If you Are Looking For A HUNTING Dog
Know The Difference
Between A Show Bred & Field Bred
English Springer Spaniel

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If you are looking for a ESS, for Hunting.
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 After you have read this page, and you want more information, on  AKC Field Trials, go here:  For Field Trial ESS Information



Notice:  If you have come here, looking for a "Show" bred dog.
Please go to this site:  It is Jan Martin's site, on Show Dogs.  Jan has been on the Web as long as <ESSFT.com> has.  And the above page, has links to several of the other rewarding activities one can do with a ESS, like, obedience, agility, fly-ball , tracking, search and rescue, and therapy. The 'Field" bred ESS can do ALL these things, with the exception of 'Showing'.

The Field Bred English Springer Spaniel is different from the Show Bred English Springer Spaniel. They have been different dogs, for 70 years. Which is better? Volumes have been written on that subject. What is for sure, is that a show dog is better for the show ring, and a field bred dog is better for the field. In fact there is no way you could get a "CH" in front of your field bred springer. No conformation judge would 'put-up' such a dog. If you want a field trial, hunt test, or hunting dog, look to field bred stock. In the field, the dogs looks are of no consequence but a dog which has the looks or conformation to be a "CH" Champion, will never have the nose or drive to be a Field Trial Champion. This is not a statement to say that one kind of breeding is better than the other, just that, they are different.

Now, there are a number of people who will disagree with this statement. A number of people will point out dogs with a Hunt Test Title and a CH Championship. Yes, there are those dogs, and yes those dogs can hunt. However, to illustrate the point,  I play golf, Tiger Woods plays golf. Without ever seeing me play golf, you know that I and Mr. Woods play golf on different levels. It is simply a statement of fact that a FC/AFC/NAFC/NFC Field Championed dog, and a CH Conformation Champion dog, have not been the same dog, for over 70 years.

You must look at the dogs, you must watch them work, you must make the decision. Any dog you decide on must be bought from a known, reputable breeder. Simply being AKC registered doesn't guarantee you'll get what you want, or have a  healthy dog. The breeder MUST guarantee eyes, hips, PFK, and disposition, if he doesn't, go elsewhere. To identify field bred Springers look to the parents and grandparents pedigree. Titles such as FC, AFC, NAFC, NFC will precede the names of field Champions. The title CH preceding the name of a dog, is a show Champion. Other working titles follow the dogs name. CD, CDX, UD, are obedience titles, TX, TDX, are tracking, and JH, SH, MH, are hunt test titles. The 'titles' of WD/WDX will not appear on any AKC pedigree. These are Parent Club 'titles' and denotes the equivalent of the most basic rudimentary 'test'. Which for a 'Field' dog, means nothing. And of course buy from a breeder who has experience in your chosen kind of dog.

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The goal of many of the field bred ESS owners is the competition, and the ultimate winning of an AKC Field Trial. A Field Trial winner is the best dog, on that day, under those Judges, out of all dogs entered. Four titles are available in the U.S. under AKC rules for Field Trials. AFC is Amateur Field Champion. This means you are running your own dog, and you are not in the business of training field dogs for other people, or for a living. Next is FC, this is Field Champion. This stake is also called the Open which means anybody can run in it. As an amateur in this stake, you will be competing with professional trainers, who are paid to run other peoples dogs, as well as their own. Both these stakes you must either win twice or have 10 points and a win to earn the title. 2nd place is 3 points, 3rd place is 2 points, and 4th place is 1 point. There are approximately 60 trials in the US each year, and they are primarily held in the spring and fall. Here is a list of dates, and places. The two titles, NAFC & NFC, are National events Just one National for Amateur and Open is held each year. In the Springer world, just one National Champion each, is made each year. To qualify to compete in the Nationals, you must have placed in a Field Trial within that year. Other titles that would appear in front of a dogs name are CFC, Canadian Field Champion and NCFC, National Canadian Field Champion. Many Times you will see these Champion titles from dogs competing in Canadian Field Trials. You may also see in front of a dogs name FTCH, which is the UK's Field Champion title. Field titles are placed in front of the dogs name. Hunt Test titles (which are behind the dog's name) are JH for Junior Hunter, SH is Senior Hunter, and MH is Master Hunter. Another title in front of a dogs name is the CH which is a show champion title. Other titles behind the name are obtained by pasing obedience, and tracking tests. The title's WD working dog and WDX working dog excellent, do not appear on AKC registration. These Parent Club titles are given out by Show Clubs. They are suppose to indicate a 'hunting instinct' in a dog, however it is the opinion of the vast majority of Field Trialers, Hunt Testers, and Hunters, it is a meaningless title.

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Ethics and good sportsmanship require the hunter dispatch game as quickly and humanely as possible. Sportsmanship also demands the retrieval of all shot game. To that end these dogs are trained. A Field Trial is a competition, and a collection, of the best trained and best bred dogs in the area. Three 'Series' are run with the dog. The first two are run in a 'Brace', which are two dogs running at the same time, one on each side of the 'Center Line' flags. The third series is one dog at a time. Some of the requirements to complete the 'Stake', and have a possibility of placing are; Finding game by covering the course in an orderly manner, and using the wind to an advantage in the pattern of covering the course. The dog is not allowed to 'Poach' which is putting up game on the other side of the course. The dog must be 'Steady To Flush', so when the dog forces the quarry to fly, the dog waits for the command to retrieve, or continue on. The dog must be 'Steady to Shot', so when a bracemate flushes a bird, and it is shot, that dog waits, allowing his bracemate to retrieve the bird. Most importantly, the dog must retrieve to hand, all shot game. Each time a dog fails to accomplish one of these tasks, it is dropped, and only the dogs that have completed the above tasks, move on to the next series. The third series are the best dogs of the day, and the top four will place. As you can see, this is all deeply rooted in hunting, and you will see the important role, well trained, and well bred, dogs play in a quality and ethical hunting experience.
The group of spectators following the dogs in the field is called the 'Gallery', and in the gallery the 'Field Marshall' who announces the dogs as they come up to the 'Line', will also keep you in line. As live ammunition is used in a Spaniel Field Trial, it is imperative, you listen to the Field Marshall's instructions! Do not applaud, or make unnecessary noise while in the Gallery, especially while the dogs are working the course. All dogs entered must be on a leash when not running. Absolutely no dogs allowed on the grounds which are not entered in the competition. 

