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Dog breed library - Gundogs
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The Barbet is a very versatile French water dog, able to turn it's paw to gundog work, agility, therapy work, truffling, showing and more. The name is pronounced 'bar bay' with an ending similar to 'ballet'. It is a medium / large dog with a thick curly coat with a distinctive 'beard' (barbe is the french word for beard). They come in black, solid brown or either colour mixed with white. Barbet's intelligence and their attachment to their owners mean they dislike being left alone for too long, but they are even tempered and generally not aggressive or shy with either people or dogs. They have a non moulting coat so are good for allergy sufferers, although they do tend to have a love of water so still need time to keep the coat clean! They are generally very healthy and do not suffer any prevalent inherited conditions.
Although a gentle family dog, the Bracco Italiano loves to hunt. The Bracco Italiano is the Italian Pointer with a sleek and powerful body similar in shape to that of German Pointers. However, the head is totally different, much larger with long, dangling ears and floppy jowls that are more like the head of a Bloodhound. Their short coat comes in brown and white and orange and white. They originate from Italy where they were bred from a combination of hounds and gundogs to produce a dog with extra stamina. They will mark out game in the typical "pointing" pose. They are intelligent and eager to please but obedience training is a must; they can be stubborn. They are naturally a people-friendly dog and often bond closely with children. They can be taught to get along well with other animals but have a strong hunting instinct. Relaxed at home, they enjoy exercise and especially hunting. Ideally they should be given the opportunity to practise their hunting skills to exercise body and brain. Their short, sleek coat is easy to maintain. They are prone to hip dysplasia, kidney disease and bloat.
The Braque d'Auvergne is a gentle dog. They are affectionate, intelligent and obedient and they adapt well to family life. Their body shape predisposes them to be able to cover long distances with ease, allowing them to maintain their activity the whole day, even on difficult terrain. The short, glossy coat is white with black mottling and this creates a blue impression. The head and ears are mainly black. They are an excellent all round gundog.
The Brittany is a lovable and trainable breed with plenty of energy. They are a medium-sized dog, quite square in shape. They have flat or wavy silky fur that comes in various colours with white or tricolour. Their coat is very weather resistant. They come from France and were bred to accompany a hunter out shooting birds. They are happy, enthusiastic and eager to please but capable of independent thought. They are normally good with strangers and children and generally get on well with other animals. They need lots of exercise and have plenty of stamina. Regular normal grooming is needed to keep the coat looking good and the dangling ears need checking regularly too. They are prone to hip dysplasia, seizures and chest cancer.
The English Setter makes a fine looking and affectionate companion. The English Setter is an impressive looking dog with quite a deep chest, long, silky ears and a silky, white coat with flecking in another colour called "belton". They are a lean but strong gundog with an elegance of movement. They were bred to help hunters on shooting expeditions. The term "setter" refers to the crouching stance when they find game. They are calm and quiet and very trainable. They tend to be good with strangers and excellent with children and they generally get on well with other animals. Although quite inactive indoors they have a lot of stamina and will need plenty of outdoor exercise. It is not too difficult to keep the silky coat in good condition. It just requires regular brushing and occasional trimming. They are prone to hip dysplasia and mast cell tumours and the females are prone to false pregnancies.
German Pointer (Long and Shorthaired)
For a country-living family with a healthy outdoor life, especially if they love to go hunting, the German Pointer is hard to beat. They are a medium-sized, well-proportioned dog. The German Pointer actually comes in three coat types, the shorthaired, the longhaired and the wirehaired (for a description of the Wirehaired Pointer <a href="/breed-library/german-wirehaired-pointer" title="German wirehaired pointer">click here</a>). All coat types come in combinations of liver, white and black. Shorthaireds are the smallest. Their coat is short, thick and slightly rough. The Longhaired is the largest, their coat is a little longer and wavy but is firm rather than silky. They were bred in Germany for hunting so had to be good at tracking, pointing and retrieving across both land and water, but they were also bred to be a family pet and watchdog. Affectionate, intelligent and eager to learn, they are very trainable and excel at gundog work but also at obedience and in the show ring. They are happiest when they have a job to do and are normally good natured with all people and animals. Both coat types are extremely energetic and need plenty of opportunity to run and swim on a regular basis. The short coat is easy to groom, the longhaireds need a little more attention especially in the winter and spring months when grass seeds, mud and or snow can ball up between their feet. Teasels and other weeds can collect in the hair around their ears and in their longer coat causing it to matt and tangle. Both breeds are reasonably healthy and that is because breeders are encouraged to have breeding stock hip scored and eye tested. When looking for a puppy the questions about health testing should be asked of the breeder.
