Field Spaniels

The Field Spaniel is closely related to the Cocker Spaniel and the English Springer Spaniel. The three breeds were originally separated primarily by size. With a weight range of 35 to 50 pounds, the Field Spaniel is larger than the Cocker but smaller than the Springer. These days, in addition to hunting, he competes in field trials and uses his excellent nose in tracking tests. This is an uncommon breed, but if you’re looking for a solid hunter as well as a family companion, the Field Spaniel is one to consider.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Field Spaniel has the typical spaniel traits of sensitivity, affection toward his family, and willingness to learn. With strangers, he is reserved, even shy if not well socialized, but his people will experience his lighthearted, mischievous side. He can be vocal when inspired by sirens or music.

His medium size and docile nature can make him a good choice for families with children. He also gets along with other pets such as cats if he's raised with them. Pet birds may want to keep a wary eye on their tailfeathers, however. Even if you don't hunt, the Field Spaniel will take every opportunity to flush feathered game and do his best to go after it. Unless you're in a traffic-free area, keep him on leash or you'll lose him to the chase.

As good a family companion as he can be, the Field Spaniel is a dog who needs a job. He's not the type to lie around snacking on dog biscuits all day. Take him for long daily walks on leash, give him opportunities to run in safe, traffic-free areas, and sign him up for dog sports such as agility, obedience, rally and tracking.

The Field Spaniel has a soft temperament and will wilt under a harsh training regime. To get the best out of him, use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards.

Brush and comb the Field Spaniel's medium-length feathered coat once or twice a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. You'll also need to trim the hair between the footpads and inside the ears. A bath every six weeks or so doesn't go amiss. In addition, trim the nails as needed, brush the teeth, and keep the ears clean and dry to prevent infections.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Field Spaniel needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy Field Spaniel who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Health Issues Common to Field Spaniels

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Field Spaniels have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia and autoimmune thyroiditis. Less commonly seen are eye problems such as retinal folds, entropion and ectropion; heart problems in the form of mitral valve disease; and epilepsy.

At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip, heart and thyroid clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

The Field Spaniel Society of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Field Spaniel to achieve CHIC certification, he must have OFA or PennHIP evaluations for hips, an OFA thyroid clearance and a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Additional certifications that are recommended but not required are OFA clearances for elbows, knees and heart. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Entropion Medium $300-$1,500
Hip Dysplasia High $1,500-$6,000
Mitral Valve Disease Medium $500-$2,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Field Spaniel Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. To find a list of breeders, visit the website of the Field Spaniel Society of America.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Field Spaniels aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Field Spaniels can live 12 to 14 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Field Spaniel to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Field Spaniels

Pet insurance for Field Spaniels costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Field Spaniels are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Field Spaniels are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Field Spaniel is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.