French Spaniel (Epagneul Français)

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
white & brown with medium spotting, sometimes getting predominant, with irregular patches, slightly or moderately flecked and roan without excess
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • excellent hunter
  • loves children
  • wonderful companion                   
  • requires a lot of daily exercises
  • doesn't suit for living in a small apartment
  • poor watchdog

The French Spaniel is a sweet-tempered and docile sporting dog with its homeland in France. It was created in this country many centuries ago in order to satisfy the necessity for all-purpose hunting dog. Gradually it acquired reputation of an easy-going, sociable and affable animal and nowadays it’s also kept as a great family pet all around the world.

First records of the French Spaniel refer to the XIV century but some say that the breed existed in France since at least XI century. Its appearance and hunting style was initially described by the French writer Gaston III de Foix-Béarn in his work «Livre de chasse» («Hunting book»). In this book he stated that the dog was developed during the Crusades of the XI century. The distant forefather of the French Spaniel is believed to be a so-called bird dog, which is regarded to be one of the oldest pointing dogs. It’s also commonly thought that the ancient Deutscher Wachtelhund was used in the development of the breed. There is theory that it is closely related to the Small Munsterlander and the Drentse Patrijshond.

Originally the French Spaniel was used for net hunting and falconry. For the net hunting it was taught to pinpoint the location of the feathered game in a very peculiar, low «setting» way which facilitated throwing of the net over the dog. The dog was treasured for its versatility since it was capable of hunting, pointing and retrieving. During the Dark Ages it was favoured not only by commoners but also by royalty. For instance, Catherine I of Russia (1684-1727) was a proud owner of the French Spaniel named Babe.

During the XIX century Spain was flooded with English breeds and the population of the French Spaniel shrank dramatically. The breed owed its rescue to the breeding efforts of Father Fournier, a French priest. He scoured the country to find best specimens and brought them to his kennels. There he restored the unique characteristics and offspring of his dogs are now living all over the world. Breeding practices of the priest were supported by other breeders both in France and in Canada. The dog made its way to the United States in about 1997. The French Spaniel is a member of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, which is considered to be the first step towards its full recognition. The breed can be rarely observed outside its native country but its popularity is constantly growing.

The French Spaniel is a determined, hardy and skilful multipurpose hunting dog, which is often praised for its friendly, stable and lively temperament. In fact this dog has a potential of becoming an outstanding family pet. It longs for permanent human companionship and usually shows unwavering faithfulness to its family. The dog establishes very unique relationship with children with whom it forms strong bonds. However a dog and a child should learn fundamental rules of proper communication with each other.

This outgoing and sweet dog is friendly but somewhat reserved with strangers. Without timely training some specimens can actually become inappropriate greeters. Unfortunately the breed’s sociable nature makes it a terrible watchdog, which would rather gladly welcome an intruder than demonstrates any signs of aggression. For the same reason it’s also ill-suited for the role of a guard dog.

The French Spaniel is quite all right with other canines and prefers to share its existence with one or several dogs. It’s important to notice though that it gets on much better with dogs of the same size and energy level. This dog is an enthusiastic hunter, which commonly treats all non-canine animals as prey objects. So while on a walk it should be kept leashed at all times. In majority of cases the French Spaniel won’t pester a household cat, which it has recognised as a part of its pack.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• eye problems;
• epilepsy;
• canine hip dysplasia.

The maintenance of the French Spaniel needs insignificant efforts. Its hair of a medium length should be brushed several times a week but it will never require a professional grooming. Bathe your dog only when it’s really necessary.

Floppy ears of this breed are prone to collect dirt and debris particularly during a hunting adventure. That’s why its owner should diligently and regularly check and clean them. The French Spaniel sheds insignificantly.


The French Spaniel usually learns fast and willingly and actually craves for some mental stimulation. It’s reckoned to be a fairly trainable breed and with correct methods and there is virtually nothing that this dog can’t learn. It’s necessary though that training techniques are be based on principles of repetitiveness, consistency and fair treatment.

The French Spaniel will never submit to a rude handler and on the whole it’s extremely sensitive to rough-housing. You will attain much better results if you teach this dog using positive reinforcement and food incentives. Remember that this breed is an inborn hunter so it won’t need any additional training to be effective in this role.

The French Spaniel was initially designed to endure very challenging physical tasks and it still wants nothing more than to be engaged in some challenging hunting trip. This purports that this work-driven dog requires substantial amount of exercise to be completely satisfied with its life. The owner should invest at least an hour of his time every single day in walking with this dog but it should be certainly provided with a regular opportunity to discharge its buoyant energy in a free run in a securely fenced area.

The French Spaniel absolutely loves water and will take every chance to swim to its heart content. Bear in mind that without proper amount of outdoor exercise this breed will most likely develop grave behavioural problems including on-going barking, hyper activity, nervousness and unreasonable aggressiveness.