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Hereditary Conditions In Springer Spaniels

Springer spaniels are generally quite healthy, though as with any living creature, there are hereditary conditions to which they are susceptible. Some conditions can be screened for using x-rays or other tests. The health of the parents can be a good guide in many respects, but some genetic conditions can skip generations.

Hip Dysplasia 

This is a tendency for the hips of the dog to grow out of their proper shape and is a fairly common problem with pure-bred dogs. This can make it difficult and painful for the dog to walk and can lead to arthritis. It can be detected by x-ray and the Kennel Club recommends that all Springer Spaniels are screened for it (this is usually done at 3-9 months). It will eventually become apparent in the gait of your dog, as he tries to minimise the weight placed on the weakest joint as he moves.

We do tend to forget that even with us as humans, our joints wear and many of us suffer from arthritis as we age. But because dogs age seven time quicker than we do, then it seems to be more visible.

Canine Fucosidosis 

In the 1990's a hereditary condition known as Canine Fucosidosis was found to be quite widely present in the UK's English Springer Spaniel breeding stock. It is believed to have been introduced from Australian breeding stock. This is a fatal disease which develops between the age of 18 months and 4 years. Genetic screening is possible, and the condition is thankfully very rare these days as it has largely been bred out of the stock.

Eye Problems 

There are a number of retinal problems to which the Springer Spaniel is susceptible. These are Progressive Retinal Atrophy ('PRA') and retinal dysplasia. PRA comes in two variations - Generalised and Central. These can both lead to blindness - from mild to total in extent. Some opinions are that the generalised version always leads to total blindness.

Pups can be scanned for retinal dysplasia (the retina becomes detached or malformed), but PRA can jump generations.

Another problem is in-growing eyelashes which will irritate the eyeball. Depending on severity, this can be cured by removal of some eyelashes at its simplest, or surgery (and more recently, laser) if it is more severe. It is usually apparent in a pup by the age of 6 weeks (congenital) and can also be caused later in life by a damaged eyelid healing improperly, for example.

This condition can also occur on the lower eyelashes. If your dog is mature and you notice red eyes, then check his eyelids. If left untreated, ulceration and serious eye damage may result.

Another condition known as ectropion is less common, and is the outward rolling of the lower eyelids. Corrective surgery is possible.


These are apparent by a milky whiteness of the iris and can lead to total blindness. Besides a hereditary cause, cataracts can occur for other reasons, including as a consequence of other diseases, or arising from treatment for other conditions. Surgery is possible and some veterinarians recommend implants.

You should check your Springer Spaniel regularly, including eyes, ears, teeth and paws. This is easily done when trimming and clipping nails as part of his full monthly grooming.

Some of these conditions can be corrected by surgery, so it is worth considering a comprehensive pet insurance policy which will include the ability to claim for some surgery and other treatments.

The author has kept Welsh and English Springer Spaniels for many years. Find out more about Springer Spaniel health and about this great breed at => 



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