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(NAHRA)  Hunt tests. Please go to their home page. They encourage and welcome ESS's
Also Some Hunt Test dates and places here:  http://www.essft.com/htdates.html

Hunt tests are different than Field Trials, in that, the dogs are compared to a standard. When the dog runs, the Judge passes or fails it on how it performed that task. A dog which receives all 10's in it's run, and the dog which receives all 6's, both get a passing grade, both the same color ribbon. There are 3 classes in Hunt Tests. JH, Junior Hunter, the entry level for a person new to Hunt Tests, SR Senior Hunter, the next step. Both JH & SR the dog is not required to be steady to flush or steady to shot, so if a dog runs in these tests, and is steady, no value will be given to that. The highest level is MH, Master Hunter. The MH dog's ground work, comes close to that of Field Trial requirements, however, the Puppy stake, at a Field Trial, requires more training, for the ground work.  The water work, and blind retrieves are more extensive for a MH Hunt Test, than the Field Trial requirements. Flushing Dog Hunt Tests are for all Spaniels. Unlike a Spaniel Field Trial. which is only ESS's, or a Cocker Field Trial which is only ESC's or ACS's. Hunt Tests are relatively new, therefore some groups or areas the Hunt Tests are not as 'good' as others. Look to the club putting on the Hunt Test. Many field clubs, in which members also do Field Trials, put on Hunt Tests. In the early days of Hunt Tests, in some areas, the Show Clubs, or a club formed out of show club members, were doing Hunt Tests, and some cheep titles were given out. Today a  amount of this still exists, but overall they are getting better. Again, if your looking at dogs which have Hunt Test titles, go to those Hunt Tests and watch the dogs work. Just as, if your looking at a dog out of Field Trial titles, go to those Field Trials and watch the dogs. Now you can see, is this the dog you want.

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As you can see a English Springer Spaniel with the AFC, NAFC, FC, NFC, or FT and CFC (Canadian and British equivalent) on it's pedigree is proven quite a superior working dog. Perhaps your now saying "But I just want a hunting dog". First there should be no 'just' in front of hunting, and second, shouldn't your hunting dog come from the best stock available, shouldn't your hunting dog come from Field Champions! Springers are flushing dogs, as the name implies, they work within gun range, and flush the bird into the air to be shot. 300 years ago they did the same thing, only then, the birds were flushed for the falcon. Springers work well with all upland game, and ducks. As to working in cold weather, no problem. Now, your not going to take your Springer, make it sit, wet, in your boat for hours while the ice is closing in your decoys. But, it's not a problem to shoot your ducks, keeping you dog out of the water, than before you go home send the dog for the retrieves. Or cross an icy cold pond for a pheasant, and than keep on hunting. Snow, just keep the hair clipped on the feet and between the toes. Below 0, you, and your dog, need to keep these times short outside. Not so much for the cold on the body, but the cold air thrust into the lungs of any dog can do some damage. Long hair in the weeds. Field Bred Springers generally don't have Long hair. If you keep what hair is there, clean, the burrs just brush right out. You can clip the dogs, but if you do, do it in July, this way by hunting season, the dog has some hair for protection. If you really are into weed, burr, infested hunting, take along a spray can of Pam, (the spray cooking oil), spray it on the coat, before hunting and the burrs just fall out. When you get your Springer, train it to do what you want to do. Well cared for Springers work desperately hard to please their masters. Yes I have seen 35 pound Springers, bring back 12 pound geese, they don't carry them by the body, they drag them by the neck, the point is they do it. The forte of Springers, is of course pheasants, grouse, quail, partridge, and ducks.

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If you have come here, looking for a "Show" bred dog.  Please go to this site: It is Jan Martin's site, on Show Dogs.  Jan has been on the Web as long as <ESSFT.com> has.  And the above page, has links to several of the other rewarding activities one can do with a ESS, like, obedience, agility, fly-ball , tracking, search and rescue, and therapy. The 'Field" bred ESS can do ALL these things, with the exception of 'Showing'.


Can a field bred Springer, used for hunting, be a House Dog? You bet! In fact any breed of dog will have a better bond with it's master, better manners, and be better trained, if it lives in the house. Where this is not possible, Springers can live in the kennel, and do just fine in the winter, (if they are acclimated to the weather, have suitable shelter, and high quality food and water, like all dogs should have). However Springers need exercise, and attention. If you want to buy a dog, have someone else train it, throw it in the kennel for 11 months, and expect it to perform flawlessly on opening day, and if it doesn't, throw a electric collar on it. Exit Here! In fact most breeds of dogs will not perform under these conditions. A properly trained house Springer, knows what the kennel box is for, riding in the truck, and it knows it can't soil the floor of the hotel room, (saving you money, and saving the next person to rent the room 20 minutes of explaining MY dog doesn't do that!). And if your Springer isn't in the house, how can it enjoy being curled up on the warm floor, perhaps in front of the fire, while you relive the day's hunt, with your Brandy, and Cigar.