German Pointer (Wirehaired)
For a country-living family with a healthy outdoor life, especially if they love to go hunting, the German Pointer is hard to beat. They are a medium-sized, well-proportioned dog. The German Pointer actually comes in three coat types, the shorthaired, the longhaired and the wirehaired (for a description of the Shorthaired and Longhaired Pointers <a href="/breed-library/german-longhaired-shorthaired-pointer" title="German Shorthaired and Longhaired pointers">click here</a>). All coat types come in combinations of liver, white and black. Wirehaireds are between the Short and Longhaireds in terms of size. Their coat is more weather repellent and helps to protect them against prickly undergrowth; it is about 4cms long and gives them a rather bearded look. They were bred in Germany for hunting so had to be good at tracking, pointing and retrieving across both land and water, but they were also bred to be a family pet and watchdog. Affectionate, intelligent and eager to learn, they are very trainable and excel at gundog work but also at obedience and in the show ring. They are happiest when they have a job to do and are normally good natured with all people and animals. They are extremely energetic and need plenty of opportunity to run and swim on a regular basis. The coat is fairly easy to groom but does need occasional stripping. They can be prone to eye and ear problems and skin cancers but are usually a healthy breed because breeders are encouraged to have breeding stock hip scored and eye tested. When looking for a puppy the questions about health testing should be asked of the breeder.
When they're not enjoying family life, the Gordon Setter is the perfect one-to-one hunting companion with excellent scenting skills. They are slim but quite substantial with a long muzzle and a long, silky coat. They are the only Setter to come in black and tan. Originating from Scotland, this Setter would accompany hunters when shooting birds: pointing out the location of a fallen bird and retrieving it. The breed fell out of favour because, although they have an excellent sense of smell, they are not as fast as Pointers. Gordon Setters are steady, loyal, affectionate, intelligent and eager to please. They generally get on well with all people and animals, although some can be a little wary of strangers at first but it is not in their nature to be aggressive. The breed is quite inactive indoors so needs a good daily walk and has the stamina to take as much exercise as you can give. Their silky coat needs regular grooming. They are generally healthy but some are prone to hip dysplasia, eye diseases and bloat.
The Hungarian Vizsla makes an outstanding gun dog and a good family pet as long as their body and brain are given plenty to do. They are a long-legged, medium sized hunting dog, lean and muscular with a short, smooth, rust-coloured coat. There are two main coat types, the Hungarian Vizsla has a short, smooth coat whereas the Hungarian Wire Haired Vizsla has a longer harsh coat. There is also a long-haired version but they are extremely rare and not registered anywhere in the world. The wire-haireds, with their tough coat and bushy eyebrows, are making something of a comeback. They originate from Hungary where they have been used as a hunting dog for many years, for prey like game-birds and rabbits. The word "Vizsla" means "pointer". They are affectionate, highly trainable and highly intelligent. They have great scenting ability, too, and are happy to work in all weather but they need to be kept occupied and have a tendency to chew. They are people friendly and would be good for older children with lots of energy but may be too much for small children. They get along well with other dogs and can be trained to accept family cats but may not be trustworthy around wildlife and small mammals. They are a breed with enormous mental and physical energy and stamina and need plenty of opportunity to expend this. The short coat is easy to maintain, the wire-haireds would need stripping. They are generally healthy but are prone to hip dysplasia.
Irish Red & White Setter
The Irish Red and White Setter is one of the earliest Irish Gundogs. They are energetic and intelligent and work well over any kind of terrain. They are similar to, and possibly even the predecessor of, the Irish setter but have a slightly heavier build and a broader head. Their coat is finely textured and white with red patches. Irish Red and White Setters were originally bred to accompany hunters out on shoots. They are affectionate, high spirited and very trainable without a strong guarding instinct but they need plenty of outlets for their energy. They are naturally friendly and get along with other animals, children and strangers and need a long, daily, brisk walk or run. A regular short brush keeps their coat looking good and free from tangles. Through careful breeding the Irish Red and White setters are generally a healthy breed and can live a long life without any problems at all. Previously Von Willebrand and CLAD were found in the breed but over time has become very rare.
