Ever wondered how Spaniels got this unique and interesting name? Some researchers assume that this breed of gun dogs originated in Spain which is how they got their name. A few others debate that Spaniels initially originated in Asia after which they moved to Europe and further to the west side.
Spaniels are believed to go as far back as the 14th century however; their ancestral breeds are believed to go even further than that. While they are commonly used as gun dogs, they were divided into various categories later during the 17th century.
Soon after that, there were show dogs, land game retrievers, flushing dogs and dogs for pet and companionship.
Interestingly enough, Spaniels are modern-day popular pets and among all their different breed types, the Cocker Spaniel is the most popular choice of pet among majority of the population.
The fact that some scholars believe Spaniels have a Spanish origin is often backed by the fact that the word ‘Spaniel’ apparently originates from ‘espaigneul’ which is basically an Old French version that means “Spanish dog”.
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Additionally, espaigneul is believed to have come from the word ‘Hispaniolus’ which, in turn, is Latin for Spanish. Considering this theory, it is highly probable that Spaniels have originated from Spain.
However, on the flipside, many others beg to differ and say that it was the Celts that basically introduced these dogs to Spain when they were moving there. A third theory suggests that Spaniels originated from Middle East.
Regardless of the origin of the Spaniel breed, they seem to have gained quite popularity ever since they came into existence.
How to Identify a Spaniel?
Some of the most common and obvious characteristics of the Spaniel dog breed include an average medium to small size, droopy ears and quite fine, silky and wavy long hair, that is, the coat.
They also have surprisingly long and full ears with beautifully waved hair that also extend to their legs, thighs and the tail.
Spaniels are said to possess some great innate qualities like sheer intelligence, obedience, liveliness, and profound affection for those around them, all which make them highly prized and special as companions.
NOTE: We also have a guide dedicated to chihuahuas which you can check out here.
Types of Spaniels
Below is a list of different types of Spaniels that exist in today’s time, some that are quite famous as pets and others are hunters’ top choice for hunting, flushing and all sorts of dog sports.
American Cocker Spaniel
The American Cocker Spaniel is native to the USA and is known by several other names including Merry Cocker, Cocker Spaniel and Cocker. This breed of spaniel is very similar to the English Cocker Spaniel since the latter is its ancestor. It is typically a small to medium sized dog that is bred as a watchdog, and also for hunting and tracking purposes.
The average height of the American Cocker Spaniel goes up to 13 to 15.5 inches and it weighs around 23 to 30 lbs that makes about 11 to 15 kg. They are said to have a very joyful, merry, trusting and outgoing temperament which also makes them excellent pets.
One of the most defining features of the American Cocker Spaniel is their round head with super fluffy and long ears that fall on either side of their head.
American Water Spaniel
This dog breed was first bred in Wisconsin in the 19th Century and is native to the USA, particularly the lake country of the Upper Midwest. The breed of the American Water Spaniel descends from those of the English Water Spaniel and the Irish Water Spaniel.
It is a medium sized spaniel that grows to an average height of 15 to 18 inches and weighs around 25 to 45 lbs. it has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years and is usually always brown in color.
The American Water Spaniel has a dense and waterproof coat with thickly padded feet and webbed toes which is why they are originally bred for hunting purposes and to swim in the icy waters of the Great Lakes region.
Some of their key personality characteristics are that they can be very charming, happy and eager and are also super skilled and resistant.
Blue Picardy Spaniel
This is quite a rare Spaniel breed that is native to France and first appeared in the region around the Somme River during the 20th century. They are also said to be the descendants of the English Setter and the Picardy Spaniel. Some of their other common names include Bleu Picard and Épagneul Bleu de Picardie.
The Blue Picardy Spaniel reaches an average height of 22 to 24 inches and weighs around 42 to 45 lbs, making it quite a large dog where most of its height comes from its long legs. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years and are primarily bred to be used as hunting dogs as they work really well on rugged terrains and even as a flush in the water.
