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THE ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIEL
(The American Kennel Clubs Standard and Description)


General Appearance

The English Springer Spaniel is a
medium-sized sporting dog, with a
compact body and a docked tail. His
coat is moderately long, with feathering
on his legs, ears, chest and brisket. His
pendulous ears, soft gentle expression,
sturdy build and friendly wagging tail
proclaim him unmistakably a member of
the ancient family of Spaniels. He is
above all a well-proportioned dog, free
from exaggeration, nicely balanced in
every part. His carriage is proud and upstanding, body deep, legs strong
and muscular, with enough length to carry him with ease. Taken as a
whole, the English Springer Spaniel suggests power, endurance and
agility. He looks the part of a dog that can go, and keep going, under
difficult hunting conditions. At his best, he is endowed with style,
symmetry, balance and enthusiasm, and is every inch a sporting dog of
distinct spaniel character, combining beauty and utility.

Size, Proportion, Substance

The Springer is built to cover rough ground with agility and reasonable
speed. His structure suggests the capacity for endurance. He is to be
kept to medium size. Ideal height at the shoulder for dogs is 20 inches;
for bitches, it is 19 inches. Those more than one inch under or over the
breed ideal are to be faulted. A 20 inch dog, well-proportioned and in good
condition, will weigh approximately 50 pounds; a 19 inch bitch will weigh
approximately 40 pounds. The length of the body (measured from point of
shoulder to point of buttocks) is slightly greater than the height at the
withers. The dog too long in body, especially when long in the loin, tires
easily and lacks the compact outline characteristic of the breed. A dog
too short in body for the length of his legs, a condition which destroys
balance and restricts gait, is equally undesirable. A Springer with correct
substance appears well-knit and sturdy with good bone, however, he is
never coarse or ponderous.

Head

The head is impressive without being heavy. Its beauty lies in a
combination of strength and refinement. It is important that its size and
proportion be in balance with the rest of the dog. Viewed in profile, the
head appears approximately the same length as the neck and blends with
the body in substance. The stop, eyebrows and chiseling of the bony
structure around the eye sockets contribute to the Springer's beautiful
and characteristic expression, which is alert, kindly and trusting. The
eyes, more than any other feature, are the essence of the Springer's
appeal. Correct size, shape, placement and color influence expression
and attractiveness. The eyes are of medium size and oval in shape, set
rather well-apart and fairly deep in their sockets. The color of the iris
harmonizes with the color of the coat, preferably dark hazel in the liver
and white dogs and black or deep brown in the black and white dogs.
Eyerims are fully pigmented and match the coat in color. Lids are tight
with little or no haw showing. Eyes that are small, round or protruding, as
well as eyes that are yellow or brassy in color, are highly undesirable.
Ears are long and fairly wide, hanging close to the cheeks with no
tendency to stand up or out. The ear leather is thin and approximately
long enough to reach the tip of the nose. Correct ear set is on a level with
the eye and not too far back on the skull. The skull is medium-length and
fairly broad, flat on top and slightly rounded at the sides and back. The
occiput bone is inconspicuous. As the skull rises from the foreface, it
makes a stop, divided by a groove, or fluting, between the eyes. The
groove disappears as it reaches the middle of the forehead. The amount of
stop is moderate. It must not be a pronounced feature; rather it is a subtle
rise where the muzzle joins the upper head. It is emphasized by the
groove and by the position and shape of the eyebrows, which are
well-developed. The muzzle is approximately the same length as the skull
and one half the width of the skull. Viewed in profile, the toplines of the
skull and muzzle lie in approximately parallel planes. The nasal bone is
straight, with no inclination downward toward the tip of the nose, the latter
giving an undesirable downfaced look. Neither is the nasal bone concave,
resulting in a "dish-faced" profile; nor convex, giving the dog a Roman
nose. The cheeks are flat, and the face is well-chiseled under the eyes.
Jaws are of sufficient length to allow the dog to carry game easily: fairly
square, lean and strong. The upper lips come down full and rather square
to cover the line of the lower jaw, however, the lips are never pendulous or
exaggerated. The nose is fully-pigmented, liver or black in color,
depending on the color of the coat. The nostrils are well-opened and
broad. Teeth are strong, clean, of good size and ideally meet in a close
scissors bite. An even bite or one or two incisors slightly out of line are
minor faults. Undershot, overshot and wry jaws are serious faults and are
to be severely penalized.

Neck, Topline, Body

The neck is moderately long, muscular, clean and slightly arched at the
crest. It blends gradually and smoothly into sloping shoulders. The portion
of the topline from withers to tail is firm and slopes very gently. The body
is short-coupled, strong and compact. The chest is deep, reaching the
level of the elbows, with well-developed forechest; however, it is not so
wide or round as to interfere with the action of the front legs. Ribs are
fairly long, springing gradually to the middle of the body, then tapering as
they approach the end of the ribbed section. The underline stays level
with the elbows to a slight upcurve at the flank. The back is straight,
strong and essentially level. Loins are strong, short and slightly arched.
Hips are nicely-rounded, blending smoothly into the hind legs. The croup
slopes gently to the set of the tail, and tail-set follows the natural line of
the croup. The tail is carried horizontally or slightly elevated and displays
a characteristic lively, merry action, particularly when the dog is on game.
A clamped tail (indicating timidity or undependable temperament) is to be
faulted, as is a tail carried at a right angle to the backline in Terrier
fashion.

