AKC Gazette breed column, Field Spaniels—The Field Spaniel combines a lot of dog into a medium package who can enjoy a wide range of activities and is suited for a variety of conditions.
Our breed is noted to be “unusually docile, sensitive, fun-loving, independent, and intelligent, with a great affinity for human companionship,” and they have unique individual personalities, as is true for so many canines. Field Spaniels range from the serious stalwart to the downright goofball in attitude—and we often see a range of traits within one dog! Owners agree that life is sweet with our chosen breed, though the breed is not necessarily for everyone.
As an active sporting breed, the Field Spaniel likes to be a member of his family first and foremost. His sensitivity and desire to be with people serves him well as a medium-sized hunter companion. He is active in the home, busy with daily activity, and enjoys being part of your world.
Our dogs fare well having jobs—if made fun and using their natural abilities, it is highly satisfying for them. An active home companion, the Field Spaniel loves the games we play, from rally, obedience, and agility to tracking and fieldwork, as well as such things as nose work, barn hunt, freestyle, and lure coursing. Our dogs enjoy learning new “games” with us and train well when we use rewarding methods and a fun, positive approach.
As with all canines, proper socialization and basic obedience training are imperative for having a lifelong companion who is not only your best friend but also appreciated in public. Many Field owners enjoy the breed’s biddability, or ease of teaching. We find their problem-solving ability to be amazing and enjoyable throughout a lifetime. Know that Field Spaniels do best with work to do, be it within your community or through sport. When raised and trained with structure, a Field makes a lovely and sensitive canine friend.
Our breed has found its home in the city, the country, and everywhere in between—from walks on suburban sidewalks to hunting in rural fields. With responsible ownership and access to controllable exercise, the Field thrives with people and can do well with other animals as well.
Keeping a Field Spaniel groomed is a bonding experience and keeps our friends healthy and happy. Maintenance of the body coat is relatively simple with good nutrition. The coat is single and glossy in texture, never to be body clipped. Trimming and stripping are generally limited to the head and ears, and the feet and pasterns, with regular care required. Breeders are helpful in showing new owners the ropes of proper care.
While noted as a land spaniel, some individuals are known to enjoy water—whether outdoors, or in the drinking capacity. It is not always just their long, pendulous ears that dip in the water! Many are known to be sloppy drinkers, sometimes because of enthusiasm, and at times just not minding that they are being busy—dripping water from their lips as they happily trot by. Strategic placement of water stations will help, as will certain types of containers.
Another interesting trait is the occasional snoring some do. Still other individuals make interesting sounds, but this again may range from quiet peeps, to yodels, to warbling, outside of the typical dog bark.
When considering the lifespan of the Field Spaniel, it is exciting to see puppies and healthy young dogs in their prime. Many are living into their teens and remaining active as well. We are fortunate to have shared improved health and longevity with our breed over the years. It is important to note that reputable Field Spaniel breeders have been working on health testing for hips, knees and elbows, eyes, heart, and thyroid in their stock. Many say we have a “gene puddle” as opposed to a gene pool, so we must breed carefully to maintain genetic diversity.
One of the Field Spaniel’s best characteristics, besides being charming to behold, is their apparent silly nature, at times playing the jester of their home. Antics can be redirected and channeled into proper desired behaviors, and their humor is much revered.
Temperaments range from outgoing to reserved, and the breed should never be aggressive. This is a breed who may take time to socialize as a puppy and in younger years and may “size someone up” before bestowing trust and friendship upon them. They are a slow-to-mature breed, both in body and mind, but the payoff is an amazing journey of a lifetime together.
All the Fields I have known have displayed mellow moments and a spirit and joy in life that makes them fun and interesting to live with. Life with Fields will yield hair and an air of energy in your home, as well as water and humor!
Overall, the Field Spaniel combines a lot of dog into a medium package who can enjoy a wide range of activities and is suited for a variety of conditions.
A finer friend I have not found …
—Shannon Rodgers, [email protected]
Further information about Field Spaniels can be found here and here and on the website of the breed’s national parent club, the Field Spaniel Society of America.
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