Let's talk German Spaniels

Originating in Germany, the Deutscher Wachtelhund – otherwise known as the German Spaniel – has traditionally been used as a hunting dog but also makes an exceptional companion. Renowned for being affectionate and loyal, they form strong bonds with their owners. Featuring several of the classic spaniel features, Deutscher Wachtelhunds have a wavy coat, distinctive droopy ears and expressive brown eyes. Then there’s that friendly and easy-going personality for which the breed is known. Last but not least, the Deutscher Wachtelhund is also renowned for having a super-charged sense of smell.

Official name: German Spaniel

Other names: Deutscher Wachtelhund, Deutscher Wachtel, German Quail Dog

Origins: Germany

Close-up of Deutscher Wachtelhund looking at camera in black and white
 Drooling tendencies

Low

Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level Medium
Suited to apartment living?  Low
 Energy Level (high, low, medium)* Medium to high Kid-friendly?* 
High
 Compatibility with other pets Medium
Can stay alone?* Low

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Spider chart of  German Spaniel characteristics
Illustration of a German Spaniel
Male
49 - 54 cm Height
18 - 25 kg Weight
Female
46 - 52 cm Height
18 - 25 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 12 months
 Adult age 1 to 7 years
 Mature age  7 to 10 years
 Senior age  From 10 years

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Get to know the German Spaniel

All you need to know about the breed

Developed in the 1800’s, the Deutscher Wachtelhund has long been a popular hunting animal in their native Germany. Muscular and solidly built, these medium-sized gundogs are surprisingly strong and very nimble. While it is not often you find them as family pets, they are nonetheless very good-natured and gentle. The Deutscher Wachtelhund is also fine around children, once trained. 

With their thick, wavy hair and large floppy ears, the Deutscher Wachtelhund is certainly the epitome of sprightly spaniel. Typically brown or red in colour, they can also have white markings on the chest, legs or elsewhere on the body. Last but not least, there’s that bushy tail, which is normally wagging nineteen to the dozen.

Still very rare outside Germany, the only other country you will really find the Deutscher Wachtelhund is in Sweden. There’s also a handful of them in Canada and the U.S. But if you’re lucky enough to come by one of these spirited spaniels, they’re sure to become an integral member of your pack. 

Close-up of Deutscher Wachtelhund looking at camera

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2 facts about German Spaniels

1. History in the making

Back in the 1800’s, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, owned a dog called Pincher that is reputed to have been an early variety of the Deutscher Wachtelhund. So attached was Scott to his little companion that he left a sum of money in his will specifically for the dog’s care. At one stage, Pincher was also painted by the acclaimed animal artist Edwin Henry Landseer. 

2. A good nose around

With a formidable tracking ability, the Deutscher Wachtelhund is renowned for having an exceptional sense of smell. In fact, their scent-following abilities are reputed to be on a par with that of the bloodhound – which, according to some estimates, is 1,000 times stronger than a human's. So, if you’re ever unfortunate enough to get lost, the Deutscher Wachtelhund might just be able to save the day.   

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History of the breed

To understand the history of the Deutscher Wachtelhund, we need to go back to the Germany of the 1880’s. Around that time, a group of breeders wanted to recreate an old German breed called the Stöberer (sometimes known as the Stober), renowned for its exceptional tracking ability. In order to do so, they crossed a variety of the breed from Bavaria with other sporting spaniels. 

The result of all this was the Deutscher Wachtelhund – with all the traits they had hoped to produce – and the breed was officially recognised in 1903. A club was also formed called the Verein fur Deutsche Wachtelhund (VDW). More recently, the breed was recognised by the United Kennel Club in 1996, and then by the American Kennel Club (AKC), in their Foundation Stock Service, in 2011.

Today, while the Deutscher Wachtelhund is mostly owned by gamekeepers and foresters, word is starting to spread of their excellent canine credentials. So, perhaps the Deutscher Wachtelhund could yet start to follow in the footsteps of other spaniels and become equally well-known as a much-loved family pet.
Deutscher Wachtelhund with tongue out in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of German Spaniels

1. Head

Small, triangular head.

2. Coat

Rough, short, smooth-textured coat, with white as a dominating colour.

3. Body

Compact, muscular and slightly rectangular body.

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your German Spaniel
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They generally have a long lifespan

Maybe thanks to all that outdoor exercise and country air, the Deutscher Wachtelhund generally has few health issues. Just look out for everyday things, such as ear infections, skin problems and allergies, and book in a check-up with the vet at least once a year. If you’re wondering how long the Deutscher Wachtelhund lives for, they enjoy a good lifespan, too, with an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. 

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Keep them close to you

With their innate tracking instincts, the Deutscher Wachtelhund likes nothing better than following a scent. Then there’s their fondness for water. For these reasons, you may wish to keep them on the lead when you’re out, just to be sure you don’t lose them. It’s worth checking that your garden is carefully secured, too, with a fence that is high enough to keep them safely contained, or the first hint of a scent and they’ll be off on the trail.

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Caring for your German Spaniel

Grooming, training and exercise tips

With their thick double-coat, and penchant for muddy fields, the Deutscher Wachtelhund does require regular grooming to keep them looking their best. They will need at least one good weekly brush – especially as the Deutscher Wachtelhund sheds a bit too – and a bath on rolling-in-the-mud days. Teeth should be brushed daily, their strong, fast-growing nails trimmed as needed, and their long ears checked regularly for any wax, debris or sign of infection. Naturally outdoorsy animals, they are full of energy, and require a fitness schedule to match. As such, the Deutscher Wachtelhund needs between one and three hours of exercise every day – though this can be divided between walks in the park, games in the garden and even swimming, if there is a safe place for them to do so. They can also excel in canine sports such as agility and obedience. Highly intelligent dogs, Deutscher Wachtelhunds are generally easy to train and have few behaviour problems. Early socialisation, with other humans and animals, will help them grow into well-mannered adults.

All about German Spaniels

If you’ve yet to meet a Deutscher Wachtelhund, they are medium-to-large size dogs. The males reach a top height of around 53.5cm (21in) and the females peak at around 52cm (20.5in). In both cases, the Deutscher Wachtelhund usually weighs from 18-25kg (39.5-55lb). To put that into context, of the other types of spaniel, the Deutscher Wachtelhund is not too dissimilar in size to an English Springer Spaniel.

For now, the Deutscher Wachtelhund remains a very rare breed of dog, little known outside their native Germany. Although they are present in Sweden, the U.S. and Canada, they tend to be few and far between. And, even back in their homeland, they are still regarded as a working dog rather than a companion animal. So, for the time-being at least, this is not an easy breed to come by – but that just makes these sporty spaniels all the more special. 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/