They are said to be super active, playful, adaptable and gentle which means they can also be kept as pets.
This medium-sized spaniel was first bred in South Carolina in the early 20th century with the primary purpose to hunt turkeys. They are popular as retrieving and flushing dogs and are excellent at swimming, given their small size.
Boykin Spaniels sport an average height of 13 to 16 inches and typically weigh around 24 to 39 lbs which is about 11 to 18 kg. They have an average lifespan of 13 to 16 years and have a tendency to appear as super heavy and muscular.
They are extremely friendly, outdoorsy and energetic and have lately found to be an equal delight at home as much as they are in the lakes and hunting grounds. One of their most hallmark features is their solid-brown coat with large, feathery ears that hang in close proximity with their cheeks.
The Boykin Spaniel is said to be “an absolute tiger in the field and a very sweet dog to have around the family.”
Originally bred as gundogs, Brittany Spaniels are known to be super smart, agile, energetic and easier to train compared to several other Spaniel breeds. Initially known as “Brittany Spaniels”, the word “spaniel” was removed from this breed’s name in 1982.
Their country of origin is France and they have a lifespan of 13 to 15 years. The Brittany Spaniel grows to a height of 17 to 21 inches and weighs about 30 to 40 lbs. Their medium size greatly attracts sportsmen for hunting and dog sports purposes and to families to be kept as pets.
The beauty of this breed lies in their bold, patterned coat that comes in beautiful combinations of white, bright orange and reddish-brown. They make an excellent choice for all those looking for an all-in-one dog with great hunting skills, companionship and a true teammate for all kinds of dog sports.
Interestingly, these dogs are quite task-oriented and feel the need to be active and exuberant so you can’t expect them to come running to you and lie at your feet when you come home from work!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
As the name suggests, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel holds a connection to the British history. This breed is native to the United Kingdom and is considered to be an all-rounder with true beauty and regal grace.
The average height of this dog is 11 to 13 inches and the average weight goes around 13 to 17 lbs. They have a lifespan of 9 to 13 years and are often referred to as a ‘toy spaniel.’
While this breed of spaniels is usually kept as great pets and companions, they actually display quite a sporty nature that seems to have carried forward from their spaniel ancestors.
They have large round eyes which are one of their most distinctive features and give a very sweet, melting expression on their adorable face. Another great hallmark feature is rich and silk colored coat that sets it apart from other breeds.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is great at hiking, numerous dog sports and greatly enjoys running on the beach.
This is a famous British Spaniel breed that was a royal favorite for several decades. They are native to the UK and are believed to be super vulnerable.
The Clumber Spaniel is often referred to as a “mellow and dignified hunting companion of the kings” and has heavy bone with a massive-sized head. Its average height is 13 to 16 inches and it weighs to an average of 24 to 39 lbs, almost 11 to 18 kg.
This breed is built to be able to push through covers in the field and hunt wildfowl on harsh terrains, resulting in a “clumber movement”, hence their breed name, “Clumber Spaniel”.
Unlike many other spaniel breeds, the coat of the Clumber Spaniel is straight and flat that often comes in white and yellow color with brown or orange freckle-like spots.
This breed is famous for its outdoorsy nature when they are on the field but can be super easygoing and sweet when they are home. Some of their favorite activities include fetching and swimming which makes them excellent, sturdy playmates.
English Cocker Spaniel
Known as “Cocker Spaniel” in the United States, the English Cocker Spaniel is native to Great Britain, England and most fans of this breed often describe them as “merry” mainly due to the fact that they have a happy disposition.
The name “cocker” comes from the fact that these dogs were used to hunt woodcock in England.
This is a medium-sized breed with an average height of 14 to 16 inches and average weight of 28 to 30 lbs. They are adorably sweet and mellow at home while super energetic and upbeat out in the fields. This dog is greatly admired and loved for its irresistible handsome looks and charming personality.
