Field Spaniels are similar to the Cocker Spaniel (at one time the only difference was size), and both breeds are intelligent, playful, energetic, happy, and usually friendly. As with other spaniel breeds, the Field Spaniel is used in hunting, which takes advantage of its keen sense of smell and retrieving abilities. Field Spaniels are commonly quite food motivated, so giving food rewards for relinquishing items can help to reduce tendencies for retrieving or guarding behaviors regarding items not intended for play. Field Spaniels may be reserved around strangers, which indicates they may have some low level fear or concern about them; however, this should respond to socialization to minimize the development of fear-based defensive aggression.
The Field Spaniel is considered to be descended from the Cocker Spaniel, the Sussex Spaniel and the English Water Spaniel. Initially, all of the sporting spaniels were considered Field Spaniels. It was not until the late 1800's that the Field Spaniel was considered a unique breed—separate from the Cocker Spaniel—due to its larger size. The original Field Spaniel was an effective hunter, but continual cross breeding with the Sussex Spaniel created a dog with excessive length, heavy bones and short legs. This physique was inconsistent with hunting and nearly led to the breed's extinction. Breeders then tried crossing the Field Spaniel with the English Springer Spaniel, which restored the appearance and hunting capabilities of the original Field Spaniel. Researchers trace Field Spaniels to the United States as early as the late 1800's and it was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1894. Today it is considered one of the rarest breeds in the United States.