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French Spaniel
Characteristics, History, and Health

French Spaniel

The French Spaniel is believed to have descended from dogs that were kept by bird hunters in the Middle Ages, possibly from the bird dogs used in the 14th century. Their ancestors are thought to have included the now-extinct Chien d'Oysel. Over the centuries, these dogs have been selectively bred for their hunting skills, particularly for flushing game from cover and retrieving it. The breed nearly went extinct in the late 19th century but was saved by a French priest named Father Fournier. He established a breed standard and worked to promote and protect the breed. Today, the French Spaniel is relatively rare outside of France, but within France, they are considered a national treasure and are commonly used for hunting and as companion animals.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Epagneul Français, French Setter, Canadian Setter
Life Expectancy
10-12 years
Average Male Height
21.5-24 inches
Average Female Height
21.5-24 inches
Average Male Weight
50-60 pounds
Average Female Weight
50-60 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Brown, White & Brown
Coat Pattern
Roan, Spotted or Patched

Genetic Predispositions and Health

French Spaniels are fairly healthy dogs, but can be affected by a genetic disorder that causes pain insensitivity. They may also suffer from degenerative myelopathy, progressive rod-cone degeneration, eye disorders, and hip and elbow dysplasia. Genetic testing for hereditary conditions can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

French Spaniels are known for their gentle and friendly temperament. They are highly intelligent, making them good at problem-solving and relatively easy to train. However, they can be independent and may need consistent, positive reinforcement training methods.

Being a working breed, they are active and require regular exercise. They are also known to be good with children and other pets, making them excellent family dogs.

Fun Facts

Despite being a lesser-known breed, French Spaniels have a royal history. They were often depicted in paintings with French nobility during the Renaissance.

The French Spaniel is the largest of all spaniel breeds.

They have a unique hunting style. Instead of darting forward to flush out game, French Spaniels move slowly and methodically, which gives hunters time to prepare.

Their coat is usually white with brown markings, but the markings can be so extensive that the dog appears to be more brown than white.

They are highly adaptable and can perform various tasks, from hunting to search and rescue work.