Sweet field spaniels.
When you’re choosing a dog for your family, you don’t want to take on a breed that is aggressive or overly challenging, or one that doesn’t like being part of an active throng.
The field spaniel, a slightly larger cousin to the cocker spaniel, could be ideal for a family with a good-size yard and the time to give it lots of attention.
Their looks hint at their personality: the elegant head and almond-shaped hazel eyes give them an air of gentleness and sensitivity, and that’s pretty much how they are.
Diane Seymour started off breeding springer spaniels in the 1970s but fell for field spaniels after seeing them at a Crufts dog show in London. “They have those gorgeous eyes,” she says. “They really are beautiful dogs.” Diane introduced the breed to Australia in 1990 and began breeding them alongside her springers. Since then, the new spaniel in town has rapidly grown in popularity here.
Field spaniels love to be loved, and will respond to affection and gentle training with affability and loyalty. They enjoy plenty of human interaction, so if the kids are willing to give this dog plenty of hugs and pats, and lots of their time, they’ll be rewarded with a dog that loves them back and is very unlikely to snap.
This breed will also get on with other dogs, the family cat and human visitors. In fact, field spaniels are pretty easygoing with anything on two legs or four, as long as they are treated non-aggressively. “They’re a bit shy,” says Diane. “With visitors, they’ll wait until approached, then they’ll be quite friendly.”
They have the smarts, too, rating above average on working-intelligence tests. Once trained, they’ll do what they’re told. Most of the time, anyway.
On the downside, they don’t like to be left alone for long periods and, being very active by nature, they can be destructive and dig up your garden or chew things they shouldn’t if they don’t get the playtime and attention they require. “I’ll be honest, they can be house-wreckers,” says Diane, chuckling. “But as long as they can see you and be close to you, they’re fine.”
Their gentle nature can grow into timidity if they’re not introduced to the big wide world early on. Therefore field spaniels need to become accustomed to people, other dogs, traffic and strange noises as puppies if they’re to be relaxed about them as adult dogs.