The Origins of the Spaniel: Just What is a Spaniel?

three spaniel puppies sitting in the grassYou hear many different words associated with various dog breeds. But, often, the meaning of those terms is lost in history and the changing of languages. Fortunately, we are still able to trace those words back to specific meanings if we make the effort to do so. One word that can seem a little more cloaked in mystery is the term “spaniel”. What is a spaniel and where does it come from?

What is a Spaniel?

Any dog that is considered a “spaniel” is a type of “gun dog”, but not all gun dogs are considered spaniels. Gun dogs are hunting dogs that were bred, over time, to help hunters with the task of flushing out or retrieving their quarry once it had been felled. Generally speaking, that quarry was birds, but it varied depending on the region. Gun dogs are typically divided into three different kinds of dogs: retrievers, flushing dogs, and pointing dogs.

Spaniels can be identified by certain specific physical characteristics that are associated with the breed. They generally have long hair that is silky with long ears that droop down over the sides of their heads. They typically have a broad muzzle and their colors range from a sort of reddish-brown to white with varying red, white, black, white, deep brown, and tan spots.

Spaniels tend to range in size from a lapdog to a larger hunting dog. Due to their coat and their physical capabilities, they are great in the water and tend to enjoy swimming. Finally, it is generally agreed upon that their considerable intelligence, ability to empathize with their owners, and tendency towards obedience make them excellent pets.

The Origin of the Spaniel

The origin of the Spaniel breed type is still in some dispute. Some believe that the breed has its origins in the British Isles, where a group of Celts moved from Spain and eventually into Wales, England, and Ireland.

The belief is that the breed was originally the Agassian hunting dog that changed over time, as all breeds do, and especially in isolation and when met with different needs by their owners.

Others believe that the breed was imported into Britannia by the ancient Romans via their trade routes – meaning that the breed actually originated in China! Finally, some think that the breed has its origins in the Holy Land as Arabic Greyhounds – leading to what we know of today as French Spaniels.

Regardless of their origins, one thing is known – these hunting dogs make fantastic companions. So, if you are thinking of a Spaniel as your next canine friend, then you might be on the right track! Take a look at the various Spaniel puppies for sale – you can learn more about specific Spaniel breeds and you might just find your new best friend in the process!