Some their distinctive features are their rich, silk coat, softly contoured head, puppy eyes and a highly dignified expression. In terms of temperament and personality, the English Cocker Spaniel is extremely friendly, loving, optimistic, active and also highly intelligent.
English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel was first bred in the 19th century and is native to the UK. There are two kinds of this breed; one with short and coarse coats that are meant to be used for working and other type is with big ears and soft coats and is primarily meant for shows.
This breed of spaniels grows to a height of 18 to 20 inches and weighs around 35 to 45 lbs. Its average lifespan is 11 to 14 years. This dog was originally bred as a gun dog to spring and flush in the field but they also make excellent companions and pets. They are known to actively participate in hunting tests and thoroughly enjoy camping and hiking activities.
The name “springer” comes from the way these dogs “spring” at hunting games or in various other dog sports and also the way they move with a smooth, ground-covering stride.
One of their interesting characteristics is their strong sense of smell which is the main reason why they are often also used as police dogs and as sniffers in several rescue and search missions. Their favorite pastime include swimming, long walks and playing games of fetching and chasing.
English Toy Spaniel
Also called “King Charles Spaniel”, this famous dog has been given the nickname “charlies” after the King Charles II who really loved and adored this breed. This is a widely recognized British breed that first appeared in 16th century and has held quite a reputation in the English court for several centuries.
This dog grows to a height of 9-11 inches and weighs no more than 14 pounds. They are commonly used as companion dogs and have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Due to their small size and lack of stamina and energy, the English Toy Spaniel is not apt for hunting purposes.
They are small-sized and compact with square bodies, long fringed ears, a doomed head and a rich silky coat. Even their tail has a glossy silky covering, making it one of their most distinctive features.
Their silk coats contain 4 different varieties with individual unique names including red and white called “Blenheim”, solid red called “Ruby”, black and tan called “King Charles” and black, white and tan coat called “Prince Charles”.
The fact the English Toy Spaniels have a royal origin, they can tend to exhibit characteristics that are similar to their noble owners.
For instance, these dogs can often display great pride and willfulness, while also being discriminatory in terms of choosing friends. However, they can be equally affectionate and friendly around those that they love and favor.
At one point in time, Field Spaniel was popularly used as a retrieving dog that was supposed to retrieve game from water or land, however, in today’s time, they are particularly meant for ‘show dogs’. Although they are still equally skilled at hunting, this breed has tuned into more of a pet and companion dog and is rarely seen out in the fields.
Field Spaniels have originated from England and have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. They grow to a height of 16 to 18 inches and gain an average weight around 40 to 55 lbs. They also bear strong resemblance to Springer, Cocker and Sussex Spaniels.
Interestingly, till the 1900s, Spaniels were divided into categories according to their weight. So given that a spaniel puppy grew beyond 25 pounds, he was classified as a Field Spaniel. If the puppy weighed less than 25 pounds, he was called a Cocker Spaniel.
Field Spaniels are known to be super active and require their daily dose of exercise and physical activity. They are also very sensitive and sweet which makes them ideal as pets and companions.
German Spaniels are also called the ‘Deutscher Wachtelhund’. This breed got its name due to the fact that German Spaniels were used to hunt quails in old times so its German name translates to “quail” in English.
The German Spaniel reaches an average height of 17 to 20 inches and weighs about 45 to 65 lbs. As the name suggests, they have originated from Germany and their average lifespan is 11 to 14 years.
They are primarily used as hunting dogs due to their increased strength, stamina and versatility. One of their most noticeable features is their thick long brown coat that often has white spots. They have a sturdy and solid build along with a great sense of smell, making them an excellent choice for tracking and investigating.
Irish Water Spaniel
This is a native Irish spaniel breed that originates from Ireland and has also appeared in folklore. It grows to a height of 20 to 23 inches and weighs almost 55 to 65 lbs.
One of their most distinctive and unique features is their coat which is super curly and sports a reddish-brown live color that shines in the lights and appears as a gorgeous shade of purple.
