Welsh Springer Spaniel
The Welsh Springer Spaniel, also known as the Starter, the Tarfgi, the Red-and-White Spaniel, the Welsh Spaniel, the Welsh Cocker, the Welsh Springer or the Welshie, dates back to the earliest time when dogs helped men with hunting. This breed is extremely versatile and can be used to hunt and/or retrieve virtually any type of game, on land or in water and over any sort of terrain. The Welsh Springer Spaniel is smaller than the English Springer Spaniel but larger than the English Cocker Spaniel. The breed is known for its stable disposition and boundless energy. It gets its name from its style of hunting, which is to "spring" hidden game from places of hiding. The Welsh Springer Spaniel was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1906, as a member of the Sporting Group.
The mature male Welsh Springer Spaniel should stand 18 to 19 inches at the withers, while adult bitches should be 17 to 18 inches in height. Weight should be in proportion to height and overall balance; adults typically weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. The Welsh Springer's coat is always white with rich, dark red markings. It is straight, soft and weatherproof, with moderate feathering.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a truly ancient breed. Its ancestors date back to dogs that belonged to the people of Roman-occupied Briton. During the Renaissance, the Land Spaniel was used to make game birds "spring" from hiding, to be shot with bow and arrow or hunted by falcon and thereafter retrieved by the dog. Images and writings of the Land Spaniel appear to describe or identify a dog virtually identical to today's Welsh Springer Spaniel.
During the 1700s, many of the great artists depicted a red-and-white spaniel whose color, conformation and type reflect the modern Welsh Springer Spaniel. This breed was popular with hunters throughout the 18th century, but by the 1800s most sportsmen in Britain preferred the liver-and-white or the black-and-white spaniels. Historians speculate that the red-and-white spaniel continued to be used in the Neath Valley of South Wales during this period. Eventually, interest in the Welsh Springer Spaniel resurfaced. The Kennel Club (England) was founded in 1873, and the red-and-white spaniel was exhibited at the club's first show, in the same class as other spaniels. It was not until later that the Welsh and English Springer Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels were put into separate classes and recognized as distinct breeds.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Welsh Springer Spaniel in 1906. The first of the breed was registered with the AKC in 1914. However, no Welsh Springer Spaniels were registered with the American Kennel Club between 1926 and 1948. Many breed enthusiasts today believe that by the end of the Second World War, there were no Welsh Springers left in the United States. A number were imported from Wales after the war. In 1961, the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America was formed. Today's Welsh Springer Spaniel remains a wonderful hunting dog both in and out of water. He has excellent senses of smell and of sight and can be used on any type of fowl or game. He is also exceptionally gentle and good-natured and makes a kind family pet. This breed has not achieved great popularity in America.
The average life span of the Welsh Springer Spaniel is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include epilepsy, distichiasis, glaucoma, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and hip dysplasia.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are less outgoing than their English cousins but still share the same zest for life. They are full of energy and enjoy spending time with people of all ages – even kids and will attach himself deeply to the people he loves. Built for hunting, Welsh Springers still enjoy working in the field, but will also have fun tracking and stalking birds in the backyard. They can be a bit messy, tracking dirt and water throughout the house, but their smiling faces and constantly wagging tails makes staying mad at a Springer nearly impossible. They will alert you that someone is approaching the house, though they are too shy to be effective guard dogs. For active families, Welsh Springer Spaniels make excellent pets.
Welsh Springer Spaniels need to run every day. They were built to spend long periods of time hunting birds in all sorts of weather and all types of terrain, and have more energy than they know what to do with. If they aren't allowed to run daily, Springer Spaniels can be a handful to live with – bouncing, barking, chewing and making a general nuisance of himself. Welshies are less rowdy than English Springers by nature, so if your notice your Welsh is overly hyper, it's a sign he needs to run more often.
Springers enjoy long walks, jogs, hikes, and some enjoy the occasional dip in the water. Kids willing to spend an afternoon playing catch with a Springer can expect a best friend for life.
Welsh Springers are intelligent dogs who need to exercise their minds as well as their bodies. Your dog will appreciate being enrolled in agility, flyball and tracking actives as an outlet for exercise, thinking and extra bonding time with someone he loves.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are relatively easy to train, but they can be independent and also carry a touch of doggy ADD which can be frustrating. Keep lots of treats on hand to keep his interest, keep sessions short, and be ready to hand out lots of exuberant praise. Springers do not respond well to harsh discipline – they will shut you out if they start to mistrust you – so it's best to positively reinforce good behavior and ignore the bad.
Despite being independent animals, separation anxiety is a common trait in Welsh Springer Spaniels. This problem is almost always made worse if a Springer isn't getting enough exercise every day. Let your Springer run before you leave the house, and give him plenty of interesting things to occupy his time while you are gone. People who work long hours should not consider this breed. Springers will show their displeasure with being left alone by chewing destructively and barking obsessively.
