Most Spaniel breeds resemble each other in some way, often their ears and beautiful long coats, but there are subtle, and some not-so-subtle, differences.
Spaniel breeds come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more pleasing to the eye than others, and some are more suited to specific terrain than others, but we love them all - every single one!
You'll find a description of all the different breeds of Spaniel dogs below; enjoy!
All breeds of Spaniels have some resemblance to each other; however, the American Cocker is the closest to the English Cocker Spaniel. It is the smallest member of the gun-dog group.
It's slightly smaller than the English Cocker Spaniel, between 35.5 and 38 cm tall (14-15 inches). The American Cocker has a much denser, heavier coat, especially those dogs with solid coats.
They have a shorter muzzle, and their head is more heavily domed.
The American Cocker Spaniel will point and retrieve game in the field, and they are very willing little workers.
They're easily trained and great with children; they're often kept as family pets, but you'll see them in the show ring too.
The American Cocker is an energetic little dog. They love to play and enjoy long, lively walks in the countryside. Discover more about the differences between the American Cocker Spaniel breeds and the English Cocker Spaniels.
The Irish Water Spaniel originated, funnily enough, in Ireland!
This spaniel breed is also known as a Whip-tail, a bog dog, and a Shannon dog. The Irish water spaniel grows to between 51 and 58 cm (20-23") and can weigh up to 30 kg (66 lbs).
They have a very curly, liver-coloured coat which, to the delight of their owners, tends not to shed. Their undercoat is very dense. It not only protects the dog from the cold but also protects it while it's in the water too.
Its long, thin, rat-like tail without fur helps them steer in the water. The Irish Water Spaniel has webbed feet covered in fur, and it goes without saying that these dogs are excellent swimmers!
They need lots of socialisation when they're young and need to be well-trained because if left to their own devices, they can become stubborn, wilful and unruly.
In this respect, they will benefit from having a confident, experienced owner who can easily be their leader.
They're often used for many unusual activities, including cancer prediction and sniffing out drugs and cash.
I would recommend something other than the Irish Water Spaniel as a pet for families with young children because it's unlikely that the children will know how to properly manage a dog like this.
Irish Water Spaniels are retrievers and are highly energetic.
They're known to be the clown of the dog world. Irish Water Spaniels require lots of exercise as this breed needs to romp and run freely, ideally in open countryside and preferably near water.
Definitely not a dog for an apartment or built-up areas.
The American Water Spaniel is a rare breed, and it's thought that they are descendants of the Irish Water Spaniel, the Field Spaniel and the Old English Water Spaniel.
They are medium-sized, sporty dogs and are traditionally used to retrieve waterfowl. Their coats are tightly curled with a protective underlayer, allowing them to work well in water.
They resemble the Irish Water Spaniel, with a tight or wavy brown coat and webbed feet.
They are between 38 and 46 cm tall (15-18 inches) and can weigh between 11.5-20.5 kg (25-45 lbs).
The American Water Spaniel is an intelligent dog that needs many brisk walks to occupy their minds and tire them out.
They are easily trained for work but are also very good with children and content as family dogs.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel originated in the United Kingdom.
Probably one of the smallest of the breeds of Spaniel dogs, they're well-balanced at around 30 to 33 cm (12-13") tall and between 5-8 kg (10-18 lbs) in weight.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has very gentle-looking eyes, large and round but not prominent.
Their silky ears are long, set high on their head, and they have wide-open nostrils. Their coat is long and straight but sometimes slightly wavy and very silky with lots of feathering.
The Cavalier Spaniel is a very eager little dog, very affectionate, and loves being part of the family. They don't like being left alone for long periods.
They have a lifespan of between 10 and 14 years.
The Cavalier is a different breed from the King Charles Spaniel. However, it is a direct descendant, and one is often mistaken for the other.
The Cavalier is bigger and heavier than the King Charles Spaniel, but their facial features are similar. Looking at the head is the easiest way to differentiate between the two breeds.
