Are Springer Spaniels Aggressive? + Tips for Dealing with It

August 21, 2022

Springer Spaniels are outstanding family members and embody many of the qualities that people look for when selecting a dog breed. They are incredibly friendly, have a playful nature, and are always eager to please their owners.

But can they exhibit aggressive behaviour?

That's what we will be covering today along with a helpful actionable guide on how to identify the different types of aggression, how to deal with it and when it may be time to get a little professional support.

Whether you are just curious about the likelihood of a Springer Spaniel becoming aggressive or are looking for some advice for dealing with it this is the article for you.

Are Springer Spaniels Aggressive?

Aggressive behaviour is not something that is commonly associated with Springer Spaniels. They are well known for their affectionate natures and the deep connections they make with their families.

That said, there can be situations where Springer Spaniels can become aggressive. Generally speaking there is always a specific reason for this behaviour and you can make progress in dealing with it once identified.

In very few cases your dog may have "Springer Rage Syndrome" which is a condition where they can become very aggressive for no reason at all. This is pretty rare though and sometimes misdiagnosed by dog owners in place of one of the more common reasons which we will talk about right now.

What Can Cause Aggression in Springer Spaniels?

There can be many causes for a Springer Spaniel's aggressive behaviour. Understanding the 'why' behind their actions is one of the first and biggest step toward addressing this behaviour.

Let's take a look at the most common reasons for aggression in Springers.

Dominance Aggression

This type of canine aggression can be a sign that your Springer Spaniel doesn't see you as the 'alpha' of your pack and therefore doesn't believe they have to listen to you.

As you can imagine this behavioural problem can be equal parts frustrating and dangerous. Imagine being out on a walk with your dog and they don't listen to you when they are in a potentially dangerous situation, scary stuff!

If you suspect your Springer has problems with this you will want to deal with it promptly.

Signs: Aggression after being told what to do, resisting being told to leave an area or space, not listening to commands

What to do: Regular obedience training, firm rules and boundaries

Territorial Aggression

If your Springer Spaniel has a problem with this type of aggression it will be feeling a little threatened when someone is approaching their home. This could be visitors, other dogs who've joined the family, or even just a delivery man dropping off a parcel.

Here you will want to desensitise the situation and make your Springer Spaniel understand that there is nothing to be protective about. If it gets out of hand it could end quite badly.

Signs: Freezing, growling, snarling, snapping, biting

What to do: Desensitise dogs to stimulus, obedience training

Resource Guarding

This type of canine aggression can come in many forms. A few examples of this could be being protective of their toys, and other household items or feeling defensive about anyone being close to their food at mealtimes.

We've written about dealing with food aggression in the past if you suspect your dog is having problems with that. Mostly this comes down to teaching your dog that there is nothing to be scared about and nobody is looking to steal their toys/food.

Signs: Stiffening, eating quickly, defensive when you approach their food or object they are protecting.

What to do: Show your no threat to their food or going to steal their toys. See our article on food aggression liked above for a detailed guide.

Genetic Aggression

Genetics can play a role in aggression in Springer Spaniels. Some dogs will have a higher chance of being aggressive. Most of the time this will be down to bad breeding as this can be passed down from parent to pup.

The importance of getting your English Springer Spaniel from a good breeder can't be understated for a wide range of reasons.

Springer Rage Syndrome

Springer Rage Syndrome is a fairly uncommon condition. This isn't an actual medical term as much as a name dog owners have coined to describe this behaviour.

I would only consider it a possibility when the other reasons for aggression have to be ruled out. It is far more likely that one of the above is the cause of your dog's behaviour.

Signs: General violent behaviour. No reason at all. Changes in an instant. Eyes glazed over

What to do: Speak to your vet or a dog behavioural specialist.

How to Deal with Springer Spaniel Aggression

Handling aggression in dogs can be a very challenging endeavour that will take a lot of patience and hard work to resolve.

How you approach dealing with this will depend on the type of aggressive behaviour your Springer Spaniel is showing.

Find the Underlying Cause of the Aggression

The first step in any plan will be to figure out what is causing it. In almost all cases your dog will be acting this way for a specific reason. Work this out and you are well on your way to having a well-behaved dog.

Deal with the Problem

Now you have identified the reason your Springer Spaniel is acting out it's time to take action. I've outlined some tips for each type of aggression above but how you proceed will depend on how serious their behaviour is.

If you are noticing some of the milder symptoms such as stiffening when you approach something they are protecting it's okay for you to tackle yourself, however, if your Springer is showing teeth in this situation just skip this step and jump to seeking professional help.

It's just not worth the risk.

Reducing the Chance of an Aggressive Springer Spaniel

In general, the chances are pretty low that an English Springer Spaniel will be violent or threatening at all.

Even given this, there are still considerations and actions you can take to further reduce the odds you have to deal with this situation.

Firstly, make sure you find a reputable breeder. A good dog breeder will not mate dogs who have violent histories or carry any hereditary illnesses. Try to quiz the breeder as much as possible, it's very likely they'll love to hear you are so interested in your dog's wellbeing.

If asking questions is a problem this is a massive red flag.

Some forms of aggression stem from poor training or a lack of firm boundaries leaving room for your dog to feel like you are not in charge. This is very easily avoidable though by making sure you establish boundaries early on and put in the time to ensure your dog is well trained.

When is it Time to Get Professional Support?

Canine aggression is very serious and can lead to someone getting hurt whether that would be another animal or even a family member.

While trying to deal with this yourself is a good idea at the start you do have to understand how far along your Springer is if they are presenting aggressive behaviour.

For example, if your dog has got to the point of snarling and showing their teeth or displaying more serious behaviour such as lunging or snapping if you got too close to their food bowl it's probably about time you asked for some professional help from a dog behavioural specialist or trainer.

What Can Impact the Chance a Springer Spaniel will be Aggressive?

Now we have covered the main types of aggression you could see in a Springer Spaniel it's worth talking about how other specifics make a difference.

Let's take a look at some of the main factors that could play a role in your Springer's behaviour.

Welsh vs English Springer Spaniels

There is no data or studies that suggest a difference in the chance of aggressive behaviour in an English Springer Spaniel or their Welsh counterparts.

Male vs Female Springer Spaniels

While aggression isn't that common in Springer Spaniels in general, males do exhibit these behaviours more often than females.

This will be due to male Springer Spaniels having more testosterone.

Spayed/Neutered vs Not

Spaying female dogs will not have any impact on the level of aggression they can exhibit. However, neutering male dogs can make a difference as it will reduce their level of testosterone.


Most English Springer Spaniels are kind and loving dogs who are ideal for a family pet. I would say that aggression is an uncommon trait not so often seen in this breed, however, being able to recognise the signs and know what to do about it will go a long way.

Dealing with aggressive behaviour with your Springer Spaniel will take time and patience for your side but if you stick with it and have the patience that they will get it eventually you'll be sure to make progress over time.

Just remember, dogs learn at their own pace and Springers don't respond well to negative training methods.

Lastly, if you don't feel like you are making progress or the behaviour is getting worse seek professional help. There will definitely be a qualified behavioural specialist somewhere close by to you who can help.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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