The Irish Water Spaniel was originally bred as a water retriever but has gone on to being used as excellent, fun companions especially for those dog owners who are super active and experienced. This is because this breed can be extremely headstrong and often prefers to be an independent thinker which is why it is not suitable for inexperienced or first time pet owners.
This is an Old French breed that is also referred to as “Continental Toy Spaniel” and has originated from France.
Papillion dog is an extremely small-sized dog that grows to a height of 7-11 inches and weighs about 6 to 9 lbs. Despite its small size, you can spot this dog even from a distance because it has super large winged shaped ears. It is these very ears that give the dog its name where Papillion is French for ‘butterfly’.
These dogs go way back in time as they were often showcased in Renaissance paintings and were also popularly used as lapdogs among the higher classes.
Papillion dogs are considerably quite elegant and delicate with long, silky coats and spiral tails. They are known to be lively, energetic, alert and friendly which make them the best agility dogs who excitedly take part in all sorts of dog sports.
Pont Audemer Spaniel
This is a French Spaniel breed that originated in the 19th century and is believed to be quite a rare breed. It was originally bred for hunting purposes and don’t hold quite the reputation as a family pet or companion.
The Pont Audemer Spaniel has an average height of 19 to 22 inches and weighs around 55 to 60 lbs. it has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. It also has a white and brown coat that is a mix of curly and wavy all over the body except for the face.
This dog is known to be hardy and extremely hard-working that makes it an ideal choice for those people looking for a working dog. While they aren’t common as pets, they are still very affectionate and friendly.
Fascinatingly, they are often called “le petit clown des marais” which translates to “the little clown of the marshes” because of their clownish and super-fun loving personalities.
This is quite a modern Spaniel breed that was originated in the Soviet Union around the middle of the 20th century. While in ancient times the Russian Spaniel was quite a popular choice for hunting in rugged terrains like marshes and woodlands, in today’s age it makes for an excellent family pet and companion in Russia, which is also their country of origin.
Russian Spaniels reach an average height of 14 to 17 inches and weigh about 19 to 35 lbs. They also have a lifespan of 13 to 14 years at maximum. Given their height and weight, this breed is quite small with a sturdy body. Their usually silky coat sports different color combinations and their ears tend to be darker than the rest of their bodies.
In terms of personality traits, Russian Spaniels tend to be super friendly, loyal, calm-natured and also extremely devoted and trustworthy fellows.
This is a southern British breed that resembles a Clumber Spaniel and was initially bred in the 18th century. Sussex Spaniels grow to an average height of 12 to 14 inches and weigh about 35 to 45 lbs. They originate from England and have a lifespan of 11 to 12 years.
A unique feature of this breed is a thick, double coat that is wavy and has a stunning golden, reddish-brown shade. They have an excellent sense of smell which makes them ideal for search and rescue missions.
Sussex Spaniels are often described as “massive” because of their heavy bone and fairly deep chest. They are also known for their innate cheerfulness that is evident through their big hazel eyes that are usually sparkling with joy. They are reported to have a playful, affectionate and lively temperament, making them great pets and companions.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
These dogs are also known as “Welsh Cocker Spaniel” and were close to being extinct but were luckily re-bred sometime during the 20th century. They have adopted quite a reputation to be used in dog trials.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel reaches a height of 16 to 18 inches and weighs around 35 to 40 lbs. It is native to Wales and has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Two of the most special characteristics or hallmark features of this breed are a gorgeous attractive coat with bold red-white patterns and a distinctively tapered head that sets it apart from other Spaniel breeds.
The coat of this breed isn’t just beautiful but is also weatherproof, waterproof and thornproof, together which makes them the most versatile of all Spaniel breeds. This is also why this dog is the ideal choice to be used in all sorts of climates and terrains.
Have you picked your favorite breed of Spaniels yet? If you are anything like us, you probably want to adopt all of them given how cute and adorable every single dog is!
Fun Fact: You might be interested to learn that a dogs body language can tell you a lot about him. Check out our “Experts Guide to Dog Body Language” to learn more.