Forequarters

Efficient movement in front calls for proper forequarter assembly. The
shoulder blades are flat and fairly close together at the tips, molding
smoothly into the contour of the body. Ideally, when measured from the
top of the withers to the point of the shoulder to the elbow, the shoulder
blade and upper arm are of apparent equal length, forming an angle of
nearly 90 degrees; this sets the front legs well under the body and places
the elbows directly beneath the tips of the shoulder blades. Elbows lie
close to the body. Forelegs are straight with the same degree of size
continuing to the foot. Bone is strong, slightly flattened, not too round or
too heavy. Pasterns are short, strong and slightly sloping, with no
suggestion of weakness. Dewclaws are usually removed. Feet are round
or slightly oval. They are compact and well-arched, of medium size with
thick pads, and well-feathered between the toes.

Hindquarters

The Springer should be worked and shown in hard, muscular condition
with well-developed hips and thighs. His whole rear assembly suggests
strength and driving power. Thighs are broad and muscular. Stifle joints
are strong. For functional efficiency, the angulation of the hindquarter is
never greater than that of the forequarter, and not appreciably less. The
hock joints are somewhat rounded, not small and sharp in contour. Rear
pasterns are short (about 1/3 the distance from the hip joint to the foot)
and strong, with good bone. When viewed from behind, the rear pasterns
are parallel. Dewclaws are usually removed. The feet are the same as in
front, except that they are smaller and often more compact.

Coat

The Springer has an outer coat and an undercoat. On the body, the outer
coat is of medium length, flat or wavy, and is easily distinguishable from
the undercoat, which is short, soft and dense. The quantity of undercoat
is affected by climate and season. When in combination, outer coat and
undercoat serve to make the dog substantially waterproof, weatherproof
and thornproof. On ears, chest, legs and belly the Springer is nicely
furnished with a fringe of feathering of moderate length and heaviness. On
the head, front of the forelegs, and below the hock joints on the front of
the hind legs, the hair is short and fine. The coat has the clean, glossy,
"live" appearance indicative of good health. It is legitimate to trim about
the head, ears, neck and feet, to remove dead undercoat, and to thin and
shorten excess feathering as required to enhance a smart, functional
appearance. The tail may be trimmed, or well fringed with wavy feathering.
Above all, the appearance should be natural. Overtrimming, especially the
body coat, or any chopped, barbered or artificial effect is to be penalized
in the show ring, as is excessive feathering that destroys the clean
outline desirable in a sporting dog. Correct quality and condition of coat is
to take precedence over quantity of coat.

Color

All the following combinations of colors and markings are equally
acceptable:(1) Black or liver with white markings or predominantly white
with black or liver markings; (2) Blue or liver roan; (3) Tricolor: black and
white or liver and white with tan markings, usually found on eyebrows,
cheeks, inside of ears and under the tail. Any white portion of the coat
may be flecked with ticking. Off colors such as lemon, red or orange are
not to place.

Gait

The final test of the Springer's conformation and soundness is proper
movement. Balance is a prerequisite to good movement. The front and
rear assemblies must be equivalent in angulation and muscular
development for the gait to be smooth and effortless. Shoulders which are
well laid-back to permit a long stride are just as essential as the excellent
rear quarters that provide driving power. Seen from the side, the Springer
exhibits a long, ground-covering stride and carries a firm back, with no
tendency to dip, roach or roll from side to side. From the front, the legs
swing forward in a free and easy manner. Elbows have free action from
the shoulders, and the legs show no tendency to cross or interfere. From
behind, the rear legs reach well under the body, following on a line with
the forelegs. As speed increases, there is a natural tendency for the legs
to converge toward a center line of travel. Movement faults include
high-stepping, wasted motion; short, choppy stride; crabbing; and moving
with the feet wide, the latter giving roll or swing to the body.

Temperament

The typical Springer is friendly, eager to please, quick to learn and willing
to obey. Such traits are conducive to tractability, which is essential for
appropriate handler control in the field. In the show ring, he should exhibit
poise and attentiveness and permit himself to be examined by the judge
without resentment or cringing. Aggression toward people and aggression
toward other dogs is not in keeping with sporting dog character and
purpose and is not acceptable. Excessive timidity, with due allowance for
puppies and novice exhibits, is to be equally penalized.

Summary

In evaluating the English Springer Spaniel, the overall picture is a primary
consideration. One should look for type, which includes general
appearance and outline, and also for soundness, which includes
movement and temperament. Inasmuch as the dog with a smooth easy
gait must be reasonably sound and well-balanced, he is to be highly
regarded, however, not to the extent of forgiving him for not looking like an
English Springer Spaniel. An atypical dog, too short or long in leg length
or foreign in head or expression, may move well, but he is not to be
preferred over a good all-round specimen that has a minor fault in
movement. It must be remembered that the English Springer Spaniel is
first and foremost a sporting dog of the Spaniel family, and he must look,
behave and move in character.

Approval Date: February 12, 1994
Effective Date: March 31, 1994



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