The French Spaniel temperament is known to be balanced, gentle, friendly and happy.
In fact, the beloved French Spaniel has been described as, “an ideal companion in all circumstances.”
These dogs make outstanding hunting partners as well as devoted family pets.
This historic French breed also goes by the names of the “Epagneul Francais” and the “French Setter.”
The French Spaniel temperament is appealing to many people. However, it is important to do thorough research to make sure that the French Spaniel temperament is the right fit for you.
This article will provide an introduction to French Spaniel behaviors and traits.
However, the best way to get a feel for the French Spaniel personality is to talk with French Spaniel breeders and owners about life with a French Spaniel.
An Introduction to the French Spaniel Temperament Traits
Below you will find some of the most common components of the French Spaniel temperament.
However, please keep in mind that all dogs are individuals that will vary from the breed standard in some way.
If you end up owning a French Spaniel, your dog may not display all of the characteristics listed below.
A Natural Hunter
The French Spaniel temperament is well-suited for hunting.
French Spaniels make excellent gun dogs. They are intelligent and attentive. and can work long hours over rough terrain. They can point, flush, track/retrieve, and can even work in the water!
French Spaniels are happiest when they have a job.
If you do not plan to hunt with your French Spaniel, you will need to provide another mode of exercise.
French Spaniel exercise can include hiking, jogging, biking, swimming or participation in a canine sport.
Make sure you can provide at least an hour of daily vigorous exercise if you decide to bring a French Spaniel into your life.
Loves the Water
These dogs love swimming!
Try to provide your French Spaniel with opportunities to play in the water.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. It is a great way to tire out a rambunctious French Spaniel!
Craves Human Companionship
The French Spaniel temperament is very social.
These dogs thrive when they are part of the family.
French Spaniels do not do well when they are left alone for long periods of the day.
If you work long hours, consider a doggie daycare or a pet sitter.
Docile with Children and Dogs
The gentle French Spaniel temperament makes this breed a wonderful companion for children.
French Spaniels also tend to do well with other canines.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.
For the best chance of success, socialize your French Spaniel from an early age and always supervise your French Spaniel when he interacts with other animals and children.
May Chase Cats and Critters
Keep in the mind that the French Spaniel temperament has evolved over generations to make this breed a superb hunting dog.
Therefore, the French Spaniel sometimes displays a high prey drive towards small animals including rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and even cats.
If you have small pets in the household, be cautious if you introduce a French Spaniel or any kind of hunting dog.
Always supervise the animals closely and separate them if they must be left unattended.
French Spaniel History
The French Spaniel is an extremely old breed.
These dogs have been around since the 14th century. They were popular hunting dogs for French nobility during the Middle Ages.
This breed is considered to be the oldest of the French pointing breeds. The first official breed standard was published in 1891.
Their numbers declined during the 19th century when numerous English hunting breeds were imported to France.
However, a French Priest named Father Fournier saved the French Spaniel breed from obscurity and possible extinction.
The French Spaniel is recognized by numerous major kennel clubs including the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). However, it has not yet been inducted into the American Kennel Club (AKC).
French Spaniel Size and General Appearance
The French Spaniel dog bears some resemblance to the English Springer Spaniel. However, the French Spaniel is taller and heavier.
The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) breed standard describes the French Spaniel as a “medium-size dog, elegant and muscled, of medium proportions.”
The average French Spaniel weight is between 45 and 60 lbs.
The classic French Spaniel height range is between 21 and 23 inches at the withers.
French Spaniel colors are white and brown. The brown can range from light cinnamon to dark liver. The markings are a combination of spots, flecks and patches. There is frequently a white blaze on the head.
French Spaniels have long, wavy hair, especially on the ears, legs, and tail.
They have floppy ears and long tails. Their tails should not be docked.
French Spaniel Training
The eager French Spaniel temperament makes this breed an easy breed to train.
French Spaniels can be trained for a variety of tasks including hunting, search and rescue, obedience and/or canine sports.
French Spaniels are naturally attentive to their owners and eager to please.
Like most dogs, French Spaniels respond best to positive reinforcement training.
Overbearing or “dominance-based” training is not necessary for this gentle breed.
Avoid trainers that encourage you to use painful training devices such as shock collars or pinch collars.
Instead, find a trainer that uses science-based, force-free training. This type of training will be much more enjoyable for you and your dog.
Training sessions should be short, positive and variable. Find a delicious treat to use as a reward for your dog.
Early socialization is also an important part of the training process. If you acquire your dog as a puppy, sign up for a puppy socialization class at the earliest opportunity.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan a world-class Dog Trainer from New Zealand is worth taking a look at. This online resource has hundreds of fun informative dog training videos that can help you learn the basics and more.
French Spaniel Grooming
The French Spaniel requires regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles.
Brush your French Spaniel at least once per week with a metal comb or pin brush.
Bathe your French Spaniel as needed. Once every month or so should suffice.
The hair between the toes, behind the ears and around the tail will need periodic trimming. You can learn to do this yourself or you can take your dog to a professional groomer a few times per year.
