The Welsh Springer Spaniel was once known in Wales under the name “Tarfgi,” which means ‘the dispersing dog,” and for good reason. Their job was to “spring” game which meant, of course, surprising the birds into scattering (or dispersing) into the air so the hunter could take aim. Once the bird was downed, the dog would retrieve it for his master or mistress for that night’s dinner.
Welsh Springers are thought by some to be the result of French knights breeding their hunting hounds and pointers to Arabic Greyhounds while they were in the Holy Land in the 11th century. However, because this reference appears in texts from the early part of the 10th century – long before any documentation of spaniels in England – it’s possible that that those who believe the Celts were the ones who originally brought these dogs to Wales (and not the French) could be right.
By no means is “Tarfgi” the only breed moniker. The Welsh Springer Spaniel has also been known as the Starter, the Red-and-White Spaniel, the Welsh Spaniel, and the Welsh Cocker.