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ABOUT ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIELS
The English Springer Spaniel is a breed of gun dog in the Spaniel family traditionally used for flushing and retrieving game. It is an affectionate, excitable breed with an average lifespan of twelve to fourteen years. Descended from the Norfolk or Shropshire Spaniels of the mid-19th century, the breed has diverged into separate show and working (field) lines.

An affectionate and easy-going family dog, its alertness and attentiveness make it the ideal hunting companion. It has exceptional stamina and needs moderate amounts of activity, to focus its mind and to provide exercise, although this is different for each dog. Its long-legged build makes it among the fastest of the spaniels.

The English Springer Spaniel is a medium sized compact dog. This breed represents perhaps the greatest divergence between working and show lines of any breed of dog. A field-bred dog and a show-bred dog appear to be different breeds, but are registered together. In fact, the gene pools are almost completely segregated and have been for at least 70 years. A field-bred dog would not be competitive in a modern dog show while a show dog would not have the speed or stamina to succeed in a field trial

Field-bred dogs tend to have shorter, coarser coats than show-bred dogs. The ears are less pendulous. Field-bred dogs are wiry and have more of a feral look than those bred for showing. The tail of the field-bred dog is docked by a few inches in comparison to the show dog. Field-bred dogs are selected for nose, hunting ability, and response to training rather than appearance. (Source: Wikipedia)
Wikipedia -  English Springer Spaniels 

Google - Pictures of field bred English Springer Spaniels

YouTube - Videos of Field bred English Springer Spaniels


PEDIGREES MATTER
A proven pedigree has everything to do with owning a naturally talented, smart dog! A well bred dog will have many titles in it's pedigree, especially in the first three generations. Great athleticism, natural talent, intelligence and gentle, easy to train temperament are the very reasons why most of our owners are attracted to the English Springer Spaniel breed. You want your pup to come from nurtured, carefully bred parents, not 4 generations of untitled dogs from who knows what lineage!  

A note of caution: There are way too many backyard breeders out there claiming on their websites to  have hunting and field lines, (both Idaho and Montana have some) but a  knowledgeable working gundog/field breeder will have a vested interest in thier breed and be able to prove it.  A quality puppy  from either field or show lineage will have many champions in the first 3 generations of their pedigree, with BOTH parents.   

Deciphering an AKC Pedigree:  
CH  Conformation Champion  Show dogs |  GCh Grand Champion |  BISS Best In Specialty Show |  BIS  Best In Show
JH Junior Hunter |  SH  Senior Hunter |  MH Master Hunter 
FC Field Champion | AFC Amateur Field Champion |  NFC National Field Champion | NAFC National Amateur Field Champion
CFC or FTCh Canadian Field Champion | CNFC- Canadian National Field Champion 
CD Obedience Companion Dog | CDX Companion Dog Excellent | UD Utility Dog | UDX Utility Dog Excellent | VER Versatility (Open/Utility exercises) | OM1-10 Obedience Master | OGM Obedience Grand Master  | OTCH Obedience Trial Champion
BN Beginner Novice Obedience | GN Graduate Novice | PCDX Pre-Companion Dog | GO Graduate Open
RN  Rally Novice | RA Rally Advanced | RE  Rally Excellent |  RAE  Rally Advanced Ecellent
TD  Tracking Dog | TDX  Tracking Dog Excellent | VST  Variable Surface Test |  CT Tracking Champion
NA/NAJ Novice Level | OA/OAJ Open level | AX/AXJ Excellent level | MX/MXJ Master Level | MACH Master Agility Champion | NAP/NJP Novice Preferred| OAP/OJP Open Preferred | AXP/AJP Ecellent Preferred | MXP/MJP Master Preferred | PACH Preferred Agility Champion
VCD1-4  Versatile Companion Dog |  Given to dogs who have earned tracking, agility and obedience titles.
ESSFTA Titles - WD Working Dog |  WDX Working Dog Excellent | VS Versatile Springer


CHECK YOUR DOG FOOD INGREDIENTS
The Dog Food Advisor is a great resource for checking where your dog food quality ranks and for researching new brands if you are considering switching. If you feed dry food to your dog,  study the ingredients carefully and avoid products containing corn in any form, including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc. Corn is for chickens not dogs. It does not belong in dog food! Not only does it render dog food susceptible to deadly  aflatoxin contamination, it also causes "springer ear" infections, and is an allergenic and difficult for most pets to digest. 