French Spaniel shedding is very manageable. However, this breed is not hypoallergenic.
If you are looking for a hypoallergenic pet, please consult this article for a list of possibilities.
Since these dogs have droopy ears, they are more prone to ear infections. Clean their ears frequently to keep them clean and free from debris.
Like all dogs, they also need their toenails trimmed and their teeth cleaned on a regular basis.
Staying Healthy: French Spaniel Health Issues
Luckily, most French Spaniels are healthy dogs.
However, all breeds can be prone to certain genetic health conditions.
Consult with breeders and vets about common French Spaniel health problems.
For example, be sure to discuss the following health concerns:
- Acral Mutilation and Feet Analgesia (self-mutilation of the feet)
- Hip Dysplasia
- Ear Infections
Helpful Dog Health Resource:
Note: if you agree that your health and your dog's health should be a top priority then get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health. Your doggy friend will love you for it. This guide will help save you money, time and most of all help you keep your dog healthy.
Take your new French Spaniel for a checkup right away.
Like all dogs, your French Spaniel should visit a veterinarian at least once per year for an annual exam and vaccines.
Your dog should also be up to date on heartworm prevention, flea prevention, and tick prevention at all times. Talk to your vet about the best products for your dog.
Unless you plan to get involved in competitive dog shows, spaying and neutering is highly encouraged. Talk to your vet about scheduling this procedure at the appropriate time.
Be sure to give your French Spaniel the best nutrition possible. Avoid cheap dog food brands that include filler ingredients such as corn or animal by-products.
With excellent care, the average French Spaniel lifespan is between 10 and 12 years.
French Spaniel Rescue and Adoption
If you feel that the French Spaniel temperament is the right fit for your lifestyle, it is time to look into the options of adding one to your home.
Adoption is a wonderful way to bring a new dog into your life.
There are so many sweet animals needing good homes.
It is very rewarding to open your home to an animal in need.
There are some other benefits as well.
For example, many animals that are up for adoption have already had some prior training, including housetraining.
They are usually a little bit older and do not require as much attention or exercise as puppies.
Additionally, when you adopt through an animal shelter or rescue organization, the adoption fee will be significantly less than the cost from a breeder. Typical adoption fees range between $100 and $300 depending on the organization. This cost usually includes basic veterinary services such as vaccinations and spay/neuter.
Finding a French Spaniel for Adoption
A good place to start your search is at your local shelter or humane society.
Even though French Spaniels are rare in animal shelters, the staff can have you fill out an application and contact you if any French Spaniels or mixes become available in the future. They can also contact you about similar breeds. They may also be able to refer you to private rescue groups that specialize in unusual breeds.
Another good place to search is on the internet. Facebook is an excellent resource for adoption and rescue groups.
Be sure to check out adoption websites such as Petfinder.com, Adoptapet.com and Getyourpet.com.
Finding a French Spaniel for Sale from a Reputable Breeder
If you decide to search for a French Spaniel puppy from a breeder, be sure to do some extra research to make sure you acquire your new pet from an ethical French Spaniel breeder and not from a puppy mill.
Beware of Puppy Mills
Puppy mills are commercial breeding operations that churn out puppies with little regard to their health or temperament.
Puppy mills are simply interested in making profits.
The breeding dogs are usually kept in abysmal conditions.
Puppy mills can disguise themselves with fancy websites. It is impossible to identify a puppy mill without visiting the premises in person.
Therefore, to avoid puppy mills, never purchase French Spaniel puppies over the internet or through pet stores.
Always, visit the breeder yourself to view the environment.
Finding a Quality Breeder
To find a responsible French Spaniel breeder, contact the American Kennel Club or the French Spaniel Club of the USA.
Ask for referrals of well-respected French Spaniel breeders.
Once you identify a possible breeder, make an appointment to visit the breeder in person.
A good breeder will welcome your visit. They will want to get to know you as well.
Ask to meet the breeding dogs and view their medical records. Ask about the results of any genetic testing.
A good breeder will likely ask you to sign a contract promising to return the puppy to them if things do not work out for any reason.
A good breeder will never overbreed their dogs, so you will likely be placed on a waiting list for a puppy to become available.
It will take some time and patience, but it is worth the extra effort to make sure your puppy comes from a good environment.
The French Spaniel Price
The cost of a purebred French Spaniel can be fairly high.
Of course, it varies depending on the breeder, but the price can range anywhere between $800 and $1200, or even more for certain bloodlines.
This price does not include travel or accommodations to pick up your puppy.
Conclusion: Why the French Spaniel?
The amiable French Spaniel temperament makes this breed a favorite choice for hunters as well as families.
This happy-go-lucky Spaniel could be your new best friend.
Just make sure you can provide plenty of time, attention, exercise and training before you bring one home!
Calvin is the co-founder and one of the main contributors to dogtemperament.com. He has been an avid dog lover all his life. He enjoys researching and sharing great ideas on how you can avoid common pitfalls of dog ownership and build the most loving and enjoyable relationship with your dog.