This section is from the book "British Dogs, Their Points, Selection, And Show Preparation", by W. D. Drury. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs: Their Points, Selection And Show Preparation.
The chief differences of the Welsh Springer from the English dog are found in his more restricted size, in the shape of his ear, and in his colour being invariable.
No Welshman would deny that, in former days, breeds of red-and-white Spaniels were existent in several parts of England as well as in Wales. Symonds, for example, mentions them in Suffolk in the eighteenth century; and the picture of the Spaniels belonging to a gentleman (a dweller, however on the Welsh border) who died in the middle of the eighteenth century, bears eloquent testimony that the red-and-white Spaniels of that period were of the same type as those of to-day, and gives them an authentic record in antecedence of the Clumber.
But the English red-and-white breeds have died out long ago; and South Wales seems to be the only region that has cherished and preserved them to the present day, which fact goes far to justify the claim of their fellow-countrymen that these Spaniels shall be for the luture called Welsh, and that all red-and-white Springers shall appear at trials and exhibitions under this title. Anyhow, the antiquity of the Welsh Spaniels is proved by "A Quartogenarian" in his letter (Nov. 1833) to the "Sporting Magazine," in which, referring to a "yellow-and-white" Spaniel, that had been given to Mr. Prowse Jones by an Officer, he adds "who got it somewhere about Brecon of what was then there termed the old Welsh breed."
The enemies of this most sporting gundog seem to think it an almost conclusive argument against him that, till lately, he was unknown in the show-ring, and, indeed, outside his own "sphere of influence"; whereas the preservation of his type is due to his having thus escaped the attention of "fanciers."
As workers these Spaniels have no superiors; and the methodical quartering, so merrily and so steadily executed by a team of four of them at the 1901 trials, delighted every one.
To Mr. Williams, of Ynisygerwn, the writer is indebted for the following notes, which are a supplement to the description of this variety, promulgated by a committee of the Welsh members of the Sporting Spaniel Society: -
"The Welsh 'Spaniel,' or 'Springer,' is also known and referred to in Wales as a 'Starter.' He is of a very ancient and pure origin, and is a distinct variety, which has been bred and preserved purely for working purposes. The show-bench has therefore in no way affected him, and he retains his beauty and his working properties. The true original colour is red-and-white (of varying shades). The standard of points adopted for this variety of Spaniel by the Kennel Club is as follows: -
Fairly long and fairly broad, slightly rounded, with a stop at the eyes.
Medium length, narrow (when looked at downwards), straight, fairly square, the nostrils well developed, and flesh-coloured or dark. A short, chubby head is objectionable.
Hazel or dark brown, medium size, intelligent, not prominent, not sunken nor showing haw.
Comparatively small, covered with feather not longer than the ear, set moderately low and hanging close to the cheeks.
Strong, muscular, clean in throat.
Long and sloping.
Medium length, straight, good bone, moderately feathered.
Strong, fairly deep, not long, well-sprung ribs. Length of body should be proportionate to that of leg.
Muscular and strong, slightly arched, well coupled up and knit together.
Strong; hocks well let down; stifles moderately bent (not twisted in or out), not feathered below the hock on the leg.
Round, with thick pads.
Low, never carried above the level of the back, feathered, and with a lively motion.
Straight or flat, and thick.
Red- or orange-and-white (red preferable).
Symmetrical, compact, strong, merry, active, not stilty, built for endurance and activity.
Between 3olb. and 421b.
Fig. 69. - Mr. A. T. Williams's Welsh Springer Corrin.
The nostril is either flesh-colour or black. The ear is rather small, and differs from that of all other varieties, and is suitable for contending with thorns, gorse, etc. This Spaniel is very active, strong, and high-couraged. Probably this is the oldest breed of Spaniel in the kingdom. Pictures of him date back some hundreds of years, and several ancient writers also refer to him, some of them describing the dog as 'the old Welsh breed.'
Certain families in Wales have shot over this Spaniel continuously for upwards of the last hundred years and still do so indeed, much of their sport is dependent upon this excellent worker. The ground to be worked includes some of the roughest character, with dense cover, which necessitates an active, persevering, strong, high-couraged dog that will face anything. He must also be able to work all day, and day after day. When this Spaniel was brought out at the field trials of the Sporting Spaniel Society, his working qualities immediately placed him in a high position.
There is also in Wales the smaller-sized red-and-white Spaniel known as the 'Welsh Cocker.'"
The illustration of the Welsh Springer (Fig. 69) includes two positions of Mr. Williams's Corrin, a dog that has never been beaten in the show-ring since that memorable Birmingham Show (1899) when, amid the hysterical plaints of the showmen and execrations "long and low," classes for working-type Spaniels were initiated. Corrin is also a rare worker, but he was too old at the time of their institution to acquire sufficient polish for the trials.