The Cavalier King Charles has a flattish head, whereas the King Charles' head is quite domed.
The Cavalier's muzzle tends to be longer than the King Charles.
They both share the same coat colours; black and tan, red, white and red, and a tricolour, white with black and tan markings.
The King Charles Spaniel is one of the smaller spaniel breeds, sometimes also known as the English Toy Spaniel.
It was bred originally in England for flushing small birds from the undergrowth.
However, because of their small size and friendly, affectionate nature, they were also used as lapdogs. They can be found living happy lives in many homes with children today.
The King Charles is a small, sturdy dog with a pug nose and wide open (flared) nostrils.
They have a domed head, and their jaw has a slight under-bite. They weigh between 4-6 kg (8-14 lbs) and can grow to 25.5-30 cm (10-12 inches) tall.
The King Charles Spaniel has a soft, silky coat and is quite well-feathered.
Their coats come in black and tan, red, white and red, and a tri-colour, white with black and tan markings.
The Blue Picardy Spaniel is originally from France and is known as the Épagneul de Picardie Bleu. They descended from the Picardy Spaniel and the English Setter.
They're medium-sized sporting dogs, and with their long legs, they may sometimes be mistaken for setters.
They grow to between 56 and 61 cm (22-24 inches) tall and weigh in at around 20.5 kg (45 lbs).
The Blue Picardy Spaniel is predominantly blue-grey with black patches and speckles. Their coats are thick and flat and may occasionally be slightly wavy, with feathering on their ears, legs, underbelly and tail.
Their coats are low maintenance and only need brushing once each week.
The Picardy is a good dog for children because they are very biddable, friendly, and easily trained. However, if you're considering getting a Picardy, be prepared to give it a lot of exercise, as they have boundless energy!
The Boykin Spaniel was bred to work in and around water in South Carolina. It's a medium-sized spaniel breed, slightly larger than the Cocker but smaller than the Springer.
Their coat is a beautiful chocolate brown (also known as liver) and can be curly, slightly wavy or straight. Like most water dogs, their coat is heavier and waterproof, and they have webbed feet.
The Boykin's coat is low maintenance and only needs to be brushed once a week, with an occasional bath unless, of course, they roll in something nasty, which Spaniels like to do!
As you can see in the picture, their long ears frame their face making them look so beautiful.
They're better suited to a family with active kids as they have lots of stamina and will need plenty of running around to get rid of all that pent-up energy!
The Clumber Spaniel always looks very sad to me, with his sorrowful eyes making him look quite mournful! However, he's a handsome-looking dog and is one of my favourites!
His coat is very dense and predominantly white with lemon or orange markings.
He's the biggest of the Spaniel breeds and one of the heaviest.
His body is long and low to the ground and strong. He stands between 43 and 51 cm in height (17-20 inches) and weighs between 35 and 38.5 kg (55-85 lbs). He's pretty chunky!
This dog breed is slower than other spaniel breeds, but that doesn't hamper his workability (bird flushing and retrieving), and he will come up with the goods when required.
He can sometimes be stubborn and will benefit from good training.
The Clumber Spaniel does well in families with children, and if you're looking for a dog that doesn't have high energy levels, this is the breed for you. Clumbers enjoy a daily walk, but nothing strenuous, just a gentle stroll.
If you'd like more information on the Clumber Spaniel, follow this link to the Clumber Spaniel Club.
Field Spaniels were traditionally used for flushing and retrieving game in the field and are one of the rare spaniel breeds. In fact, they almost became extinct.
They're medium-sized dogs with delicate, chiselled facial features, medium-length ears, and long bodies.
Their looks are similar to the Cocker and Springer Spaniel, but they're slightly larger than the Cocker and smaller than the Spaniel.
Their ears are long and feathery, and their coats are usually flat or wavy with feathering in the usual places. They are either black or liver, sometimes with tan markings or spotting (roan).