The Irish Setter, with its glossy red coat, is the glamorous descendent of the Irish Red and White Setter. They are similar to the Irish Red and White Setter but have a more slender, racier look to them and a finer head. Their coat is finely textured and comes in shades of glossy red with the occasional white patch on the chest. Irish Setters were bred from a mixture of other hunting dogs to produce an all-purpose hunting dog for finding and retrieving game birds and are very swift with an excellent sense of smell. This is an affectionate, intelligent and independent breed. Although high spirited, they are very trainable without a strong guarding instinct. They need plenty of outlets for their energy and are good at competitive obedience and agility. Most are naturally friendly and get along other animals, children and strangers. A daily short brush keeps their coat looking good and free from tangles. They are prone to bloat, epilepsy, skin allergies, elbow and hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and eye problems.
The Italian Spinone is a dependable dog both with the family and out in the field. They are a large, rugged looking dog with a thick, wiry coat which is essentially white but can have shades of cream, orange and roan in it. The head is long and has a moustached look and the back has a slight dip. They are sometimes known as the Italian Pointer and have a long history of being a popular dog for taking hunting. Images of them go back as far as the Renaissance. They are an intelligent, tolerant, happy and easy-going breed that takes instruction well and is normally very quiet, although might occasionally howl. They have good scenting ability and a very soft mouth. They get along very well with all people, children especially, and all animals. They enjoy a long walk and have tremendous stamina but are not a "racy" sort of dog. Their coat protects them from all weather conditions and many love to swim. As with most wire-haired dogs, regular brushing and occasional stripping are needed. They are generally a healthy dog but cases of hip dysplasia and bloat have been known. There is one hereditary disease worth checking for which is an abnormality in movement caused by a problem in the brain.
This attractive little dog is the only one known to have "earrings". This is the name given to the long, dark hairs that dangle from the tips of the ears. They are a small Spaniel type of dog with a silky coat which is white but covered in distinctive red and orange markings. They have a slender but nearly square frame. Along with their "earrings", they also have a white plume on their tail. They originate from Holland where they were originally used for duck hunting. They are good-natured, friendly and intelligent. They're also very agile. They can be wary of strangers but can be socialised to strangers, children and animals. They tend to be quite sedate indoors but need plenty of exercise outdoors. Their waterproof coat is easy to maintain with regular grooming. They are prone to blood clotting problems, eye problems, kneecap problems and a particular neurological disease.
The excellent all-terrain gundog can make a loving and loyal companion as long as he is given plenty to do. This is a wirehaired, strong, pointing type of gundog. They have the bushy eyebrows, beard and moustache of many wirehaireds. They can come in a variety of colours. They were developed by a Dutch breeder called Eduard Korthals who wanted a gundog that could hunt in all kinds of terrain. They are intelligent and full of enthusiasm and are most skilled at hunting small game. They love to work and have an exceptional sense of smell as well as the ability to think for themselves, but they can be gentle and affectionate too in a family setting. As long as there are plenty of outlets for physical and mental exercise, these are friendly and loving to children, strangers and other dogs. They have a lot of energy and stamina and love to run and swim. They need a good deal of exercise. Their coat needs occasional brushing and combing but also trimming and stripping. There have been cases of hip dysplasia.
The Lagotto is a medium sized dog, quite well muscled with a largish head. They can come in brown (which fades to Brown roan) or white with patches in shades of orange or brown. Never black nor pure white. The most distinctive adult feature is the tightly curled coat. Although originally used for duck hunting in their native Italy, they later became specialised truffle hunters, the only dog used for this specific purpose. Outside Italy, they are still used for hunting waterfowl and their waterproof coat helps to protect them in this. When out hunting truffles in Italy, the closely curled coat helps to protect them from low lying shrub. They are loyal, friendly, intelligent and very trainable but need an experienced dog owner who will be committed to focused training. They make an excellent working dog but if not working, they need plenty of opportunity to exercise their brain. They do well in competitive sports. They are devoted to their owners but may be initially reserved with strangers. They can easily be trained to get along with other animals. They need a lot of exercise and have a natural ability to retrieve. They love to dig so fencing would need to be secure and maybe their own separate area of garden if you are an avid gardener. They're also very fond of water...and mud! The coat does not shed and as a consequence is prone to matting if allowed to get too long so needs regular care by combing and should be clipped off completely several times a year. It should never be brushed or blow-dried as this destroys the distinctive curls. There are a range of health conditions that can be tested for, including Juvenile Epilepsy, Lagotto Storage Disease and Improper Coat as well as hip and elbow dysplasia. Responsible breeders will ensure that their breeding dogs are screened to avoid occurrence. This breed is very rare in the UK and most of the few responsible breeders have waiting lists, so be prepared to be patient for a puppy. Because of the rarity, "rescues" seldom happen.
