Spaniel dog breeds is a type of bird dog known to flush game out of the dense bush. They were typically divided into two types of spaniels, land and water. The land spaniel works by creeping forward and pointing game—allowing hunters to catch prey in nets. The water spaniel breed retrieves and draws marks from water.
Although their original purpose was hunting, spaniels are great companions for both new and experienced dog owners. Their love of water and athletic capability makes them a high-energy friend that’s always up for an adventure. Currently, 15 different breeds of spaniel dog breeds are recognized by the AKC.
Table of Contents
- 1. The American Water Spaniel
- 2. The Brittany
- 3. The Cocker Spaniel
- 4. The English Springer Spaniel
- 5. The English Toy Spaniel
- 6. The Papillon
- 7. The Welsh Springer Spaniel
- 8. The Sussex Spaniel
- 9. The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (Kooiker)
- 10. The Field Spaniel
- 11. Clumber Spaniel
- Final Thoughts
- Read Next: 13 Best Hunting Dogs You Should Know About
1. The American Water Spaniel
American Water Spaniel was originally bred to be an all-encompassing hunting dog, this Spaniel dog breed is a high energy dog that loves to chase and retrieve. These dogs are skilled swimmers with a water-resistant double coat. They love to spend time on the water, retrieving game from small boats, but are happy to burn their energy running and playing with their family.
Although the American Water Spaniel is used for hunting all small game, they specialize in waterfowl –giving him versatility in a multitude of dog sports and activities. High-energy dogs require one to two hours of exercise a day, whether walks, fetch, or mental stimulation. These dogs are designed for human interaction, and they may respond to loneliness with destruction.
The American Water Spaniel typically bonds with one person, although they will remain friendly toward the entire family. They don’t mind strangers but may remain distanced or impartial. American Water Spaniels adapt well to other family pets, like dogs and cats, but can become territorial with strange dogs.
2. The Brittany
While they’re often referred to as Brittany Spaniels, the AKC dropped the “spaniel” from their name in 1982. The Brittany breed was bred as gun dogs, making a versatile hunting dog and family companion. They are packed full of energy, needing plenty of exercise to occupy them. Consider this breed the energizer bunny of the dog world.
Brittanys love having a specific task to perform. This Spaniel dog breed requires an hour or more of high-impact exercise a day to satisfy their energy requirements. Brittanys are great with children and other animals in the home, thanks to their happy and easygoing nature. They can become destructive and neurotic if left alone for long periods, especially without adequate exercise.
3. The Cocker Spaniel
Although predominantly a companion animal, the Cocker Spaniel is a bird dog at heart. They have a cheerful disposition that makes them a great family animal, especially when they’re snuggling on the couch. These animals do well with constant interaction with their family, thriving on their family’s attention and interactions.
Highly trainable, the Cocker Spaniel is both gentle and trustworthy in family environments. Known for its flowing coat, the Cocker Spaniel is the smallest member of the AKC Sporting Group. They have an excellent temperament that makes this breed perfect for families with small children, other pets and animals, and elderly apartment dwellers. Despite proper socialization, the Cocker Spaniel can be quite nervous, exhibiting submissive urination and barking.
4. The English Springer Spaniel
These Spaniel dog breeds may have been bred for flushing game and as a gun dog, but the English Springer Spaniel makes an excellent companion for those wanting a high-energy dog that’s incredibly affectionate. This breed must exhaust some of its high energy reserves, especially if they’re not working on tasks throughout the day.
English Springer Spaniel are excellent with children when they are brought up with them, and are affectionate to their families. Although they are good with other animals in the home, having this breed with birds may be a concern due to their hunting nature. The English Springer Spaniel is a vocal dog and will bark at strangers that come to the home. This Spaniel dog breeds not the best protector of the house; because of their loving nature and attention seeking, they'll demand attention from everyone who comes through the door.
5. The English Toy Spaniel
Typically called “Charlies” after the infamous king who loved them, the English Toy Spaniel is a single person pup with a mischievous spark. Unlike other Spaniels, the English Toy Spaniel is a relatively low energy dog. They don’t require excessive amounts of activity – often satisfied with a stroll through the park. Their easygoing nature makes them perfect for apartment living or seniors looking for a companion.
Developed as a companion dog, the English Toy Spaniel is quiet, laidback, and calm. It prefers spending time with its human, snuggled on the couch over excessive activity. With a strong attraction to their human, the English Toy Spaniel can suffer from separation anxiety, making them clingy and overwhelmed with left for long periods.
The English Toy Spaniel can be quite independent, particularly when it comes to training commands they are first given. This breed is ready to please, thriving on the interaction that traditional training provides. They tend to be nervous and may bite when startled or if they don’t like a person. These dogs are occasionally known to bark but are not inclined to act as watch dogs.
6. The Papillon
If you don’t believe in love at first sight, the Papillon might just be the dog to change your mind. Descending from toy spaniels, these dogs are wonderful companions and highly active. Don’t let their small size fool you; these dogs aren’t the most comfortable lap dog! They thrive on spending time with their family, always remaining close to the action whenever possible. Papillons do not do well with long periods of separation, as they’d instead not leave your side.
