Pets don’t come more loving and loyal than a family dog. But how to choose the best breed of dog to suit your family and lifestyle? Labradors and English Springer Spaniels are two of the most popular dogs in the UK and both thrive on plenty of exercise, but what if you can’t decide between the two breeds? Here’s our guide to helping you choose.
Written by Lisa Proffitt | 16th October 2020
How to choose – Labradors vs English Springer Spaniels
- Appetite: First off, mention a Labrador and most people will have a story to tell about their Lab stealing the Sunday roast from the oven, eating a frozen chicken or working out how to open the electric bin to feast on the scraps inside. Before you own a Lab you will be sceptical of these anecdotes. Don’t be. Labradors are scavengers and will merrily eat anything and everything in sight. Vigilance in the kitchen will become the name of the game to prevent their weight spiralling out of control.
- Temperament: Along with their passion for food, Labs love people, a trait which makes them one of the best dogs for children of all ages. Gentle, easy-going and loyal, if introduced carefully most are as reliable with the family pet bunny or guinea pigs as they are with the children.
- Training: There’s an old saying that a Labrador is born half trained and a spaniel dies half trained. The main reason for this is that most Labs will do almost anything for food (see above). This gives you a head start with them in the obedience stakes and makes them a great choice for the first time dog owner. It’s not guaranteed plain sailing though and some have a deeply stubborn streak with pulling on the lead a particular vice. Their strength means that if you don’t want your arms pulled out of their sockets on a daily basis, walking to heel training will need special attention. Many Lab owners use a harness for this reason.
- Grooming: A Labrador’s coat is short and easy to care for but they do shed and will need the occasional bath. If you’re very house proud choose a black or chocolate Lab as their hairs are a lot less visible on clothes and soft furnishings than those of their yellow cousins.
- Exercise: Labradors need masses. Be aware that they are also very bouncy and exuberant jumpers, which can be sweet as a three-month old puppy, but not so much when they’re a fully grown dog who will easily send a small child flying. Bear in mind that Labs generally don’t calm down until around they reach 3-5 years old.
- Lifespan: The quoted lifespan for a Lab is 10-12 years, but they can live several years longer. Arthritis and joint problems are a common problem for elderly Labs and keeping them a healthy weight is crucial.
- Colours: Although they come in several colours, Labrador Retrievers are all the same breed regardless of whether they’re black, yellow, fox red or chocolate. As a generalisation, in obedience classes yellow Labs are often the calmest and most mild-mannered in contrast to the chocolate Labs who tend to have a crazy streak.
ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIEL
- Exercise: English Springers are intelligent, affectionate and highly active dogs. When considering this breed, think about providing enough exercise and mental stimulation – they need regular opportunities to run around madly, chase balls and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored and boisterous which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing.
- Temperament: English Springers make wonderful companions for children and adults although are probably less reliable with small furry pets. All of the Spaniel breeds love company and hate being left alone for more than a few hours at a time. Separation anxiety is a huge issue for them as they love people so much. Of course it goes without saying that an empty house is no place for any dog.
- Grooming: Coat care is a big responsibility when you own an English Springer, especially a dog from show lines, since they tend to have thick coats with lots of feathering. Weekly brushing and combing is essential with regular trips to a groomer for clipping. Their beautifully long and floppy ears mean that weekly ear cleaning is a must too.
- Lifespan: English Springer Spaniels generally live until the age of 12-14 years.
- Socialisation: From their puppy days, English Springers need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. The majority of Springers are friendly, gentle and eager to please but a word of caution is that they can have an unstable temperament if not bred properly. This may lead to excessive barking, hyperactivity, or even aggression. A lot of unscrupulous “breeders” have taken advantage of people who wanted a puppy in lockdown and in these cases you really can’t be sure of the temperament of the dog you’re getting, no matter what the breed. Always use a reputable, kennel-club registered breeder and meet the puppy’s parents.
If you would like advice on whether to buy a pedigree puppy or get a dog from a rescue centre, then The Kennel Club are there to help. If you’re thinking of a new home as well as a new addition to the family then why not contact your local Michael Graham office now? Whether your dream is a country house with gardens or a townhouse near a park, we can help you make your next move. Have a look at the three homes below or search our property for sale section on the website to see all our homes on the market now.