It’s June and that means it’s time for our second blog post in our Vulnerable Breed Series! This month’s vulnerable breed is The Welsh Springer Spaniel. This blog has been kindly written for us by Jane Sutherland from the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of South Wales, and the images used throughout have been kindly sent to us by Jane too.

To refresh your mind on what breeds are currently on the Native Vulnerable Breed list, please click here.

Background and Characteristics
The Welsh Springer is a very ancient breed that can trace its ancestry back to the 10th Century. It was widespread across the UK until the beginning of the last century and was often known as a Starter or Springing Spaniel. With the advent of the English Springer and then subsequently the Cocker Spaniel, the breed declined in popularity but held on in Wales and amongst enthusiasts of the breed, with its reputation as a tenacious game finder in hardcover and tough conditions.

The Welsh Springer is a medium-sized spaniel, smaller than the English Springer, symmetrical and compact, not leggy, strong and muscular. However, still quick and active and with a merry disposition. They are always a rich red and white in colour, with no exceptions, standing between 18 and 19 inches to the wither. The Welsh Springer Spaniel possesses superb scenting and game finding abilities as well as real versatility, happily adapting to any role in the field. From beating, picking up, duck flighting, sitting in a hide decoying pigeons to following a blood trail shooting deer, they are great working dogs. A very loyal and sociable spaniel, they love family life as well as  the working life so fit happily into your life and onto your sofa!

Welsh Springer Spaniel
Working A Welsh Springer

I have had and worked with Welsh Springers for over 25 years and am currently the Working and  Field Trial Secretary for the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of South Wales. It would be wrong of me to suggest that they are easier or harder to train than any other spaniel. Like all breeds, it requires patience and consideration to get the best out of your Welsh. The Welsh Springer can be both stubborn and opinionated but once trained these characteristics to become a genuine asset, resulting in a shooting companion who is intelligent, determined and a remorseless hunter.

They are capable of going all day! We frequently arrive before the shooting day starts to push in the boundaries and arrive back at the Shoot Hut as everyone is leaving, having been asked to do a final sweep of the last drives to collect any missed birds. The breed is different in style from the other, more popular spaniel breeds. They are slightly steadier of pace which allows them to maintain the same energy and drive all day, they have outstanding noses, however, and very rarely miss birds, often finding blinked birds down rabbit holes or lost retrieves hung up in clematis or vines many feet above their heads.

Like everyone who works a vulnerable breed, we are inevitably the only representatives on a shoot, a double-edged sword because it makes your mistakes as noticeable as your successes! But it’s always a source of huge pride when the “is that a cocker then?” spaniel puts in a good day’s work and manages some eye-catching retrieves and flushes.

The Breed’s Versatility and The Welsh Springer Spaniel Clubs

I both work and compete my Welsh, attending Working Tests and Field Trials. We beat and pick up on local shoots and rough shoot over our team of Welsh. They also show and I  currently have the only one living Champion in the breed.

There are a dedicated group of people striving to maintain the dual purpose of the Welsh Springer, these happy adaptable dogs are able to segue effortlessly from Show Ring to Shooting Field to Family life and much more.

The breed is always represented at the Game Fair and I would encourage anyone who is interested in Welsh Springers to come along and meet us. There are four Breed Clubs nationally, and we are working hard to preserve this lovely gundog and to support research into the health of the breed.

To find out more about the Welsh Springer Spaniel, click the button below to view the Breed Profile on the Kennel Club’s website:

To read the previous blog of this series, click the button below:

The Sussex Spaniel

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