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Field Spaniel

Field SpanieL





Spaniels were developed in the early 1800s from couching dogs and possibly hounds. Sussex types were the oldest. As the development of the spaniel continued, the Field Spaniel type emerged, with even less of the hound influence. They were first noted in the early 19th century and, in fact, early litters contained both Fields (the larger whelps used for grouse and quail) and Cockers (smaller dogs used for hunting woodcock). Sometime during the mid-1800s, show interests began to exaggerate and change the Field variety. Led by fancier Phineas Bullock, the whims of fashion nearly ruined the breed. The dog became a caricature, with cumbersome head, very short crooked legs, and elongated weak "hammock-slung" body. According to the International Encyclopedia of Dogs, descriptions of the breed at the time noted: ". . . sluggish and crocodile-like," "German sausage," "Caterpillars," with one wag suggesting they needed an extra pair of legs in the middle to keep their sagging bellies off the ground. One dog of the time purportedly was 12 inches at the shoulder and weighed 40 pounds! As the Field Spaniel craze waned, dedicated owners brought the Field back to a sensible state by the turn of the century. English Springers and perhaps a dash of Cocker Spaniel had a hand in the refinement of the modern breed. The bad taste was not rinsed out of the public's mouth, however, and the Field slipped to the point of extinction. Even though the breed survived the two Wars, by the 1950s its numbers were so small in England that championship status was withdrawn. The breed was literally reduced to a handful of breeders. At a 1967 show in Birmingham, England, every Field in the country (with the exception of a few retirees) was on the bench that day. But numbers slowly increased, and the awarding of challenge certificates was restored in 1969.

Over the years, a few were brought to America, Those arriving in the late 1800s were still classed as Fields or Cockers, depending on weight. Thus, their history in America is tied closely to that of the Cocker Spaniel. After many years without any registrations, a few began to trickle in during the revival in the 1960s. Today, occasional specimens are seen on the show bench, both natives and imports. A handful of litters are registered by AKC each year, so the breed has a pawhold on both sides of the Atlantic.
A Field is the epitome of the basic spaniel, without any exaggeration. Moderate coat and feather, normal stop and flew, slightly more length than height; he stands out for his lack of overdone characteristics. A happy and levelheaded fellow, he has both perseverance and endurance in the field.





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