Dog Breeds
spaniel breeds top uk

Spaniel Breeds - UK's Top 15 Types of Spaniels

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Spaniel breeds come in many variations and sizes, so Waggel is here to help explain the types, differences, and breed characteristics. This way, you can decide on the best spaniel for your home and family. (We're good like that)
Spaniel nestled in flowers


Fun fact: if you google “the calmest dog breeds” the list will be crowded with various Spaniel breeds.

It’s true that they were typically bred to be hunter dogs but, over time, they were turned into docile family pets. They are now among some of the most popular types of dogs in the UK.

They are cute puppies as well, and you certainly wouldn’t melt away by beholding their glistening puppy eyes and long furry ears. Alright, maybe a little!

It’s easy to understand why these dogs are so easy to love, and it’s difficult not to fall for these little bundles of happiness

Typically, you would instantly recognise the breed when you see them. These fluff balls usually come in black, white, and sometimes brown-coloured fur. Others can have different colours with white markings. Certain Spaniels can also have a brown-coloured nose which can change colour with the seasons!

With their characteristic broad muzzle and long droopy ears with curly hair and a silky coat, they are unique and agile. But, as adorable as they may look, their long ears are sadly prone to infections.

The Spaniel will have an average weight of 24-48 pounds and a height of around 14-15 inches tall. The smaller breeds, such as papillons, have a smaller average height of around 8 - 11 inches tall.

You can describe a Spaniel dog as intelligent, faithful, and obedient (and cute as heck).

They are gifted with a loving and affectionate nature - so much so that they get hyper-attached to their owners and can suffer from separation anxiety if kept in isolation for too long - we feel that!

The moral of the story is that you need to reciprocate their feelings with lots of love, care, and attention. Along with that, regular grooming is a must to keep their luscious mane mat-free.

These are 15 of the most popular Spaniel breeds that are full of affection and fun-loving companionship:

1. Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Ever wondered why the cavalier King Charles Spaniel is called so? It’s because they were originally bred to provide companionship to the noblemen of Britain and have a rich heritage.

You may have seen these dogs in famous 16th, 17th, and 18th century paintings.

Their “cute as a button” facial expressions and large, round and beady eyes are quintessential to the breed.

In addition, their super silky hair and coat comes in various vibrantly coloured coats (enough to make you jealous!). This breed only grows up to 13 inches in height and is ideal for apartment living.

They can be shameless lazy bums. So, if you lead a somewhat inactive lifestyle, you and your pet can be the perfect Netflix binge partners!

However, this Spaniel breed is a perfect amalgamation of the athleticism of other spaniel dogs and the calmness of a toy breed.

2. King Charles Spaniel

King Charles spaniel

King Charles Spaniel, just like its cousin breed, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is a “Royal Spaniel.” You can click here to get a clear idea about their differences in stature and behaviour. They have a dome-shaped skull and a shorter muzzle giving them the appearance of a soft toy.

This toy-like appearance almost gave it the name “Toy Spaniel”, but King Edward VII kept its title as the ‘King Charles’ to maintain the royal connection. Also, their mirthful expression and friendly natures make them ideal as a pet.

3. English Cocker Spaniel

English cocker spaniel

English Cocker Spaniel’s hunting nature shines through when they follow their noses and start chasing down birds, butterflies, and squirrels. Adorable, isn’t it? But it’s also the reason why you need to be cautious when you take this breed to a public space. “SQUIRREL!”... Having them collared is a safe way to go.

English Cocker Spaniels tend to be extremely soft and affectionate. Don’t we all remember the feeling of nervousness taking an important exam gave us? Well, these dogs are no different in this regard. They train well but can become easily frightened with intense and harsh training. English Cocker Spaniels can be absolute couch potatoes if their owners lead a sedentary lifestyle. However, they tend to become obese if you do not take them out for exercise once in a while.

4. Papillon

papillon top spaniel breeds

When Josh Billings said, “a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself,” they must be talking about Papillon Spaniels. Papillons, also known as Continental Toy Spaniel, will be your loving companions til the very end. But, on a serious note, they are not the dogs to get if you are away from home for long periods.

