BREED TYPE IN THE SPANIEL FAMILY
FRANK KANE explains
I overheard a conversation about somebody’s pet dog which was described
as ‘a spaniel type’ and I wondered what was the layperson’s perception of a ‘spaniel type’. Long ears, fairly long foreface, docked active tail, feathered coat, colour? Perhaps it is not surprising that there are perceptions of
a generic spaniel type because over a century ago spaniel litters could contain dogs which were allocated to different “breeds”, often determined by size or colour. Therefore with the same blood behind many of the different breeds, it is understandable
that there are some similarities in the physical appearances.
Now, rule out colour, a distinctive and important feature in the breeds, and black out a sil- houette of each of the spaniel breeds , see the picture below. Could you identify which is which? It should be possible because, apart from size, there is a distinctive outline and balance to each of the breeds. For me, shape is the first feature in defining breed type.
Next come those breed-specific details which make a dog typical: head features, coat, colour, topline etc. And type is not just defined in the static dog; all breeds do not move in the same way. The way of going is often an inherent part of breed type, and the spaniel family is a fine example of this.
The rounded rump and low set, ever active tail give the Cocker Spaniel its typical bustle and this is an essential part of that much desired ‘cockery’ quality. The rolling action of the Sussex and Clumber Spaniels contributes to breed type as does the unique style of the English Springer’s front swing.
So, in assessing the breeds, shape, balance and outline might be your starting point. Breed specifics, substance, coat and colour can be the next tier and then a look at movement, not just for functionally sound movement but for the carriage, style and way of going which adds a special quality to the breeds.
Back to the blacked out silhouettes, they might be similar but if there is confusion between a couple there is something wrong with the dogs ...or with the judge...“Bring out your Field,” said the judge to the lady with the Sussex Spaniel. Oops!
THE FIELD SPANIEL
The general appearance clause of the breed Standard uses the word ‘noble’ and I think this is a key word in trying to define the type and carriage
of the breed. For me there are three areas which stamp true Field type – head, balance and movement.
A good Field head is a picture of quality and breeding; there is a refined, lean, quality to the whole head, especially to the muzzle and with chiselling below the eyes and a well defined occiput. There is defined, chiselled quality to the entire head.
A moderate stop is important; an over-deep stop detracts from the clean lines and length of the head. Almond shaped eyes, dark hazel, with- out showing haw, add to the gentle nobility in head and expression. See a classic Field head and expression and you will never forget.
The body of the Field is rectangular, it is not cobby. The ribs are moderately sprung and the
loin a little longer than in the other spaniels. The ribcage takes up about two thirds of the body length. That is not to say that the Field lacks sub- stance.
The legs should be of strong, straight flat bone, another important Field feature, and the feet strong and round. Weak pasterns and flat feet can be a problem.
Liver is the prevalent colour in the show ring, but blacks are now more frequently seen; both these colours can have tan markings in the standard places. Liver roan and blue roan are sometimes seen – these should be clearly roaned, not demarcated liver and white or black and white.
It is in the movement and carriage of the Field that nobility is seen further. Well angulated to give ground covering movement, the Field stride should be long and unhurried; it is part of breed character, a unique dignity in his carriage, quite unlike any of the other spaniels. Some handlers seem to lose sight of this important feature and rush their dogs round the ring in a manner which robs them of an important breed feature.
The breed is slow maturing, often at their best at five years old and later, and maturity seems to add an extra dignity to them.
Standing at 18” at the shoulder, refined, but also substantial, the breed is not easy to judge. Youngsters are often ungainly, raw and uncoordinated, perhaps a result of the breed balance. Classic heads are not easy to find, and head type sometimes varies with colour. Coats should be flat, glossy and silky, but again this often comes only with full maturity.
Get the head, get the balance, get the movement and carriage and you have got a quality Field Spaniel.
Hei 😊 Jeg er interessert i en tispe valp
Hvordan er field spaniel på spor? Jeg ønsker meg en hund som også kan brukes som ettersøkshund (vilt) Jeg har tidligere hatt engelsk springer og har nå en elghundblanding. Jeg går på jakt.
Hei, Ja det er mange på listen over de som ønsker seg valp. Hvor lenge en må belage seg på å vente er umulig å si dessverre .
Hei. Vi er en familie (med to barn, 11 og 15 år) som har veldig lyst på hund og er blitt forelsket i Field Spaniel. Vi lurer derfor på om du har lang venteliste og når det evnt kan være aktuelt? Takk😊