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What's Different About Welsh Springer Spaniels
Or are they the same?

Welsh Springer Spaniels appear to the casual observer to be just another variation of the English Springer. That's far from the truth. Yes, they differ in color, but their genetic history diverged a couple of centuries ago (at least), and there are several other subtle differences which we look at here.

Physical Differences

The Welsh Springer is a slightly smaller dog than his English Springer cousin. Maybe one inch lower in height, his body is more elongated than that of the English Springer (which is seen as 'square' from the side - that is, the length is about the same as the height). His weight tends to be slightly lighter.

The other obvious difference is coloring. Whereas the English Springer Breed Standards admit several colorings (and these differ by Kennel Club from country to country), the Welsh Springer has only one coat coloring - Red and White. The Red is a rich gingery colour, but some people refer to this as gold and refer to the dog as a golden springer spaniel.

Eye coloring should be hazel or dark.


The Kennel Club description of the breed says that it is of ancient and pure origin, though you have to say that the Welsh and English Springers bear a very close physical similarity. However, the colour of the Welsh Springer remains so pure and different to the English Springer that you have to accept that they can only be very distant cousins these days. The English Springer has two distinct lines - show dog and working dog, but for the Welsh Springer there is no distinction.

There are lines of English Springer which go back to Shropshire, a county adjacent to Wales where Welsh Springers originated. There may well be some linkage there. As a Welshman, I visualise the 'Welshies' as they are sometimes known, in the sheep and cattle country of north and mid Wales, some of which is mountainous and rugged. However, that vision is probably more romantic than realistic. They are after all, Springers, used for flushing game birds and springing into the air after the birds.

Welsh Springers can be found throughout the world, and are prized for their hunting abilities, including good noses. Indeed they first came to prominence as a result of their performance in field trials. They were first registered as a breed with the Kennel Club in 1902. Their recognition came about a hundred years after that of the English Springer.


The Welsh Springer is not as numerous as the English Springer. For example, there are 25 or so Accredited Welsh Springer Spaniel Breeders publicly listed by the Kennel Club in Britain (not all Accredited Breeders choose to be publicly listed). The equivalent number of Accredited Breeders of English Springers is of the order of a hundred.

In the USA, a check across four random states via the Welsh Springer Spaniel Breed Club, gave the following numbers: NC 14, TX 3, CA 7 and CT 16.

For Australia, information was more difficult to obtain, but breeders were located through the Territory Kennel Clubs which are organised under the Australian National Kennel Council. I located one in New South Wales at random.


Welsh Springers are delightful dogs, loyal and affectionate, and great with children - I brought up three daughters with Springers in the house and never had a moment's concern.

Like their English cousins, they are described as 'biddable' - that is, ready, willing and enthusiastic to follow commands. Bred for stamina and endurance, they are not sprinters, but will walk and 'trot' all day in pursuit.

Nowadays in Britain, their tails cannot be docked unless by special licence. This rarely happens, as the police and armed forces tend to use their English Springer cousins as sniffer dogs. To my eye a docked tail gives the dog the right balance, but obviously this is a subjective viewpoint.

From a practical perspective, it is not generally thought that the docked tail gives the dog much advantage when it comes to working through thick brush and undergrowth when compared to a dog with a full tail, as is the norm today in Britain.

On the other hand, most Welsh Springers are acquired to be family pets or companions, and the finer points of working game and hunting are not of major importance to the choice of this versatile breed.

Phil Marks, August 2010

The author has owned both English and Welsh Springer Spaniels since the early 1970's. Find out a lot more about these wonderful breeds, including how to choose a pup, feeding, training, and health do's and don'ts at => 

Source: Submityourarticle

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