They are overly friendly and will pair well with your other pets. But don’t let their small size fool you. Their watchdog-like alert nature trains quickly and will drive away all small rodents from your back garden with ease. Although they are not hunting dogs, they still have this ‘Spaniel instinct’ which can be mitigated with proper training.

These dogs are blessed with adorable outspread ears with fringed edges, giving them the name “Papillon,” which means butterfly in French. And rightfully so! These pooches are bright, outgoing, and energetic, making them your perfect companion.

But unfortunately, Papillons are susceptible to various health issues. If you have a Papillon and would like to get a pet insurance quote, we'd be happy to help!

5. English Springer Spaniel

English springer spaniel

Muscular, energetic, and full of stamina, English Springer Spaniels are built for an active lifestyle. Because of their energy level, they are an absolute no-no for sedentary households.

Don’t believe us? Well, they are a popular choice when it comes to sniffing things out. By things, we mean bombs! Yes, English Springers often work for the police and military to detect bombs and drugs.

However, they also have a loving, affectionate, and social side to them. The English Springer Spaniel’s long silky coats, barrelled chest, and long ears are a treat to the eyes.

They are water babies and never miss an opportunity to get their furs soaking wet. Their energetic nature makes them great companions for running and jogging.

6. American Cocker Spaniel

top spaniel breeds American cocker spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular dog breeds among dog lovers around the world. They are sporting and hunting dogs, and as the name suggests, American Cocker Spaniels are closely related to the English Cocker Spaniel. The only difference is their accent and their spelling of certain words...just kidding.

Their round heads, squared snouts, cute noses, and low-hanging ears are accompanied by a playful, sweet, and expressive personality making them absolute sweethearts.

They have long and silky hair all over their bodies, even on their feet, making it a distinguishing feature. It also means that they require regular grooming to prevent their hair from getting entangled and matted. Also known as the “merry” Cockers, this breed can be your vending machine for joy and happiness.

7. Clumber Spaniel

clumber spaniel

Being the largest of the spaniel breeds, Clumber Spaniels usually come in white colour with little patches of lemon or orange. They are sure to win many medals in dog shows due to their obedient, intelligent, and enthusiastic nature. The list of adjectives does not end here!

They are also extremely welcoming, charming, and affectionate. So, be ready to have your heart melted when a ‘cute Clumber’ greets you with their adorable wagging tails and drooling mouths.

As sweet and cute as they are, these dogs are excellent bird or hunting dogs and are outstanding in field activities. Their strong jaws can shred even the strongest of materials. However, you can trust them with your children!

They can also become overweight very easily and require at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity a day.

8. Welsh Springer Spaniel

welsh springer spaniel top spaniel breeds

Welsh Springer Spaniels are excellent game dogs and versatile hunters and are the absolute favourites of sportsmen. Their unique dark red and white coat, which covers their medium-sized body and long droopy ears, are characteristics of this Spaniel breed.

They are so named because they “spring” at the game during field activities or hunting.

Unlike other dog breeds, Welsh Springers tend to take their sweet time to warm up to strangers. However, that must not stop you from adopting or buying one because once they let their guard down, they tend to be extremely affectionate towards their families.

As a result, they are prone to separation anxiety. In addition, their hunting instincts make them unsuitable for apartment living. Some fresh air, some open space, and one or two bunnies to chase are all that a Welsh Springer Spaniel needs!

9. Irish Water Spaniel

Irish water spaniel breed

Irish Water Spaniels are water retrievers that tend to be energetic, fun-loving, and intelligent. They learn as quickly as a wink, and obedience training with them is a cakewalk. However, they are not meant for first-time dog owners as they can be stubborn and mischievous.

Trying to play a game of fetch with these little doggos when they are not in the mood is quite the experience. If you’re curious, you can learn more about their clown-like activities here.

They usually have thick curly hair on their bodies, making them almost identical to poodles. In reality, they are far from having Poodle-like innocence. They are skilful swimmers, headstrong, and most importantly, family-oriented. These dogs are excellent at guarding the house and only bark to alarm their family of any danger.