THE  OFA HEALTH  DATABASE:  JOINTS AND ACVO/CERF EYE CLEARANCES
Familiarize yourself with using the online database at Orthopedic Foundation for Animals  (OFA) All results are public and the OFA multi-generation vertical pedigrees are particularly useful.

The AKC endorses OFA results, not PennHip.  There is no searchable, transparent public database to verify PennHip reports. PennHip also does not place an age restriction on the dog before it can be done allowing for unethical breeders to breed dogs under the age of two years old. If your puppy is AKC registered, the breeder should be using OFA testing, and it will even show up on the AKC registration certificate when you get your puppy. 

The OFA isn't just for storing joint results. It also includes CERF eye, DNA, thyroid and cardiac testing results making it a powerful resource for those who take genetic health seriously.  

EYE TESTING: RETINAL DYSPLASIA  & PRA
Retinal dysplasia comes in three forms: folds, geographic folds and the most severe form is detached retinas, which causes partial to full blindness from retinal detachment. More information about retinal dysplasia can be found at the ACVO website HERE. Because there is no carrier test for retinal dysplasias, there is no way to predict if a clear CERF'd parent is a carrier and might produce a RD puppy if bred to another clear CERF'd parent carrier making testing of the puppies...especially competition/breeding candidates, very important. RD in the first two forms has no impact on a dog's hunting ability or performance and is not progressive like PRA, but it can certainly play a huge role when determining the very best breeding stock if the goal is to reduce it in the next generation! 

PRA or Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetic degenerative eye disease that causes progressive blindness either in early or late onset form and it is found primarily (if not exclusively) in show-bred springers. It is rarely, if ever, found in field springers. In 2007, a genetic DNA test was developed and the results showed that 80% of the tested dogs were affected or carriers. If you buy a  springer from show line, or backyard bred dogs (most of which go back to show lines or field/show mixing),  you should be aware of this. We've tested a few of our dogs for this and since all have been normal non-carriers and have a verified clear by parentage status.


 PFK ENZYME DEFICIENCY AND OTHER SPRINGER  HEALTH ISSUES
Phosphofructokinase is an enzyme deficiency that causes horrible fatigue after strenuous exercise. Click HERE to read more about this awful disease. In 2001 we imported (and later euthanized) a puppy from one of the UK's top kennels with full blown PFK so we know all too well it exists in field bred dogs. Even worse we found that two other littermates (both went to Texas) were imported with the same disease. One researcher I talked to warned of the influx of PFK from foreign bred dogs being imported into the US, particularly from British FIELD lines and Finnish/Swedish SHOW linesVet DNA is affordable and 100% accurate for detecting carriers. Three generations of our dogs have passed PFK testing with no carriers, and we probably won't be doing it anymore of it

The spaniel ear infection.  It's a fact that spaniels require special attention to their ears and MOST spaniels will get an infection at one time or another during their lives, usually as puppies, no matter how diligently you care for them.  Some studies suggest that dog foods with CORN can cause "springer ear" and encourage yeast infections and that feeding active cultured  yogurt can keep yeast flora balances in check. Chronic ear infections require a thyroid test to rule out a weakened immune system. Thyroid conditions are almost always hereditary. In chronic cases the dog might be a candidate for ear fold surgery which removes some of the larger folds blocking air circulation inside the ear canal. Our dogs rarely have ear infections, but do require regular examinations and cleanings!