The Large Munsterlander is a fine companion, either out hunting with his elegant gait or enjoying the company of a family who love the great outdoors. They are a large gundog with a balanced body and a fine, black head. Their coat is white with multiple black patches and is long, silky and dense. They originate from Munster in Germany and were bred as a track, point and retrieve gundog. They can work on both land and water. They love to play, are brave, friendly, loyal, intelligent and very trainable. They do well in obedience competitions. They usually get on well with strangers, children, and other animals although may have a tendency to chase small mammals. They are happiest outdoors and active with lots to exercise their body and brain. They love to retrieve, especially love water and have great stamina. They need regular brushing and combing with the males' longer coat needing to be groomed more regularly. They also shed heavily at certain times in the year. The breed is generally healthy although there have been some cases of hip dysplasia.
The Pointer name comes from the way the dog stands absolutely still with their body showing the direction of sitting game as if they are pointing at it. They are an elegant, powerful hunting dog with a deep chest, long neck, hanging ears and deep muzzle with slight dip in it. Their coat is short and smooth, with a sheen, and largely white with patches or speckles of other colours. They were popularly used in England and were developed in the 1600s from crossing a number of other breeds. They work by using their excellent scenting ability to find game and show its location. They can flush out birds but don't normally work in water or cold, neither do they retrieve. They have enormous energy so need a lot of opportunity to run this off. Given enough exercise, they will be calm in the home. They are intelligent, loyal and affectionate. They are naturally child-friendly, although can be wary of strangers, and are generally good with dogs and other pets. They need a lot of outdoor exercise and can cover large areas at great speed. The short coat is easy to maintain and they are normally a clean dog but the ears and feet should be checked regularly. They are prone to hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, skin conditions and dwarfism.
Although it is thought that the Portuguese Pointer might go back as far as the 14th Century, they are still one of the most popular dogs to be used for hunting in Portugal and Spain today. They are a medium-sized, balanced dog with a square head and a short, sleek coat. The coat on the body feels a little coarser than might be expected but the face and ears feel like velvet. They are normally yellow or tan in colour, with or without white markings. It is thought that they descended from the ancient Iberian hunting dogs and were used by royalty for hunting game birds, mainly Red-legged Partridge but later became popular with the poorer in society too. They are very affectionate, loyal, intelligent and eager to please. They love to work and if not working out in the field will respond enthusiastically to anything that occupies their body and brain. They make a good watchdog without being too vocal. They are good with children and other dogs but may be wary of strangers. They need a great deal of physical and mental exercise. They need more brushing and combing than might be expected for a short-haired breed and also need trimming fairly regularly. There are no known health problems.
Retriever (Chesapeake Bay)
The oily coat of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever means that wet rolls of it, quite literally, like water off a duck's back. They are a muscular dog with quite a broad head and amber/yellow eyes. They have webbed feet and a wavy but short coat. They come in shades of reds and browns. It is said that in the early 1800s two Newfoundland-type dogs were rescued from a shipwreck off the coast of Maryland and later bred with other local dogs to produce the best water-retrieving dog around. They are more independent than most retrievers and so less easy to train but they are brave, intelligent and keen, if a little slow, to learn. They can be affectionate, loving and friendly and good with children. They are normally OK with strangers and other dogs and should be fine with cats in the home but may chase other mammals. They are strong and energetic, they need plenty of exercise and opportunities to swim, if possible. Heat makes them uncomfortable but icy water presents no problem. They need regular brushing but should not be bathed too often as it removes the protective oils in the coat which give it a distinctive smell. They are prone to eye problems and hip dysplasia.
