It is thought that the Welsh Springer Spaniel originated as many as 9000 years ago, although there is no documentation of the breed until 1859. A more common belief, substantiated by documents that describe dogs very similar to the Welsh Springer Spaniel, is that this spaniel originated in Wales some 400 or 500 years ago, and its main purpose was hunting. Like many hunting dogs, Welsh Springer Spaniels are not very happy in confined areas and are happiest in a country or at least suburban setting, although they can thrive in an urban atmosphere if given plenty of exercise and a place to run and play.
They do enjoy the company of children, provided the child does not play too roughly. However, because these spaniels are so enthusiastic as puppies, they may be overly energetic for very young children. They are not particularly fond of strangers, though they will become used to an unknown person after a few meetings. They are generally friendly with other animals as well. They are skilled hunters with incredible agility, speed and determination. If trained at a young age, they are more than eager to flush and retrieve game for their owner.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are quite responsive to obedience training, partly because they are always striving to please their owners. This breed is easy to train, a good watchdog, hunter, and a marvelous friend. Elegant in appearance, they rarely exceed 19 inches in height and 50 pounds in weight- they are a moderate sized breed. Their coat is fairly long, and is always straight, smooth, and supple. The coat is never wiry, and always brick red and pure white, a characteristic that distinguishes the Welsh Springer from other Spaniels. Some feathering is apparent on the legs and chest.
It is believed that the Welsh Springer Spaniel is related to the Brittany Spaniel, however, the Welsh Spaniel is smaller than the English breed and is less well known in breeding circles. The classification “springer” comes from the breed’s job of flushing, or “springing” game from its hiding place. It is thought that immigrants from Brittany moved to Wales, bringing their beloved companions with them. The Welsh Springer Spaniel as a breed did not leave Southern Wales until World War I, although it was beginning to become known in breeding and showing circles as early as 1900. In 1902 the British Kennel Club first recognized the breed. Up until this time the breed was known as “Welsh Cocker Spaniel.”
Upon recognition by the British Kennel Club the name was changed to “Welsh Springer.” Welsh Springer Spaniels should be groomed several times weekly and trimmed four times a year. They are athletic dogs and should be walked and allowed to run often, as many as several times daily. For this reason, they are happiest in non-urban areas.
Some health problems common among Welsh Springer Spaniels are cataracts, glaucoma and hypothyroidism.