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It is desirable that Spaniels work within gun range, are steady to shot, are able to mark the fall and retrieve shot game to hand with a soft mouth. A good nose is highly valued, as it is in most gun dog breeds. They are versatile hunters traditionally being used for upland game birds, but are equally adept at hunting rabbit and waterfowl. Whether hunting in open fields, woodlands, farm lands - in briars, along fencerows or marshlands, a spaniel can get the job done.
On the basis of function and hunting style, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) draws a distinction between continental and Anglo-American spaniels. FCI places continental dogs of the spaniel type in the pointing group (Group 7, sect. 1.2) because they function more like setters which "freeze" and point to game. Breeds in this group include the Blue Picardy Spaniel, the French Spaniel, the Brittany, the Pont-Audemer Spaniel, and the Small Münsterländer. FCI classifies most other dogs of the spaniel type as flushing or water dogs (Group 8, sections 2 and 3).
Not much has changed about spaniels in general over the years, as can be seen in this 1921 entry in Collier's New Encyclopedia:
The name comes from the word for Spanish (Español).
|American Cocker Spaniel|
|American Water Spaniel|
|Blue Picardy Spaniel|
|Cavalier King Charles Spaniel|
|English Cocker Spaniel|
|English Springer Spaniel|
|Irish Water Spaniel|
|King Charles Spaniel|
|Welsh Springer Spaniel|
|English Water Spaniel|
|Tweed Water Spaniel|