One Litter Two breeds

There was a time when spaniels were divided into land spaniels and water spaniels. Land spaniels were further divided into dogs that flushed game, and spaniels that set or pointed at game. Over time, dogs that came out of flushing dogs would become the forefathers of today’s spaniels, while the “setting” dogs foreshadowed setting breeds. To further define these dogs, land spaniels were often divided by size. Smaller pups were determined to be cockers, while medium-sized pups became springers, dogs that “sprang” birds for hunters.  Mind you, this was around the late 1400s.
By the 1880’s, Springers and Cocker Spaniels were often born in the same litters, and size alone was the distinguishing factor that determined their breed. If the dog weighed under 25 pounds, it was labeled a Cocker Spaniel, and if it weighed over 25 pounds,  it was a Springer Spaniel. As the two breeds developed, however, differences became more pronounced, and by 1892, people came to see that each size also had different attributes, and that the two sizes weren’t, so to speak, just different sides of the same coin.
Eventually, in the late 1800s, a ban on interbreeding occurred. The English Springer Spaniel got its own identification in 1900 and was given official breed status in England in 1902, and under the auspices of the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, the breed became established in the United States soon after.  

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