Ok, which is it to be, the Spaniel, or the Labrador.  Most Labrador owners are ardent Lab fans and most Spaniel owners are ardent Spaniel fans.  Yes, of course you can admire both, and appreciate the strong points that both have to offer.

The strong points, what are they?  Ok, below is a quick story about a training session.  A group of us got together and I was there with the only Spaniel (Springer) and the lads were all Labrador boys to the core.  None of them had any time for Spaniels.  They saw Spaniels as mad, possessed devils who could only do retrieves no further than a stones throw.  During our training session, they decided to prove their point about the Spaniels retrieving ability (or lack of) verses the Labradors. 

Now any working Spaniel owner will tell you they already know this, that Spaniels can retrieve as well as, and often better than, many Labs.  Yes, the point of the Lab is for those short and long retrieves, but just because those long retrieves aren't expected of the Spaniel, doesn't mean that it doesn't have the ability to do them.


Teasel, the Springer who had to take early retirement due to a tragic accident on the last day of the shooting season some years ago.  She was one of those amazing working dogs that you never had to teach anything too, she did it all, she knew it all and she was brilliant at it all. Introducing her to pigeon or snipe after pheasants and rabbits was absolutely nothing to her, introduction to shot, again, it meant nothing, thick hard going cover, she would tackle like any other cover, straight in there, retrieving, she would retrieve a brick if asked and her nose, well, that girl could find anything anywhere, no matter how far away the Labrador boys would try and hide it.


The Training Day - The Only Spaniel In Amongst 6 Labradors

This day out for training, the Labrador boys had their dummies and cold game thrown an impressive good way out and on top of a hill for their Labs.  When it came to Teasels turn, the only Spaniel (Springer) on the day, being ardent Lab boys they wanted to show off their dogs as being far superior to any Spaniel.

They took those dummies and cold game, went to where they had thrown those previous long distance dummies and didn't throw Teasels from there, but they went another 200 yards further than they had for their Labs, AND THEN, threw them rolling down the other side of the hill.

All I could do was chuckle to myself. I knew what they wanted to achieve, to show the Labrador as being far superior to the Spaniel when it came to retrieving, but I also knew my girl was just about to show them up.  I sent her out for the retrieve, and, after a bit, she disappeared over the brow of the hill and all I could do was wait.

I could feel the boys excitement grow as they were thinking to themselves that this Springer had probably just done a runner after one of the many very alive rabbits.  Less than a minute later, back over the brow Teasel appeared, pheasant (cold) in mouth and galloping back to me chuffed to bits with herself because she was doing her favourite job, working, (even if it was with cold game and dummies and not the real thing that day).

Some dogs have a really good nose, some have true style, others are excellent markers, some, amazing at finding the blind retrieves.  Teasel had it all.  She was such an amazing dog to work with.  Now, she is a retired grandmother but still 'top dog' in the pack and the others know it and respect it.  I am truly honoured to have been blessed with the chance to work with such a fantastic dog.  She may never work again but she is happy enough being the retired grandmother who just comes out with me now to feed the pheasants and pigeons etc.. 

Teasel also occasionally makes an appearance during a clients training session when there is a dog learning about retrieving from water.  Some take a while to get the jist of what they are meant to do so Teasel is enrolled to retrieve my dummies that would otherwise spend the rest of their days floating out on the water and into the sunset.

There is nothing that I could ever have asked of this dog that she would not do.  I doubt I will ever have the good fortune to own such a dog again that is as amazingly talented in so many aspects of their gundog work as Teasel was.  Don't get me wrong, she was the most headstrong critter you could imagine, but by god she made up for that in talent.

So who wins in the Spaniel verses Labrador?  We expect different things from both dogs, so could or should we compare?

You should choose a dog that is not only going to be able to deliver the skills you require, but also that is a good match for your personality, lifestyle and patience who wins.......................that will depend on who you ask...............but, for me, it's the Springer, every single time......