The 4 Types of Spaniel Dogs: Which Spaniel Breed is Best For You?

Passed a dog on your recent walk and wondered which breed of Spaniel it is?

I don’t blame you.

There are various types of Spaniel dog, with several of them looking the same. It’s often hard to distinguish which type of Spaniel they actually are.

That’s why we put together this list of Spaniel breeds.

We’ll talk about the four types of Spaniel dog, and the differences between each. Click to jump to a specific section:

…Or continue scrolling to learn more about the different types of Spaniel.

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How many breeds of Spaniel are there?

There are four main breeds of Spaniel that are popular not just in the UK, but all over the world. They are:

Springer Spaniels

The Springer Spaniel is often the breed that springs to mind when we hear the word “Spaniel.” (No pun intended!)

Commonly referred to as “Springers”, they’re the largest of all Spaniel breeds, and typically weigh 45 to 55 pounds. In 2018, they were the 5th most popular dog breed in the UK.

Springer Spaniels were originally bred as gun dogs. Their instinct to hunt is still strong, which means they’re excellent at hunting, killing, and retrieving game in large fields. This needs to be considered when bringing a Springer home; they’re are energetic, active dogs that need lots of exercise to stay entertained.

…But allow them to run around–they’ll love you for it!

English vs. Welsh Springer Spaniel

If the different types of Springer breeds weren’t confusing enough, there are actually two types of Springer Spaniel:

  • The English Springer Spaniel
  • The Welsh Springer Spaniel

Both dog breeds are very similar in appearance, with the Welsh Spaniel being slightly smaller than the English breed, whilst also having a slightly longer body.

However, the Welsh breed only has a bright red and white coat, compared to the English Springer which can come in a combination of black, red, white, and liver.

Cocker Spaniel

There’s no doubting that the Cocker Spaniel is tricky to set apart from a Springer, appearance-wise. But there are a few distinctions that can help you identify which breed is which.

Firstly, the Cocker Spaniel tends to be slightly smaller than the Springer, with a fluffier and thicker coat. This means they’ll need to be groomed more frequently. They can come in various colours, such as black, tan, golden, liver, or tri-colour.

Plus, a Cocker Spaniel’s tail is thicker than the Springer’s, and they tend to weigh more: 10-13 kg, on average (compared to 20-25 kg for a Springer.)

With regards to this Spaniel’s temperament, Cockers are sensitive dogs. They love nothing more than cuddling up with their owner, and their gentle personality is a huge reason why they’re the UK’s most popular Spaniel breed!

However, unlike their Springer pals, they’re not as mad for exercise. They can adapt to living in an apartment, and thrive on agility and tracking games. Sure, they’re happy to run around the field–but they’re equally as happy to curl up and cuddle.

Sprocker Spaniel

As the name suggests, the Sprocker Spaniel is a mix of two types of Spaniel. The pup will have one Springer parent, and one Cocker parent. They cannot be KC registered, or compete in Field Trials, for this reason, but they’re not technically considered to be a cross-breed as both parents are Spaniels.

Sprocker Spaniels were originally bred by gamekeepers who crossed Cockers with Springers to produce a robust, reliable and loyal gundog. What a gentle Cocker lacks in energy, the Springer makes up for–with various other traits combining to make the “perfect” gun dog match.

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Because Sprocker puppies are bred from two different types of Spaniel, it’s tough to judge which traits they’ll take from each parent. That being said, Sprockers do have a reputation for being cheeky, lively, and cuddly–with a massive need for regular exercise!

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the smallest Spaniel breed. It’s the 19th most popular dog breed in the UK, and a superb choice for first-time dog owners because of their cute and easy-going personalities. Not only are they affectionate around people and children, but they’re incredibly easy to train because they’re always keen to please!

(It’s worth noting that because the King Charles Spaniel is so people-orientated, they can suffer from separation anxiety.)

Cavaliers come in several colours, including white, tan, ruby, and tri-colour. They have long ears in proportion to their bodies, and a short (but cute!) nose and snout.

A large difference between the Cavalier Spaniel and other Spaniel breeds is their prey drive. Unlike their Springer and Cocker cousins, Cavaliers don’t have a strong urge to hunt, which usually results in them being happier around other people and animals.

Bonus: 20+ other Spaniel breeds

These are the four most common Spaniel breeds in the UK. But worldwide, there are more than 20 other recognised Spaniel breeds including:

  • American Water Spaniel
  • Blue Picardy Spaniel
  • Clumber Spaniel
  • Field Spaniel
  • French Spaniel
  • German Spaniel
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Picardy Spaniel
  • Russian Spaniel
  • Stabyhoun
  • Sussex Spaniel
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel

There are also a bunch of Spaniel mixes if you’re not sure a purebred is best for your family.

Working vs. show Spaniels

Ready for things to get even more confusing? The four main Springer breeds we’ve listed here can each fall within two categories:

  • Working Spaniels (also known as ‘Field Spaniels’)
  • Show Spaniels

Working Spaniels are often preferred by pet owners because they fit the “traditional” Springer profile. They’re bred for sporting and hunting, which means they’re more active and enjoy outdoor space more than a Show Springer, with a strong hunting instinct to back it up.

Show Spaniels, on the other hand, are usually more content with a less active lifestyle. They’re simply bred to look nice and win dog shows. However, they also tend to suffer from more health problems because of their breeding.

If you’re choosing between a working and show Springer, think about which breed fits within your lifestyle. If you’re active and spend lots of time outdoors (and want a dog that will happily keep up!), the Working line is the best option. But if you’d prefer a relaxed, pretty-looking dog that loves to relax, a Show Spaniel might fit within your life better.

types of spaniel

Which type of Spaniel should I get?

Are you ready to decide which Spaniel breed best suits your life? It’s not just a working or show breed you’ll need to determine. With each Spaniel having different appearances, personalities and temperaments, it’s important to pick the breed that suits your lifestyle best.

To recap, here’s a quick summary of each:

  • Springer Spaniel: The biggest Spaniel breed, Springers are bouncy and full of energy. They need lots of mental stimulation with plenty of toys and physical exercise to be happy dogs.
  • Cocker Spaniel: This breed is a medium-sized Spaniel and shares lots of qualities with the Springer, but they’re more relaxed. They don’t need as much exercise, and may cope well to living in an apartment.
  • Sprocker Spaniel: A mix between two different Spaniel breeds, the Sprocker is a gentle and active dog. They require lots of exercise–but also know when to relax!
  • King Charles Spaniel: The smallest Spaniel breed, the Cavalier King Charles is a great companion dog. They’re well-suited to families with children who want a relaxed pet.

I hope this Spaniel comparison has been useful to you, and helps you decide which breed of furry friend is best suited to your lifestyle. (Plus, it should help you identify which breed of Spaniel you pass on your dog walks!)

Sprocker Lovers is run by me, Elise--a first-time dog mum to my Sprocker puppy, Hugo. We also run the @SprockerLovers Instagram 🐶