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The term Dual Dog's, can mean many things. Knowledge is the key to understanding. If a breeder says, they have Dual ESS's, ask Dual What? A Dual Champion can only mean a Show Champion, and a Field Champion. The last Dual Champion ESS (show & field) was in 1947. So if the breeder says they have dual champions, or dual champion line, he/she either has a 50 year old dog, or is blowing smoke. You might even have a breeder show you a pedigree, showing Show Champions on one side, and Field Champions on the other side. That is NOT a Dual dog. That is an outcross dog and you will get neither a top notch Show dog or Field dog. What is legitimate, are Dual Titled dogs. This can be a Tracking dog with a Show, Field, Obedience, Hunt Test, Field Trial title. Or a Obedience dog with a Tracking, Field, Show, Hunt Test, title. You get the idea. What you may even see is a Hunt Test title and a Show Champion. This is NOT a Dual Champion, it is a Dual Titled dog. You will not see a FC-AFC-NFC-NAFC and a CH on the same dog. Check out the book "The Complete English Springer Spaniel" by Charles Goodall & Julia Gasow. This book has gone through 4 reprints, the first in1958. The field portion was rewritten by Roggenkamp in 1992. This book, confirms the fact that some very talented and knowledgeable people have tried, and come to the conclusion that it just isn't possible, with the breed so separated. Why does all this matter? Well your here because you are looking for a top notch Hunting Dog. While competing in Obedience, Tracking, Conformation, (show) are all noble titles to obtain on a dog they do not test or prove a Hunting Dog. Can a ESS from another discipline hunt? Sure they can. Can a Show dog hunt? Sure they can, but to what degree. A good example. Two men on a rifle range sighting in their guns for deer hunting. One has a 75 year old .30-30 Winchester lever action with open sights. The other a Remington, 700BR, 6mmRem with a 3x9 scope. The 30-30 is shooting a 6" group at 50 yards, the 6mmRem is shooting 1" groups at 200 yards. Which gun is accurate? They both are. The .30-30 will work just fine in a heavy woods with shots under 50 yards. The 6mmRem is needed for those clear- cut edges, and logging roads. Both guns are accurate, both guns are 'deer' guns, and both guns serve the relative purpose of the person using them. That's why you must make the decision of what kind of 'hunting', you will be doing. That's why you must choose your Hunting dog from the best Hunting stock.

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If your new to ESS's, and you have done your research, by reading and talking to ESS people. Going to Field Trials and Hunt Tests. You will be seeing some of the animosity which occurs between some.  What role does all this argumentation have on your selection on an ESS for Hunting? NOTHING ! Do your research on what kind of ESS you want. Research the breeder. Research the pedigree.  Do Your Homework! Than bring home a dog. After that, blow off all the politics, and concentrate on training your dog to do what you want it to do. Show & Field people. This page is not here to inflame that rift, only to inform. This split in the breed, is now showing signs of becoming a three way separation. Show People, Field Trialers, Hunt Testers. All three factions bruise easily, and heal slow. (The people, not the dogs). Most of this dialog you will not hear in a public forum, but in quiet little groups at the events, in the bar or restaurant after, on the phone, and now in E-Mail messages, and e-mail lists.. If you look closely at the stone throwers, in each faction, you may come to the conclusion that the size and frequency of the stones thrown, is proportional to the number of dogs the stone thrower breeds, and hopes to sell.

Differences between the Show and Field Bred ESS.
First, let’s look at the physical side of the dog. 

The Standard says: “Ideal height at the shoulder for dogs is 20 inches; for bitches, 19 inches. Those more than one inch under or over the breed ideal are to be faulted. A 20 inch dog, well-proportioned and in good condition, will weigh approximately 50 pounds; a 19 inch bitch will weigh approximately 40 pounds. The length of the body (measured from point of shoulder to point of buttocks) is slightly greater than the height at the withers. The dog too long in body, especially when long in the loin, tires easily and lacks the compact outline characteristic of the breed. A dog too short in body for the length of his legs, a condition which destroys balance and restricts gait, is equally undesirable.”
The vast majority of Field dogs are longer than taller. This structure is what nature dictates is desirable for a working canine. Simple proof is the Wolf, Fox, and Coyote. In these canine examples, which Man has not 'improved', ALL are longer than taller. None are square, they simply do not survive.
The official standard hints at this, but for a working dog, should not a square dog be severely penalized or disqualified?
The standard says: "An atypical dog, too short or long in leg length or foreign in head or expression, may move well, but he is not to be preferred over a good all-round specimen that has a minor fault in movement."
In a working dog should not movement, and ability to perform came BEFORE a " all-round specimen" that has a " or foreign in head or expression"?

The standard says: "Ears are long and fairly wide, hanging close to the cheeks with no tendency to stand up or out. The ear leather is thin and approximately long enough to reach the tip of the nose. Correct ear set is on a level with the eye and not too far back on the skull."
Field dog ears, rarely does the leather touch the tip, or end of the nose, and the ear set is higher than the line level with the eye. The Field dog will often contract the muscles in the top of the head to move the ear away from the head. Shorter, higher, ears move better when the dog is running to dissipate heat, and to dry the ear canal after a swim.
The standard says: "the lips are never pendulous or exaggerated" and "The upper lips come down full and rather square to cover the line of the lower jaw"
Field dogs, the upper lip rarely goes to the bottom of the jaw, and never below the bottom of the jaw. The normal upper lip of the Field dog normally ends at the topside of the lower lip. The long upper lip is a serious determent when picking up game.

The standard says: "The eyes are of medium size and oval in shape, set rather well-apart and fairly deep in their sockets" "Lids are tight with little or no haw showing."
Having hawed eyes is a very serious fault in a Field dog, which is required to run through a field for a living. Yet look at 100 photos of CH dogs, and you will see some hawing in almost every one. Look at 100 photos of FC/AFC etc. dogs, you won't see one. (Take a look at the two National Field Trial Catalogs) As a working dog, should not the standard severely penalize or disqualify a dog with haw eyes, rather than allowing, 'a little haw'.


The standard says: "In the show ring, he should exhibit poise and attentiveness and permit himself to be examined by the judge without resentment or cringing. Aggression toward people and aggression toward other dogs is not in keeping with sporting dog character and purpose and is not acceptable."
Temperament is not tested in the show ring, From the time a show dog is taken out of it's crate, to the time it is put back in to it's crate, that dog is on a lead, and in constant control by it's handler. And when the Judge in the ring touches the dog, it is standard operating procedure to hold the dog, by holding the upper lip between thumb and forefinger thereby continuing to have a direct physical control and influence over the dog. A, ' CH'  Championed dog could be a very mean dog, off lead and away from its handler, there is no way to tell, there is no 'test'.
A field dog is tested 'off lead' every time it competes. And if a Field dog shows the slightest aggression, it is summarily removed from the gene pool.
Some years ago, Dave Hopkins, then President of the ESSFTA, proposed a "Off Lead" exam be installed in both Field and Show. The Field welcomed this with open arms, yet after one announcement of the idea, and the 'tests' conducted at Field Trials, this "Off Lead" exam idea was immediately discounted, by a Parent Club which is 10% Field and 90% Show.

