What Is Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome?




Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome

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Springer spaniels are medium-sized dogs that are generally smart, obedient, friendly, affectionate, well-mannered, polite, and love their family.

Nowhere in that list of adjectives is the word aggressive, but any dog breed can become aggressive.

Regardless of the springer spaniels A+ temperament, do springer spaniels ever become aggressive, and what is springer spaniel rage? Springer spaniel rage Syndrome is a rare syndrome where a spaniel will become out of control and aggressive, seemingly out of the blue for no apparent reason.

Depending on who you are speaking with, some don’t believe this condition exists. Below I will explain springer spaniel rage and why it occurs according to the controversy, symptoms, and help for this condition.

Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome

Sudden onset aggression is another name for springer spaniel rage syndrome. Your springer will suddenly become aggressive and can get out of control, attacking someone for no apparent reason. This can be extremely frightening for the victim as well as any witnesses around.

After a time, your spaniel will calm down, becoming friendly and back to its usual affectionate self. It will appear as if they have no recollection of the incident and will be just fine with the person they have attacked.

This type of rage should not be confused with aggression, which comes about from a territorial, protective, or fear-based standpoint. It isn’t easy to diagnose, and that’s why there are questions surrounding its existence.

The controversy comes about because some believe it is just regular aggression that can be helped with training and obedience classes, when in fact, it is a type of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s response, totally unexpected and out of the blue.

What Causes Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome

Again, questions surround this condition, but it is believed to be genetically founded and passed down by Spaniels who carry the gene through improper breeding.

Many feel that this gene is not contained in the springers bred for working but in those bred to be show dogs. Proof has been discovered that a male spaniel who won the Westminster Kennel Club Show carried this gene and went on to be used as a stud for breeding, passing this gene along and causing the trait to continue.

This condition will often be misdiagnosed as another type of aggression, but, is a form of epilepsy and affects the part of a spaniel’s brain that relates to their emotions and is most likely an inherited disorder of the genes.

When a dog is affected, symptoms begin around 7 1/2 months but can also begin much earlier, at three months.

To make a definite diagnosis of springer spaniel rage, either genetic testing or an EEG should be performed. The EEG is the more accurate form of diagnosing this syndrome.

Rage syndrome can be found in other breeds such as the cocker spaniel, which is more common than in the springer, the Rottweiler, Papillon, border collie, English bull terrier, golden retriever, and the Bernese Mountain dog.

Symptoms of Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome

Springer spaniel rage can sometimes be confused with aggressive behavior that occurs from either normal tendencies that are an aggressive form of improper training or from allowing your spaniel to take the role of pack leader.

Sometimes aggressive behavior can be food-related, occur when taking away a toy or something off-limits, or it can be related to your spaniel trying to protect your family. If your springer, which is generally a friendly dog, senses danger or has a bad feeling about an approaching stranger, they may exhibit some aggressive behavior.

Springer spaniel rage has some similar symptoms, but the behavior comes out of nowhere very quickly and for no reason. Often it might be when they are sleeping and startled, as the saying goes, “let sleeping dogs lie.” Symptoms of this rage are listed below.

  • glazed eyes prior to the incident
  • bared teeth
  • occurs out of the blue with no warning
  • barking
  • lunging
  • charging
  • growling
  • snapping
  • biting
  • attacking
  • aggression is uncontrolled and violent

These symptoms can be very frightening because they are very unexpected. Sometimes if your spaniel suffers from this condition, it can occur when they become startled and caught unaware.

A springer that does not have this condition will not react in this way. The symptoms go away just as quickly as they come, and your pup is back to normal. With this rage, you must realize that because it is a form of epilepsy, they have no control over their behavior, and it wasn’t done intentionally.

Diagnosis of Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome

Springer spaniel rage can be difficult to diagnose. Your veterinarian will need to do bloodwork, a physical exam, a neurological exam, an EEG, and genetic testing.

By monitoring your pup, if they have this condition, you will be able to tell the difference if it’s just random aggressive misbehavior, requiring some firm obedience training or not.

Help for Springer Spaniel Rage Syndrome

If you are thinking of getting a springer spaniel or having one, don’t panic about this condition because it is rare and more common in cocker spaniels.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for springer spaniel rage, and training and discipline will not help because your pup has no control over this, and they aren’t doing it on purpose.

It can be managed closely with the help of careful monitoring by you and your veterinarian. Because it is believed to be a seizure-like disorder, a medication that is an anticonvulsant is usually prescribed, and it is most often phenobarbital.

One dose may be enough to help, but they may need to continue this for life. You will also need to keep a close eye on your pup, being aware of the signs of springer rage.

Usually, the phenobarbital will help, but they may still have episodes, and medication dosages may need to be changed. Working closely with the veterinarian is the answer to controlling this.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from springer spaniel rage, contact your veterinarian immediately. Don’t wait and suffer through this alone. The sooner a diagnosis is made and treatment started, everyone will feel a whole lot better.

Keep in mind that springer spaniel rage is very rare. It is a disorder that is inherited and genetically based. It is not like normal aggression that can be remedied through discipline and training.

Final Thoughts

The number one most important thing you can do when purchasing a springer is to seek out a reputable breeder and possibly see if their spaniel bloodlines are from working dogs as opposed to show lines.

Do your research for breeders. Ask around, speak with your veterinarian, and do visit the breeder and breeding facilities. Chances are excellent that your springer spaniel with be the happy-go-lucky, friendly standard of this breed.


Myspringerspaniel.com does not provide veterinary advice. We aim to provide you with information to enable you to make a good decision when making a purchase or to care for your dog.

All content is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned about the health of your pet, you should contact your vet for advice.


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