10. Field Spaniel

field spaniel

Field Spaniels are an extraordinarily calm and tranquil breed of dogs. Their trustworthy nature makes them a perfect fit with homes with small children.

These adorable, goofy four-legged creatures love physical activities. They will not hesitate to jump right into a pool of water or sniff around all day in an open garden or field. Therefore, these dogs need lots of mental stimulation.

As much as they love to exercise, they are also world-class foodies. They will show no shyness to gobbling down any food they see and can eventually become obese couch potatoes.

This is also why they are not suitable for sedentary families. Their attractive glossy coats and long fluffy ears, in combination with their gentle personalities, are enough to make them your best buddies.

11. Boykin Spaniel

Boykin Spaniel

Developed in South Carolina for hunting purposes in the muddy river swamps, Boykin Spaniels are naturally alert, bold, and intelligent. These dogs come in distinct liver or chocolate-coloured furs with a thick undercoat to keep them warm in the waters. Click here to learn about their grooming technique.

Recently, Boykin Spaniels have gained popularity as family dogs due to their loyal, social, and friendly personality. They tend to gel well with their families and perform activities to please them. They also train exceptionally quickly due to their quick wits and require a lot of daily physical activity to stay fit and healthy.

12. Sussex Spaniel

Sussex spaniel

If you enjoy hunting, hikes, or even long walks, the Sussex Spaniel is the ideal option for you. They have a luscious golden liver-coloured fur coat and are agile, even-tempered, and affectionate.

This breed tends to be extremely protective of their families and bark non-stop at any visitor. Before they bark your way towards a complaint from your neighbours, it is essential to teach them when to stop. Apart from the “woof woes”, they can also get anxious when separated from their owners.

All in all, they are great companions if you lead an active lifestyle and are in need of a cute little friend to keep you company.

13. Kooikerhondje

 Kooikerhondje Spaniel

Kooikerhondje (pronounced as koi-ker-hond-yuh) have large black-tipped ears that are a characteristic trait of this dog.

Kooikerhondje dogs are the perfect combination of sporty and friendly. They enjoy hunting as much as they enjoy licking the faces of their beloved family members.

Their deep red or chestnut and white fur coat is naturally dirt-repellent and waterproof. Amazing, isn’t it? No more tug of wars to get your pooch in the bath every other day!

They are friendly and well-behaved and open up to strangers with ease. A little bit of exercise and lots of attention is what you need to give to a Kooikerhondje to keep them happy and content.

14. American Water Spaniel

As you can already guess by the name, American water spaniels are very skillful swimmers. They, too, have a waterproof double fur coat. Primarily bred as hunter dogs, American water spaniels can also be fantastic house pets if given adequate space to run around and exercise.

They are excellent watchdogs and instantly bark to make their family aware. That doesn’t mean that they’re not affectionate. However, if left for long in isolation, they can get destructive and stubborn. This breed is extremely rare. So, if you want one, you will have to wait before a puppy is available.

American water spaniel

15. German Spaniel

German spaniel

The German Spaniel is also known as the Deutscher Wachtelhund or the German Quail Dog. Germans are known for their clear-headed straightforward personalities, and so is this breed.

They are rarely found outside of Germany and are hunter dogs. They’re well-built and have a long, wavy fur coat that is weather resistant. This breed requires a ton of daily physical activity and is not that suitable for being kept in closed spaces because of their strong prey drive.

However, they are also very docile, trustworthy, and friendly.


You should always research thoroughly before bringing home any animal. Your Spaniel friend will need lots of care and attention to have a happy life. We hope our list of the UK’s top 15 Spaniel breeds will give you a comprehensive outlook on their unique traits and personalities.

If you have found your perfect Spaniel, it's best to insure them as soon as possible so that most conditions will be covered. If your puppy is treated for a condition before being insured, it will be counted as a pre existing condition and won't be covered.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

Want more like this?

Get updates from us with helpful info, advice, answers to frequently asked questions and much more.

By joining, you agree to marketing emails. Unsubscribe anytime. See our privacy policy.

Share this post