5 common English springer spaniel health problems

August 15, 2023 - 6 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
A brown and white Springer Spaniel in mid-jump with a pink looped arrow indicating its hip and elbow joints against a dark green background, suggesting the potential for hip and elbow dysplasia.

The English springer spaniel, a breed renowned for its boundless (read: nonstop) energy and affectionate nature, has been a beloved companion for centuries.

Originating from Spain, this breed has undergone various transformations, adapting to different roles, from hunting to companionship. They can make great family dogs as long as you're willing to put in the time to consistently exercise and train them.

But like any breed, springer spaniels come with their own set of health conditions that can develop from poor breeding or that simply crop up as they age. Staying aware of these potential health issues can help your furry confidante live their springiest life well into old age.

What are the most common health issues in springer spaniels?

A brown and white Springer Spaniel with curly fur looking to the side against a beige background.

Ever heard of "Springer Spaniel Rage Disorder?" If you've been researching long enough, you'll see plenty of information that would strike fear into the heart of any potential pet parent. But some of these conditions are exceedingly rare—and even rarer if you’re careful and responsible.

The truth is, a lot of the health problems in purebred dogs tend to be the result of poor breeding. If you've got your heart set on a Springer Spaniel, you might be able to avoid or minimize these issues by choosing a great breeder and taking proper care of your pup.

Behavioral issues

Rage syndrome is relatively rare, affecting only a small percentage of springer spaniels. Affected dogs may display sudden aggressive outbursts without apparent provocation towards household objects, strangers, or even their owners. While the cause is not exactly certain, it's suspected to be hereditary.

Ethical breeders will have behavioral assessments and health clearances for both the parents and puppies, which should give you some peace of mind.

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Eye conditions

Average ManyPets Claim Received: Over $260
Highest ManyPets Claim Received: Over $4,600

A happy liver and white English Springer Spaniel lying down with its tongue out on a beige background, looking forward.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited condition that leads to vision issues and potentially blindness. In some cases, a dog with PRA can go from seeing to blind within just two years. PRA crops up in several breeds (even mixed breeds), but English springer spaniels are particularly susceptible to the condition.

In an ideal world, every breeder would genetically test and ensure that dogs with PRA don't get bred, but it can happen. At the very least, a responsible breeder will be transparent about any eye conditions in your springer spaniel’s lineage. And they’ll do everything in their power to avoid breeding dogs that carry the PRA gene.

Hip and elbow dysplasia

Average ManyPets Claim Received: Over $520
Highest ManyPets Claim Received: Over $9,800

A liver and white English Springer Spaniel stands attentively on a beige background.

Both hip and elbow dysplasia are due to abnormal joint development. Dogs with dysplasia can still live healthy and happy lives, but early detection is crucial so you can get a care plan in place.

Unfortunately, it's hard to spot the seeds of hip or elbow dysplasia in a bouncy puppy. As they grow, their bodies try to compensate for the abnormal growth of these ball and socket joints, which can result in osteoarthritis and degenerative diseases. Certifications from veterinary orthopedic organizations can also be a good indicator of a breeder's commitment to joint health.

Check out the video below for some of the signs of hip dysplasia to watch for.

Metabolic and genetic disorders

Phosphofructokinase deficiency (PFK) is a metabolic disorder affecting muscle cells. Canine fucosidosis affects the nervous system and can quickly lead to death. Sadly, these diseases are inherited.

DNA testing can identify carriers of these conditions, which is why it's so important to find a breeder who takes the time to investigate a dog's health and discover potential markers before breeding them.

Bloat (AKA gastric dilatation-volvulus)

Average ManyPets Claim Received: Over $1,700
Highest ManyPets Claim Received: Over $10,000

Bloat is excessive dilation of the stomach that can turn into a life-threatening condition called "gastric dilatation and volvulus,” in which the stomach not only expands but also rotates or twists. In that case, immediate and often expensive medical intervention is required. 

The cause of bloat is still being debated. It typically occurs in larger dogs, but all shapes and sizes can be impacted (including Springer Spaniels). Always ask a breeder about their experiences with bloat in their line of dogs and what preventative measures they recommend.

How long do springer spaniels live?

With proper care and solid breeding, the average lifespan of a springer spaniel typically ranges between 12 and 14 years.

How to properly care for your springer spaniel

English springer spaniel puppy sits attentively and looks directly into camera against a beige background.

You can't predict everything that could go wrong in your dog's life. However, some illnesses can be avoided with proper prevention and quality care.

First, always consult your vet with questions; they're your best partner in your pet's health plan. They can recommend the right diet, provide key vaccines, and ensure your puppy is off to a healthy start.

Here are a few other ways you can try to avoid common health issues in your Springer Spaniel:

Find a reputable breeder

Have we mentioned this one already?

When it comes to purebreds (and crossbreds, for that matter), proper breeding is critical. While it's impossible to prevent or detect all potential health issues, there are steps you can take to reduce your Springer Spaniel's risk from the start. Make sure the breeder you choose tests their dogs for genetic diseases, and consider buying pet insurance for your puppy just in case.*

Keep up with grooming

Some dogs are nearly hypoallergenic, and some dogs are fairly low-maintenance. Springer Spaniels are not that kind of dog.

There are a lot of health benefits to grooming your dog regularly. If you do it yourself, you'll be able to stay on top of any lumps, bumps, or changes in your dog's skin or coat.

One other thing: those adorable floppy ears make Springer Spaniels prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning with vet-approved solutions can help prevent these infections. If an infection does occur, prompt treatment with antibiotics or antifungals is essential.

Provide a balanced diet

A balanced diet (and the proper serving size) is the cornerstone of good health in puppies, adult dogs, and seniors alike. While Springer Spaniels aren't particularly fussy eaters, it's essential to provide them with nutrient-rich food. And don't just pick the food your breeder was using; ask your vet what they recommend.

When it comes to treats and human foods, proceed with caution. Obesity can result in a whole host of avoidable health issues.

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Plan for regular exercise

The English Springer Spaniel's lineage as a hunting dog means they have a reservoir of energy (perhaps a more accurate name for the breed would be "Springy Spaniels"). Regular exercise, both physical and mental, is unbelievably important. An adult Springer Spaniel needs as much as 90 minutes to two hours of exercise every day!

Long walks, play sessions, and even agility training can keep them engaged. Their love for fetch is unparalleled, often turning a simple game into an acrobatic display.

Consider getting dog insurance

Regardless of breed, dogs have a tendency to get into trouble. At best, those escapades result in a few chuckles and a new roll of toilet paper. At worst, they result in some pretty big vet bills. That's where pet insurance comes in.

A good dog insurance is designed to help reimburse you for covered accidents and illnesses*, so you can focus on snuggling (and chasing) your new pup, not worrying about what could happen.

Get a risk-free quote for your English springer spaniel

*ManyPets analyzes every claim on its own merits, subject to the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. Insurance exclusions apply, including those for pre-existing conditions. See your policy for details.

Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.