Showsight Presents the Welsh Springer Spaniel


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By Adrienne Bancker

W alking into the ring to judge the Welsh Springer Spaniel should be a simple plea- sure. Here is a breed that has managed to maintain its form and function for hundreds of years. A Welsh is a simple dog; there is nothing exaggerated about it. Th ere is no separa- tion of type between working and show- ing as there is no separation of type from country to country. Temperament re fl ects a dog comfortable with people and amiable with other dogs. And, to make things even more pleasurable, the Welsh Springer, as a whole, has continued to improve in quality over the past 36+ years that I have person- ally known the breed. Th is is how I recom- mend judging the breed so that it will be a simple pleasure for the reader, as well. When the dog enters the ring what is the fi rst thing I want to see? A working spaniel. I want a medium sized, function- al, unexaggerated dog. If that picture isn’t there, I consider it a serious deviation from the general appearance desired for the Welsh Springer Spaniel. I then move on to outline and propor- tion. Do I have a rectangular silhouette of a dog with a balanced head that blends into a slightly arched neck which fl ows into a level back with a slightly arched loin and continues to a slightly rounded croup fi n- ished o ff by a tail (regardless of length) set as a continuation of the topline? Th e length of the dog comes from the properly angled fore and rear quarters and in the length of ribbing. I use the square within the rectan- gle as a high-level guide. Th e square comes from drawing an imaginary line up the back of the front feet, through the elbows to the withers (height) and from the withers to the set of the tail (length). Th e rectangle

comes from drawing a line from the point of shoulder to the point of buttock (length). When that length is compared to the height, the Welsh is longer than tall, hence rectangular. If any aspect of my desired picture for outline and proportion isn’t there I need to fi nd out why when I do my examination. Next I want a glimpse into movement. A simple trot around the ring will tell me if I have a dog that moves e ffi ciently and e ff ortlessly with drive from the rear. Th is is not a test of speed, but of endurance. Do I have a dog that will be able to last in the fi eld one day, enjoy the outing and be physically fi t and able to do it again the fol- lowing day and the day after that and the day after that? If I don’t see this on the fi rst go around, but I like the overall impres- sion of the dog, I wait until the individual movement to determine if it was the dog or the handler causing the o ff -picture. I now move to the front of the dog and take my fi rst glance at, what I consider, breed essence—the head and expression. Our standard states: “…head is unique and should in no way approximate that of other spaniel breeds. Its overall bal- ance is of primary importance” Th is is an aspect that makes a Welsh a Welsh and not a red & white English Cocker, Beagle, or Setter. Primarily, there is no exaggera- tion anywhere. Th e head should never be broad and massive nor opposite long and lean; there is no pronounced stop, no deep, pendulous fl ews, no round eyes, nor pro- nounced eyebrows, no long, low set heav- ily leathered/feathered ears. Th ere is no excessive skin. Even though there is a bit of loose skin on the body of the Welsh to prevent tearing and pulling while working in and amongst heavy brush, the skin of the head is relatively clean fi tting. Th e ears, in repose, are set on a line with the corner

Illustrating an International Champion, multiple group winner doing what is natural for the breed.

This is the same bitch as above, ‘Mimmi’ INT FIN S(u) N DK CH FINJW-09 NORDW-10 HeW-10 FINW- 10 Benton Walk of Fame winning GROUP-1 at Helsinki Winner under Mr. Ron Menaker, USA.

A young female illustrating correct profile and highlighted areas.


Th ere must be chiseling under the eye, lovely de fi nition of bone that underlines the beauty of the Welsh head and expression. As to balance and its importance; the foreface is equal in length or only slightly shorter than the back skull. Th is is very easily measured by taking your hand and placing it, palm down, on the back skull, determining the length by opening/closing your fi ngers and then placing that same hand on the foreface. Does the nose extend beyond your hand or fi t within the same measurements? On the contrary – do you have a short, chubby head? Is the foreface noticeably shorter than the back skull? No matter how cute a “cockery” head may be, it is de fi nitely an objectionable feature for a Welsh. Teeth should be large and useful for gripping game. Th e slightly divergent planes of the Welsh Springer head are easily determined by looking at the head in pro fi le and using your hand. Th e top of the muzzle is straight, e.g. no roman nose, and leads in to a clearly de fi ned stop which goes up to a slightly domed back skull. When measur- ing for length of back skull to length of foreface, you can also use the palm of your hand to feel for the slight dome (front to back) of the skull cap. As I move from the head to the body I want a head to neck in proportion of about 1:1 and I want the neck to blend smoothly into the shoulders. I don’t expect Welsh shoulders to be as close at the tips as some of the other spaniels, but they should be long, sloping shoulders and I want a well set back upper arm with a prominent forechest. Th ese are problem areas in the

breed—upright shoulders, short upper arms and/or lack of forechest and these areas will alter the desired silhouette. Moving along the dog I want a long ribcage with well-sprung ribs. A young dog may not yet have the spring of rib that comes with maturity, ask the steward the age. If less than three years and you like the dog, you may forgive the fault depend- ing on what you feel under your hands; is it immaturity or is it slabsided? Any older than three years and I would prob- ably leave the dog out of contention. Th e loin is slightly arched, muscular and close- coupled. I like a rib:loin to be about 2 ½ to 1. Th e body of the Welsh is compact, but length of ribbing should never be compro- mised. I can forgive a slightly longer dog with a longer loin with a long rib cage and will always consider it above the Welsh that appears to be more compact but is in fact 50/50 rib to loin. Th e proportion of the rib to loin is one of the major con- tributors to the correct Welsh outline and its length of body. Depth of body should reach to the elbows or very slightly beyond; I do not want a shallow body. Th e topline is level in that it does not slope as stated in several other spaniel standards. Stating that the topline is level does not mean it is fl at; one can’t describe a topline as having a slightly arched loin and slightly rounded croup without having some fl ow to the picture. Th e hind quarters should be welldevel- oped with good wide thighs and second thighs. Hocks should be well let down. Remember: Th is is a breed where noth- ing is exaggerated. I shouldn’t see long

The top winning and top producing bitch British Show Champion Ferndel Cecilia. Even as a veteran bitch, ‘C’ still illustrates so many desirable qualities of an outstanding Welsh Springer and is one of my all-time favorites.