Retriever (Curly Coated)
The Curly Coated Retriever is very easy to identify from having a shiny, tightly-curled coat and yet smooth hair on their head. The coat on this large, hardy dog comes in liver or black. It is water-resistant and helps to protect against brambles. Black coated dogs have black or brown eyes but the liver coated can have amber eyes. They originate from eighteenth century England where they were bred for hunting, particularly for hunting duck and quail. They have great stamina and excellent scenting skills. They are trainable loyal and eager to please but can be a little wilful and do not fully mature until they are about three years old so are not a dog for everyone. They are generally good natured with children and animals and will be fine with strangers too if socialised from an early age. They are friendly but a natural guard dog too. They are a high energy very intelligent dog that needs plenty of opportunity to exercise their body and brain. They love swimming and can be good at agility and obedience. The coat should not be brushed except for when it is shedding although it may need occasional clipping. They are prone to eye problems, epilepsy and hip dysplasia.
Retriever (Flat Coated)
Although retaining a youthful enthusiasm for years, the Flat-Coated Retriever is very sound and friendly and particularly gentle with children. They come in two colours, black and liver. They're the raciest of the retriever breeds, with a well balanced body and nicely moulded one piece head. They also, as the name suggests, have a flat coat which lies close to the body. Flat-Coated Retrievers were bred to be a "picking up dog", a dog who goes to fetch game, particularly game birds, when they have been shot. Retrieving comes naturally, they always want to bring you something. Their deep bark makes them good as a guard dog but they are not a noisy breed. They are excellent swimmers and love water but this can also include muddy puddles! Intelligent and easy to train, they respond well to food rewards and toys. Excellent with people and children, this breed enjoys the company of other dogs and can be good with cats. They enjoy and require a good amount of exercise. Flat-Coated Retrievers need regular grooming to keep the coat matt free and shiny but don't need as much grooming as some breeds. Some health tests are recommended, including eye tests and hip scores and there is some history of cancer but this problem is being tackled and there are less instances of this now.
Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds around today which is not surprising given their sweet natures and versatility. They are a sturdy, medium-size dog with a broad head, dark brown eyes and close hanging ears. Their coat is thick and can be wavy with long feathering. It comes in shades of cream through to rich gold. Golden Retrievers originate from Scotland in the 1800's where they were bred as a gun dog, specifically for water birds, but are widely used as assistance dogs in all kinds of roles now. They are loving, good natured and intelligent and very easy to train. Generally considered excellent family dogs, they are also good at hunting, obedience and agility. They are normally friendly toward all people and animals and are excellent with children. They enjoy a decent daily walk and love to retrieve and many are fond of water. The double coat is easy to groom but they shed constantly. They are prone to cancer, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand's disease, heart and eye problems and skin allergies.
The popular Labrador Retriever has proved his worth in a huge range of roles, from gun-dog work to assistance work to competitive sports. There are actually two types of Labrador Retrievers: the American one is tall and slender while the English one is stockier. They have a broad head, close hanging ears and a short, smooth coat. The most popular colours are yellow and black but they also come in chocolate, 'fox red' and even silver. Their webbed feet and otter-like tail make them excellent swimmers. They originate from Newfoundland where they worked helping fishermen. They were brought to the UK in the 1800's where they were crossed with other breeds to improve their retrieving skills. They are naturally loyal, loving, patient and eager to please. Their trainability makes them a good choice for a family dog but also makes them excellent assistance dogs for a range of disabilities. They love to play, especially in water. Their natural tendency is to be reliably friendly to all: strangers, other animals and they are normally excellent with children. They love to work so are happiest when given a purpose. They also love exercise, and as they have a tendency to put on weight, a good daily walk is important. Their short coat is easy to maintain and they tend to shed little but regularly. They are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, PRA, mast cell tumours and eye problems.
Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a lively, friendly little dog that gained his name from his job of using the waving white tip of his tail to lure ducks towards hunters and then retrieve them after they'd been shot. They look a little like a smaller version of the Golden Retriever with similar shape and colouring although they also usually have white markings on the feet, chest and tail. The double coat is water-repellent and their feet are webbed. They come from Canada where they were bred to help hunters with hunting water fowl. They are intelligent, easy to train and devoted to their family. They do well in active dog sports such as agility and make excellent companion dogs as long as they are given enough opportunity to exercise. They are normally friendly toward other animals and excellent with children although can be a little more reserved around strangers than the Golden Retriever. They have a lot of energy and enjoy good daily exercise and opportunities to swim. Their coat should be brushed and combed regularly but not bathed too often as it removes the coat's natural oils. They are prone to thyroid and auto-immune problems and there have been some reported cases of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer
The Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer is a member of the Hunt, Point, Retrieve (HPR) type of gun dogs and is considered, in common with the other HPR breeds, a high maintenance dog to own. They are a recently introduced breed to the UK Kennel Club, the result of a deliberate breeding programme in Czechoslovakia to create a dog with great stamina which would track, point and retrieve in water or on land and be suitable for a range of prey. They are a medium to large size generally with a harsh, wiry coat and moustache and look similar to the German Wirehaired Pointer. Their coat comes in shades of grey and their eyes are light brown to pale golden. There is however, a wide variation in coat, some are almost smooth whilst others are very hairy and there is no guarantee of the type of coat you may get. They are stable and very trainable but can not tolerate harsh handling. They can be good natured around strangers, children and other animals with proper socialisation from a very early age but have a high prey drive. Because they were bred to have plenty of energy and stamina, they need a good deal of regular exercise and opportunities to exercise their brain too. Slovaks excel at a number of activities as well as gun dog work, for example, agility, working trials and Cani-X. They are a loving and affectionate breed who enjoy being part of the family and are not suitable to be left alone for frequent periods of time in excess of four hours. Breed health is generally good but they can be accident prone so comprehensive pet insurance is essential.
The Small Munsterlander was originally bred to flush out prey for falcons to help falconers. As the sport became less popular, the Small Munsterlander's numbers dwindled too. They are a medium-sized, rather elegant, hunt-point-retrieve type dog, with a strong, balanced appearance. Their coat is medium-length and shiny with large patches of brown on a white or flecked background as opposed to the black and white of the Large Munsterlander. The breed is much older than many might realise, thought to be over 500 yrs old. They come from Munster in Germany. Although at one time few in number, the breed was rescued at the end of the 19th Century by Edmund Lons. They are lively, affectionate, very intelligent and highly trainable but they need to be given plenty of opportunity to exercise their body and brain. They are people and child friendly and normally happy around other dogs. They will normally be fine around animals they grow up with but have a strong prey drive so will be less accepting of small mammals in the wild. They need plenty of exercise and enjoy swimming. Their coat requires regular but not excessive brushing and combing. Since the breed was reestablished, breeders have gone out of their way to ensure the breed remains healthy so instances of genetic disease are very low.
Spaniel (American Cocker)
The American Cocker Spaniel was bred as a gundog for flushing and retrieving game birds. The name "Cocker" comes from the bird named the "woodcock". They originate from the English Cocker Spaniel but were bred to be slightly smaller with rounder heads, eyes that face more to the front and shorter muzzles. Their body is shorter too and slopes slightly from front to back. Both the American and English Cocker Spaniels have a silky coat but whereas the English coat is of a similar length all over, the American coat is short on the head, longer on the body and very long on the legs and tummy. Both varieties can come in a wide range of colours. The American Kennel Club refers to American Cocker Spaniels as simply "Cocker Spaniels". They are a happy little dog as evidenced by their ever wagging tail. They enjoy working but are equally happy as a household pet as they are essentially sweet-natured and outgoing. They are normally sociable and friendly towards other animals, strangers and children. They have a fair amount of stamina and energy so need regular exercise. They shed but still need trimming as well as regular brushing. They also have a tendency to have weepy eyes so these may need wiping too. They are prone to quite a wide range of health problems, in particular: cataracts, glaucoma and patellar luxation. There have also been reported cases of IMHA (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia) which strikes out of the blue and can prove fatal within a couple of days.
Spaniel (American Water)
The American Water Spaniel, not surprisingly, is an excellent swimmer, capable of swimming in even choppy water. They use their well-feathered tail as a rudder. They are a fairly small, muscular and hardy dog with quite a long, broad head, square muzzle and long hanging ears with thick curls. Their shiny double coat is wavy or curly and comes in mainly solid colours of liver, brown and chocolate but they can have a little white on their chest and toes. They were bred in the Great Lakes area of America, round about the 18th century as a hunt, point and retrieve dog for water birds, actually working off small boats and retrieving from the water. They are very enthusiastic and intelligent which makes them very trainable. They make a loving, loyal and happy companion. They are normally sociable and friendly towards other animals, strangers and children. They need a lot of exercise and, ideally, opportunities to swim. They need regular brushing but should not be bathed too often as it robs their coat of it's natural oils which they need to protect them in water. The oils also give the coat a distinctive smell. They can be prone to skin problems and are inclined to snore and drool.
