Welsh Springer Spaniel Breed Information

Sandra Ilmanen, Saga Welsh Springer Spaniels (951) 776-2464

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You can go directly to any one of these areas, or read straight through from the Introduction

  • Commonly confused with
  • Breeders
  • The functions of a Welshie
  • Health concerns
  • Hunting
  • Tips for new owners
  • How to buy a dog
  • Think about what you're doing

  • What is a Welsh Springer Spaniel?

    The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized dog that weighs roughly 35 to 55 pounds. Males are ideally 18-19" tall at
    The Flag of Wales
    the shoulder and females are ideally 17-18", although larger and smaller dogs are found. Their coat is always red and white and may have any pattern. The number of freckles also may vary considerably. The Welsh is a rare breed of spaniel. Approximately three hundred puppies are registered per year, averaging only six per state per year. A calm, friendly dog who is good with children, your Welshie will always WANT and NEED to be with you. He is not an attack dog, but your Welsh will definitely announce the presence of strangers, and look only to you and your family for affection. It is reasonable to expect about twelve to fourteen years of loving companionship from your dog.

    Welsh Springers, English Springers, & Brittanys

    Brittanys are pointers while Welshies and English Springers are flushing spaniels. The Brittany has a pink nose, and small triangular ears. English Springers have longer ears, are either black-and-white or liver-and-white, and are slightly larger than the Welsh. The Welsh is red and white, has medium-sized ears, and a longer-bodied build than the Brittany or English Springer.

    What does it do?

    Welsh Springers function well in many roles. Your Welsh may be capable of hunting, being a conformation or obedience show dog, and earning a tracking title. But most importantly, in addition to all these things he will always be a wonderful family companion. While many other breeds have split into separate lines, such as field English Springers and show English Springers, this is not the case with the Welsh Springer Spaniels. The Welsh is truly an all-purpose animal.

    Hunting with Welshies

    One of the Sporting Dog Breeds, the Welsh Springer Spaniel was originally bred in Wales to be used as a hunting dog. Today, he continues to hunt eagerly and efficiently. He is a flushing spaniel who stays within shotgun range ahead of the hunter, finding and flushing birds and other small game. He will then fetch the downed game and retrieve it to the hunter.

    If you plan to hunt with your dog, it is best to seek a puppy whose parent or parents have proven field abilities. An AKC hunting title (JH, SH, or MH) is an excellent indicator of these abilities. Inborn abilities and instincts are augmented by some degree of training. Welsh easily learn to love water and swimming, especially if pleasantly exposed to it during their first year.

    How to Buy a Welsh

    The best place to buy any puppy is from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder is one whose goal in breeding dogs is to improve the breed by producing healthy, happy puppies that will grow up to be as close as possible in appearance, movement, and personality to the AKC breed standard. This standard is available for reference in many books, through the national club, and through the reputable breeder.If you are considering acquiring your pet from any other source, you should be very careful to determine that the puppy is not of questionable origin, that it is healthy, and that the breeder is available and willing to discuss the puppy & parents' health pedigrees.

    The breeder of your puppy should be a member in good standing of the Breed's National Club. For Welshies, that is The Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America. At least one of the parents should have won its Championship title while owned by the breeder. The experience of showing your own dog to its title begins the learning process that with luck, study, and hundreds of hours of work may produce a good litter of Welshies. (Incidentally-A puppy from "Champion Lines" means that one of its relatives was a champion. That could be a great-great-great-grandparent, and is NOT the same thing as a puppy from "Champion Parents!")

    Because Welsh Springers are rare, you need to place a reservation for a puppy with your breeder well in advance. If you are lucky enough to find a breeder that has puppies available, a rapid yet informed decision is advised!

    Many breeders require you to sign a contract when they sell you a puppy. The contract is simply an agreement in writing between the breeder and the buyer. It explains the duties and responsibilities of both the breeder and the buyer, so that there will not be any misunderstandings. Don't be afraid of contracts -they are beneficial for both of you. For example, if your living circumstances change and you are no longer able to keep your dog, your purchase contract may require that the dog goes back to the breeder. This helps the breeder by ensuring that the prospective new owner comes under the same scrutiny that you did before your purchase, and also solves your problem of what to do with your pet. Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing, and discuss any part that may be unclear.

    It is important that you realize that you make a continuing financial commitment when you adopt a puppy. Although he will have had some of his shots when you adopt him, he will require vaccines approximately every three weeks until he is five months old and yearly for the rest of his life. The breeder will want to know that you are committed to taking care of the dog if he becomes ill and requires veterinary care.

    Subjects to discuss:

    The Welshie breeders that you talk to will want to ensure that you are choosing the right breed and the right dog to fulfill your needs and wishes. Will your dog be used primarily for show, hunting, obedience, or tracking work in addition to being a family companion? The dog best suited for show conformation may not be the one who has shown the best attitude for hunting or obedience.

    Do you have a yard? What type of fence? How high is it? Do you live in an apartment, suburban home, or on a farm? Are people home during the day? The breeder will want to know about your family. Do you have children? How many? How old? Has your family had previous experience in raising and living with animals? How much time can you and your family devote to training and bonding with a puppy?

    If you are interested in breeding, you can expect questions regarding your previous breeding, show experience, and goals.

    Feel free to ask the breeder questions about their background and titles earned with Welsh Springers. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to learn about a rare breed. Showing your dog in competition with others of its breed is the best way to learn how to evaluate individual dogs and their potential for producing a superior Welsh. Sometimes trips across country need to be made in order to survey the strengths and weaknesses of different breeding lines.

    Ask where the puppies are being raised and with how much personal attention. If you are looking for a house dog you should find a puppy whose parents are housedogs and who has started his life in a house with house-sounds and house-smells.

