As EARLY AS 1570, dog literature contains references to spaniels, sporting dogs that were brought to Britain from Spain and after which country these breeds take the name of "spaniel." At that time, Dr. Caius, first chronicler of dog breeds, divided the "spanielles" into two groups-those that worked over water and those that were used for hunting on land.
It is from the land spaniels that the English Springer descends. Generally regarded as the oldest of the spaniel breeds, it is from the English Springer that all the other land spaniels, except the Clumber, were developed.
By the year 1800 the land spaniel group had been subdivided into two more groups-those weighing up to twenty-five pounds were called "cockers" or "cocking spaniels" because they were used chiefly for hunting woodcock-and the larger dogs, weighing about forty-five pounds, were used for springing game for the net and later for the gun. These became known as "springers," Field Spaniels, or English Spaniels.
Within the next decade a distinct type of robust spaniel had been developed by breeders in the counties of Norfolk and Shropshire. Two strains were predominant and, although these dogs would be considered coarse by today's standards, they are said to have been of true springer type and the forerunners of the present-day breed.
First exhibited in the 1850s as the Norfolk Spaniel, the breed was given its present name after the formation of the Sporting Spaniel Club which was founded in 1885. The first field trial for spaniels, sponsored by this club, was held in 1899, and by 1902 there was sufficient interest in the English Springer to warrant its official recognition as a separate breed by The Kennel Club (England). The following year the breed was shown for the first time at an English championship event.
The breed came to this continent in 1907 and was first registered in Canada in the years 1913 - 1914. The English Springer has earned a reputation as an outstanding all-purpose sporting dog and has accounted for some spectacular winning in the show ring.