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The Welsh Springer Spaniel: An Ancient Breed
by Loretta Baughan

The compact, red and white spaniel playfully bounced about in the cranberry bog. Amber, a four and a half year old Welsh Springer Spaniel, flushed and retrieved the birds with an easygoing style to her owner and trainer, Larry Hennessey of Whispering Pines Kennels at Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Her soulful expression and winsome disposition punctuated the animated spaniel's performance in the field.

Contrary to what some may assume, the Welshie is not a red and white version of an English Springer Spaniel. In fact, the two breeds are not related. Their shared moniker, "springer spaniel", is simply descriptive of both breeds hunting style.

The earliest known reference to any spaniel dates back as far as 1200 BC. It is believed to be the fore bearers of what we know today as the Welsh Springer Spaniel. Developed in Wales, their spaniels intended purpose was as a "starter" dog - and that was to spring game for falcons. In Britain, their numbers sharply declined during the War to near extinction. With just a handful of post-war Welshies, the breed's gene pool is small. Because of this, health problems such as: epilepsy, thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, glaucoma and other eye diseases are a concern.

Today, the majority of the Welsh Springer Spaniels in America are kept as pets - and for exhibiting in the show ring. With only about 35 litters being registered per year with the AKC, just locating a pup can be extremely difficult. Most breeders are very particular when it comes to selecting buyers.

As housedogs, they are calm and have a laid back attitude, but can be "barkers". Soft-tempered, protective, yet reserved with strangers, and very attached to their family describes the little spaniel dubbed the "velcro" dog. Typically, an adult male will weigh between 40-45 lbs., standing about 19" - while females fall into the 35-38 lb. range and may be 17" tall at the shoulders. Hennessey explains that their soft coat is self-cleaning. If they get muddy, the mud just falls off once the coat is dry.

Larry breeds and trains both Welsh and English Springer Spaniels. One of his Welshies, Grouse Wings Autumn Mist, who is known as "Amber", has her WD - or Working Dog - certificate. She also competes in dog shows. Typically, the Welsh Springer Spaniel National dog show draws between 300-350 competitors. The breeds parent club, the Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, does hold AKC sanctioned Hunt Tests. However, the potential numbers of participants for a field trial are too low. There may be six to eight WSS that may be able to field trial, Larry comments.

Finding parents that hunt - just as in any gundog breed - is imperative, if you intend to hunt your pup. Therein lies the difficulty. Most of the Welsh Springer Spaniels have little interest in hunting. Of those that may, it is necessary to start their training at a very early age, and continue it on a consistent basis. An older WSS is too independent and is

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