About Welsh

Welsh Springer Spaniels are known as "the Merry Welsh" and described as mischievous, inquisitive, noisy and that they can be destructive if bored. They are an excellent field dog and a loving and loyal companion.

We have found all of these things are true of the Welsh - they have a sense of fun, they want to know everything and be involved in everything that is going on, they will bark at things that change, move or make a noise and, as puppies they will chew anything left lying about or dig - just for the fun of it!

They are "food focussed" dogs, which makes them very easy to train using food as a positive reinforcement, but this also means that they "bench surf" and will steal any food that is within their reach.

New owners must also be aware that Welshies do not fully mature until they are approximately 4 years old - so be prepared to live with a puppy for a few years.

They are an excellent "warning" dog and will let you know that you have visitors before your visitors have arrived at the front door - but show no sign of aggression to strangers.

In our experience, Welshies are a high maintenance dog - and this does not mean in a monetary sense. They are a very gentle, affectionate and loyal breed that demand attention and do not cope well with harsh treatment of any kind. They need to be with their humans and will follow them around - even to the toilet or wait patiently for you to come out of the shower. They need to live with you - this means they are a house dog and sleep inside. Our dogs spend their days outside when we are at work, but as soon as we come home, they come inside and spend the evening with us, at our feet or following us around. At night time, they sleep in the bedroom. They are not completely happy until we are all at home together!

It is very easy for Welshies to own you, so it is important that boundaries are set very early on and that owners are consistent in their treatment and training, i.e., if you don't want them to lie on the couch - don't allow it - ever!

They are very good with children and older people. As we have no other pets, we have no first hand experience in this regard, but friends who also have other breeds of dogs find they get along very well indeed and we have never encountered any problems with visiting dogs. However, as WSS are very active, they may not be suitable for very elderly people.

There are several Welsh involved in the "Pets for Therapy Scheme" in other countries and in Victoria there is are several Welsh who are qualified "Pet Educators" and visit primary schools. Their gentle disposition makes them ideal for these activities.

As Welsh are generally reserved with strangers they require socialisation beginning from puppyhood with other dogs, children, people, different environments, sights and sounds (especially loud noises and car traffic) and this should continue throughout your Welshies' lifetime.

They do best in any situation where they can spend time with their owners and should not be left for long periods alone as they can suffer from separation anxiety. Welshies need to live with you as part of the family - this cannot be over-emphasised.

Some Welshies are also known to be very clever escape artists - they can and will climb if there is something more interesting on the other side of the fence. Therefore, a secure, fenced yard is a must.

Care and grooming

Being a long haired dog, they do shed profusely and require regular brushing. Trimming around the ears to ensure adequate air flow is also needed. If it is a show dog, it requires regular trimming and grooming around the feet, ears and neck and the coat requires regular stripping. Stripping away the dead hair will maintain a healthy coat and the rich red colour Welshies are known for. WSS also have a self-cleaning coat which means that mud and dirt will fall off the coat as it dries - straight on to the carpet!

Please note, that if your Welsh is to be de-sexed, the texture of their coat may change and become fluffier and lose its self-cleaning ability.

Attention to their diet is necessary to ensure their ideal weight is maintained. An ideal diet for all dogs is bones and raw foods - regular bones are recommended for healthy teeth and gums. We feed our dogs chicken frames daily along with a natural diet of vegetables, meat and include fish, eggs and yoghurt.

Exercise

Welshies require a daily walk and/or run in the park and are very keen swimmers.

We do not believe they require a great deal of space as we feel sure that they do not exercise themselves but spend most of the day sleeping while they wait for us to come home! An average sized back yard will usually suffice - provided they do have a reasonably long walk or run each day. We are fortunate that we have several off-leash parks in our neighbourhood and we get a lot of enjoyment watching our chaps running through the park.

Care must be taken in the first few months not to over-exercise a growing pup and put unnecessary strain on hips and growth joints.

Training

Welshies are highly intelligent and biddable dogs that learn very quickly and benefit greatly from obedience training starting as soon as possible - preferably at 8 weeks. They must be trained using gentle, positive reinforcement methods - choke chains and rough handling should be avoided at all costs.

They want to please their owner, but can become very bored with repetition and can be easily distracted by other sights and smells - they are, after all, bred to hunt! Varying obedience training by using other methods such as clicker training is very useful and teaching them while playing games also alleviates the boredom of conventional sit, stay, heel exercises. Welshies can also be very stubborn and if they don't want to do something, they won't! Again, varying the training can overcome this.

Welshies also do very well at agility, endurance and tracking.

Without obedience training, the Welshie will own you. With their beautiful spaniel eyes, you will find yourself doing their bidding!

Crate training your puppy is also highly recommended. The crate will quickly become your puppy's "den" and it can also be used to transport your puppy in the car where the puppy will be safe. Note, the crate must never be used as a punishment.

In the show ring

Welsh Springer Spaniels are often confused with English Springer Spaniels, i.e. it is assumed that they are just a smaller version of the English SS but with shorter ears and legs. This is not so and, in fact, the only thing these two breeds have in common is their surname.

The Welshie has very distinctive colouring - red and white only, vine shaped ears, his body is symmetrical and compact, not leggy and he moves very differently to an English Springer.

The breed standard states they are "reserved with strangers" - this should not be confused with fear or aggression and it is natural for a Welsh to be cautious with strangers. He will "check new people out" - with his tail wagging and if happy, he will then go to them for a pat or tummy rub.

A Welshie's tail is described as being "lively in action", i.e. always wagging, therefore, in the showring judges should look for a tail that is wagging happily and should not be clamped down.

Breed Standard

Health

There are genetic disorders which may affect all breeds of dog and there are three conditions which may affect Welsh Springer Spaniels. These are - hip dysplasia, some genetic eye disorders and epilepsy.

All potential owners should check that breeding stock has been thoroughly and professionally screened for these conditions.

In summary, this is a beautiful breed who just wants to be by his owner's side. We have found that everyone who becomes involved with them, becomes completely besotted!

Whatever work his owner is willing to put into him, the Welsh Springer Spaniel will repay over and over with loyalty and affection.

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Youlla Kyriacou 2022