Springer Spaniel Sheepdog

Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Springer Spaniel Sheepdog is a hybrid dog breed, which is a mix between the English Springer Spaniel and the Old English Sheepdog. The result is a bright, intelligent dog that loves both human company and to be on-the-go. They make a great companion for active families that love the outdoor life and are happy to spend time playing with their pet pal.

However, prospective owners needs to be aware of the big commitment to grooming required to care for a Spring Spaniel Sheepdog’s coat. Also, potential health problems include premature blindness, greasy skin, and a risk of developing auto-immune related disease.

About & History

An in-depth look at the history of a new innovation, such as the Springer Spaniel Sheepdog, means considering the origins of the parent breeds.

The English Springer Spaniel

The English Springer Spaniel has roots as a working dog, used to flush and retrieve game for huntsmen. The distant spaniel ancestors of the Springer are referenced in French documents as far back as the 14th century.

But their story starts even earlier than this in ancient times, with the Roman word “Hispania” (meaning ‘from Spain’) used to describe dogs from this country which are thought to be spaniel forebears. It was the 16th century that saw the various spaniel-type dogs diverging to form recognisable breeds, with the first Springer Spaniel officially recognised in 1812.

The Old English Sheepdog

The Old English Sheepdog, as the name suggests, originated as a herding or droving dog to move cattle and sheep to market. They have been around in one shape or another since the 19th century, with bloodlines contributed from various breeds, including the Bearded Collie. Originally, the breed was all about their working ability, rather than appearance, and it was dogs exported to the US in the late 19th that were used to improve the looks of this shaggy canine and move towards the dog we recognise today.


The Springer Spaniel Sheepdog is a large dog that is well-proportioned (as befits a working heritage) with a good weight of bone but without being too heavy or cumbersome. Their head has a good breadth of skull, a medium to long muzzle, and drop ears. The overall impression is of an intelligent and alert, shaggy dog.

The coat varies somewhat depending on which parent they take after, ranging from the soft, medium-length coat of the spaniel to the long, coarse, double coat of the Old English. The white and grey of the Old English may dominate, but other colours that may pop up in pups include white with tan, liver, brown, black, or ruby. The tail is naturally straight and long and amply feathered.

Character & Temperament

The parent breeds both have outstanding qualities of such as being friendly, gentle, energetic, and playful. When these traits are combined in a Springer Spaniel Sheepdog that is raised well from puppyhood, the result is a gem of a canine character.

These dogs are keen and eager to please, happy to be involved in family life, and are a joyful companion on walks and hikes. However, keep in mind their working heritage, which means they need plenty of mental stimulation and can easily become bored if they don’t get plenty of exercise. The Springer Spaniel Sheepdog is also a barker, and for this reason, is not suited to life in the confines of an apartment.


The Springer Spaniel in particular is a-trainable breed that responds brilliantly to reward-based training methods. This may be tempered somewhat with the more placid, laidback stubbornness of the Old English, which can make the dog slower to respond. However, with dedication and consistency from their owner, the Springer Spaniel Sheepdog should shape up to be a first class, four-legged pupil.


As a new breed, there is little reliable data on the health problems to which the Springer Spaniel Sheepdog is prone. However, both parent breeds are at increased risk of certain health problems, and it is reasonable to assume these may show up in their offspring.


Seborrhoea is a skin condition whereby the skin is ‘hyperactive’ and produces an excess of oil or new skin cells that grow too quickly, meaning they flake off easily. Dogs with seborrhoea typically have a greasy feeling coat, which can look lank and dull, along with a bad case of dandruff. The skin’s immunity is weaker than normal, which also makes them prone to secondary infections.

There is no cure for seborrhoea but the dedicated owner can improve coat condition with the use of medicated shampoos, food supplements, and prompt treatment for infections when they occur.

Phosphofructokinase (PFK) Deficiency

PFK is linked to the Springer Spaniel breed and is what’s called an ‘autosomal recessive’ inherited condition. This means that it requires two affected parents to breed together, for affected pups to be born. Because the Springer Spaniel Sheepdog has a dose of Old English blood, this should significantly reduce the risk of PFK in the resulting pups.

PFK itself involves a deficiency in an enzyme that allows the body to burn sugar. A lack of this enzyme results in symptoms that include weakness and an inability to cope with exercise.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is an inherited condition affecting the eye that leads to premature blindness. Unfortunately, it can affect young dogs and in some cases can lead to blindness by one year of age. There is no treatment or cure, with the main management being directed at helping the dog adapt to vision loss.

Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA)

With this condition the body’s immune system becomes confused and starts attacking its own cells as if they were foreign. With IMHA it is the red blood cells that are targeted and destroyed, leading to severe anaemia, which if untreated can be fatal.

The signs are those of anaemia, such as lack of energy and pale gums. Treatment involves the use of drugs to suppress and ‘switch off’ the immune system so it stops attacking red blood cells. Some dogs make a full recovery and can come off medication, but sadly, not all dogs respond to treatment.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Springer Spaniel Sheepdog is the perfect match for the person who spends most of their day outdoors. Otherwise, be prepared to invest at least two-hours daily in good active exercise to meet the mental and physical needs of the breed. Top tips are to engage the dog in activities, such as fetch or Frisbee, where the dog expends more energy than their owner. Not to meet these needs risk bad behaviour breaking through, such as barking, chewing, or digging.


The Springer Spaniel Sheepdog is not for the faint-hearted when it comes to grooming. The famously shaggy coat of the Old English Sheepdog is liable to show up in the pups, meaning a big daily commitment in terms of combing out tangles and keeping the coat knot free.

Should the Old English coat predominate, then trimming and clipping may also be required. On the plus side, the coat is likely to be naturally waterproof, meaning shampooing is not needed; indeed, it is definitely not recommended on a regular basis.

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