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Everything posted by Kym

  1. I don't post here much, but as I've owned more than one show line English Springer, Cocker Spaniel, and one Welsh Springer, I thought I'd weigh in. 1. Temperament - Different to both Cockers and Welshies. Words I would use to describe my English Springers: extremely biddable, playful (in a goofy kind of way), people-oriented, affectionate (one of mine is very demonstrative in her affections; she loves to hug!), confident, soft (they do better with positive reinforcement than correction-based training), friendly, can be pushy/strong-willed, intelligent, reliable/steady. Be aware that timidity can be found within the breed. If you want to show, you need "look at me" confidence in the ring to be truly competitive. I recommend making a point of seeing the parents in a show environment if possible. 2. Grooming - Less work than a Cocker, but more work than a Welshie. To some degree this depends on lines. Generally speaking, American lines have more coat than English lines, but there are some heavy coated English lines. Bitches have less coat than dogs. If you haven't groomed an English Springer before, I highly recommend getting a copy of the "Trimming DVD" from the UK English Springer Spaniel Club website so you'll know what you're in for. 3. Health - As showdog said, parents should be DNA tested, hip scored, and have yearly eye tests. Ask to see relevant documentation. Be aware that there are issues in the breed with mammary cancer for entire females (I suggest having a read of this paper for more information) and autoimmune issues can be found as well. Unfortunately, these are problems that can't be tested for, so you need to do as much research as you can and talk to breeders. Once again, a good starting point for learning about health is the UK Club website. 4. Cost of showing, entry fees, etc. - Showdog has covered it. 5. How strong/competitive is the breed in the ring - Again, showdog has covered it. 6. Trainability - Highly trainable; they're wonderful to work with. The only problem is their distractibility, especially around birds. My Cockers have been a tad more focused (but slightly less biddable). 7. Do they get easily attached to people/other dogs - Very! They love their people and other dogs (and cats). 8. Energy levels - Moderate to high, but should also have an "off switch" around the house. 9. Do they bark a lot - Mine have been very quiet. They only bark to let us know when someone is at the front door. They aren't as naturally "talkative" as the Cockers have been. 10. Are they loyal? - Yes, but I don't think they're any more loyal than any of my other dogs have been. 11. How often can you show, every weekend, once a month? - Depends on your location unless you're willing to travel long distances. If you're in a CBD region, generally every weekend. 12. Is showing enjoyable or is it really as bitchy as everyone says it is? - As showdog said, it comes with good and bad. I would recommend going with a local breeder so they can show you the ropes. It helps to start out with a supportive network in your area. That said, my experience has been that Springer people are generally friendly and helpful. 13. Successful nsw studs in the ring, who are they, can you give me some names or bloodlines to lookup? - Take a look at the Dogz Online leaderboard and filter to NSW. There is a split between American and English "type" (although some breeders mix lines), so you need to take that into consideration as well. 14. Where should I look for a puppy? What reputable kennels are there in NSW and Victoria? - I recommend joining the NSW breed club. If you follow their newsletter for a little while, it will give you a good idea of what's going on in your state. Also make a point of attending the NSW breed specialty shows that are held around Easter every year. If you haven't done so already, I really recommend getting hold of some breed books and giving them a thorough read. They cover most of your questions, but in a lot more depth. My favourite is "The Complete English Springer Spaniel" by Colin Muirhead, but "Best of Breed: English Springer Spaniel" by Celia Woodbridge is also good. And if you're interested, "The Sporting Spaniel Handbook" by Loren Spiotta-DiMare is great for providing a comprehensive comparison between all the spaniel breeds; as someone who already owns a Cocker and a Welshie, you might find this helpful. The UK Club also has an "Interpreting the Standard" breed video (if you still have something that can play video rather than DVD) which is a great help for learning to interpret the standard. It isn't long, but it contains lots of examples. I hope this helps!
  2. As I'm not a breeder or judge, I honestly don't think that I would be the best person to give an opinion. I'm just a passionate Springer owner who is interested in a number of different dog sports, happens to read a lot (I'm a researcher by profession so I guess it comes with the territory), and who would one day like to title a Springer in the show ring that also has proven working ability. Honestly, I'd love to talk with you more about these sorts of issues as I find them fascinating, especially in light of the controversy at Crufts, but any opinions I give you would just be my own hypotheses. In saying that, if you don't already have them, I would strongly recommend getting copies of The English Springer Spaniel: A Complete Anthology of the Dog and The Complete English Springer Spaniel as they might be able to shed some light on the issues you've raised. The first is a collection of chapters from vintage dog books on the Springer ranging in date from 1903 to 1935. It's a small book but is a truly fascinating read and may provide you with some insight into why the standard developed into what it did. The second book contains an excellent chapter on breed standard interpretation with references to why some traits are more or less desirable with respect to function. I have a number of different Springer books but those two have become my bibles.