    Temperament - the individual puppy's personality and activity level - is an extremely important characteristic. Two ways of getting an indication of what your puppy's disposition may be like are meeting relatives of the puppy and performing a puppy personality test. Relatives may give an indication of the litter's potential. The breeder's observations, combined with the personality test, will more specifically target which puppy is correct for your situation.

    Temperament is not entirely inherited. As with people, dogs are a product of their environment. Early training and education of both the puppy and owners is very important. We highly recommend a puppy kindergarten class that uses positive reinforcement methods. Like a child, your dog will learn best with praise and reward.

    Trust your breeder's recommendations! They have lived with the dog for months and you will just be making a brief visit. The puppy that seems the most calm when you visit may simply be exhausted from terrorizing his littermates the hour before. It is common for a breeder to offer you one specific puppy. Whether it is the last one to go to a new home or first one out the door, matching the proper puppy to the proper loving home is the goal of the reputable breeder.

    Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a deformity of the hip joint that can cripple a dog. Like arthritis, CHD can occur in varying degrees of severity.

    The tendency to develop Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is inherited, and is aggravated by overweight, excessive exercise, and other environmental factors. It is not easy to predict if it will occur. Reputable breeders have their dogs radiographically evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. When this is done after the age of 24 months the OFA will read the x-ray and determine if the dog shows indications of CHD. If there are no such indications, the OFA rates the x-ray Fair, Good or Excellent and issues a numbered certificate.

    Ideally, both parents of your puppy will be OFA-Certified fair or better. Although this does not guarantee sound hips in the offspring, using parents who are both cleared by the OFA shows that the breeder has done everything possible to minimize the incidence of CHD in the progeny. Beware of any breeder who responds to your questions with something along the lines of "Oh, MY dogs have never had any problems, so I don't bother with OFA." The fact is that most breeds of dogs weighing more than 30 pounds or so are susceptible to CHD. We hope that by breeding responsibly we can eventually free the Welsh Springers from the genetic factors that contribute to Canine Hip Dysplasia.

    Eye problems, although not common, do exist in Welsh. If the parents of your puppy have had a Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) clearance in the past two years, the odds of the puppy's eyes also being clear are very good.

    Epilepsy is known to occur in Welsh Springers as it does in almost all other breeds. Unfortunately, there is no test or certification to guarantee that the puppy or the parents are not epileptic or carriers of epilepsy. As with hip dysplasia, varying degrees of severity do exist.

    One of the biggest advantages of buying from a reputable breeder is the relationship that may develop between you. Consider the breeder as a friendly source of knowledge and problem-solving ideas.If you are not completely comfortable with the breeder's experience and knowledge, the conditions under which the puppies were raised, and the commitment of the breeder to eliminating heritable problems in the breed, keep looking! It IS worth the trouble to find your ideal companion for the next fourteen years.

    Tips for the new owner

    Read training books before you bring your puppy home. Two excellent publications are Carol Benjamin's Mother Knows Best and Rutherford and Neil's How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With.

    Crate-train your new puppy. When properly introduced to the crate, your dog will consider it to be their own private place to sleep and relax. Use of the crate will greatly simplify house training and keep the puppy (and your possessions) safe from the dangers of unsupervised play in the house and yard. Travel and stays at the vet will be much less stressful for the crate-trained dog.

    Find and attend an obedience class where the instructor is oriented toward positive-reinforcement learning. Ask the puppy's breeder or your local dog club for recommendations. Remember, training begins the minute you take your puppy home. Problems do not go away when the puppy gets older, they just get bigger.

    Spay/Neuter your dog. There are several good reasons to do so. You will not have to worry about "bitches in heat" and accidental pregnancy. A dog that has been neutered is much less likely to develop several types of cancer. Bearing puppies is also extremely stressful and potentially dangerous for the bitch. Contrary to what most people think, the dog's personality and energy levels are not affected by these procedures. They won't get fat, because controlling the amount of food eaten always controls the dog's weight. The only change you may see after neutering - and this only occurs occasionally - is a change in the texture of the dog's coat.

    Remember, only the very best dogs should be bred. (In fact, many Show and Field Champions are never bred!) For these reasons, many Welsh are sold either under contracts that prohibit breeding or are sold with AKC Limited Registrations.

    Groom your dog regularly. The Welsh Springer's coat is easy to maintain with a weekly brushing or combing. During the grooming session it is easy to note skin/ear problems, and observe the general overall health of your companion. Toenails need trimming about once a month. Ears should be cleaned at the same time or as necessary to prevent dirt buildup. Extra hair should be trimmed away from the ear openings and off of the feet with scissors.

    Be prepared for a dog who NEEDS to be with you every minute that you are home. Most Welshie people remark that their Welsh Springer follows them everywhere...even into the bathroom. If devotion is what you want and can return in kind, the Welshie is the dog for you.

    Are you sure you want a dog?

    If you are thinking of keeping your dog outside all of the time, be aware that the digging, barking, and escaping problems you will see are difficult to solve. The "outside" dog has long, boring hours that cause stress and tension. He solves his dog-problems with dog-solutions like digging and destruction. He cannot be an effective watchdog because all he can watch is the yard-he can't get into the house to scare off intruders. Please remember that dogs are not lawn ornaments. People who are looking for something that will sit quietly outside all day, and require only food and water occasionally should get plants, not dogs. Teach your dog the rules of the house and he will be a welcome member of the family instead of just another outside chore.

    We hope that this has acquainted you with the Welsh Springer Spaniel Breed. If you have any questions, call us and we can get them answered. We want to be sure that both you and your new dog are compatible!

    Further information/questions/gossip -- (951) 776-2464 -- or send E-mail to Sandi at

    All materials are Copyrighted;
    Some 1994-2001 by
    Gary Ilmanen
    Saga Research
    All Rights Reserved