The world of spaniel dog breeds is a complex and sometimes confusing one. It wasn’t so long ago that spaniels were all classified as basically the same dog breed, whether Cocker Spaniel, Boykin Spaniel, or Springer Spaniel.
Fast forward to today, and as the American Kennel Club (AKC) highlights, Springer Spaniels have been further subdivided into English, Sussex, Welsh, Field, and Clumber Spaniels, among others.
In this particular article, we will only be looking at the coat type and shedding tendencies of the English Springer Spaniel.
Do Springer Spaniels of English persuasion shed? Let’s learn the answer together!
Do Springer Spaniels Shed?
The simple answer to the question about whether Springer Spaniels shed is “yes.”
English Springer Spaniels have a very distinctive double layer long hair coat which is impressive in the show ring and prone to tangling and matting in daily life.
Like the majority of working and sporting dog breeds, the English Springer Spaniel’s double layer coat sheds year-round and more heavily during seasonal “coat blows” when the undercoat sheds out profusely.
Learn Top Facts About the Springer Spaniel Dog Breed
As this informative YouTube video describes, Springer Spaniels do need regular grooming, including brushing and combing to keep the lovely long hair coat from tangling and matting.
You will also learn other interesting facts about the Springer Spaniel history, health, training, and temperament.
How Much Do Springer Spaniels Shed?
As the English Springer Spaniel Club of Canada points out, Springer Spaniels shed. And sometimes they shed a lot.
The Springer Spaniel coat has two layers, as we mentioned in the previous section here.
But the Springer Spaniel also has feathering – extra hair that serves in both a protective and decorative role for the dog.
So you are dealing with a long hair coat that is double layer with extra hair. This basically amounts to extra shedding and extra grooming on top of that.
Springer Spaniels are considered to be sporting and gun dogs. These dogs may look like gorgeous showy dogs, but all that hair actually has a protective function for the dog.
The outer layer of the English Springer Spaniel’s coat is designed to keep water, cold, ultraviolet sunlight, pests, bacteria, and abrasion far away from the dog’s skin. It is a protective layer of hair that shields the dog’s skin from harm.
The inner layer of the Springer Spaniel coat is soft and downy and very thick. It is not unlike the warm coat you pull out during the winter – it keeps your dog warm.
But in the warm spring and summer months, this insulating inner layer can cause overheating, so the dog starts to shed it out when temperatures increase. This event is often nicknamed the “coat blow” for reasons you can probably imagine.
Huge sections of the undercoat fall out in clumps, covering everything you own with dog hair. At the same time, the longer outer coat layer is constantly shedding as older hairs fall out and are replaced with fresh new hairs.
So basically you are going to be dealing with shed, dead dog hair all year long throughout your dog’s life.
For many dog lovers, this isn’t a problem at all and just comes with the territory of dog ownership. But if you are someone who has pet-related allergies, a shedding Springer Spaniel may not be the ideal canine companion for you.
What to Expect When Grooming and Maintaining the Springer Spaniel Coat
If you have read this far, you can already tell that Springer Spaniels have evolved a very specific type of coat that is protective as well as beautiful to look at.
As UK’s The Field explains, not all Springer Spaniels have the same coat type. Some dogs have silky smooth fur and others have woolly, wiry fur.
The type of hair coat your Springer Spaniel inherits from the parent dogs can dictate how and how much grooming and coat maintenance you need to do.
But in this section, we will just outline general recommendations for maintaining a Springer Spaniel’s coat. If you prefer not to do your own coat care, hiring a canine grooming professional is another avenue many Springer Spaniel owners opt for.
Hand stripping or carding (de-shedding) a Springer Spaniel
According to Groomer to Groomer magazine, the first step is to remove any and all dead shed hair that may have gotten trapped in the surrounding coat.
This is much more common in long-hair breeds like the English Springer Spaniel since the dead, shed hair can easily fall out and get trapped in the surrounding hairs before falling to the ground.
So instead of falling out, it will stay in the coat and cause tangles that lead to mats. Once the dog’s coat gets matted, it is often necessary to cut out the mat to avoid hurting your dog. So you want to avoid mats if at all possible.
Hand stripping is as simple as running your hands through your dog’s coat to pull out dead, shed hair. Alternately, you can use a carding or de-matting rake or tool to do the same.
Bathing a Springer Spaniel
When you go to bathe your Springer Spaniel, you definitely want to de-tangle and de-mat the coat first, as this becomes much more difficult once the coat is wet.
This is why, once you get the coat de-matted or stripped, the next step a professional groomer would take is to give your dog a bath.
Be aware that you don’t want to bathe your Springer Spaniel too often because this will strip out the beneficial skin oils that keep the skin and coat conditioned and functioning properly.
Never ever use a “people” shampoo on your Springer Spaniel’s coat, as the pH-balance won’t be right for canine skin and can easily cause irritation. Only use a dog shampoo that states it is pH balanced for dogs.