Take a look at photos of the typical Show bred ESS, pay attention to the ears, eyes, and upper lip.
Take a look at photos of a typical Field bred ESS.
Outside of the coat, one cannot help but notice a distinct difference in the physical appearance of the two dogs.


In a Field Bred dog, the Coat if Far different that the Show Bred dog. The FB dog has a short, and or wavy coat, which seldom if ever needs grooming or cutting.

Now, let's talk about the ability of the two dogs. The fact is, there has not been a CH dog with a FC/AFC/NAFC/NFC for the last 57 years. And there has not been a FC/AFC/NAFC/NFC dog with a CH for the last 57 years. (It has been reported that there was a CH Champion dog in the 70's, which had a FC win, and would have qualified in today's Field Trial criteria. Two major items to think about concerning this dog, 1. What was the pedigree? 2. The standard has changed FOUR times since the 70's).
The 'show' bred dog, is not tested in the field, and if you want a dog for HUNTING, don't you want a dog, out of stock, which has Proven, it's ability in the field?

The ESS, Field/Show are two different dogs because: 

For 57 years CH Championed dogs have been bred to comply with just a physical standard. When the standard no longer reflected the CH dogs, the standard was changed to reflect what was making the CH. Nowhere does this standard require any ability of a dog; it is all physical appearance. While for 57 years the Field people have breed a dog, for performance, leaving the physical appearance to fall where it may. The Field dog is bred considering, nose, mouth, (how the dog treats the game), temperament, marking ability, trainability, brains, drive, desire. All, items which have had no influence, or testing in the breeding of the CH dog, yet are absolutely fundamental in a Field bred dog. The physical appearance of the Field Bred dog, by breeding first and foremost for performance, has resulted in a dog which is longer than taller, has shorter ears, has a higher ear set, has a shorter stop, has no haw in the eyes. All these items have proven to be attributes in the field.

It is argued that the CH dog, that is now getting Hunt Test titles proves the CH dog can hunt. Well, of course, all dogs can be trained to hunt, and if it satisfies the person training, than that dog can hunt. But at what level. You play golf, Tiger Woods plays golf, but at two different levels. Also, taking nothing away from Hunt Tests, Hunt Tests are pass or fail against a standard. A Hunt Test dog with all 10's gets the same as a dog, which has squeaked by with all 6's. There is nothing to 'raise the bar' in Hunt Tests. While Field Trials, each year, the performance standard is raised, as the dogs are getting better and better. The The Hunt Test titles, for the 'Flushing Dogs' (The ESS) , of JH, SH, prove very little, except that the dog can be trained to an standard of obedience. As Hunt Tests, (for Flushing dogs) get better, perhaps the lower titles might start to mean something, as of now, if you want a HUNTING dog, look only to the MH Hunt Test title. And then, still look closely.

Will the two dogs be one again?
For that to happen, the standard would have to change, to reflect the physical attributes, which have been proven to work in the field. History tells us that will not happen, because each time the standard has changed, it has moved farther away from what works in performance, and moved closer to what the current fad is in the Show ring. Read the standard from 1940; is it closer to the CH or the FC dog of today?
Will the Show and Field people ever agree?
Not with current 10% Field and 90% Show membership of the Parent Club.

What does this mean for you, in buying a ESS?
It means if you want a dog to hunt with,
you can choose a dog that conforms to a proven performance standard,
or choose a dog, which conforms to simply a physical standard.
It's your choice.

How long has this "Split" been going on in the ESS world?
Well, here is a excerpt from "The English Springer Spaniel In America"
written by Henry Lee Ferguson, in 1932.
            72 years ago !
It shows this 'conflict' has been going on for a very long time, and will continue to go on, simply because the Show people in the Parent Club of the ESS, out number the Field people 9 to 1.

A large number of people believe that bench shows in the case of sporting dogs are of little or no benefit to the breeds. To be a winner at a bench show, a dog must be sound and of good type and must be able to show himself on the end of a leash. A perfect specimen he may be, but few of these dogs are ever good in the field. They are bred to conform to a certain standard and from this breeding they do not inherit what a sporting Dog should have, the blood of generations of trained shooting dogs running in their veins. A winning show dog is bred to a winning show bitch, and the resulting puppies to the get of other well known show dogs. Seldom does a field trial dog, or even a good shooting dog, go high in the show-ring; a few do, but they are the exceptions. Those who show dogs often get away from the true requirements of that particular breed in nature. If a dog is meant for speed, he must have legs; if for trailing, he must have nose; if for hunting he must be of sufficient size to do his required work in an easy manner. It is on this account that they see little advantage in bench shows for shooting dogs, except that possibly it is rather a good thing to have one body of enthusiasts counteracting the breeding ideas of the others who at times go to extremes. I wanted another person's opinion on the above and wrote to a breeder whom I thought was in a good position to answer my questions. He replied as follows:
"I would not worry myself and waste my time trying to breed a top-notch Field Trial Springer and a top-notch Bench Springer all in one. Probably it can be done, but it would take years to do it. The good Field Trial dogs of today have been bred for generations from Field Trial dogs irrespective of their Bench qualities, and the Bench dogs have been bred from Bench champions without a thought to their field qualities. I expect I have bred more Springers than any person in the United States, and I gave up the idea of trying to figure what I would get before the litter was born. I might get one good pup in four litters and he would not be a dual-purpose dog. They have been neglected too far back in one way or the other to breed dual purpose dogs in the first several litters... It is a certain fact if you put the Bench Show type, bone and substance into your Trial dogs you are going to slow them down."

From: "The English Springer Spaniel In America"
By Ferguson, 1932

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What size should your Springer be. Well if you've had a 80 pound Labrador, a 30 pound Springer looks pretty small, but when you look at Champion dogs, I could name dozens which are under 40 pounds, I can't think of one which is over 60 pounds. Average field bred Springer size is 35-45 pounds. Average Bench (Show) Springer size is 40-50 pounds. Heavier Springers, are not within the breed standard. You may even be told the small dog can't get through cattails or swamp grass, and you need the 60-70-80 pound dog. That is not at all valid. A large dog, of any breed, has to bust through, plow down, or fight it's way through heavy grass. The smaller dog will slide under, slip through, or go over the late fall matted grass. Many a Springer while running on the matted swamp grass, has suddenly slipped under the matte, and a short time later, poked it's head out with a bird in it's mouth. You even may be told a small dog tires easily and won't hunt all day. Any dog, of any size, can hunt all day, or just 5 minutes. That depends entirely on the conditioning the dog receives, and what shape it's in. Just like you or me. The myth about a small dog not being able to retrieve pheasants is so entirely untrue it's just not worth talking about. Come see for yourself!

