Dog Talk: How Spaniels steal the show as canine cheerleaders

Kopi is a classic, pretty and fun-loving Spaniel. However, this dog breed is not suitable for everyone. Photo: Krystle Anderson

When Krystle Anderson, a stay-at-home mum from Kuantan, Pahang, and currently in Falkirk, Scotland, posted online about Kopi, her Cocker Spaniel, saying, “She's been neutered. Supposedly this tones down their hyperness but NOPE!” my mind turned instantly to Splash.

When I met Splash, she was a pup with outsized ears, large brown eyes, and a stubby tail that was set permanently on wag.

She lived with my friend Robert at the edge of town, touching the Scottish countryside, and so Splash had a wonderful time chasing birds and hunting the scent of rabbits, hedgehogs, and deer.

As Robert trained her, Splash grew into her ears. I saw her on and off, and while she learned to control her tearaway spirits, she was always full of beans.

Robert hunted, so when the season started, my friends went off – and that's when we learned that Splash had a failing: She was terrified of gunfire.

While Splash's career as a hunting dog was cut short, she had a blast as a full-time pet, careering around the country and enjoying her imaginary stalks.

Ever since, I have thought of Spaniels as canine cheerleaders. They're full of fun, always up for a party, and they have hearts of gold.

Historically, Spaniels came into their glory in the 1600s at a time when the first reliable guns appeared. Aristocrats, who had always hunted with arrows, spears, and other gear, began to shoot.

As Spaniels are energetic and have soft mouths, they were ideal for jumping into the water and thick bushes to retrieve ducks, pheasants and other game brought down with the new guns.

Their great personalities and beautiful soft curling fur and fluffy ears also gave these dogs a touch of glamour. This attractiveness was enhanced by a royal endorsement.

After a rather grim period in Britain where an extremist puritan government tried to ban all fun, including Christmas, we got King Charles II who was nicknamed “the Merry Monarch”.

A true party animal, this royal had very public flings with various beauties. In addition, he adored Spaniels.

Writers of that time talk of the royal dogs running around during state occasions, having a blast and entertaining pet lovers but annoying the stuffier courtiers.

Today, we have the King Charles Spaniel, a toy dog that stands at about 30cm and weighs some 5kg, as well as over a dozen other Spaniel breeds of varying sizes.

Kopi is a sweet girl, but she retains her breed’s boundless energy. Photo: Krystle Anderson Kopi is a sweet girl, but she retains her breed’s boundless energy. Photo: Krystle Anderson

Krystle Anderson’s Kopi, 8, is a Cocker Spaniel, a little bit bigger at about 38cm and originally bred to be a gun dog like Splash.

“Eight years ago, we had just moved into a house,” Krystle confides. “We both love animals and, for us, a house needed a dog to be complete.”

While many people love pets, Krystle has to be a bit careful.

“I sneeze and get hives from doggy saliva,” she says cheerfully. “Also, our house isn’t very big. We thought a smaller dog would be better than a bigger one. As we heard Spaniels come in various sizes, and are easy to train, it seemed a good match.”

After that conversation, Krystle went on a visit to Malaysia. She opened her phone one day and saw her husband’s texts filled with photos of a Spaniel puppy.

“My husband got her from a breeder,” Krystle giggles. “She was the only brown one, which inspired her name, Kopi.”

As for the allergy, Krystle is happy to live with it.

“When I go to Malaysia and came back, my nose runs for a day and then it’s over,” she shrugs. “I wash my hands after we play, but that’s about it.”

“Come to think of it, I haven’t had hives in ages. Can’t think why that is, as I play with her every day.”

Kopi was housetrained by Krystle’s husband over a period of about six weeks. While Kopi is a sweet girl, she retains her breed’s boundless energy.

“Today, at eight years old, Kopi’s eyesight is going a bit, but still hyper,” Krystle laughs. “When we come home, she’s super excited.

“Also, she is thrilled at the words 'walk' and 'out' and will jump up and down and push us to hurry up. She pulls on the lead at first too. But she can settle down. After the first bouncing about, she settles down and remembers her manners.”

Kopi is a classic, pretty and fun-loving Spaniel but these special little dogs aren’t for everyone.

“Breeding matters,” Krystle muses. “There are working Spaniels that are very high energy and show Spaniels that are high maintenance. They also come in different sizes. You have to know what care each type needs.”

“My view is that all Spaniels are energetic. They need to be walked at least an hour every day, even when they are adults, just to let them work off the hyper. So if you’re not into exercising, don’t get a Spaniel.”

On the other hand, if you are keen on exercise, and have lots of green space where a dog can chase birds and perhaps track deer and hedgehogs, then this furry cheerleader of the canine world may be your best friend.

Adopt Us

Jilly. Photos: Vig ChelliahJilly. Photos: Vig Chelliah



These three-month-old pups were rescued recently by Lost Animal Souls Shelter in Kuala Selangor. The male is Joe. The females are Jilly and Jamie. Now that they have been dewormed and vaccinated, rehoming is essential. These cuties require a forever home with families seeking a canine companion to complete their lives. Ready to open up your hearts? Call the shelter’s founder, Vig Chelliah (mobile: 016-330 9637), for an appointment to meet them. One can also donate food or funds.

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Spaniels , Cocker Spaniel , gun dogs


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