The 5 Spaniel Breeds - Top Choice

The 5 Spaniel Breeds - Top Choice

Author WDF Staff


Dogs were used for hunting since their domestication that happened nearly 30.000 years ago. They played different roles, and other dog breeds developed with specific tasks in mind. When it comes to hunting, there aren't many dog breeds that can go toe to toe with the versatile and agile Spaniels.

Origin of the Spaniel dog breeds

Historians dated the exact origin of the first Spaniel breeds back to the ancient Romans. It is believed that these types of dogs came to life in Spain, hence the name - Spaniel. However, they haven't remained there for too long because hunters and dog owners across the Roman Empire saw how useful these dogs were and how proficient at hunting they were.

The early Spaniels became experts at driving small prey out in the open where hunters had a clear and easy shot at them. That became known as "springing." Later, selective breeding came into play, and Springer Spaniels were created.

Simultaneously, the hunting of waterfowl started becoming famous, and Spaniels had a role to play there as well. They were meant to retrieve prey from lakes and rivers but weren't as successful as their Springer cousins.

baby cocker spaniel

As the Spaniel name became more and more popular globally, many countries started breeding its unique Spaniels. They even divided them into Land and Water Spaniels. Land Spaniels were divided by the type of prey they were hunting, and Cocker Spaniels became the best for hunting Woodcocks while the Water Spaniels specialized in hunting and retrieving as well.

Land Spaniels were praised for their excellent hunting ability, but when dog shows started becoming popular, Land Spaniels started being rewarded and favored so Land Spaniel breeders began breeding dogs for their looks and show potential rather than their superior hunting skill.

Some Spaniels are still used for hunting, and it is clear that they have not lost any of their hunting talents. They are still best at what they do, and there is always something special about seeing a focused Spaniel do what they were created to do. Most of them are family pets that prefer the active lifestyle and love being a part of the family.

Favorite Spaniel breeds list

1. American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is an American dog breed whose ancestor is the English Cocker Spaniel. It is widely known for its round head and long ears that fall to their cheeks. This is a small dog breed that is relatively agile and active.

American Cockers are also known as great family companions and watchdogs. They were bred to be alert dogs that will notify you about anything suspicious going on around your home. They are also the smallest dogs in Sporting Group, and they make fierce competitors in sports like agility. They are one of the most popular Spaniels out there, and we can certainly understand their appeal.

cocker puppy

2. English Cocker Spaniel

The English Cocker Spaniel, or just Cocker Spaniel, is a British dog breed bred for hunting woodcock. It is a breed whose popularity is constant, and they are always in the top 50 most popular dog breeds around the world.

These dogs have a silky smooth coat and warm, friendly eyes that will make you love them no matter what. They can be described as "shadow" dogs because they will follow their owner just like a shadow. They look a lot like the American Cocker Spaniel, but the main difference is that the English Cocker has a much higher prey drive.

english cocker spaniel

3. Clumber Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel is the heaviest of all Spaniel breeds, so we had to include them in this list. They are not as agile or as fast as Cocker Spaniels, but these dogs are determined hunters that can easily follow a scent when they pick one up.

The development of the Clumber Spaniel is tied to the Duke of Newcastle's northern England estate, Clumber Park. They are not your typical hunters, and you might be surprised how mellow and lazy they are when they are not working. Clumber Spaniels are a lot of fun, and they make great pets as well as working dogs.

clumber spaniel

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has a long history, but it is not a working breed it maybe once was. They have lively, happy personalities and were bred to keep the British royals and nobles company. They are much less active than other dogs on this list, and they love being around their family.

This breed is one of the smallest Spaniel breeds, and that is precisely why it is the most popular type of Spaniel in the USA. These dogs are sensitive pets that develop strong bonds with their owner. If you are getting one of these dogs, make sure you have enough time to brush them because their beautiful coat can easily get tangled.

cavalier king charles spaniel

5. Welsh Springer Spaniel

The Welsh Springer Spaniel is a red and white breed that is affectionate and a great family pet. One of their best traits is - they make for an excellent watchdog. The WSS is naturally distrustful towards strangers, and that is why they will alert their families about anything suspicious going on in their proximity.

welsh springer spaniel

The Welsh Springer Spaniel forms strong bonds with their family members and can be prone to separation anxiety, so make sure someone is always with your dog. They are a bit smaller than their English cousin - the English Springer Spaniel, but just as good of a hunter. 

World Dog Finder team