The French Spaniel: All You Need to Know

Are you considering adding a French Spaniel to your household? These dogs are known for their gentle and loyal personalities, as well as their incredible hunting abilities.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the French Spaniel breed, from its origins to its physical traits, personality, and temperament, as well as important health considerations.

History of the French Spaniel

Origins of the Breed

The French Spaniel has a long history that dates back to the 14th century. It is believed to have originated from a mix of Spanish and French hunting breeds primarily used by nobles for hunting and falconry. 

The breed was very popular during the Middle Ages, especially among royalty. At these times, the French Spaniel was highly prized for its hunting skills and was considered a status symbol. 

Near Extinction & Revival 

Despite its popularity, by the 20th century, the French Spaniel was nearly extinct. The breed was saved thanks to the efforts of a single man – a French priest called Father Fournier. 

Today, the French Spaniel is recognized as both a versatile hunting dog and a loyal companion. It is among the largest Spaniel breeds, and as an athletic and elegant dog, it excels in working trials. 

Physical Characteristics

The French Spaniel is a beautiful and elegant dog that has been bred for hunting. They have a unique set of physical characteristics that make them stand out from other breeds.

Size and Weight

The French Spaniels is a medium-sized dog that weighs between 50 and 60 pounds and stands at a height of 21.5 to 24 inches at the shoulder. Males are typically larger than females.

The French Spaniel has a well-proportioned body that is neither too heavy nor too light, making it perfect for long hunting trips. They have a strong bone structure and can run and jump with ease. 

Coat and Colors

The French Spaniel has a wavy, medium-length coat that requires regular grooming to prevent matting. Their coat is soft to the touch, and it provides excellent insulation against the cold weather.

The French Spaniel’s coat comes in two color options – white & brown and brown. Some breed members have distinctive markings, including roan and spotted or patched patterns. 

Distinctive Features

The French Spaniel has a distinctive appearance due to its long feathered ears, thick tail, and alert expression. The ears are beautiful but also serve a practical purpose – help locate distant prey by picking up sounds.

The tail is thick and muscular, which helps them maintain balance while running and jumping. The alert expression is the result of the breed’s curiosity, as this dog is always on the lookout for prey and is ready to spring into action. 

French Spaniels have strong legs and a muscular build that makes them agile and able to endure long hunts. Despite the graceful appearance and elegant moves, the breed is sturdy and tougher than it seems.

Personality and Temperament

The French Spaniel is a delightful breed that possesses a unique blend of characteristics that make them great companions. They are gentle, loyal, and affectionate but also active and protective. 

General Disposition

The French Spaniel has a gentle disposition – it is not easily agitated and is generally calm and relaxed. However, when it comes to hunting, the breed is a force to be reckoned with. It is a highly skilled hunter and has a natural instinct for tracking and retrieving game.

Despite their hunting prowess, French Spaniels are excellent family pets. They are loyal and affectionate and love to be around their human family. They are known for their calm demeanor and make great companions for children and adults alike.

Intelligence and Trainability

The French Spaniel is a highly intelligent breed that responds well to training. They are eager to please and learn quickly, making them suitable for advanced hunting tasks like retrieving game. They are also great obedience and agility competitors and excel in these areas.

Early training and socialization are essential to bring out the best in this breed. French Spaniels are highly trainable, but they do require a firm and consistent hand in training. Positive reinforcement techniques work well with this breed, and they respond well to treats and praise.

Socialization and Interaction

French Spaniels are highly social dogs and get along well with children and other pets. They are known for their affectionate nature and love to be around people. They may be reserved towards strangers, but with a proper introduction, they warm up quickly.

French Spaniels do best in households where they are given plenty of attention. They thrive on human interaction and love to be part of a family. They are highly social and do not like to be left alone for extended periods. 

Health and Lifespan

The French Spaniel is a breed of dog known for its exceptional hunting skills, loyalty, and gentle demeanor. If you’re considering bringing one into your home, it’s important to understand their health needs and expected lifespan.

Common Health Issues

Like many breeds, French Spaniels are prone to certain health issues, such as:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly and can lead to arthritis and pain
  • Ear Infections: The breed’s long, floppy ears can trap moisture and bacteria, increasing the risk of infections 
  • Eye Problems: The most common eye issues in the breed are cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Preventative Care and Maintenance

In addition to regular vet check-ups, there are several things you can do to keep your French Spaniel healthy. These dogs require regular exercise to stay physically and mentally fit. Daily walks and playtime are essential for their well-being.

As mentioned, ear infections are a common issue for French Spaniels. To prevent these, it’s important to clean your dog’s ears regularly with a gentle solution recommended by your vet.

Grooming is also important, as the breed’s long, silky coat can become matted and tangled without proper care. Regular nail trimming is necessary to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.

Expected Lifespan

The French Spaniel has a relatively long lifespan for a medium-sized dog, with an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Breed members with excellent genetics are known to live well into their golden years. 


Overall, the French Spaniel is a wonderful dog that can make a fantastic addition to any family. The breed is adaptable, energetic, and overall fun to be around. 

With proper care and attention, the French Spaniel can live a long, healthy life and provide years of love and companionship. Just research the breed and find a reputable breeder. 

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