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Many times other dog breed owners have made the statements,
"...those Springers are too fast, and range too far out..." or
"...those Springers potter around and walk past the birds..."
Well I've seen many a Retriever, and Pointer do the same things. Again it depends on your starting material, and how you train the dog. A super nosed dog with no training will run out too far, and a no nose dog, even with the best training, still won't find birds. That last sentence is true of any breed of dog. All the more important to look for the good breeding when buying your Springer. The temperament of all dogs within a breed varies, just as in humans. A Salesman, selling refrigerators to Eskimos must have a different personality than an accountant working for the IRS. So the same with dogs, choose the one you are most comfortable with, and train it, to your needs.

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Many field club members strive for the Champion dog by training for Field Trials. However MOST field club members also hunt. The training goes hand in hand. After all you need your hunting dog to come, sit, stay, heel, retrieve, quarter, and find and flush game. One item which many hunters find optional in hunting, which is required of all trial dogs, is being Steady to wing and shot. Steady to wing means that after your dog drives the bird into the air, he or she stops, and waits for your command. You then direct your dog to retrieve the bird you shot, or to continue hunting in the rare chance you missed it, or it was a hen, or perhaps your buddy shot it and he wants his dog to retrieve. This brings us to the second part, steady to shot, which means upon hearing a shot your dog stops, and looks for your command as to what to do next. Think of the advantages, hunting next to a road, or on a game farm, or your lungs when the dog chases a hen into the next county. Sound like a tall order? Not for a Field Bred English Springer Spaniel, or with the help from fellow Field Club Members. Of course you must remember dogs don't come trained, unless you pay for it, just as a new shotgun doesn't know how to shoot the bird. It's YOU that shoots, and it's YOU that trains. Of course, the better the breeding of the dog, the smarter the dog, the easier the training is. You will get out of it what you put into it. that goes for any breed of dog. You can't keep any dog in the kennel 11 months of the year, trained or not trained, then expect it to read your mind on opening day. Which brings us back to the field dog clubs. Training sessions all year long, with like minded people and responsive, trainable dogs.

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When you join a club, go to the functions, this is the only way you will get to know the people, and get invited to private training sessions. Perhaps at first some people may seen a bit aloof, don't worry, once you show you are interested in training your dog, not just along for the ride, the information and advise will flow freely, and you will feel as if you have known these people for years. Many Field clubs sponsor Training sessions, usually in the spring, where you bring all your questions and problems. Then the members which live close to each other usually get together at someone's place or a hunt club and train. Also in the late spring many clubs have mock Field Trials, called Fun Trials. These are much less formal than a AKC licensed Field Trial, and have more stakes. Perfect place for the Novice dog/owner or Hunting dog. In many cases, being new to the club, you will receive advise and help from the judges and other competitors. Regular business meetings, annual Banquets, Demonstrations and Exhibits at Wildlife Organizations, Potluck Picnics, Sporting Clays Shoots, Newsletters, and let's not forget Field Trials & Hunt Tests are all part of Field Clubs Activities. The more you get involved, the more you get out of it. One more note, if you belong to a local club, you should also belong to the Parent Club. The Parent Club of the ESS is NESSFTA, National English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association.

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This video, out of many on the market, are highly recommended for new and old ESS owners. The first is "On The Line with English Springer Spaniels" ($22.95) This recently, and professional produced video is about the field bred ESS performing in Field Trials. It will give valuable insight to experienced and novice handelers on what is expected at a Field Trial, and how to train for Trials, and the field.  Click here to go to the ESSFTA Store.

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Everyone has their favorite books, on every subject. The best way is to try them out at the library first, after all it's free, than buy the ones you like. Many more books are written on Obedience and Show training, than there is on Field Training. Even though this article is primarily about field bred ESS, there are several Obedience books you should look at. Not necessarily for the 'things' that are taught, but the 'way' they are taught. Many of the top Obedience trainers have a lot of methodology to share.

     "Play Training Your Dog" by Pat Burnham;
     "Dual Ring Dog" by Jacqueline Fraser & Amy Ammen;
     "Beyond Basic Dog Training" by Diane Bauman.

Here are some good Flushing dog books;
  (To Order any of these books visit this link)

     "Urban Gun Dogs" by Tony Roettger & Chip Schleider;
     "Gun Dog Training Spaniels & Retrievers" by Ken Roebuck;
     "Hunting Dog Know How" by David Duffey;
     "Hup" by James Spencer;  (Now Back in Print)
     "Training Spaniels" by Joe Irving;
     "Spaniels for Sport" by Talbot Radcliffe (out of print);
     "The Working Springer Spaniel" by Keith Erlandson;
     "The Complete English Springer Spaniel" by Gasow & Roggenkamp;

The important thing is don't get stuck on one method or style, each dog is different, and each trainer and type of training has something new to offer, some you use more of, some less. If you read and watch ten other trainers, your training methods should be the sum total of eleven different people.

Two books you should read, especially if you are on a quest for a first or new dog are,

     "Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men" by Donald McCaig. This has nothing to do with Spaniels, however most people will find it heartwarming story about a man and his search for a new puppy.

Another highly recommended book is;  "A Rough-Shooting Dog" by Charles Fergus. This details a mans first hunting dog, and it's a Springer, and it is truly  enjoyable reading.

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Check out the breeder. If your looking for a quality Hunting and Family dog look to the dedicated Field Trialers, Hunt Test people, and Hunters who also breed dogs. If a breeder cannot guarantee the dogs health, and doesn't understand the pedigree background, and is not involved with local and National clubs, the dogs are often not proven Field dogs. If the
breeder says, "Springers don't have hip problems" or "What's PFK" or "My dogs can see just fine" find another ESS breeder! Go to the breeder, visit his/her kennel, ask to see the OFA (hips) certification. Ask to see the PFK (phosphofructokinase deficiency) test sheet. Ask to see at least 3 generations of the dog's pedigree and know what the titles mean. Everything has exceptions, however your best chance of finding that great dog lie with the dedicated breeder. You will pay between $450.00 and $750.00 for a well bred, guaranteed pup. No $50.00 dogs here. Quality has always cost money, always will, and will always be worth it.