Clumber Spaniels are the heaviest of the Spaniels. The name comes from home of the Duke of Newcastle, Clumber Park where the breed was perfected. They are a medium-sized, heavy, thick-set dog, low to the ground and with a large head and deep muzzle. In fact, over the years, the breed standard has allowed them to become heavier. Their coat is soft, flat and short and mainly white with markings in orange or lemon. The breed was set in the 18th Century in England but may have come originally from France. They are a scenting gun dog, quite slow but quiet and with good stamina. They were used to hunt birds like pheasant. They are intelligent and trainable and possibly the most placid and steady of the Spaniels. They are affectionate, easy-going and polite and make a good family dog. They are normally sociable and friendly towards other animals, strangers and children. They need regular exercise of a decent duration. They also love to chew so need to be given something suitable to meet that need. They need regular brushing and occasional trimming but still shed quite heavily. They can be prone to entropion, cataracts, juvenile lameness, hip dysplasia, ear infections, dry eyes and skin and flea allergies. They tend to snore, wheeze and drool and have a tendency to put on weight easily. The breed is also prone to Exercise-induced collapse (EIC) which is a genetic syndrome where dogs show signs of muscle weakness, loss of coordination, severe marked increase in body temperature and life-threatening collapse when participating in strenuous exercise or activity. Affected dogs can cope with mild to moderate exercise, but just 5 to 20 minutes of strenuous activity, or even extreme excitement can induce weakness or collapse. New owners should also bear in mind the Inbreeding Coefficient (COI) as the breed is small in numbers so many breeders are working on introducing new bloodlines to keep the genetic pool as varied as possible.
The English Cocker Spaniel is one of the oldest and most popular breeds of Spaniel and from whom many of the other Spaniel-types developed. They are a medium-sized, compact dog with a muzzle the same length as the head, hanging ears and a silky coat that comes in a variety of colours. There are two types: show and field. Show types have longer coats and are sturdier and heavier. They were bred in England as an all-terrain gun dog for game birds. The name "Cocker" comes from the woodcock, a bird the dogs were known for flushing. They are an intelligent, sociable, happy and affectionate dog that is adaptable and easy to train. They make a good family pet but also do well at competitions like agility and obedience. They are naturally friendly and sociable with other animals and strangers and excellent with children. Both types are active and enjoy regular daily exercise although the field types will need more. They need regular brushing and combing and occasional bathing. Their long ears can pick up ticks and other foreign bodies easily so need regular checking for signs of infection.
Spaniel (English Springer)
The English Springer Spaniel and English Cocker Spaniel came from the same litters hundreds of years ago. The smaller dogs were used for hunting woodcock and the larger for flushing out birds to make them "spring" up, hence the name. English Springer Spaniels now are a medium-sized, compact dog with a muzzle the same length as the head, hanging ears and a thick, silky coat that usually comes in white with black or liver markings. They are larger and leggier than the Cocker Spaniel. They were originally bred to hunt and retrieve game birds, both on land and in water. They are out-going, affectionate and sociable, very intelligent and eager to please. They are highly trainable and do well in competitions like agility and obedience. They are naturally friendly and sociable with other animals and strangers and excellent with children. They have a lot of energy and need a good deal of exercise which can include retrieving and swimming. Their high energy levels make them unsuitable for anyone who can't take them for a good walk every day. They need regular brushing and combing and occasional bathing. They can be prone to hip dysplasia, eye problems, blood problems and epilepsy.
Although quite similar to the Cocker Spaniel, the Field Spaniel as a breed has nearly disappeared on more than one occasion and remains very rare today. They are a medium-sized, compact dog with a back slightly longer than their height and a distinctive long, lean muzzle. Their ears hang low and their coat is very silky. They usually come in black, liver or roan with tan markings. They originate from England, a result of crossing different the old Sussex Springer Spaniel and Cocker Spaniel, and were bred to hunt small game and birds from water and land. They are intelligent, steady, affectionate and playful. They can make a good family dog as long as given plenty of exercise but are happiest out on the hunt in the country. They are good with other dogs, animals and children although can be wary of strangers. They are essentially a working dog and need plenty of daily exercise. They like to roam, have a strong hunting instinct and prefer cooler climates. They need regular brushing and combing, occasional scissoring and their ears checking. They are prone to hip dysplasia and ear infections.
