Norfolk Spaniel

The Norfolk Spaniel or Shropshire Spaniel is a breed of dog extinct since the early 20th century. It was originally thought to have originated from the work of one of the Duke of Norfolk, but this theory was disproven after being in doubt during the later part of the 19th century. The term was used to designate springer type spaniels that were neither Sussex Spaniel nor Clumber Spaniels, and attempts were made to use it to specify a breed that would later become known as the English Springer Spaniel.With a liver-and-white or black-and-white coat, the Norfolk Spaniel was described as being a large cocker spaniel. The Spaniel Club set out a breed standard (dogs) for Norfolk Spaniels, but specimens of the breed varied greatly across England. Members of the breed were difficult to train, but formed a strong attachment with their owners and were useful for hunting both on land and in water. The breed ceased to exist after 1903, when it was rolled into the new English Springer Spaniel breed created by The Kennel Club to contain all spaniels of this type.


The Norfolk Spaniel was believed to have come about from a cross of spaniels with the Black and Tan Terrier, which was cultivated by an unspecified Duke of Norfolk. However, later historians disagree with this theory, saying that the Duke of Norfolk's spaniels were of the King Charles Spaniel type and that terrier stock had nothing to do with the origins of the Norfolk Spaniel. The theory of the Duke of Norfolk-based origins of the Norfolk Spaniel was thought disproved by the investigation of James Farrow, a 19th-century spaniel breeder, who wrote to Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk in order to find out the truth about the origins of the breed. The Duke responded, denying any connection to the breed, although he did state that his grandfather, Henry Howard, 13th Duke of Norfolk, owned Sussex Spaniels. The letter from the Duke was printed in The Kennel Gazette in 1899. An alternative origin was proposed by Rawdon Briggs Lee in volume two of his 1897 work A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland. Lee argued that the Norfolk Spaniel was descended from a crossing of a curly-coated English Water Spaniel and a Sussex Spaniel or another strain of land spaniel. By the 1860s, the breed was described as the "commonest breed in England", but with a description that varies so much that the only standard point is that they averaged 40.6cm in height at the withers. By the 1890s, the breed had become common throughout the counties of England, leading dog writers such as Rawdon Briggs Lee to question the authenticity of its origins or that the various liver and white spaniels from around England constituted a single breed; "Personally, I do not consider the liver and white spaniel any particular variety at all, nor do I believe that it has ever been indigenous to Norfolk." He states that similar dogs exist in Devonshire that do not trace ancestry to Norfolk, and that liver and white spaniels pre-date the breeding of the Black and Tan Terrier with an ordinary spaniel. F.H.F. Mercer described the breed in 1890 as being "virtually extinct in its purity", with its liver and white colours running through any numbers of miscellaneous spaniels, and he too discredits the origins involving the Duke of Norfolk. The change in terminology was not smooth or immediate, with James Watson in his 1905 work, The Dog Book, still referring to the Norfolk Spaniel as a breed name. They were described by the Spaniel Club of America as being as good in the water as the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Additional Info

  • Height: 43.2cm - 45.7cm
Share on your website

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

Cat breeds