Ask if your breeder subscribes to the GUIDELINES FOR RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS OF ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIELS. If they are a member of the Parent Club, they must. If you hear, "My Line dosen't have those problems" Run, don't walk, to another breeder! One cannot say this enough times,
'Quality breeders Test!'  For Hips, Eyes, & PFK,  and have the proof!

Responsible Breeders:

   1. Strive in each and every breeding to achieve the highest quality possible relative to the breed standard for conformation, excellence in hunting for field, and trainability for obedience, tracking, and field trials. They also strive for ideal temperament in order to maintain our breed's characteristics.

   2. Endeavor to gain personal knowledge of the temperament and health of every dog they breed, or to which they breed  in order to gather Information on which to base future breeding decisions. They share this Information fully and  honestly with other breeders and with prospective buyers.

   3. Use only physically sound, mature dogs of stabl temperament for breeding. These characteristics are rarely, if ever,  determined before the age of two for either males or females. A minimum breeding age of three is seriously  recommended in order for breeders to determine with greater certainty that the parents are of good health and temperament.

   4. Check all breeding stock for history of genetic diseases pertinent to this breed. including, but not limited to, hip dysplasia, eye diseases, seizure disorders. phosphofructokinase (PFK), blood disorders. allergies and heart disorders. Where applicable, documentation such as OFA and CERF certification should be available to the prospective puppy buyer.

   5. Apply the same high standards to those bitches accepted for breeding to their stud dogs as they apply to their own breeding stock.

   6. Match each puppy's personality as carefully as possible with a compatible buyer/family. Temperament testing of a litter  before puppies are offered for sale is encouraged.

   7. Take appropriate steps for each puppy to be examined by a veterinarian for general health and examined by a  veterinary ophthalmologist for congenital eye disease prior to placement. Each puppy should be vaccinated and wormed by or in consultation with a veterinarian. Proper documentation which indicates normal health and eyes for the  age of the puppy, or specifies any health or eye problems found at time of examination should be furnished to puppy  buyers.

   8. Encourage buyers of pet puppies to spay/neuter. Methods should include written spay/neuter contracts, limited registration and/or spay/neuter rebates.

   9. Sell breeding prospects to knowledgeable, ethical and experienced persons and are willing to help educate and guide novices. They should at any time accept the return of any dog/bitch their breeding program produces and they should always help when relocation is needed.

  10. Do not engage in misleading or untrue advertising.

  11. Do not sell, supply, donate or surrender any dog for which they are responsible to a pet shop, raffle, catalog house, wholesale dealer in laboratory. They should have reasonable assurance that each individual receiving a dog will provide a home with appropriate shelter, restraint, control and responsible care.

  12. Encourage puppy buyers to go to puppy and obedience class to help their puppies become better canine good  citizens. The achievement of a Canine Good Citizen certificate should be encouraged.

The above Information ( GUIDELINES FOR RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS) is provided by the English
Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association. The ESSFTA is the National Parent Club of the breed.
Interested Springer owners are encouraged to join and support their local springer clubs

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First, DO NOT, buy a dog from a pet store, or a pets warehouse, or directly off the internet, though a dog broker. Second, ask  questions, and ask for 'proof' of Field dogs. Third, make sure you contact the breeder/s of the dog directly. There are some places on the internet, which sell you a dog, where you will have no direct contact with the breeder of the dog, you are shuttled through a 'middle man'.
This site gives you the breeders directly, you contact the breeder directly and discuss the dogs. Newspaper ads, be especially cautious of newspaper ads. Ask The Questions !  Magazine ads, if it is a quality publication, dealing with dogs, better, but what do you do, to make sure? Ask The Questions. Do not take the Spouse and or kids to 'look at some puppies'. This purchase of a quality Springer, will be a useful, fulfilling part of your family for 14+ years. Do not hastily Jump In. Do your homework.

    Started Dog 

What IS a Started Dog? That depends on what that person, selling a 'started dog' view of what a started dog is. The level of training, that a Started Dog has, will vary from kennel to kennel. Compare, ask question, write down the particulars, do your homework.  A Started Dog may be the way to go for you, only you will know.

    Field Trial Washout
Now and again, there are dogs which are trained by individual Field Trialers, and Pros, to Field Trial. And for one reason or another, some of these dogs don't work out, and they are put up for sale. What's wrong with the dog?
Well for hunting nothing, but for the competitive sport of Field Trialing, many small insignificant things will result in no
placements in a Field Trial. In fact one of the biggest problems, for dogs that are to be competitive in the Field Trials, is the lack of "flash & dash". The speed of the dog while questing. In a fully trained Field Trial dog, the lack of speed, is a fault, for a hunting dog it is actually a bonus! Part of the training required for Field Trials could be equated to  'sprint running'. A dog which has been trained to 'sprint' can always be trained to be a  'marathon runner'. But a dog which never showed the ability to 'sprint', just can't be trained to do 'sprint' stylishly. Another problem may be the mouth. How the dog treats the game. This can range from to soft, (butter mouth) to, too hard, (hard mouth). Hard mouth can range from, killing live birds, to occasional damaging a trap. Yes this can be fixed, but most ESS Trialers and Breeders don't 'fix' their beeding stock. You see, if you have two dogs (a Sire and Dam) which both have a hard mouth,  and are breed, you have just produced a litter of hard mouth dogs. This is something the Springer people don't want. The Springer people prefer to breed dogs which don't have the genetics for a hard mouth. You 'fix' a hunting dog, not Champion Breeding stock. The whole point is: to get to the point where no dogs have to be 'fixed'! Other problems, from a slow flush, to almost a point. This could be a problem, because if your are here, reading this, and wanted a pointer, you would be reading about Brittany's, not Springers. On the bright side the slow flush is usually the result of steadying the dog to fast. If, when you hunt, you don't care if a dog is steady, and the dog is allowed to chase, the flush in most cases will come back. Shy dogs. Not Mean, but shy. Without question, the good field breeders, Pros & individuals alike, put mean dogs down, no question about it. Mean dogs are put down. Any mean Springer you may have seen, or hear about, came from 'backyard' breeding. A Shy dog may be one which in growing up didn't have the contact it should have, or is genetically that way. Shy dogs don't work well around Field Trials because of all the other people, cars, and activity. If a Hunting dog is a Shy dog, It won't get in the car of a dog thief! And that's a good thing! If your looking at a Field Trial washout, go watch the dog work, and ask all the questions.

