French Spaniel

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
fast facts

About French Spaniel

21-24 inches
50-60 lbs
10-12 years
AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS)
Best Suited For
hunting, active singles, active families, house with a yard, dog sports
outgoing, friendly, active
Comparable Breeds
English Springer Spaniel, Brittany Spaniel
French Spaniel Basics

The French Spaniel is a unique breed because it technically fills the role of a setter but is classified as a spaniel. These dogs were developed as a hunting breed in France and Canada and nearly went extinct before the turn of the 20th century. It was only thanks to the efforts of Father Fournier that the breed was revived and is now a member of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service for development.

The French Spaniel is a unique breed because it technically fills the role of a setter but is classified as a spaniel.


The French Spaniel is an old breed with its origins dating back to the 14th century. It is the oldest of the French pointing breeds, originally used for net hunting and falconry. The French Spaniel is descendant from several hunting dogs, particularly bird dogs from the Middle Ages. Though popular in France and the surrounding countries, this breed remained largely unknown in other parts of the country until the 1970s when it was imported into Canada.

After being imported into Canada, the first breed club was formed to preserve the French Spaniel breed standard which was written in 1891. The original breed standard described the breed as a larger dog with more muscle and power than the Brittany Spaniel. In the 19th century, the breed began to dwindle as other English sporting breeds became popular but an enthusiast of the breed, Father Fournier, worked hard to revive it. Today, it is accepted by the UKC and the FCI and is part of the Foundation Stock Service with the AKC.


The exact origins of the French Spaniel are unknown, but it is thought to descend from various hunting dogs and bird dogs used in France during the Middle Ages.


As a medium-to-large breed, the French Spaniel does well with a high-quality dog food formulated for large breeds. This breed also tends to be very active, so he may respond well to an active or working breed formula. Just make sure it is rich in protein with moderate to high fat content for energy.

The French Spaniel is an intelligent breed that generally responds well to training.


The French Spaniel is an intelligent breed that generally responds well to training. These dogs don’t tend to be stubborn or dominant, though an experienced dog owner will have an easier time training. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement versus punishment and they are very food-motivated. The French Spaniel is a great hunting breed but can also be trained for various dog sports, including water sports. Plenty of exercise is the key to keeping this breed’s energy under control and early socialization is recommended. Plus, due to his high prey drive, he should be introduced to other household pets as early as possible.


The French Spaniel is a medium-to-large breed standing 21 to 24 inches tall and weighing between 50 and 60 pounds at maturity.


The French Spaniel is an intelligent and active hunting breed. These dogs also make great family companions because they form strong bonds with family, and they tend to be gentle with children. This dog should be monitored around small animals, including cats, because of its hunting background. The French Spaniel does not do well when left alone for long periods of time and they will always want to make friends with strangers. They need plenty of exercise to prevent problem behaviors.

Common Health Problems

The French Spaniel is generally a very healthy breed, perhaps due to its ancient origins. Like any breed, however, this dog is prone to certain health problems which may include hip dysplasia, eye problems, and epilepsy. The breed is also affected by a dermatological condition called acral mutilation.

Life Expectancy

The average lifespan for the French Spaniel is 10 to 12 years which is about average for a dog of its size.

Exercise Requirements

As a hunting breed, the French Spaniel is fairly active and has moderate to high exercise requirements. This breed does well with plenty of outdoor space to run and generally isn’t the best choice for urban and apartment dwellers. It loves to spend time outdoors and in the water. Training for hunting and other dog sports can help meet this breed’s exercise needs.

The French Spaniel is an intelligent and active hunting breed.

Recognized Clubs

The French Spaniel is not currently accepted by the AKC but is a member of the Foundation Stock Service (FSS).


The French Spaniel has a medium-long coat that is largely straight, though there may be some feathering on the legs and underside. The coat is close-fitting and water-resistant, and it comes in four colors: brown, brown and white, roan, and spotted white. Maintenance for the coat is fairly simply, requiring nothing more than weekly brushing to control shedding.


The average litter size for the French Spaniel is 3 to 7 puppies. Because this is a large breed, puppies should be fed a large-breed puppy formula to prevent them from growing too fast and putting excess strain on the joints. Early socialization and training are also recommended for this breed.

Photo credit: cynoclub/Shutterstock; Khalangot Sergey L/Shutterstock; Marko25/Shutterstock

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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