The Field Spaniel has a gentle, playful nature and a loving temperament. They make a loving companion for an older, active couple or a furry best friend for the kids.
However, they are equally happy working as gun dogs as they enjoy running around the countryside.
As with all Spaniel breeds, training must be a priority and exercise a close second to burn off all that energy to keep them happy and relaxed.
The French Spaniel, also known as Épagneul français, is not well-known outside France. It's one of the taller spaniel breeds and can grow up to 60 cm (24 inches) tall.
Their coats are medium length, with a bit of feathering on the chest, underbelly, back of forelegs, and long feathers on the ears. Their coat colours are white with liver patches of varying sizes.
French Spaniels are gun dogs capable of pointing and retrieving.
They can track and flush woodcock and grouse and are versatile enough to hunt on land and in water. However, they're at their best when working in the field or forests.
They need a lot of exercise because they have plenty of stamina.
The French Spaniel has a good temperament. They're ideal for families with children if they treat the dog gently; they can be a little nervous and don't like being treated with a 'heavy hand'.
The German Spaniel, also known as the Deutscher Wachtelhund (which translates to German quail dog), is a muscular bird dog often used to hunt, track and retrieve hares and foxes. They love working in and around water as well as fields and forest.
The German Spaniel is slightly larger than the Springer, and it is a sturdy, strong-boned dog.
They can reach up to 53 cm (21 inches) tall, and their average weight is between 20 and 30 kg (44–66 pounds).
Their coat is usually flat and well-feathered but short on the head and neck.
The German Spaniel has a high prey drive, so keeping them on a lead when walking in town or the local neighbourhood is always advisable.
These dogs are better suited to life in the open countryside. They are not really suitable for an apartment or for town living.
They need lots of vigorous exercises and a confident owner capable of firm training and handling. For this reason, I don't recommend the German Spaniel as a family dog.
The Pont-Audemer Spaniel is a gun dog and originates from France. It is one of the rare spaniel breeds, and you probably won't see them outside France.
It's a medium-sized breed of dog, weighing between 20 and 27 kg (44-60 lbs) and can grow up to 58 cm (23") tall.
The Pont-Audemer Spaniel's coat is long and wavy. They have long tails with slight feathering. It is a beautiful liver and white colour with a small amount of ticking.
This spaniel breed loves to play the fool, and their humorous antics can be very amusing to watch!
The Pont-Audemer Spaniel breed is intelligent, which makes them easy to train.
It loves to be with the family, especially children, so they make great family dogs. However, like most dogs, they can become destructive if left alone for too long or not exercised properly, so be warned!
The appearance of the Russian Spaniel breed is similar to the Cocker Spaniel. However, they're taller and have a slightly longer body.
They are pretty sturdy dogs and can grow to between 38 and 46 cm in height (15"-18 inches) and can weigh up to 16 kg (35 lbs).
Their coats are predominantly white with dark brown, black or tan flecks or patches, but many combinations exist.
They're very friendly, easily trained and reliable around children. They also like to be active, so they must exercise well to stay stable.
The Sussex Spaniel is stocky with shorter legs than the Cocker, which means they are low to the ground and have an unusual rolling gait.
They're similar in looks to the Clumber Spaniel (see above). Their coat is a beautiful rich liver colour, for which they are famous, with plenty of feathering, which tends to curl when it grows.
They typically grow to between 33 and 38 cm (13–15 inches) at the withers and weigh between 35 and 45 lb (16–20 kg). They're not particularly energetic dogs but do need a gentle daily walk.
Sussex Spaniels are ideal for working in the undergrowth and thick cover.
They also make excellent family pets but be warned, they are sometimes known to be habitual 'barkers'.
The Welsh Springer Spaniel is one of the oldest sporting breeds and is often mistaken for the English Springer.
They're slightly larger than the Cocker but smaller than the Springer Spaniel.