After shampooing your dog, apply some leave-in conditioner and detangling treatment to make the blow-dry and brushing process easier and more comfortable for your dog.
Once your dog is clean and dry and the coat is tangle-free, you can get to work thinning and trimming hair in smaller areas such as around the paw pads, ears, face, tail, and private areas.
Using a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray can also help with coat brushing and upkeep between grooming appointments.
Getting Your English Springer Spaniel Puppy Used to Be Brushed and Groomed
As the English Springer Spaniel Club points out, it can be scary at first for a new puppy to be groomed.
Your dog won’t recognize the brushes and combs or the carding/stripping rake. This is because Springer Spaniel puppies typically don’t start to shed out their puppy coat and grow in their double layer adult dog coat until around the age of six months.
So they won’t have been exposed to grooming and brushing at any great scale before coming home with you.
Luckily, English Springer Spaniels love being with their people and you can use this to your advantage when brushing and grooming your pup for the first time.
To make it easiest on your dog, be sure you have all the right equipment on hand before starting. Here is a very basic list of equipment you will probably need to use:
- De-shedding rake or slicker brush with L tines.
- Stainless steel round-tip comb (spaniel comb).
- Pin and bristle brush.
- De-tangling spray.
- Stainless steel trimming shears.
You will also want to have lots of treats on hand to encourage your dog to be an enthusiastic participant in the bathing and grooming process.
For best results, start play-grooming your Springer Spaniel puppy as soon as your dog comes home to stay. You can let your puppy sniff the comb and brushes and check them out before you start the brushing and grooming process.
If your dog seems anxious, just do a couple of minutes to start with, offering plenty of praise and treats as rewards. Increase the amount of time you spend brushing your dog slowly until your Spaniel becomes more comfortable with the process.
As Jenny the Spaniel breeder explains, certain areas on your dog’s body may be especially prone to developing tangles and mats. These areas include the paws, belly, ears, and hocks where the coat feathering is located.
Many Spaniel owners get into the habit of cleaning the ears, trimming the nails and brushing the teeth at the same time that bathing, brushing and grooming is being done.
This is a good discipline to follow to ensure you don’t miss any budding health problems. Ear infections are a particular issue with Springer Spaniels since their ears hang over the inner ear canal, blocking airflow.
How Often Do You Need to Brush a Springer Spaniel?
When your Springer Spaniel is a young puppy, they will have a softer, thinner, single layer puppy coat. This coat won’t need a lot of brushing or grooming – at least until it starts to shed out around the age of six months or so.
It can take several months for the puppy coat to completely shed out and the adult double layer coat to grow in. During this time, you may see your puppy shedding hair out in clumps, and this is nothing to worry about.
Brushing your puppy can help ease out dead hair before it falls to the ground.
Once the adult coat begins to grow in, regular brushing is going to be vital to avoid tangles and mats, as VCA Animal Hospitals points out.
For an active Springer Spaniel that is helping with the hunt or is simply playing outdoors a lot, burs, leaf litter, pests, brambles, and dirt are all going to get trapped in the coat.
You want to aim to brush out this trapped matter daily to keep tangles from developing.
Managing Springer Spaniel Shedding
Even in between the seasonal coat blows where the undercoat sheds out, managing Springer Spaniel shedding can start to feel like a full-time job.
This is why breeder lovers advise against choosing a Springer Spaniel if you have a strong neat streak, as this thread on the Springer Spaniels forum points out.
Springer Spaniels shed a lot and they shed year-round. While it can take some time before the full adult coat grows in and the first big coat blow (called a “moult” in some dog clubs) occurs, once it does you will never mistake it for anything else.
When you and your dog are first getting to know each other, you won’t have any way of knowing how much shedding is normal and what might be abnormal or excessive.
But over time as your puppy gets their full adult dog coat and you have gone through a full seasonal shed cycle, you will start to learn what to expect.
This will also help you identify times that feel like your Springer Spaniel is shedding more than is normal.
As Fetch by WebMD explains, excessive shedding may be linked to an underlying nutritional or health problem, including nutritional imbalance from improper diet.
In certain cases, more serious health issues like cancer may also be contributing to excessive shedding.
As the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) health database points out, English Springer Spaniels are prone to inheriting autoimmune thyroiditis, an immune system condition that can cause excessive coat shedding in dogs.
Other health concerns that may cause over-shedding include food allergies or sensitivities, environmental allergies, chronic dehydration, certain pests, yeast infections, sunburn, stress, anxiety, and immune system malfunction.
It isn’t always easy to figure out what might be causing your Springer Spaniel to shed chronically in a way that seems excessive.
Here, the best way to start troubleshooting is to schedule a visit to your dog’s veterinarian for a thorough health checkup. Your dog’s vet can run diagnostic tests to determine what might be causing over-shedding.