While English spaniels are generally a healthy breed with limited serious health issues, poor breeding can exacerbate some conditions the breed is prone to. For best results, only purchase English spaniels from reputable, licensed breeders and inquire about parent genetics and health testing to ensure you are getting a strong, thriving pup. If you're adopting or rescuing a dog and knowing your dog's health history is important to you, consider DNA testing to ensure you have a good understanding of the dog's lineage.
English spaniels are prone to progressive retinal atrophy, a type of inherited degenerative condition that can result in diminished vision or blindness. While it primarily impacts middle-aged dogs, even dogs as young as 2 years old can develop the disorder. According to the English Springer Spaniel Club, this breed also may develop glaucoma in one or both eyes. Depending on the severity of the condition, the dog can lose its eyesight or even lose an eye as a result. Cataracts and retinal dysplasia also can develop in this breed. Regular eye exams can help identify potential problems and address them early to reduce the potential for pain and vision loss.
Canine fucosidosis is an inherited disease of the nervous system that can be fatal if not identified and treated quickly. The English Springer Spaniel Club indicates this disease is most commonly found in young dogs and includes symptoms such as loss of coordination, problems with vision and hearing and digestive issues. The condition is caused by the missing enzyme alpha-L-fucosidase. Genetic testing is available to determine if your pup has the potential for this disorder.
English spaniels may be subject to the joint condition hip dysplasia. Symptoms include lameness in hind legs, a tendency to be slow to stand or hopping when running or walking. Hip dysplasia, left undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to a painful arthritic condition and severely limit movement. According to the Baker Institute of Animal Health, your vet can identify the disease through X-rays. The symptoms of the disorder can be minimized through pain relief and treatment with joint-lubricating supplements.
Epilepsy can occur in English spaniels. Dogs of this breed who contract the disorder usually exhibit symptoms in the first three years of life. According to the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, the condition is characterized by repeated seizures and often is confused with other neurological and health conditions. English spaniels also are prone to canine autoimmune disease, which can exacerbate various forms of epilepsy, so proper diagnosis is essential to effective treatment.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.