The Welsh Springer can measure up to 48 cm (19 inches) in height and weigh anywhere between 16 and 20 kg (35-45 lb). You might say they're the ideal size for a family dog, not too big and not too small!
They're easily identified by their beautiful red and white, straight flat coat and smaller ears. They have feathers on their chest and underbelly, with light feathering on their ears and tail.
Like most Spaniels, their coat is waterproof and capable of being dragged through a hedge backwards!
They're very loving and loyal dogs and quickly bond easily with family members; however, they can be a little nervous about outsiders.
English Springer Spaniels are compact, medium-sized dogs and are the tallest of the Spaniel breeds. They're very active gun dogs known for flushing and retrieving and love carrying objects in their mouths.
They were given the name 'Springer' because of the way they jumped around in the field. It's really amusing to see them springing up above the shrubs and undergrowth as they are flushing game.
The Springer has a straight coat with feathering on the legs, tail and ears.
Their coats can be seen in black and white and liver and white, both of which can have tan markings above the eyes or muzzle.
Springer spaniels are very playful and energetic and need a lot of exercise to keep them relaxed and calm, not to mention happy.
They're intelligent dogs and can be trained easily. They're great with kids and fit into families very well indeed.
The Tibetan Spaniel was bred by Tibetan monks who used them as guard dogs for their monasteries. As such, they can be troublesome barkers, especially if left alone for too long.
Strictly speaking, they're not related to Spaniels. It's thought the name arose because of their likeness to the small lapdog, the King Charles Spaniel.
They're around 25 cm (10 inches) tall, weigh approximately 8 kg, and can live between 12 and 15 years.
They have a medium-length, silky coat with feathers on the legs, ears and tail and can be seen in many colours.
The Tibetan Spaniel doesn't need much exercise. A short stroll each day will be enough to keep them happy.
Like all dogs, they will benefit from obedience training and boundaries, but unfortunately, they're unsuitable for a household with children.
I hope this article has given you enough insight into the many types of Spaniel breeds.
The above breeds mentioned is only a partial list; many other Spaniel breeds exist.
I didn't go into too much detail for any of them because my site is about Cockers; however, if you need more information on any of them, you can get what you're looking for on other sites on the internet.
Just do a web search and type the words 'spaniel breeds' (without the quotes), and the search engines will bring you what you're looking for.
At the end of the day, Spaniels are very similar, with similar traits and temperaments. I advise choosing a dog that best suits your need and lifestyle, and you won't go far wrong.
Photo Credits for Spaniel Breeds
American Spaniel: American Cocker Spaniel copyright of Elf October 2004 in Turlock, California at the Nunes Agility Field. Original: en.wikipedia 02:47, 21 November 2004
Irish Water Spaniel: Desaix83, d'après le travail de Pleple2000, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
American Water Spaniel: Flickr user Noma's American Water Spaniels . Photo uploaded to commons by user ltshears, CC BY 2.0
<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/American_Water_Spaniel_001.jpg
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: The original uploader was Dgershon at English Wikipedia., CC BY 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 02.jpg
King Charles Spaniel: Canarian, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
Blue Picardy Spaniel: Pleple2000, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Epagneul_bleu_de_picardie_868.jpg
Boykin Spaniel: jetsonphoto, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Clumber Spaniel: audrey_sel, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Field Spaniel: Pleple2000, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
French Spaniel: Canarian, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia
German Spaniel: Canarian, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Pont-Audemer Spaniel: Canarian, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Russian Spaniel: Marcin Błaszkowski, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosyjski_spaniel_my%C5%9Bliwski_MB_01.jpg
Sussex Spaniel: Pleple2000, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
Welsh Springer Spaniel: Lokal_Profil, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
English Springer Spaniel: Hhoefling, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Tibetan Spaniel: Attribution: Ladykransteer, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TibetanSpanielBuddy.jpg