The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a truly ancient breed. Its ancestors date back to dogs that belonged to the people of Roman-occupied Briton. During the Renaissance, the Land Spaniel was used to make game birds “spring” from hiding, to be shot with bow and arrow or hunted by falcon and thereafter retrieved by the dog. Images and writings of the Land Spaniel appear to describe or identify a dog virtually identical to today’s Welsh Springer Spaniel.
During the 1700s, many of the great artists depicted a red-and-white spaniel whose color, conformation and type reflect the modern Welsh Springer Spaniel. This breed was popular with hunters throughout the 18th century, but by the 1800s most sportsmen in Britain preferred the liver-and-white or the black-and-white spaniels. Historians speculate that the red-and-white spaniel continued to be used in the Neath Valley of South Wales during this period. Eventually, interest in the Welsh Springer Spaniel resurfaced. The Kennel Club (England) was founded in 1873, and the red-and-white spaniel was exhibited at the club’s first show, in the same class as other spaniels. It was not until later that the Welsh and English Springer Spaniels and English Cocker Spaniels were put into separate classes and recognized as distinct breeds.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Welsh Springer Spaniel in 1906. The first of the breed was registered with the AKC in 1914. However, no Welsh Springer Spaniels were registered with the American Kennel Club between 1926 and 1948. Many breed enthusiasts today believe that by the end of the Second World War, there were no Welsh Springers left in the United States. A number were imported from Wales after the war. In 1961, the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America was formed. Today’s Welsh Springer Spaniel remains a wonderful hunting dog both in and out of water. He has excellent senses of smell and of sight and can be used on any type of fowl or game. He is also exceptionally gentle and good-natured and makes a kind family pet. This breed has not achieved great popularity in America.
The average life span of the Welsh Springer Spaniel is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include epilepsy, distichiasis, glaucoma, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy and hip dysplasia.