The Polish Hunting Spaniel is a new breed of Polish ancestral origin. The first mentions in Polish literature on hunting spaniels date back to the 19th century when different breeds of spaniels ( springer, cocker, Sussex and field) were imported to the territories of former Poland by owners of large estates and bred interchangeably. The most significant influence was princess Izabella Radziwiłłowa who purposefully bred these types of spaniels until the outbreak of the war in 1939 when spaniels across Poland were taken to Russia and blended into local dog populations.
In the 1980s, Dr Andrzej Krzywiński (a scientist, naturalist, hunter and judge of hunting dog work) reestablished the breeding programme for the Polish Hunting Spaniel based on pictures from historical books and started the first official kennel, ‘z Szerokiego Boru’. In essence, the PSM is a recreation of the original ‘springing spaniel’ that existed before it was divided into springers, cockers and Sussex spaniels in the 1800s.
The breed is currently recognized by Kennel Clubs in Poland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Kosovo, Slovenia, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina with approximately 300 individual dogs registered worldwide. In addition to Poland, there are dogs currently in The Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Austria and Germany. The numbers outside Poland are small – roughly 15-20 dogs.
Traits and characteristics
The PSM is an intelligent, energetic dog with a strong prey drive who works tirelessly and enthusiastically in difficult terrain and water.
Thanks to their strong willingness to please, calmness and self‐control, they are easy to train. As they have been purposefully developed over the past 30 years, they have a strong hunting instinct that emerges at a very young age. Apart from being excellent hunting dogs, they also make great companion dogs as they are affectionate and friendly even with children.
When scenting the game, PSMs often crouch and crawl, waiting for the command to flush it by jumping and barking – similar to the Sussex spaniel trait known as ‘kippering’. PSMs have also inherited some unique watchdog tendencies from the Sussex spaniel and can therefore bark more than other spaniels.
The PSM is a medium‐sized dog of compact, athletic build which provides great mobility and resistance in difficult working conditions, mainly in the fields, meadows, rushes, bogs and water. The lush coat is most frequently chocolate roan with patches of different shade with the characteristic feature of white tip of the tail. Facial appearance is similar to the working cocker with longer ears set lower at eye level and slightly straighter bridge which gives the dog a noble look. Size wise, the PSM is between cockers and springers (males 43‐48 cm, females 39‐44 cm; weight: 12‐26 kg).
Why PSMs make good gundogs
Polish Hunting Spaniels are a type of flushing dog used for birds and small game as well as occasionally for other game. They are also excellent tracking and retrieving dogs that work with passion in thickets on the land as well as in reeds and rushes.
Outside of hunting, PSMs often work with the fire brigade and border guards in Poland and are therefore great for detection and tracking work, as well as being highly suitable for dog sports like flyball, agility and frisbee.
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