"Spaniel" is a corruption of the French word for "Spanish." They were bred to flush animals out of bushes and dense vegetation. There are 13 different breeds of spaniel. All spaniels were once categorised as either water or land spaniels. The British first started using spaniels as gun dogs in the 17th century, and the breed is still widely used for hunting birds and small game.
Cocker Spaniels are one of the most common spaniels. At just 10.9 to 12.7 kg (24 to 28 lb), Cockers are small for hunting spaniels and also make terrific family pets. English Cocker Spaniels are slightly bigger than American Cockers and more adapted to hunting. These dogs are not as low maintenance and do not make as good pets as their American counterparts.
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is the largest spaniel, weighing between 20 and 29.5 kg (45 and 65 lb). Mostly used as retrievers, Irish Water Spaniels are smart and friendly dogs who are very protective of their families.
The Clumber Spaniel is significantly larger, weighing between 25 and 34 kg (55 and 75 lb). Clumbers are less active than smaller spaniels and are used less for hunting and more as low-key family pets.
English Springer Spaniel
Known as a happy and hardworking dog, the English Springer Spaniel is medium sized and very loyal to his owners.
Welsh Springer Spaniel
Similar to the English Springer Spaniel, the Welsh Springer Spaniel is a bit smaller and more reserved but makes a calm pet or a dedicated working dog.
Weighing between 16 and 20.5 kg (35 and 45 lb), the Sussex Spaniel can be aggressive toward other dogs and defensive of her home. Sussex Spaniels can also be more difficult to train than other spaniels.
A wonderful bird hunting or family dog, the Field Spaniel is a rare dog bred to hunt in heavy vegetation. These dogs are generally kind and calm.
Originally bred in the United States as a turkey-hunting dog, the Boykin Spaniel is an excellent swimmer and the official state dog of South Carolina.
American Water Spaniel
A somewhat rare breed, the American Water Spaniel makes an excellent pet and watchdog. These dogs, who aren't used much for hunting, can be wary of unknown dogs and require a lot of exercise.
An adult Tibetan Spaniel weighs between 4 and 7 kg (9 and 15 lb). Tibetan Spaniels are friendly with people they know but can be distrustful of strangers.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
A toy breed, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a sweet and mellow dog, reaching 6 to 9 (13 to 18 lb) on average when full grown.
English Toy Spaniel
The English Toy Spaniel is another small dog who makes an excellent family pet. Friendly with children, this little spaniel is well-suited to apartment life.