Field Spaniel Society of America - Health

We need your help!

  • DNA samples are being collected for Field Spaniel research. They are in need of blood samples of Field Spaniels, to collect DNA. All samples are needed, however the most desired samples are for Field Spaniels that have lived to at least age 12 and are in relatively good health, and any Field Spaniel that has developed seizures, no matter the age. At present, the University of Missouri has mapped the Field Spaniel genome, and will eventually be looking for gene mutations that are linked to epilepsy. The next time you visit your veterinarian, ask them if they will draw a few cc's of blood, and FedEx your dog's sample, shipped with cold packs, to the University of Missouri, to: Dr. Gary Johnson – (Field Spaniel) DNA Research 209 A Connaway Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211. Also, send along a copy of your dog's pedigree and the required paperwork. The University of Missouri is a repository for CHIC DNA samples. If you go to the OFA site and wish to donate blood for research, the cost is $20. If you donate directly to the University of Missouri, there is no fee, save for the blood draw itself and shipping. Paperwork to submit for the U of M sample donations can be found here. If your dog's blood DNA sample is from a dog that is, or was seizing, please also fill out this online seizure survey at If you wish to donate a sample through the OFA website at , click on the DNA Bank link, and follow their instructions. The Health Committee asks that all Field Spaniel breeders and owners submit blood samples from their dogs to the University of Missouri research team, or to the OFA DNA databank, to help researchers in their work to find and develop DNA tests for many diseases affecting dogs.
  • The FSSA Health Committee is always willing to help. If you currently own a Field Spaniel, and it develops a health issue that you are unfamiliar with, feel free to contact the Health chair, or any member of the Health Committee for help. We will try to direct you to information or studies that have been, or are being done on whatever disorder your Field Spaniel is exhibiting. We want to help, and any health conditions that are happening in the breed is helpful for the Health Committee to be aware of.
  • Data Collection for Late Onset Seizure Disorder. Even as little as 5 years ago, many vets felt that a dog that developed seizures after the age of six was likely not related to a genetic component. As time went by, and more data was collected, views began to change. Some studies have called this type of seizure “cryptogenic” or not necessarily genetic and caused by some other reason. Many are simply labeled idiopathic, or no known cause. Another view is possibly a condition called low threshold disorder. We really don't know, and this is something we need to know. It is only recently that the Health Committee has been able to collect enough data on this issue to bring to the attention of researchers that this may indeed have a genetic connection. We continue to collect this data, and appreciate any and all information on late onset seizure disorder. Click here for a form to fill out to help document this disorder.

Thank you for your support of these important projects!

  • The FSSA Health Committee’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
  • Gathering information about Field Spaniel health issues;
  • Undertaking fund raising projects to help underwrite health research
  • Keeping the FSSA membership informed of health issues and related information.
  • Our Goal. Our goal is to help improve Field Spaniel breed health, through education, information and participation in research. Our wish is to help breeders understand what issues they need to be aware of to breed happy and healthy Field Spaniels.
  • The Field Spaniel is a medium-sized, natural, unexaggerated breed, carrying a moderate amount of coat. Compared to many long coated breeds, they are relatively low maintenance dogs. Their usual life span is about 11-15 years. Fields are athletic, energetic and active, but not hyper, if provided with the opportunity to exercise regularly. Affectionate and devoted to their families, they are inclined to be reserved with strangers. Hunting and tracking instincts are deeply rooted.
  • Being a rare breed, you will find that most Fields are fairly closely related. The FSSA encourages breeders to do their very best to produce puppies without health problems. Potential buyers should ask about the diseases which could occur in Field Spaniels and the health testing done on the sire and dam of any available litter.
  • OFA maintains a database of health information that can be searched by breed, by health report or by part of a name. Click here to go to OFA ( for further information. Field Spaniels participate in CHIC. This is an open database of health information. Field Spaniels who have had eyes CERF checked, hip x-rays evaluated by OFA, and thyroid blood testing recorded with OFA, can be included in the CHIC database. A CHIC number ( does not mean that a dog is clear of all health problems, but that their testing information is available in the open database. Many breeders also submit cardiac information on their dogs. No dog is perfect, but an open database helps breeders make careful breeding decisions, setting priorities about potential health problems.
  • In 2003 the FSSA conducted a health survey that included 446 dogs with the hope that we could accurately assess health issues that affect the breed. This was out first attempt to accomplish this as a club. In the future, we wish to develop a new health survey to see if we can garner more participation.

The results are presented here in three parts;

2003 Health Survey 

The FSSA participates in the Donor Advised Fund with the Canine Health Foundation. Anyone can make tax deductible donations that will be used for Field Spaniel health research. The FSSA will make decisions about any research and disbursement of funds. An additional part of this program is a donation from the Nestle Purina Parent Club Partnership Program for any UPCs sent and credited to the Field Spaniel fund.

The health committee plans to set up a page to report the death of a Field Spaniel, including age and cause. This would be an ongoing mini survey to obtain more information about the average life span of our Field Spaniels.

Read about health issues related to Field Spaniels