  3. Oh, I realise that! I don't have a problem with the split in the show/working lines in Springers either. If anything, it creates a diversity that will help to preserve the breed in the future (i.e., if one side goes too far in a particular direction, there will always be other lines out there that can help to restore the breed to a happier medium). I was merely pointing out for people who perhaps aren't as familiar with Springers as you that there are show type Springers out there who can still perform the function they were originally bred for (even if Field Trials have evolved to such a point that they wouldn't be competitive in that particular environment) and that Field Trials have been responsible for making "changes" to the breed in addition to the show ring. Absolutely! I think that a good on-switch AND a good off-switch are essential characteristics of Springers no matter whether they are from show or field lines. I'm so pleased that my current girl who is from show lines has the same traits: she would train all day if I let her but she has a wonderful off-switch once she knows that training has finished. Lacking either trait (on-switch or off-switch) is undesirable IMO. As an aside, I would have loved to have tried her in the field. I know she definitely wouldn't have had the speed to be competitive, but I do know that she would have had a ball giving it a go. :laugh: And for the record, even though I rarely post, I've always admired your Em. She's a gorgeous and very clever girl. :)
  4. I agree. Much has been made of field vs. show type Springers, for example, but there are breeders out there (mostly overseas) that have show type Springers that can both win in the show ring as well as do a day in the field. See here and here for example. Whether these dogs could win in a Field Trial is another matter entirely, but I don't think implying that the show type Springers that can do a days work in the field (such as those I pointed out) but may not have the speed required to win in an artificial creation such as a competitive Field Trial have somehow lost their ability to be "fit for function". Yes, absolutely. My own opinion on the matter (as it pertains to Springers) conforms to that of Colin Muirhead, as he wrote in The Complete English Springer Spaniel: "In recent years the working ability of the breed has been sharpened to a great extent by the keen competition in Field Trials, although this has turned out to be something of a two-edged sword. While the performances at Trials have improved in style and speed, this has meant that the average owner finds that stock from the more high-powered lines is too much to cope with. It is a matter of some debate as to whether this hyperactivity is of benefit to the breed as a whole, or just to the competition dogs. Many general shooting men have, in fact, taken to using Labradors, as they have found them more sedate. Having said this, a good Springer from sensible, trainable lines is still the best all-round gun dog for most people."
  5. I'll give my perspective, too. 1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc) Owner. Have also owned other spaniel breeds (Cocker Spaniel and Welsh Springer Spaniel) so have some ability to compare them. 2. Where and why was the breed first developed? Companion gundog, originally bred to flush and retrieve game to hand. Although officially recognised in 1902 by the UK Kennel Club, they are an old breed that has been referred to by the name English Springer as early as 1835 (and by the name "Springing Spaniel" even earlier than that). 3. How common is it in Australia? Around average. The number of Springers registered with the ANKC in Australia in 2010 was 382, which is nowhere near as common as Cockers (1489 registered) but far more common than Welsh Springers (81 registered). 4. What is the average lifespan? 12 years. 5. What is the general temperament/personality? Springers that have been raised correctly should be biddable, confident, happy, and friendly. They should not be timid or fearful. A great summary of the breed from 1903, which I still think applies today, stated that Springers should have, "power without lumber, gentleness without fear." They are also very intelligent, trainable dogs that LOVE to learn. They are never happier than when you give them a job to do. In saying that, they can be very "birdy" so you need to be prepared to be patient if training in an area where lots of birds are around. 6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult? This depends to some extent on whether you get a working type or show type dog. Although I have no first-hand experience with working type Springers, everything I have heard indicates that they are extremely energetic dogs that need LOTS of exercise in order to be happy. Show type Springers have more variability and can range from "couch potatoes" to highly energetic. Even the "couch potatoes", however, need at least 30-45 minutes of exercise and training (mental stimulation) a day in order to be happy and content. 7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with? Yes, provided that they do their research and get the type that would best suit their lifestyle. 8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods? I don't have any first-hand experience with this as we've always had more than one dog, but I doubt they would suit being left alone for long periods of time. 9. How much grooming is required? Again, depends on the type. Working type dogs have a lot less feathering than show type dogs so require less grooming. Show type dogs should be brushed regularly in order to keep knots and mats out of their feathering (especially the ears). Some people get their dogs clipped off but given how easy it is to maintain the coat, I honestly don't see the need. Provided you brush through their feathering every other day (only takes 5-10 minutes if you stay on top of it), they have a gorgeous coat that can be easily maintained using a Coat King (for the body), thinning scissors (for the head), straight scissors (to trim the fur between the pads of the paws), and a clip on the underside of their neck. A "big" groom like this only takes around an hour if you do it regularly (i.e., every 1-2 months), and maintaining them like this has the added advantage of reducing their shedding significantly! 10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)? They can be great dogs with children. Like all dogs, though, they need supervision as they can get excited and jump (spring!) when they play. Children also need to be taught not to do things like pulling their ears. Not sure about the infirm. 11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of? They are generally a healthy breed but can be prone to allergies, hip dysplasia, hereditary eye diseases, fucosidosis, and epilepsy (although to my understanding the incidence of this appears to be relatively low). Like most of the spaniel breeds, they can also be prone to ear infections so you need to be prepared to clean them regularly. Females of this breed are also highly at risk of developing mammary tumors but this risk can be reduced by spaying. The UK parent club has lots of information about hereditary problems of the breed: http://www.englishspringer.org/health-problems.php 12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be) The sire and dam should be hip scored (current Australian breed average is 11.35), DNA tested clear of PRA Cord1 and fucosidosis, and have annual eye certificates. All Springer puppies should be happy, confident, and friendly. They should have had their eyes checked by a vet and be vaccinated, wormed, and microchipped.
