English Springer Spaniel Checks
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The Hunting History of the English Springer Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
Police in New South Wales, Australia, have been breeding their own dogs since 2006. Their goal is to create expert dogs that are highly trained and well-suited to their specific tasks. One of the latest in their line of specialized breeding programs is the mating of an explosives-sniffing dog with a cadaver-finding dog. The result is a litter of seven puppies with big jobs ahead of them, including focused training to sniff out large amounts of money. Yet this litter isn’t made up of the usual German Shepherds or Bloodhounds associated with police work and scenting. This is a litter of English Springer Spaniels.
Although originally bred to flush out game birds, the English Spring Spaniel is now becoming known for its ability to flush out drugs, explosives, weapons, and even contraband mobile phones. In 2007, an English Springer Spaniel named Murphy began working in an English prison, sniffing out illicit phones that inmates use to plot escapes, make drug deals, and other criminal activities. By being trained to sniff out a specific scent of the phones, Murphy is able to find phones that have been buried underground, wrapped in plastic, and even hidden behind brick walls. Amazingly, he can even differentiate between the guards’ phones and the illegal phones.
Spaniels have been working as hunting dogs for centuries, and part of their appeal is their ability to scent game birds in wet and dry conditions. Thus, it is not surprising that these talented dogs are now being used to sniff out a variety of objects in all sorts of environments.
Considered a land spaniel, early litters contained both Springer Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels. The Cocker Spaniels were typically the smaller dogs of the litter, while the Springers were the larger of the dogs. In essence, the Cocker Spaniels were used for hunting woodcocks and the Springer Spaniels were used for springing, or flushing, game birds into the air where hawks and falcons would then swoop in to return the game bird to the hunter.
By the middle of the 1800s, Cockers and Springers were being bred separately. As the Springer Spaniel breed developed, marked differences between show Springers and field Springers began to emerge. Today, the differences between the two are some of the greatest to be found in any breed, while still technically remaining the same breed. Working English Springer Spaniels are smaller and wirier in build, with a shorter, coarser coat. English Springer Spaniels bred for the show ring are larger and have a longer coat and more pendant ears. The coat for both types is typically white with black or liver markings, or tricolor, which has the addition of tan markings on the face and under the tail.
Working so closely with people for so long, the English Springer Spaniel has developed into an affectionate breed that makes an excellent family pet. Its eagerness to please makes it an easy breed to train, and despite its history as a hunting dog, it gets along surprisingly well with other pets.
However, the English Springer Spaniel is still a sporting dog and needs a fair amount of exercise to keep it mentally and physically satisfied. A bored Springer can become a mischievous Springer. The breed is also extremely fast, so for its own safety, it may be best to let the Springer run in an enclosed area to prevent possible accidents. Despite being known as a land spaniel, the English Springer Spaniel also shows a fondness for water and will happily join in with any young members of the family who like to play in puddles.
Whether it is in the fields, in the show ring, on the job, or in the living room, the English Springer Spaniel seems to be happy and successful no matter what he’s doing. This sociable breed has a long history of providing service and companionship and is sure to remain popular for many more years to come.
- In 2008, an English Springer Spaniel named Buster served with the Duke of Wellington’s regiment in Iraq and received a medal for locating a hidden arsenal of weapons and explosives.
- Britain, Sweden, Qatar, and Finland are just some of the countries that regularly use English Springer Spaniels to sniff out drugs.
- An English Springer Spaniel named Millie belonged to President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Millie “authored” a book called Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush.
- Almost all modern Spaniel breeds trace their bloodlines back to the English Springer Spaniel.
- Oprah Winfrey has an adopted English Springer Spaniel.