    A Good Home
Buying from a reputable Kennel, or individual, in some cases, you may have to spay/nuter this dog. Or you may purchase it on a 'Limited Registration', which will allow you to partake in all AKC events, but if you breed the dog, you cannot register the offspring unless you get the sellers permission to do so. But hey, you want a Hunting dog, not a puppy factory, right?   If you are the type of dog owner, who keeps a dog in the kennel 11 months out of the year, throws food and water at it, takes it out opening day and expects it to read your mind. Exit Here. You won't be getting one of these fine dogs. In fact you shouldn't have any dog. English Springer Spaniels (ESS) and English Cocker Spaniels (ECS) need affection and a close relationship with humans. Unlike some breeds, the ESS's & ECS's will become poor performers with lack of human contact. In fact, it's the overwhelming desire to please it's human master which makes Springers & Cockers such a desirable dog. 

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Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK)  & Fucosidosis
These are Two Different Things!

PFK is a relativity new find, (10years +/-). So far it has been found to affect ESS & some ECS. There are three types of dogs, concerning PFK. 

Normal = Dog does not carry any 'bad' genes for PFK. If the Sire and Dam are both 'Normal' all the off spring will be Normal, and if offspring always bred to a normal dog, no further need for testing. 

Carrier = Dog is not 'affected' and will show no sign of PFK, but dog 'carries' one bad gene, and will pass it to offspring. If a Carrier is bred to a Normal dog, pups would be; 50-50 Normal/Carriers. If bred to a affected dog, 50-50, carriers/affected. If bred to another carrier dog, 25% normal/50% carriers/25% affected. A Carrier dog will lead a perfertly normal life, and never show any signs of PFK, but if bred, WILL pass on the defective gene.
(the above % are simplified, they are actually a bit more complex) 

Affected = Dog has two bad genes. When the dog is worked, it will often collapse, almost like a heat stroke. An Affected dog can lead a life only as a couch potato. This dog 'may' work as a pet, it would never work for hunting dog, where the hard work of training, and hunting, PFK symptoms would show up.
When a responsible breeder, breeds a Normal dog, to a Carrier dog, (Usually this happens only if both dogs have one or more AKC, Field Championship Title/s, FC/AFC/NAFC/NFC/CFC/NFC ) the pups are tested, and the Normal pups are sold, and the Carrier pups are put down, or sold with a spay/nuter contract, or limited registration.

(Limited Registration with the AKC means that the dog can do anything a full registration dog can do, with the exception that a L.R. dog cannot be bred, and the offspring cannot be registered, unless the person applying the limited registration takes it off)

Nobody in there right mind, would ever breed an Affected dog with any dog, or breed two carrier dogs.

Quality ESS & ECS breeders now also test for PFK, as well as Hips and Eyes. If you want a hunting dog, and it will not bred and spay/nutered, a PFK 'carrier' may work for you. Ask before you buy.

For more information on testing go to the sites below.
Here are three places which test for PFK and Fucosidosis using DNA.

Veterinary Diagnostics Center at:
  Note: above site is the latest Test site, and so far the most reasonable

VetGen's at: http://www.vetgen.com/pfkbroch.html#Disease

University of Pennsylvania at: http://www.vet.upenn.edu/penngen/testing.html
The Site Above: Also tests for, Fucosidosis, as well as PFK
((When you go to above site, Look to left, for small print, "Available Tests")) Click on that.
Then look at; Phosphofructokinase Deficiency (PFK)  & Fucosidosis.
Two Different Things.

Here is a short overview, Of BOTH,  from the above site: 
Fucosidosis is a hereditary disease that  occurs when a dog has a mutation in a gene that codes for the enzyme alpha-fucosidase. This enzyme breaks down complex molecules (polysaccharides) so that they can  be recycled and/or removed from a cell. The genetic mutation causes a deficiency of alpha-fucosidase; consequently, complex molecules accumulate inside the cell. This abnormal accumulation eventually interferes with the cell’s ability to function.  Most clinical signs of fucosidosis are due to abnormal storage in the  cells of the peripheral and central nervous system. Some organs tolerate the accumulation of macromolecules relatively well, but the nervous system appears to be very sensitive. Clinical signs include both behavioral changes and signs of motor dysfunction that start at one to two years of age. Affected dogs exhibit bizarre behavior  patterns, may be aggressive or unusually depressed, and appear to  forget previously learned behaviors. An affected dog may resist restraint and appear unsteady on its feet. The dog may also appear  blind and deaf and may suffer from astrointestinal disorders such as  dysphagia, regurgitation, and diarrhea. Unlike Phosphofructokinase deficiency in English Springer Spaniels, this disease progresses rapidly, and death or euthanasia usually occurs within a few weeks  from the onset of clinical signs.  Fucosidosis is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait in show and field English Springer Spaniels. A dog that receives a copy of the  mutant gene from both parents will show clinical signs. A dog with  one copy of the defective gene is a carrier; it will appear healthy but will pass the mutation to its offspring. Researchers at the University of  Pennsylvania have developed a test to detect the deletion that occurs  in the gene that codes for alpha-fucosidase. This test can detect whether a dog is affected or is a carrier.  Currently, the disease is most prevalent in the conformation lines in  the United Kingdom and Australia. However, cases have also been described in field trial dogs. In the United States, clinical cases have  been identified, but the number of carriers is still unknown.  Fucosidosis may be an emergent disease in the United States, and  breeders should consider screening their animals for the presence of  carriers. Any English Springer Spaniel that exhibits multifocal neurological signs, especially a dog descended from English families,  should be tested for fucosidosis.