The Papillon is a bright, curious, and playful pup but doesn’t always understand his small size. He maintains a big-dog attitude with high alertness. This small breed is mighty, willing to take on anything. This breed is generally very affectionate, offering kisses to anyone who will accept them, making him energetic and outgoing. The Papillon is very loving with children but will sometimes respond to rough handling by nipping or biting. Likewise, this breed is receptive to other animals (including cats) within the home.
7. The Welsh Springer Spaniel
These Spaniel dog breeds were bred as a gun dog to flush out game. Welsh Springer Spaniel is popular with families and hunters alike. These highly affectionate dogs are lovely companions to almost any family environment; they even adapt well to apartment living. They are not low energy dogs, though, so be prepared to offer plenty of exercise, attention, and training to stimulate the Welsh Springer Spaniel.
The Springer Spaniel is a medium-sized dog, noted for its silky dark red and white coat. The Welsh Springer Spaniel is enthusiastic and receptive to pleasing their family, but they have been reported they are less outgoing than the English Springer Spaniel. As such, this breed is known to be a bit reserved around strangers, making early socialization necessary to prevent shyness. Despite being a hunting dog, this breed is receptive and loving toward other animals in the home, including small pets. They react well with children, especially if they have been exposed throughout their life.
Welsh Springer Spaniels are quite athletic, with plenty of stamina and energy. They are used to working in all environments and conditions – regardless of the terrain. Due to their passion for hunting, leashing the pup outdoors is strongly recommended, primarily as they’ll chase small rodents or birds.
8. The Sussex Spaniel
Considered a rare and unusual spaniel, the Sussex Spaniel is often found among the fields or hunting tests. This dog is a deliberate hunter, with solid endurance and “always push on” mentality. As such, he matches well for active families who enjoy long hikes. If he’s not trained to hunt, this pup will happily pursue local “prey” in the backyard, including insects, butterflies, and birds.
The most notable characteristic of these Spaniel dog breeds are their carrying voice. This dog can be incredibly vocal, especially when it hears noises or notices visitors at the property. The Sussex Spaniel develops a strong bond with family members; becoming destructive and anxious is left alone for long periods of time.
Adaptable with children, the Sussex Spaniel is an even-tempered dog that does well if raised with kids. One downside of the strong bond and attachment it develops is the potential for guarding family members. They may be unwilling for other people to approach their family unit, acting possessively as a result. Early socialization with people, animals, and environments can limit this behavior.
9. The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje (Kooiker)
An affectionate, loving family companion, the Kooikerhondje is a hunting dog breed that thrives in many environments. Originally used as hunting dogs, they also excel at dog sports such as flyball, thanks to their high energy levels. These dogs require plenty of exercise, from daily walks, training, or merely playing with their family. They prefer both mental and physical stimulation, thanks to their conservative nature and athletic ability.
The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is a good-natured, friendly dog that makes a fantastic family companion. Its super alert nature makes this breed ideal as a watchdog too. Keep in mind the Kooiker is eagerly welcoming of family and friends but can be quite reserved with strangers. To take advantage of those traits, enroll in obedience training as soon as possible.
10. The Field Spaniel
Developed initially to retrieve land and water, the Field Spaniel has maintained their hunting skills even now. Both loyal and affectionate, this breed loves people and their families. The Field Spaniel is perfect for the busy family with high energy, wanting to entertain boundless amounts of energy. This breed requires exercise, training, and interaction with his family.
Although they can be reserved with strangers, they are an overall confident dog. The Field Spaniel isn’t typically shy, fearful, or aggressive. This breed will naturally bond to one family member above all others, although they will be best friends with all family members. The Field Spaniel does respond well to children, although they prefer a gentler approach to play. This dog is incredibly food-driven, responding well to positive reinforcement. Keep in mind they will also steal food whenever possible, so always remember to keep it kept off the counters.
11. Clumber Spaniel
Spanning from a rather reserved to a “I love everything” personality, the Clumber Spaniel is a quiet working dog with a reputation for being sweet and gentle. Known for getting its way, this Spaniel dog breed can have a few destructive behaviors forming if you don’t establish your leadership early.
Known for scavenging, the Clumber Spaniel can be caught stealing food from the fridge or off a plate left behind. These destructive behaviors can be eliminated through early correction, so make sure to reinforce the actions you want to see. While it may seem silly, you may want to keep all pantry doors locked with child locks; this breed is known for breaking into them effortlessly. This includes the fridge, pantry, and garbage.
This Spaniel dog breeds can adapt well to both apartment living, thanks to their low exercise requirements. Although these dogs enjoy working, the Clumber breed also enjoys playing fetch or mental stimulation like trick training.
Although most Spaniel breeds originated as hunting or field dogs, they can make excellent companions for those families wanting someone to keep up with their active lifestyles. The Spaniel is a beautiful combination of high energy and intelligence while remaining loving and loyal to their families. They enjoy spending time with the family unit, bonding closely, and wanting to stay nearby.
Most Spaniel breeds require plenty of exercise, but the dogs’ small physical size makes some adaptable to apartment living. Always ensure that your Spaniel has proper socialization and interaction with other dogs, small animals, cats, and children. Desensitizing your pup at an early age can prevent aggression, dominance issues, shy behavior, or fear. Likewise, it’s always important to ensure that the breed is from a reputable source to ensure optimal physical health. This proper screening will eliminate the risk of your Spaniel breed developing or inheriting genetic conditions that can cause health issues with your dog.