  6. This. I showed our new pup last year as a complete newbie for a few shows and had to have a break after that for work/study reasons (overseas conference + finishing a postgraduate degree) but had every intention of going back. Unfortunately, during that intervening time, the pup in question grew both too long and too tall (in a breed where size is an issue). He has been looked at by somebody trusted who knows the breed and confirmed that he is simply too big. I know that I could still go and show him for the experience but I am a busy person with more than one hobby and would rather devote that time, money, and energy to working on getting him up to trialling standard in another sport such as obedience instead. Nobody was at fault here. It's not the breeder's fault. As they said to me, it's hard to pick them. Nobody at the shows I attended were unwelcoming or unpleasant to me. I only had nice comments made to me at the shows I attended. It's just something that happens. I did my research but it didn't work out. In the distant future when I eventually get another dog, I will have another go provided I can get another show potential pup on main register. The reality is that if you don't get lucky with the right dog (from a conformation perspective) then sticking with it isn't really an option. Just my 2c.
  7. Thanks, everyone! This was discussed with my breeder (he was sold as a show prospect and she knows I'm a newbie) but unfortunately her main show contact in QLD is, I believe, on an overseas holiday this month so that essentially rules her out as a potential help before his first show. Just bad timing, unfortunately. As for show training, my suburb is about an hour from Durack and an hour from Caboolture (it's smack bang in the middle!) so attending show training on a weekday evening after work in either place is a bit tough given the hours that I keep. In saying that, if all else fails I'll somehow find a way to attend at least one before his first show, but I just wanted to see if there were any other options around first. Thanks! Will reply shortly.
  8. Around a month ago I got my first show pup -- a Cocker Spaniel -- from Victoria. His first show will be in around a month (he'll be 3.5 months old) and although he's lead trained and is getting reasonably good with stacking, I'm still rather nervous about the whole thing as the date gets nearer -- especially as I think he'll probably get highly distracted on the day and all our training will have been in vain anyway! I've got Jane Harvey's "How to Handle at a Dog Show" DVD which has been helpful, but I know that nothing beats hands-on experience. I do know that there are show training classes offered at Durack and Caboolture but unfortunately the offered evenings are just no good for me given the distance both locations are from home. I was wondering if there's anybody in Brisbane (preferably with a tabled breed) who might be willing to give us a lesson before the first show? Or, alternatively, perhaps someone can suggest another method to allay my nerves a bit? It would, of course, be a lot easier if we were in Victoria where my breeder is located as she's very involved in showing so I'm sure she'd be happy to help but, unfortunately, we're not. Any advice would be much appreciated!
  9. I'm so sorry for your loss. Rest In Peace, Max
  10. My English Springer does (and my Welsh Springer before her did as well). None of the smaller dogs we've had have burped though. Perhaps it's because the Springers tend to gulp their food down in a rush? Greedy guts that they are. It's quite funny, as soon as she finishes her meal and she'll often stand there, look at you, and just open her mouth with a loud "burp!" noise. Cracks us up every time.
  11. Grace's doing fine. Speaking of grooming, she's been getting into lots of mud and mischief in the rain up here in QLD. Should make for an interesting day tomorrow when her breeder comes to visit. It's the first time they've seen her all grown up and I have a feeling they're going to have the privilege of seeing her at her muddiest.
  12. I use a Mars Coat King #20 blade and it's a miracle worker on my girl's coat.
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