Springer should be worked and shown in hard, muscular condition with
well-developed hips and thighs. His whole rear assembly suggests
strength and driving power. Thighs are broad and muscular. Stifle joints
functional efficiency, the angulation of the hindquarter is never
greater than that of the forequarter, and not appreciably less. The hock
joints are somewhat rounded, not small and sharp in contour. Rear
pasterns are short (about 1/3 the distance from the hip joint to the
foot) and strong, with good bone.
viewed from behind, the rear pasterns are parallel. Dewclaws are usually
removed. The feet are the same as in front, except that they are smaller
and often more compact.
The Springer has an outer coat and an undercoat. On the body, the outer
coat is of medium length, flat or wavy, and is easily distinguishable
from the undercoat, which is short, soft and dense. The quantity of
undercoat is affected by climate and season. When in combination, outer
coat and undercoat serve to make the dog substantially waterproof,
weatherproof and thorn proof. On ears, chest, legs and belly the
Springer is nicely furnished with a fringe of feathering of moderate
length and heaviness. On the head, front of the forelegs, and below the
hock joints on the front of the hind legs, the hair is short and fine.
The coat has the clean, glossy, "live" appearance indicative
of good health. It is legitimate to trim about the head, ears, neck and
feet, to remove dead undercoat, and to thin and shorten excess
feathering as required to enhance a smart, functional appearance. The
tail may be trimmed, or well fringed with wavy feathering. Above all,
the appearance should be natural. Over-trimming, especially the body
coat, or any chopped, barbered or artificial effect is to be penalized
in the show ring, as is excessive feathering that destroys the clean
outline desirable in a sporting dog. Correct quality and condition of
coat is to take precedence over quantity of coat.
All the following combinations of colors and markings are equally
Black or liver with white markings or predominantly white with black or
liver markings; (2) Blue or liver roan; (3) Tricolor: black and white or
liver and white with tan markings, usually found on eyebrows, cheeks,
inside of ears and under the tail. Any white portion of the coat may be
flecked with ticking. Off colors such as lemon, red or orange are not to
The final test of the Springer's conformation and soundness is proper
movement. Balance is a prerequisite to good movement. The front and rear
assemblies must be equivalent in angulation and muscular development for
the gait to be smooth and effortless. Shoulders which are well laid-back
to permit a long stride are just as essential as the excellent rear
quarters that provide driving power. Seen from the side, the Springer
exhibits a long, ground-covering stride and carries a firm back, with no
tendency to dip, roach or roll from side to side. From the front, the
legs swing forward in a free and easy manner. Elbows have free action
from the shoulders, and the legs show no tendency to cross or interfere.
From behind, the rear legs reach well under the body, following on a
line with the forelegs. As speed increases, there is a natural tendency
for the legs to converge toward a center line of travel. Movement faults
include high-stepping, wasted motion; short, choppy stride; crabbing;
and moving with the feet wide, the latter giving roll or swing to the
The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and
willing to obey. Such traits are conducive to tractability, which is
essential for appropriate handler control in the field. In the show
ring, he should exhibit poise and attentiveness and permit himself to be
examined by the judge without resentment or cringing. Aggression toward
people and aggression toward other dogs is not in keeping with sporting
dog character and purpose and is not acceptable. Excessive timidity,
with due allowance for puppies and novice exhibits, is to be equally
In evaluating the English Springer Spaniel, the overall picture is a
primary consideration. One should look for type, which includes
general appearance and outline, and also for soundness, which
includes movement and temperament. Inasmuch as the dog with a smooth
easy gait must be reasonably sound and well-balanced, he is to be highly
regarded, however, not to the extent of forgiving him for not looking
like an English Springer Spaniel.
atypical dog, too short or long in leg length or foreign in head or
expression, may move well, but he is not to be preferred over a good
all-round specimen that has a minor fault in movement. It must be
remembered that the English Springer Spaniel is first and foremost a
sporting dog of the Spaniel family, and he must look, behave and move
Approval Date: February 12, 1994 Effective Date: March 31, 1994