Welsh Springers are not as outgoing as their English counterparts and need to be socialized at an early age to accept new people as welcome guests. Welshies who aren't exposed to new sights, sounds and people can become overly cautious, even skittish, which is difficult to live with and causes the dog a great deal of anxiety.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a dog of distinct variety and ancient origin, who derives his name from his hunting style and not his relationship to other breeds. He is an attractive dog of handy size, exhibiting substance without coarseness. He is compact, not leggy, obviously built for hard work and endurance. The Welsh Springer Spaniel gives the impression of length due to obliquely angled forequarters and well developed hindquarters. Being a hunting dog, he should be shown in hard muscled working condition. His coat should not be so excessive as to hinder his work as an active flushing spaniel, but should be thick enough to protect him from heavy cover and weather.
Size, Proportion, Substance
A dog is ideally 18-19 inches in height at the withers and a bitch is 17-18 inches at the withers. Any animal above or below the ideal to be proportionately penalized. Weight should be in proportion to height and overall balance. Length of body from the withers to the base of the tail is very slightly greater than the distance from the withers to the ground. This body length may be the same as the height but never shorter, thus preserving the rectangular silhouette of the Welsh Springer Spaniel.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel head is unique and should in no way approximate that of other spaniel breeds. Its overall balance is of primary importance. Head is in proportion to body, never so broad as to appear coarse nor so narrow as to appear racy. The skull is of medium length, slightly domed, with a clearly defined stop. It is well chiseled below the eyes. The top plane of the skull is very slightly divergent from that of the muzzle, but with no tendency toward a down-faced appearance. A short chubby head is most objectionable.
Eyes should be oval in shape, dark to medium brown in color with a soft expression. Preference is for a darker eye though lighter shades of brown are acceptable. Yellow or mean-looking eyes are to be heavily penalized. Medium in size, they are neither prominent, nor sunken, nor do they show haw. Eye rims are tight and dark pigmentation is preferred.
Ears are set on approximately at eye level and hang close to the cheeks. Comparatively small, the leather does not reach to the nose. Gradually narrowing toward the tip, they are shaped somewhat like a vine leaf and are lightly feathered.
The length of the muzzle is approximately equal to, but never longer than that of the skull. It is straight, fairly square, and free from excessive flew. Nostrils are well developed and black or any shade of brown in color. A pink nose is to be severely penalized. A scissors bite is preferred. An undershot jaw is to be severely penalized.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is long and slightly arched, clean in throat, and set into long, sloping shoulders. Topline is level. The loin is slightly arched, muscular, and close-coupled. The croup is very slightly rounded, never steep nor falling off. The topline in combination with proper angulation fore and aft presents a silhouette that appears rectangular. The chest is well developed and muscular with a prominent forechest, the ribs well sprung and the brisket reaching to the elbows. The tail is an extension of the topline. Carriage is nearly horizontal or slightly elevated when the dog is excited. The tail is generally docked and displays a lively action.
The shoulder blade and upper arm are approximately equal in length. The upper arm is set well back, joining the shoulder blade with sufficient angulation to place the elbow beneath the highest point of the shoulder blade when standing. The forearms are of medium length, straight and moderately feathered. The legs are well boned but not to the extent of coarseness. The Welsh Springer Spaniel's elbows should be close to the body and its pasterns short and slightly sloping. Height to the elbows is approximately equal to the distance from the elbows to the top of the shoulder blades. Dewclaws are generally removed. Feet should be round, tight and well arched with thick pads.
The hindquarters must be strong, muscular, and well boned, but not coarse. When viewed in profile the thighs should be wide and the second thighs well developed. The angulation of the pelvis and femur corresponds to that of the shoulder and upper arm. Bend of stifle is moderate. The bones from the hocks to the pads are short with a well angulated hock joint. When viewed from the side or rear they are perpendicular to the ground. Rear dewclaws are removed. Feet as in front.
The coat is naturally straight flat and soft to the touch, never wiry or wavy. It is sufficiently dense to be waterproof, thornproof, and weatherproof. The back of the forelegs, the hind legs above the hocks, chest and underside of the body are moderately feathered. The ears and tail are lightly feathered. Coat so excessive as to be a hindrance in the field is to be discouraged. Obvious barbering is to be avoided as well.
The color is rich red and white only. Any pattern is acceptable and any white area may be flecked with red ticking.
The Welsh Springer moves with a smooth, powerful, ground covering action that displays drive from the rear. Viewed from the side, he exhibits a strong forward stride with a reach that does not waste energy. When viewed from the front, the legs should appear to move forward in an effortless manner with no tendency for the feet to cross over or interfere with each other. Viewed from the rear, the hocks should follow on a line with the forelegs, neither too widely nor too closely spaced. As the speed increases the feet tend to converge towards a center line.
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Sources: American Kennel Club