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Welsh Springer Spaniel

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Origin / History The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a breed of gun dog, one of the oldest of its kind and believed to be the ancestor of most modern hunting dogs. Research suggests it has been around since 7000 B.C., when the first hunting dogs were employed by Mesolithic hunters in the British Isles. The breed has evolved considerably over the centuries, though, and records of a dog resembling the modern-day Welsh Springer Spaniel were first seen during the Renaissance.

The breed was favored by hunters of the noble class in the 18th century, but lost popularity as other spaniels came into the picture. It was later revived by selective breeding, a novel procedure at the time, and was imported to America in the late 19th century. Surviving the two World Wars, the Welsh Springer Spaniel gained ground in the US and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1906.

Appearance The Welsh Springer Spaniel has a compact, medium-sized body and a rich, silky coat. The hair ranges from straight to wavy and is slightly feathered on the chest, tail, legs, and undersides. The head is rounded and punctuated by a broad square muzzle. The eyes are oval-shaped and often dark, and the ears long and fringed.

Colours The coat should be a combination of white and rich, dark red; other colors are rare and unacceptable in show circles. Any pattern is acceptable.

Temperament These dogs have the classic temperament of a spaniel: smart, energetic, affectionate, and very loyal to their owners. They get along with all kinds of people, but are particularly fond of children. They can become so affectionate that they never leave their owner's side, earning them the nickname “Velcro dogs.” Some are a bit shy around strangers, but they are seldom shy or unfriendly.

Height and Weight Dogs should stand 18 to 19 inches at the withers and bitches 17 to 18 inches, with weight proportional to the height.

Common Health Problems The Welsh Springer Spaniel is genetically healthy, but their frame makes them prone to hip dysplasia and other bone problems. Ear infections are also common, as with other heavy-eared dogs. Other health risks are entropion (an eyelid disorder), epilepsy, and parasite infection.

Living Conditions Welsh Springer Spaniels are bred to be outdoor dogs, but they can live in apartments as long as they have enough outdoor time. The best home for these dogs is one with lots of space and a yard of average size. Yards should be well-fenced, as their hunting instinct can easily lure them out of the house. They don't mind hot and cold weather, but should be kept indoors when the temperatures are harsh.

Exercise Requirements These dogs are rather active and need a fair amount of exercise. They should be taken on brisk walks or jogs at least once a day, and allowed to run off the leash in a safe area as often as possible. A Welsh that doesn't get enough exercise will often find other ways to stay active, such as running around the house and playing with whatever toys it can find.

Training Requirements Welsh Springer Spaniels learn quite fast, but may be a bit hardheaded and refuse to listen to commands. They should be trained for obedience at an early age; otherwise they can grow up very stubborn and independent. It's also important to socialize them with other pets and curb their hunting instincts, especially for owners in urban areas.

Life Expectancy The Welsh Springer Spaniel lives an average of 12 to 15 years.

Grooming The Welsh's coat is naturally silky and doesn't require maintenance. Regular brushing should be enough, except during shedding season when loose hairs should be brushed out every day. The ears should be checked every day for grass seeds and early signs of infection.Baths may be given only when necessary.

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More Welsh Springer Spaniel Information: Check out our Welsh Springer Spaniel Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.

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