Spaniel comes from the Old French espaigneul, which means “Spanish dog.” In turn, the Old French espaigneul comes from the Latin Hispaniolus, which means “Spanish.” As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that most people believe that spaniel breeds can trace their roots to the Iberian Peninsula, though the exact method by which they spread to other European regions and beyond remains mysterious. Some have suggested the ancient Romans, while others have suggested the ancient Celts. Whatever the case, spaniel breeds are very popular, so much so that it isn’t uncommon for them to make various lists of the most popular breeds out there.
Bearing in mind that the rankings are different from not just kennel club to kennel club but also from year to year, here are five of the most popular spaniel breeds that can be found in the entire world:
American Cocker Spaniel
Once upon a time, the American Cocker Spaniel and the English Cocker Spaniel were the same breed. However, kennel clubs in the United States and the United Kingdom had different standards in the 20th century, which is why what was once one breed is now two breeds. Regardless, while the American Cocker Spaniel was once a working breed, it has lost some of its usefulness in that regard because of having been bred to a show standard. Still, while the breed has lost some of the keen intelligence that made it potentially useful in a wide range of roles, it retains its happy nature, thus making it an excellent canine companion.
The Brittany is interesting in that while it is sometimes called a spaniel, there are those who believe that it is closer to either a pointer or a setter. This is the reason that while it was once listed as the Brittany Spaniel with the American Kennel Club, it has since lost the “spaniel” part of its name. With that said, the Brittany is famous for being an energetic, good-natured dog that can be trained with relative ease, meaning that it is no wonder that it has become popular beyond the boundaries of its initial homeland in the northwest of France.
English Cocker Spaniel
Of course, the English Cocker Spaniel would be the United Kingdom’s version of the Cocker Spaniel. Generally speaking, when someone says Cocker Spaniel, chances are good that they are referring to this breed rather than its American counterpart unless they are in the United States. Something that should speak volumes about the popularity of the English Cocker Spaniel in not just the United Kingdom but also other countries. On the whole, the English Cocker Spaniel has remained closer to its working dog predecessor, particularly if it is either a “field cocker” or a “working cocker” rather than a “show cocker.” As a result, English Cocker Spaniels are happy, intelligent, and obedient dogs.
English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel is a close relative of the Cocker Spaniels, though the breeds separated in the early 20th century. Nowadays, the breed has separated into two kinds, with one being show dogs and the other being working dogs. Having said this, the breed is a popular choice for a wide range of dog owners because it possesses plenty of smarts, stamina, and a surprising amount of speed. On top of this, English Springer Spaniels are very friendly dogs as well, meaning that they respond very well when their human masters want to train them.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have an interesting relationship with King Charles Spaniels. First, they were bred from King Charles Spaniels in the 1920s. Second, they were meant to be an attempt to recreate the King Charles Spaniels that existed in the time of the English Restoration. Temperament-wise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are similar to other spaniels in that they are good-natured dogs that get along very well with humans. With that said, the breed can be a bit too attached to humans, meaning that their owners shouldn’t leave them for too long on their own because that can be rather unpleasant for them. Still, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make for great pets, particularly because of their smaller size.