NO E-COLLARS FOR US, THANKS!
The late great Keith Erlandson summed it up perfectly when he wrote in his book The Working Springer Spaniel (Swan Hill Press) "Never, never be inveigled into believing that the electric training collar has any place in the training armory of the gun dog trainer. It is a diabolical device and nobody can guess how many gundogs have been ruined by its incorrect application. Even 'correctly' used it can create its own set of problems. It can mask temperamental faults and put into the winner's circle, and thereby the breeding pool, a dog which can pass on its own faults, most likely hard-headedness and dishonesty, to a good many of its offspring."  In an age of force fetched,  pro-trained, e-collared created champions these words are as true today, if not truer, as the day Mr. Erlandson wrote them.   

Robert Milner says this about the use of e-collars: "The increasing popularity and use of the electric collar is skewing breeding selection toward this type of dog, especially in the field trial gene pool. A good trainer can take a tough uncooperative dog and put him through an electric collar training program and make a well mannered gentleman out of him. The problem is that the electric collar program doesn't change his genes.  If you saw this dog at a field trial or in training you might say, "That's a very good dog, I think I'll breed him to my bitch." You then arrange for the breeding, and subsequently a litter of puppies arrives. Unfortunately the puppies are going to approximate their parents in behavioral traits. Therefore, that tough uncooperative male is going to tend to produce tough uncooperative puppies, puppies that will need a good trainer and an electric collar training program. "  Source: Trained vs. Inherited behavior

And there is more.... Expert Dog Trainer Robert Milner Says Heck No to Shock Collars published by Shotgun Life. 

Simple box clickers are $1 and can be found at PetSmart and ordered online from many places.  

No ecollar trainers will  find Totally Gundogs extremely useful. 


BACK TO THE TOP
Zeeza with her 2008 daughter Singer
Our puppy field in October 2008

Maia was our foundation bitch, an AKC Master Hunter and mom to FC AFC CFC Hellfire's Fast Track MH  MX AXJ CD VS and many other exceptional springers.
"Maia" is hellfire's foundation bitch.
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© 2000 Hellfire Gundogs All Rights Reserved. AKC English Springer Spaniel Breeder of Merit located in SW Montana.
Cheetah with her 2005 puppies.
FC AFC CFC Abitt's Highlander Lord MH RE OAJ OJP VCD1
Toby is a FC AFC CFC MH RE VCD1 VS and a good frisbee dog!
Chica, Cheetah, Spanky and our Sussex Spaniel Maverick
I ran my first hunt test in 1999 and Annie was my very first Master Hunter! RIP sweet Annie.
L-R: Maia, Annie and Danni  - My first 3 AKC Master Hunters.
Maia  was my third AKC Master Hunter and Hellfire's foundation matriarch. An outstanding bitch in every way.
First shot bird over Navy!
Me working Maia, Annie and Cougar - two of the three became AKC Master Hunters
NEW CHAMPION! Maverick and me winning a 5 point major in Pleasanton, CA October 2014
Our gundogs compete in AKC field performance events (we prefer the hunt tests because of the advanced water work) as well as a wide variety of AKC companion dog events like obedience, agility and tracking. All of them are shot over and hunted on wild birds. They are  family hunting companions and beloved pets first and foremost. We are are an experienced and accomplished AKC Breeder of Merit and belong to many dog clubs.  Puppies from our kennel have earned numerous field championships, master hunter titles,  obedience, agility and tracking titles. Sound, well bred dogs with great natural talent and biddable temperament can do anything!

We usually have 2 litters  of puppies a year. Our puppies are whelped and raised in the house where they receive early neurological and neonatal stimulation, constant handling and household socialization.  As they get bigger they are encouraged to romp and run in our excellent puppy fields,  swim in ponds,  flush the pigeons around the barn, and  find  the liberated  young pheasant or chukar around the flight pen during summer and fall.  If you have never purchased a puppy from us before, a standard screening questionnaire is required to be filled out in order to be considered for a litter list.  Our Puppy 101 page has more information.



Chica,  Cheetah, Spanky and Maverick the Sussex oddball.