How to Groom and Care For Your English Springer Spaniel
The coat of English Springer Spaniels is made up of a smooth, coarser outer layer with a soft undercoat over much of their body.The hair on the head and face is fairly short, the coat over the body is slightly longer and wavy, and then the legs, chest, underbelly and tail (if present) have longer silky hair, known as feathers.The hair on the ears will grow long and full if allowed to and cared for.It has been suggested that the ESS has a “self-cleaning” coat, which refers to the idea that some dirt may easily shed naturally, allowing the white parts of the coat to stay looking bright and clean, and the dog remaining tidy.The coat of a well-cared for English Springer Spaniel will be shiny and lustrous, free from matts and tangles.
If the dog is allowed to run in long grass or woody areas, tangles, knots, burrs, and matts are to be expected.With some care and attention, these issues can be easily managed.
English Springer Spaniels do shed, with often twice yearly “blow-outs” where much of the undercoat is released and replaced.Brushing will help to keep the amount of hair found throughout the house down, but it will not eradicate it.
Nails require constant trimming to keep them in good form, as with any breed of dog.
Some ESS have ears that require constant attention.As with most Spaniels, the long ears are heavily coated.The amount of hair and the weight of the ears can reduce the amount of air flow that can reach the ear canal, resulting in a moistear canal that has the potential of causing problems.Some owners find that routinely adding veterinary-approved ear astringent products to the ears will help to avoid problems. Others are careful to keep the hair around the ears trimmed improving air flow and dry out the ear canals after such events as baths and swimming and have no issues.
Instituting a dental care routine with your English Springer Spaniel, including brushing teeth on a regular basis will assist in maintaining healthy teeth and gums, and reduce “doggy breath”.
There are several different coat styles possible with an ESS.No matter what the coat trim, it doesn’t change the great ESS personality that is always underneath the coat!
This photo shows a bench type ESS that has a coat in a natural state.Without trimming and thinning, the coat over the back, ears and head will develop a thicker coat with wave and possible curls. The ears are of a length that can be expected with normal care.Standard bathing and brushing will keep this dog in this state.
This ESS has been totally shaved down.Some owners find this is an easy way to keep their dogs tidy and neat. A regular trip to the groomers on a schedule that works for you, or learning how to useset of clippers yourself will allow you to easily keep your pet looking like this.Of course, there are many different options available with trimming.You can choose to allow the ears to grow, or leave the feathers on the legs longer, but keep the coat on the back shorter.It is all a matter of personal preference!
There are different trains of thought on this. Some people are of the opinion that a dog's coat has evolved through the years to match the lifestyle it has been bred for, so shaving an English Springer Spaniel should not be required. That being said, if you are unable to properly care for a full coat, trimming it is a better option. Keeping a new shaved dog out of direct sunlight will avoid a sunburn, and offering a sweater or coat to a newly shaved do in the winter maybe advisable. It should be mentioned that shaving a dog's hair will often change the coat possibly adding more curls and waves. Once it has been done it is very difficult to grow a natural looking coat afterwards.
If you want your ESS to look like the classic image of a “show dog”, you must be willing to put some time and effort into the process.The time spent grooming is a great chance to have some one-on-one time with your dog, while giving you a perfect opportunity to work ‘hands on’ all over the dog to identify potential skin or health issues early on.
This dog in show coat has been trimmed about the face, neck and top of the ears keeping the hair in these areas short.There has been special trimming around the neck, blending the shorter hair over into the longer chest bib, making the change in coat length in these areas appear seamless.The coat over the back has been thinned and trimmed to keep the coat flat and smooth.The tail and back end area have been trimmed short to give a nice line.The longer feathers on the legs and belly have been allowed to grow long, which means that special care has been used to prevent tangles, breakage and damage to the coat.As the longer hair does not just automatically look like that, it must be appreciated that this is a continuous and long term effort, with impressive results.With dogs that are kept in a show coat as shown, often a special drying towel is placed on the dog after bathing to encourage the coat to stay lying flat and smooth.The impressive length seen on the ears has also required conscious effort.The owner has probably been careful to keep the ears out of the food as the dog eats and out of the way as the dog chews on toys or dental bones, as these are both common causes of breakage and damage of ear feathers.The good news is, these are not impossible or time consuming tasks.Products known as “snoods” are available to use as inexpensive ear protection, and your ESS will usually accept wearing them without a hassle.
Notice the long ears on this dog. When allowed to eat out of a normal sized bowl, without protection, the ears can easily come into contact with the food and become greasy and dirty.
A simple way to manage this issue is to use a snood.A loose fitting snood covers the ears and keeps them up and out of the way during meals.Another easy method of helping to keep the ears clean is to use a smaller food bowl with straight sides.By decreasing the opening, the muzzle can fit in the bowl, but the ears fall naturally to the outside, keeping them out of the food.
If you would like to learn how to keep your ESS in good show trim right from the start, your breeder should be able to assist you with some of the finer points involved.Training videos and various written articles are available as well.With some time, effort, practice and a few special grooming tools, you can learn to do all of the grooming on your own if you so desire.