Magnetic Fields

Sweet field spaniels.

Australian House & Garden - - Contents -

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.

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