Spaniel (Irish Water)
Irish Water Spaniels are the tallest of the Spaniels and have a curly rather than silky coat which is liver with a purple hue, unlike the colour of any other breed. They are quite a large dog with a long, square muzzle and large, dangling ears. Their curly coat has a thick undercoat to protect them against cold water and their feet are webbed. They were bred in Ireland by a Justin McCarthy for use as a land/water hunting dog and are likely to have Poodle in the mix. Irish Water Spaniels are very intelligent and loyal, confident, affectionate and eager to please and will be a happy family pet if given enough opportunity to exercise their body and brain. They generally get on well with other animals and children but may be a little wary of strangers. The breed generally has great energy and stamina and needs a good deal of exercise, preferably in the countryside with opportunities to swim. Their coat needs to be combed and trimmed regularly and has a tendency to matt. They are prone to hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, eye entropion and ear infections. They may drool and slobber too.
The Sussex Spaniel is very rare and probably the result of crossing Spaniels with Hounds which is likely to be the reason they're the only Spaniel to 'bay'. They are a heavily-built dog with a long, low body and quite a wide head and they move with a characteristic rolling gait. They have the typical Spaniel long hanging ears and silky, though flat, coat, which comes in a rich golden-liver colour. They are slow but have good stamina and scenting ability and were bred in England in the 1800s to accompany hunters on foot, flushing and retrieving game. They are not as out-going and playful as other Spaniels but are affectionate, gentle and loyal. With enough exercise they are stable and calm inside the home but they do have a tendency to bark. They are naturally friendly and sociable with other animals and strangers and excellent with children. They need more exercise than it might seem, especially as they have a tendency to gain weight. They need regular brushing and combing and their ears need checking. Their main health issue is that they are prone to ear infections. There have also been some reported cases of intervertebral disc syndrome, otitis exerna, heart murmur and enlarged heart.
Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is smaller, lighter, less racy and has a finer head than his English "cousin" the English Springer Spaniel. They are a medium-sized, compact dog with a domed head and a muzzle the same length as the skull. The ears hang low and their coat is silky and flat or wavy. They come in red and white in any pattern. They were developed as a more land based hunting dog. Their name comes from the action of "springing" at game. They are loyal, loving, eager to please and enjoy human companionship. They are normally good with other animals and children but can be a little timid around strangers. Although not quite as energetic as the English Springer Spaniel, they still have a lot of energy and stamina and need a good deal of exercise. They need regular brushing and combing and their ears need checking but they tend to stay cleaner in wet weather than their English counterpart. They are prone to ear infections, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and entropion.
Spanish Water Dog
Although an ancient breed and still a working dog in remote parts of Spain, the Spanish Water Dog was not officially recognised until the 1980s due to the efforts of breeder Antonio Garcia Perez who remembered them from his youth. They are a medium to smallish sized, balanced dog with a straight and powerful look and a strong head. Their coat is curly with a recommended show length of 3-15cms and begins to cord when long. They can come in a variety of solid and bi-colours. Their original home is unknown, possibly Turkey or Africa, and they came to Spain a thousand years ago. They have been used for a variety of tasks including herding and guarding but also hunting. They are very intelligent, trainable and versatile. Within the home, they can be loyal, attentive and affectionate but need plenty of opportunity to exercise their body and brain. They can be wary around strangers and need to be well socialised around other animals and children. They may a little too boisterous for small children. They have great stamina and energy and need a good deal of exercise. Their coat should not be brushed or combed and they should only be bathed occasionally. The coat length chosen depends on whether they are a working dog, a pet, or a show dog but it is not trimmed but sheared completely. The shorter the coat required, the more regularly they should be sheared. They are prone to hip dysplasia, PRA and ear infections. In addition, some people are allergic to their saliva and urine.
Weimaraner (Short and Long haired)
The Weimaraner is easy to recognise from his distinctive colouring. Their eyes range from amber to blue-grey and their coat is a unique grey too, occasionally with a small white patch on the chest. They are quite a large, athletic dog. Their coat is normally short and smooth although there is a much rarer long-haired variety. They come from Weimar in Germany where they were used as a hunting dog, originally for big game but later for hunt, point and retrieve of water birds. With the right training they are loving and affectionate but they are a working dog that needs mental and physical challenge. They are good with children although can be boisterous, and ok with other dogs and strangers but may not be trusted around small mammals as they have a strong prey drive. They have a lot of stamina and energy and need plenty of exercise. The typical short coat is easy to maintain. They are prone to bloat, hip dysplasia, hypertropic osteodystrophy (excessive rapid growth) and mast cell tumours.