The German Spaniel, also known as the Deutscher Wachtelhund, is a versatile breed that originated in Germany. The breed's history goes back to the 19th century when it was developed by German foresters and hunters as a gun dog and bird dog. The breed was primarily bred for its hunting abilities and is considered to have descended from the now-extinct Stoeberer breed, which was a type of versatile hunting dog popular in Germany during the Middle Ages.
The German Spaniel is a fairly healthy breed, but can suffer from hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration. They can also be affected by the genetic condition known as malignant hyperthermia.
German Spaniels are known for their high energy levels, intelligence, and strong hunting instincts. They are also typically friendly, loyal, and love to be involved in family activities. These dogs require a lot of physical exercise and mental stimulation due to their working dog heritage, making them best suited to active families or individuals. While they can be good with children and other dogs if properly socialized, their strong prey drive means they may not be suitable for homes with small pets.
"Wachtelhund" translates to "quail dog" in English, indicating the breed's historical use as an upland bird flusher for hunting quail.
These dogs are said to have scenting and blood tracking ability comparable to a Bloodhound, with the ability to track 40-hour-old wounded game.
Despite its excellent hunting abilities, the German Spaniel is not widely known outside Germany due to German hunting laws, which traditionally required hunters to prove their dogs' ability in a range of tasks before breeding, effectively limiting the breed's distribution.