PFK  Phosphofructokinase (PFK), a major  regulatory enzyme in all cells of the body,  catalyzes the metabolism of sugar, and thereby is pivotal in the production of energy  to maintain normal cell function. In particular,  dogs with this enzyme deficiency have  diseased red blood cells and muscle cells.  PFK deficiency can present as mild to life-threatening episodic illness.  A hallmark sign of this disease is intermittent dark urine, with the  color of the urine ranging from orange to dark coffee-brown, which  commonly develops following strenous exercise, prolonged barking, and extensive panting. These conditions accelerate the destruction of red blood cells in diseased dogs, resulting in dark brown urine, and in  severe forms, pale gums (anemia) or jaundice (yellow coloration of skin and gums) with fever and poor appetite. Particularly in field trial  dogs, clinical signs of weakness, exercise intolerance, poor  performance to outright refusal to move, and muscle cramps may be  observed. Clinical manifestations usually resolve within hours to days. Affected dogs have a relatively normal life expectancy, however,  situations that can precipitate such crises should be avoided.  This disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait in English  Springer Spaniels. The same disease has also recently been found in  Cocker Spaniel and mixed breed dogs. PFK deficiency and the  associeated clinical features are caused by single base pair change  (mutation) in the genetic code of the gene for the enzyme. A molecular  genetic screening test for PFK deficiency accurately determines  whether a dog is affected, a carrier, or a normal dog.  Because of the intermittent and variable clinical signs and the suspected high prevalence of PFK deficiency in the English Springer  Spaniel breed, we recommend the testing of all English Springer  Spaniels used for field trialing or bleeding, or prior to purchase of a puppy and any Springer with suggestive clinical signs.

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 In many ways this subject  is more controversial than the Show/Field bred issue.

   Let's look at 5 types of breeders:

ONE.  The Professional Trainer and Kennel. This person breeds and trains dogs. This person or company proves their kennel dogs by competing in Trials/Tests and has the breeding stock with those titles on it, and has a list of customers who have bought dogs from their stock who also have the proof, 'titles' on the dogs they purchased from that Kennel. They have done all the health tests, and stand behind their dogs every step of the way.

TWO. The responsible 'private' breeder. This person also competes in Trials/Tests, and hunts, and his/her breeding stock also have the titles to prove the dog. This person also does all of the health tests. This person may breed 1 perhaps 2 litters a year.

 Both the above, carefully choose breeding stock, looking for genetic defects,
and match potential Sire/Dam's for  breeding to proven attributes.
They also x-ray hips of parents.  Test parents and or pups for PFK. Test Eyes of parents and litter.


THREE. The two neighbors, who's AKC registered dogs, 'got together' one spring day, and now they have a litter of pups for sale in the local paper. OR, two hunting buddies, who have excellent hunting dogs, and decide, let's have some more. But do not test, because they probably don't know about any tests.

FOUR. The breeder, who want's a couple of extra bucks, or show the kids, 'the miracle of birth'. Or says, "all that club stuff is all politics,  I just have good dogs", and does None of the health checks.  Or the breeder selling 'Show' bred dogs, with JH Hunt test titles, saying they are good hunting dogs. Or the breeder selling a 'Field' dog crossed with a 'show' dog. You will fine Lots of these breeders on Web pages advertising, and in the local papers.

FIVE. The breeder, for strictly money, who sells to pet shops, brokers, pets warehouses.

In an over view, It does not matter how shiny and clean a kennel is. There are some very nice looking kennels out there, that sell a lot of dogs. What matters is; How Healthy is the dog, What tests have been done, and do you SEE the Proof!  Of the Titles, and the Health Checks!

If you were buying a dog, who would you want to buy from?
If you were to breed dogs, which catagory would you come under?

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A former 'Show' person's view:

 Here is a Statement made, by a Long time Show Bred ESS owner, who now owns  Field Bred ESS's. It is a, from the heart, without malace, description of  the differences between the two dogs. With all the information, from this  page, you can now make a decision, on which kind of ESS you want.

I asked this person for permission to include this here, and they asked me to add:

"It's just an account of my experience with our particular family of SB dogs compared to the family of FB dogs we sought to obtain after many years of observing field trials. I don't mind if you use the piece, I would like it made clear though that this is the experience of one person with that person's particular families of dogs. This may not be the experience everyone will have. "
   " Differences.....one striking difference we've noticed is that the FB dogs just "know" things. It's really hard to explain and before this past year (can't believe that our first Field ESS is going to be a year old (this Thursday!) I didn't realize how much we had to teach our SB dogs.  There were glimmers of something that the SB's had from their  ancestors but  only glimmers and you had to catch it just at the right time in order to be able to build on it. At almost a year old out FB knows  more naturally than our (SB) MH! Steadying her, in spite of my novice ness, has been an easy process. The few breaks that she's had are  due to my mistakes in timing.
    The second difference is how fast the FB's brain works. They make  lightening fast decisions which as been a challenge to me I'm  about a second or two behind her at times which throws off the timing for  cues. When I'm standing back watching someone else run a dog I can see the timing, but when I'm running her things happen  faster.
    The third difference is not really a FB/SB difference, but has more to do  with the breeding of our FB dogs. They are sensible, smart and want to please this has to come from the heritage of the dogs. These attributes have definitely made the training process easier. This all speaks to temperament, our SB's were bred to  have that "my shit don't stink" attitude so that they could stand out and win in the show ring. We tried to combine that with brains which made for dogs that unfortunately needed a specific type of owner to raise them. Our two FB's have a quiet confidence coupled with sensibility and brains that make them not only wonderful companions but will make them excellent working dogs.
    I think the last difference is one that I had noticed but hadn't  really put my finger on until a previous SB ECS owner mentioned it while we were discussing the SB/FB differences, a  couple of weeks ago. The SB's think they are little people, they don't want to be dogs. The FB's are dogs, know they are dogs and love being dogs!
    It's like comparing a Granny Smith apple with a Golden Delicious, they are both apples but they are different and have different uses.
    One more change is that I haven't groomed a dog for a year :-)! Their  coats take no maintenance short of a brushing every once in a while, the cover does the rest. "

 With all the information, from this  page, you can now make a decision,
on which kind of ESS you want.


© Copyright  Present Date, to: © Copyright 1993  SPRINGER NEWS:  Author Tom Radde 

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