by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 3, 2009)
It may well have been that the Welsh Springer Spaniel is the oldest, or was the first, of the Spaniel breeds to be used in front of the sportsman's gun. Old pictures, prints, and writings depict early-day gunners hunting over a medium-sized Spaniel, red and white in color. This is the only color of the Welsh Springer Spaniel. In this he differs from the English Springer, Cocker, and Field Spaniels.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a larger dog than the Cocker Spaniel but a bit smaller than the English Springer. He originated in Wales and is principally found there today, although the dog has been exported to many countries. In Wales the "Welsh Springer Spaniel is also known and referred to as a "Starter". He is of very ancient and pure origin and is a distinct variety which has been bred and preserved purely for working purposes.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a rough-and-tumble worker, no cover being too difficult, no weather too rough. His flat, even coat has a soft under coat which enables him to withstand the rigors of cold climates. When properly trained, he makes a first-rate retriever from both land and water. In this country his cousin, the English Springer, has been far more popular, perhaps because the Welsh Springer Spaniel is more independent and not so easily trained. If started young, however, this dog learns his lessons well and retains what he learns.
Welsh Springer Spaniels have been used for years for gunning in New England. They were used often and performed well in retrieving quail. The dog is particularly hardy, easy to keep, adapts himself well to all conditions and possesses an even disposition. The Welsh Springer Spaniel is strong, merry and very active. He is obviously built for endurance and activity.
In general appearance the Welsh Springer Spaniel is symmetrical and compact. The head is proportionate and of moderate length while it is slightly domed it is clearly defined and well chiseled below the eyes. The eyes are hazel or dark, they are of medium size. They are not prominent nor do they have a sunken look. The ears are set moderately low and hang close to the cheeks. They are comparatively small and gradually narrow towards the tip. The muzzle is of medium length, straight and fairly square. The nostrils are well developed and are flesh colored or even appear to be dark.
The body is not long, but is strong and muscular. The length of the body is usually proportionate to the length of leg. The body is very well balanced. The coat is straight or flat and thick. It has a nice silky texture. The coat is never wiry or wavy.
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