This section is from the book "Sporting Dogs. Their Points And Management In Health, And Disease", by Frank Townend Barton. Also available from Amazon: Sporting Dogs; Their Points and Management in Health and Disease.
To attempt to define the term " Field Spaniel " so as to be free from objection, would be, indeed, a difficult problem.
Unquestionably it is a very ambiguous term, and capable of wide interpretation. The mere fact of the Kennel Club and other shows having a class or classes for Field Spaniels, does not satisfy (though it simplifies classification) the mind of the thoughtful observer.
That such dogs would win—say at a Kennel Club Show—could not be entertained for a moment. It is the cross-bred Sussex that generally comes out top, and the longer and lower and more Sussex-like in character, the better the chances of success on the show bench. These are the author's views, though they may not coincide with those of others.
Some twenty-five years ago the " modern " Field Spaniel was as yet unknown. Jacobs' Champion Kaffir and Royle's Champion Zulu, and my dog Negro (by Kaffir ex Negress) were all black Field Spaniels of the Sussex type.
Zulu, with his Bloodhound-like eyes, had a remarkable show career, so had Kaffir, but they were not Field Spaniels from a sportsman's point of view, more especially Zulu. I had the two best pups*—one whole black and the other liver and tan—though, unfortunately for me, they both died from distemper before they were three months old. The black puppy I remember in particular. He was a facsimile of his dad, old Champion Bachelor, and had he lived, might have proved to be a little gold mine. Like his brother, nothing would ever have persuaded me that he was a " Field Spaniel," accepting that term as did the sportsman of days gone by.
My black Spaniel, Negro, though a big winner, was about as stupid a sportsman's dog or companion as ever saw daylight. The author's opinion is that a Field Spaniel should have a fair length of leg, be of good size, have short, thick ears, and not much feather on them, or yet on the legs. Should be stoutly built, have a good tight jacket, be big-boned, have nice full eyes, well-rounded ribs, and, above all, quick hearing and a sound constitution. colour unimportant, but black and white, black, or black, white and tan, or liver and white, for preference. Weight 40 to 50 lbs. There is no doubt that in course of time the Field Spaniel Trials will do much towards building up a proper type of field dog. A flat coat, of silky texture, and very glossy: long, heavily-feathered ears, short, strong, straight, cull-feathered fore-limbs, long body, and well-sprung ribs, long, graceful neck, and a long, moderately-wide head, with level carriage of the tail, are points of the Show Field Spaniel. black (no white) or parti-colours (also liver) are preferred.
* These were litter brothers to Kaffir and Zulu.