The Field Spaniel, also known as the Field, is a breed of dog in the Sporting Group. Known for their grace and agility, this breed is just as famous for their calm and steady personality. The Field Spaniel was recognized by the AKC in 1894 and AKC approved in 1998.
The average Field Spaniel stands 17 to 18 inches high at the shoulders and weighs between 35 and 50 pounds. Unlike many Spaniels their short coat is easy to care for, but their long floppy ears need to be cleaned on a regular basis and frequently checked for any signs of bacterial or fungal infections.
The Field Spaniel was bred as a competition and hunting dog around the early 1800's. The exact ancestry of the breed is unknown, but later versions of the Field Spaniel were created by cross breeding black Spaniel breeds. The breed went through many changes which resulted in a breed with a lot of health problems, but fortunately after their near extinction in the post World War II period a lover of the breed restored the breed to its original, and healthier, form.
The average life expectancy of the Field Spaniel is between 10 and 12 years. The most common health issues associated with the breed are hip dysplasia and ear infections.
Larger than a Cocker Spaniel and smaller than a Springer Spaniel, the Field Spaniel is a medium-sized bundle of energy. They have steadier temperaments than their spaniel counterparts and are generally friendly to everyone, even though they are usually not outgoing. They love the outdoors and are at their happiest when involved in family activities such as swimming, hiking, biking and hunting. They are incredibly agile dogs, allowing them to maneuver quickly in heavy brush and marsh to flush birds from their hiding places. Field Spaniels love people and consider all members of the family to be best friends. They also love water and have a reputation for creating quite a mess with their water dish, splashing around as if it is a tiny wading pool. Their temperament, trainability and patience with children makes Field Spaniels make an excellent choice for a first time dog owner, if that person is committed to an active lifestyle.
Field Spaniels were not meant to be lazy house pets. Their medium size might make them appealing to apartment and condo dwellers, but that living situation would be quite unfair to the Field Spaniel. They are active animals who love being outdoors and need time to run every day. Sending them out in the yard to run around isn't going to cut it, however. Instead, this breed should be involved in interesting activities that involve humans. Biking, jogging, hiking and swimming are high on a Field Spaniel's list of fun activities. Agility and obstacle courses are even better, and if possible, hunting is the Field Spaniel's favorite activity. Their agile bodies and webbed feet makes them exceptional bird hunting companions. They can flush birds out of their hiding places without being detected, and they can efficiently retrieve a hunter's prize from the water.
If a Field Spaniel does not get enough activity they will become anxious, and that anxiety can often be severe. Destructive behavior in a Field Spaniel is almost always related to lack of adequate exercise.
Field Spaniels, like other accomplished sporting breeds, can have an independent streak which can sometimes present training challenges. They like to do things their own way, however with enough treats and praise on hand to reward good behavior, Field Spaniels can be trained with moderate ease. It is best to do the training in short spurts, so that the dog doesn't become bored, and should always be conducted with a gentle hand. Field Spaniels won't respond to discipline or harsh treatment.
Barking and chewing are common complaints of Field Spaniel owners, but this is almost always related to lack of activity, or the dog being left alone for too long. This breed loves to be with people and gets quite attached to family. Leaving him alone for more than a few hours at a stretch can be devastating to a Field Spaniel.
Field Spaniels are barkers and are quick to alert everyone in the home (and the neighbors) that someone is approaching on foot, on a bike, in a car, in an airplane, etc. Training him to obey a stop barking command is essential early on.
The Field Spaniel is a combination of beauty and utility. It is a well balanced, substantial hunter-companion of medium size, built for activity and endurance in a heavy cover and water. It has a noble carriage; a proud but docile attitude; is sound and free moving. Symmetry, gait, attitude and purpose are more important than any one part.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Balance between these three components is essential. Size--Ideal height for mature adults at the withers is 18 inches for dogs and 17 inches for bitches. A one inch deviation either way is acceptable. Proportion--A well balanced dog, somewhat longer than tall. The ratio of length to height is approximately 7:6. (Length is measured on a level from the foremost point of the shoulder to the rearmost point of the buttocks.) Substance--Solidly built, with moderate bone, and firm smooth muscles.
