I know quite a few people with welsh springer spaniels - they don't seem to shed much. They are very bright and have beagle like tendencies to "go sniffing". They'd be great tracking dogs. Getting them to do competition obedience or agility is a little more difficult (what my friends try to do with them).
I'm not real big on cocker spaniels - perhaps because they're also a popular choice with people who don't want to train their dogs - but they're big enough to be really annoying untrained (pull on lead, steal food, jump on strangers, chase things they shouldn't...).
I have another friend who has a cavalier king Charles spaniel. He is very cute and easily pleased (completely stupid), but he also has heart problems. My friend is Canberra based so I'm not too sure where she got him - could be a puppy mill special which would explain the health problems - tho she has adopted from rescues / pounds in the past.