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What is a roan english springer spaniel?

The roan English springer spaniel is a beautiful, active dog breed with a coat that features a distinctive mix of white and colored hairs. As their name suggests, they originated as hunting dogs bred to “spring” game for hunters in England. Today, while some are still used as hunting companions, most are beloved family pets and competitors in dog sports. Their lively nature makes them wonderful companions for an active family.

History and Origins

The English springer spaniel breed dates back centuries in England, where they were developed as hunting dogs. Their name indicates their role – to “spring” game, flushing birds out of brush so hunters could shoot them. Selective breeding produced dogs skilled at working closely with hunters.

By the 1800s, the breed had diverged into separate show and field lines. Field springers were bred for stamina and working ability, while show dogs were bred for a standardized appearance. This included solid-colored coats in black, liver, or shades of red. Roan coats were likely not preferred in early show breeding.

However, roan English springer spaniels existed as working field dogs. The roan pattern – a mix of white and colored hairs – provided camouflage when hunting. By the early 1900s, roan field springers were recognized as a distinct variety by major kennel clubs. They remain the most common color of working springers today.

Appearance and Coat

The roan English springer spaniel is a medium-sized dog, typically 17 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder and 40 to 50 pounds. They have a sturdy, athletic build suited for endurance and activity.

Their coat is their most distinguishing feature. It consists of white hairs mixed evenly with black, liver or mahogany red hairs. The colored hairs may be in solid patches or interspersed throughout the coat. There is significant variety in roan patterns between individual dogs. The white can range from 10% to 90% of the coat.

In a blue roan, the colored hairs are black mixed with white. Liver roan coats mix liver brown and white hairs. Red roans feature a mix of mahogany red and white. Regardless of the color mix, the roan pattern provides a soft, blended appearance.

In addition to their coats, English springer spaniels have gentle, friendly faces. Their long ears frame their muzzle and large, expressive eyes. Their compact body is athletic and strong – built for the field rather than the show ring.

Temperament and Personality

The roan English springer spaniel has an affectionate, eager-to-please personality. Developed as hunting companions, they thrive when working closely with people. They are alert and energetic, requiring daily activity and play.

With positive training and socialization, springers become wonderful family dogs. They are patient, gentle and playful with children. They form close bonds with all family members. With strangers, they are polite once properly introduced.

As sporting dogs bred for the field, roan springers need plenty of exercise. They excel at dog sports like agility, flyball and obedience trials. This provides an outlet for their high energy and intelligence.

Without sufficient activity, springers may develop problem behaviors like excessive barking or chewing. But with regular activity, training and affection, they make ideal pets for active owners. Their versatility allows them to transition seamlessly from hiking companion to curled up couch potato.

Grooming and Care

The roan English springer spaniel has a medium-length double coat. The soft, flatter outer coat protects the dense, water-resistant undercoat. Minimal grooming is required.

They shed moderately year-round. More frequent brushing during seasonal shedding can help keep loose hair under control. Trim the feathering on ears, chest, legs and paws as needed for tidy appearance.

Bathe springers only when dirty. Over-bathing can strip the coat of protective oils. Check and clean ears regularly to prevent infections. Brush teeth, trim nails and clean eyes as part of the regular routine.

As energetic sporting dogs, roan springers need 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise daily. A large, fenced yard provides space to run. These intelligent dogs also need training and mental stimulation through play, sports or interactive toys.

Health and Lifespan

The roan English springer spaniel is generally a healthy, athletic breed. However, like all dogs, they may be prone to certain health conditions. Reputable breeders screen breeding dogs for health and temperament.

Some issues known to occur in springers include:

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia – Malformation of joints
  • Progressive retinal atrophy – Gradual vision loss
  • Phosphofructokinase deficiency – Metabolic enzyme defect causing exercise intolerance
  • Rage syndrome – Episodes of sudden aggression, may have genetic link

With proper care, exercise and vet checkups, the typical lifespan is 12 to 14 years. Provide high-quality dog food formulated for energetic medium-sized breeds. Routine vet care helps keep roan springers healthy at every stage of life.

Finding a Roan English Springer Spaniel

The roan English springer spaniel makes a wonderful hunting dog or family companion. However, they are not the easiest dogs for novice owners. Their high energy and exercise needs require commitment.

Puppies should come from reputable breeders who health test dams and sires. Expect to pay $1,000 or more for a roan English springer puppy. Adults or retired breeding/working dogs can sometimes be adopted for $300 to $500.

Rescue groups like English Springer Rescue America offer springers in need of new homes. Consider if the breed’s exercise, grooming and training needs fit your lifestyle before bringing one home. If properly socialized and cared for, roan springers make delightful, affectionate companions.

Working Roan Springers

While less common in the show ring, the roan color pattern remains the most popular for working springer spaniels used in hunting fields. The mixed white and colored hairs provide camouflage when flushing game.

Selective breeding in field lines focuses on traits like endurance, birdiness, trainability and retrieving ability. The best working springers have an intense drive to hunt tempered by an even temperament and eagerness to work with handlers.

Compared to bench-bred springers, field-bred roans have leaner, more athletic builds needed for all-day hunting. Their energy and stamina is never ending in the field. Yet they can settle calmly indoors after a long day’s hunt.

Driven yet biddable roans continue to prove themselves ideal hunting companions. They excel at field trials where intelligence and birdiness are tested. For hunters seeking a willing, trainable partner, the roan English springer spaniel remains a top choice.

Age Physical Development Training & Behavior
8-12 weeks Rapid early growth Socialization with dogs/people
3-6 months Teething and chewing Housetraining
6-10 months Adolescent lanky phase Advanced obedience
1-3 years Filling out and maturation Behavioral reinforcement
3+ years Mature adult Maintaining training

Choosing a Roan Puppy

Choosing the right roan English springer spaniel puppy is important. Consider these tips:

  • Get referrals and only buy from reputable breeders.
  • Meet both parents if possible.
  • See medical records and health clearances.
  • Notice if puppies seem energetic, healthy and social.
  • Choose based on temperament rather than color.
  • Avoid timid or aggressive pups.
  • Consider waiting until 12 weeks for puppy vaccinations.

An ideal roan springer pup has an eager yet gentle temperament. They should show interest in people and feeling secure away from littermates. With a healthy, well-bred puppy, the roan color is just the icing on the cake.


The roan coat pattern adds striking and unique beauty to the beloved English springer spaniel breed. Bred to flush game, their active nature and trainable temperament make them ideal hunting partners and family dogs. A roan Springer’s affectionate loyalty enriches the lives of those willing to provide their high energy level with adequate exercise, training and interaction. While their beauty may first draw your eye, it’s their companionship that makes roan English springers so special.