Left picture illustrates CORRECT convergence in front. Right picture illustrates INCORRECT.

Top picture illustrates CORRECT convergence underneath. Bottompicture illustrates INCORRECT.

of the eye and gently taper to the tip, they do not hang straight down, but at an angle and hanging close to the cheek. Th e fl ews/ lips also gently taper as they move towards the well developed nostrils; the throat is clean. And, the eyes. Th ose eyes must be set in tight, darkly pigmented, oval rims and must have an expression that is kind- ly, friendly. No sclera or haw showing.

“THE PROPORTION OF THE RIB TO LOIN IS ONE OF THE MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THE CORRECT WELSH OUTLINE AND ITS LENGTH OF BODY. Depth of body should reach to the elbows or very slightly beyond; I do not want a shallow body.”


sweeping rear ends with hind toes stand- ing far behind where the point of but- tocks end. Feet are round, tight, with good arches and thick pads. Th ese are feet that need to work on all sorts of ter- rain as well as swim. Flat feet, paper thin pads, loose feet all contribute to injury for a working spaniel. As I am going over the dog I am also evaluating coat and texture. Markings are easy—they don’t matter as long as I have a dog that is a rich chestnut red and pearly white. Th e coat is straight, fl at and soft. Silky not wooly. No obvious barbering and not dripping in feathering either. I end the exam with movement. I want to see a dog moved at an easy trot. Th ink of it this way…how much e ff ort does it take to trot around a show ring on level ground usu- ally on matting and in a climate-controlled building? Even if outside on a hot day on poorly mowed grass with gopher holes, there shouldn’t be much e ff ort made to trot. I want to see a dog light on his feet, covering ground smoothly and with purpose. I de fi - nitely do not want to see a dog raced around the ring. When a Welsh is in the fi eld he is an endurance trotter with frequent bursts of running. He doesn’t trot in the fi eld at break neck speeds; if he is going to trot that fast he will break into a run. Currently there are two movement problems I see occurring more frequently. Th e fi rst is lack of convergence of the front legs as the dog is moving towards you. Although the Welsh does not single track, the legs de fi nitely do converge as speed increases. Too many Welsh are moving in a side-to-side, wide, plodding movement. Th e other problem is lack of conver- gence of the front leg with the hind leg

underneath the body. Th is can be attrib- uted to several things, but primarily it fol- lows the course of the incorrect front end as I stated earlier. As for temperament, I expect the dog to accept my hands for examination. Th e tail may be wagging furiously or maybe just a gentle waft, but except for obvious novices or very young puppies that may be a bit overwhelmed by their surround- ings, I want my Welsh to exhibit a friendly and con fi dent character. To do otherwise is anathema to the breed. I would like to end this article with a statement from A.T. Williams, as quoted from Th e Twentieth Century Dog, ed. Herbert Compton, London, 1904: “ Th e ideal Welsh Spaniel must be exceed- ingly active and strong, able to negotiate the most di ffi cult as well as the thickest places, and to last out the longest day. His color must always be red and white, the red deepening with age. His head is fairly long and strong, but not settery type. Ears should be small, o ff ering a minimum of resistance to gorse and briars; eyes dark and full of spaniel expression; body very muscular, not long on any account, with thick coat, not curly, stern down, never above the line of his back, with plenty of movement; legs medium length with plenty of bone and good round feet. And for disposition he must possess utter devo- tion to his master, high courage and not afraid of a fi ght if imposed upon him, but not quarrelsome.” Th at quote holds true over 100 years later. It is our responsibility as breeders, owners and judges to ensure that it holds true 100 years from now. In the meantime, I hope you too enjoy the simple pleasures

BIS/2xBISS Rolyart’s Still the One CD RN WD VC. Among his many, many accomplishments, ´*atorµ Zas also tKe first EreederoZner handled Best in Showwinner for the breed. ‘Gator’ is the son of a Swedish sire and American dam.

Br. Ch. Julita Ryvanda, ‘Vanda’ is a British WSSC club show winner as well as full British Champion field and EencK  AltKougK ¶9anda· is full %ritisK breeding and is pictured here as a veteran bitch, notice the similarity of type to the youngAmerican Champion ‘Gator’.

of judging this delightful breed, the Welsh Springer Spaniel.

BIO Adrienne Bancke,

WSSCA Judges Edu- cation & Briarbanc Welsh Springer Span- iels. For more infor- mation on the Welsh Springer Spaniel, go to wsscaEducation.html

“The tail may be wagging furiously or maybe just a gentle waft, but except for obvious novices or very young puppies that may be a bit overwhelmed by their surroundings, I WANT MY WELSH TO EXHIBIT A FRIENDLY AND CONFIDENT CHARACTER. TO DO OTHERWISE IS ANATHEMA TO THE BREED.” 176 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014


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