At the beginning
English physician Dr John Caius described the spaniel in his book the ‘Treatise of Englishe Dogs’ published in 1576.
This was the first mention of the differing British breeds by function. By 1801, Sydenham Edwards explained in the
Cynographia Britannica that the land spaniel should be split into two kinds: the Springing or Hawking Spaniel, and
the Cocking or Cocker Spaniel.
At this point in time, both cocker and springer spaniels were born in the same litters. The purpose in life of this
breed was to serve as a hunting dog. The smaller cockers were used to hunt woodcock, whilst their larger littermates,
the Springers spaniels would ‘spring’ or flush the gamebird into the air where a trained falcon or hawk would bring it
to the handler.
Many Spaniel breeds were developed during the 19th century, and often named after the countries where they were
developed, or after their owners (who were often nobility). Two types of land Spaniels were predominant and were said
to have been of ‘true Springer type’. These were the Norfolk and Shropshire Spaniels, and by the 1850s, they were shown
under the breed name of the Norfolk Spaniel.
By January 1899, the Spaniel Club of England and the Sporting Spaniel Society held their trials together for the
first time. Two years later, in 1902, a combination of the physical standard from the Spaniel Club of England and the
ability standard from the Sporting Spaniel Society led to the English Springer being officially first recognized by
the English Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club followed suit in 1910.
It is very hard to track down the roots of the Sprocker as a cross between a Springer and a Cocker. As you read it hasn’t,
in the grand scheme of things, been that long since both Springers and Cockers were born in the same litter.
The general feeling is that Gamekeepers in Scotland began the crossbreed to create a dual purpose working field Spaniel
for their big estates, combining the best traits of both Spaniel types for flushing across varied ground cover.
Where does the Sprocker fit in now?
Now, finally, the Sprocker is coming into the limelight not just as an excellent multi-tasking working gundog
but as a superb family pet. There is a lot of misguided thought that a Sprocker is just a current trend for a
designer dog, but this is simply not the case. Firstly the Sprocker is a result of breeding two different types
of the same dog (i.e. the Spaniel) and not a cross of two different breeds (eg. labradoodle which is a Labrador
and a poodle) and secondly the Sprocker has long been a secret asset to the shooting world and has taken a while
for the breed to be nationally sought after.
Sprockers are turning out to be one of the most popular Spaniels at the moment, with many very active Facebook
sites, and websites dedicated purely to them. All of which is a huge bonus for us Sprocker lovers.
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