This is probably the prototype of the whole of the sporting Spaniel family. Some of the earliest records speak of the “Springing Spaniel,” and he is no doubt a contemporary of the “Setting Spaniel,” the two dogs doubtless being the only Spaniels in existence at one period. They were probably much the same in type and conformation, the former being taught to “spring” at his quarry in flushing it, and the other to “set” it; hence the distinction. From the latter the Setter was doubtless evolved, and from the “Springing Spaniel” the whole of the beautiful varieties we now possess have emanated, leaving the original a derelict on the sands of time. It is probably incorrect to say that the old English Springer has ever become extinct, for although he never gained a footing on the English show bench until very recently, when, through the instrumentality of Mr. W. Arkwright and the Sporting Spaniel Society, the Kennel Club was induced to place him on the register, yet he has been kept in his purity in many shooting kennels in different parts of the country, the owners of which have preferred utility to beauty, ignoring what they have termed “elongated monstrosities” of the show ring.
The English Springer is, with the Norfolk Spaniel, one of the most rational dogs in point of architecture of all the Spaniel varieties, viewed from the vantage point of utility. He may be any color almost, and is a leggy dog in comparison to the Field Spaniels, with a short and more symmetrical body, straight front, flat coat, a long head, a square muzzle, rather narrow skull, and low-set ears. His eyes and expression, gait and feathering are distinctly Spaniel. He combines strength with activity, courage with docility, and all the characteristics of a workman. He is a dog of from 40 to 50pounds in weight.
The chief points to look for in the selection of English Springer puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: A long head, lean skull, distinct stop, square muzzle, short, well-balanced body, straight forelegs, longer in proportion than the Field Spaniel, flat coat, down-carried tail.
The following description appears in British Dogs:
SKULL.-Long and slightly arched on top; fairly broad, with a stop, and well-developed temples. JAWS.-Long and broad, not snipy, with plenty of thin lip.
EYES.-Medium size, not too full, but bright and intelligent, of a rich brown.
EARS.-Long, low set, and lobular in shape. NECK.-Long, strong, and slightly arched.
SHOULDERS.-Long and sloping.
FORELEGS.-Of a fair, moderate length, strong boned and straight.
BODY.-Strong, with well-sprung ribs; good girth, and chest deep and fairly broad.
LOIN.-Rather long, strong, and slightly arched.
HINDQUARTERS.-Very muscular; hocks well let down, stifles moderately bent, and not twisted inward or outward.
FEET.-Rather large, round, and hairy. STERN.-Low-carried, not above the level of the back.
COAT.-Thick, firm, and smooth or slightly wavy; it must not be too long. The feathering must be moderate on the ears and scanty, but continued down to the heel.
COLOR.-Black, liver, yellow, as self-colors, and pied or mottled with white or tan or both,
GENERAL APPEARANCE.-An active, compact dog, upstanding, but by no means stilty. His height at shoulder should about equal his length from the top of the withers to the root of the tail.