Conveys the impression of high breeding, character and nobility, and must be in proportion to the size of the dog. Expression--Grave, gentle and intelligent. Eyes--Almond in shape, open and of medium size; set moderately wide and deep. Color: dark hazel to dark brown. The lids are tight and show no haw; rims comparable to nose in color. Ears--Moderately long (reaching the end of the muzzle) and wide. Set on slightly below eye level: pendulous, hanging close to the head; rolled and well feathered. Leather is moderately heavy, supple, and rounded at the tip. Skull--The crown is slightly wider at the back than at the brow and lightly arched laterally; sides and cheeks are straight and clean. The occiput is distinct and rounded. Brows are slightly raised. The stop is moderate, but well defined by the brows. The face is chiselled beneath the eyes. Muzzle--Strong, long and lean, neither snipy nor squarely cut. The nasal bone is straight and slightly divergent from parallel, sloping downward toward the nose from the plane of the top skull. In profile, the lower plane curves gradually from the nose to the throat. Jaws are level. Nose--Large, flesh and well developed with open nostrils. Set on as an extension of the muzzle. Color: solid: light to dark brown or black as befits the color of the coat. Lips--Close fitting, clean, and sufficiently deep to cover the lower jaw without being pendulous. Bite--Scissors or level, with complete dentition. Scissors preferred.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck--Long, strong, muscular, slightly arched, clean, and well set into shoulders. Topline--The neck slopes smoothly into the withers; the back is level, well muscled, firm and strong; the croup is short and gently rounded. Body--The prosternum is prominent and well fleshed. The depth of chest is roughly equal to the length of the front leg from elbow to ground. The rib cage is long and extending into a short loin. Ribs are oval, well sprung and curve gently into a firm loin. Loin--Short, strong, and deep, with little or no tuck up. Tail--Set on low, in line with the croup, just below the level of the back with a natural downward inclination. Docked tails preferred, natural tails are allowed. The tail whether docked or natural length should be in balance with the overall dog.
Shoulders blades are oblique and sloping. The upper arm is closed-set; elbows are directly below the withers, and turn neither in nor out. Bone is flat. Forelegs are straight and well boned to the feet. Pasterns are moderately sloping but strong. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet face forward and are large, rounded, and webbed, with strong, well arched relatively tight toes and thick pads.
Strong and driving; stifles and hocks only moderately bent. Hocks well let down; pasterns relatively short, strong and parallel when viewed from the rear. Hips moderately broad and muscular; upper tigh broad and powerful; second thigh well muscled. Bone corresponds to that of the forelegs. No dewclaws.
Single; moderately long; flat or slightly wavy; silky; and glossy; dense and water-repellent. Moderate setter-like feathering adorns the chest, underbody, backs of the legs, buttocks, and may also be present on the second thigh and underside of the tail. Pasterns have clean outlines to the ground. There is short, soft hair between the toes. Overabundance of coat, or cottony texture, impractical for field work should be penalized. Trimming is limited to that which enhances the natural appearance of the dog. Amount of coat or absence of coat should not be faulted as much as structural faults.
Black, liver, golden liver or shades thereof, in any intensity (dark or light); either self-colored or bi-colored. Bi-colored dogs must be roaned and/or ticked in white areas. Tan points are acceptable on the aforementioned colors and are the same as any normally tan pointed breed. White is allowed on the throat, chest, and/or brisket, and may be clear, ticked, or roaned on a self color dog.
The head is carried alertly, neither so high nor so low as to impede motion or stride. There is good forward reach that begins in the shoulder, coupled with strong drive from the rear, giving the characteristic effortless, long, low majestic stride. When viewed from front and/or rear elbows and hocks move parallel. The legs move straight, with slight converence at increased speed. When moving, the tail is carried inclined slightly downward or level with the back, and with a wagging motion. Tail carried above the back is incorrect. Side movement is straight and clean, without energy wasting motions. Over-reaching and single tracking are incorrect. The Field Spaniel should be show at its own natural speed in an endurance trot, preferably on a loose lead, in order to evaluate its movement.
Unusually docile, sensitive, funloving, independent and intelligent, with a great affinity for human companionship. They may be somewhat reserved in initial meetings. Any display of shyness, fear, or agression is to be severely penalized.