Clumber Spaniel

Breed At A Glance

Classification
Sporting

Personality
Intelligent, sweet and easy-going

Life Expectancy
10-12 years

Average Height
16-20 inches

Average Weight
55-85 lbs

Coat Color
White with lemon or orange markings

Coat Length/Texture
Thick, straight and silky with a dense undercoat

Shedding Propensity
Heavy year-round

General Temperament

The Clumber Spaniel is described as a gentle and dignified breed with a happy disposition, and are especially devoted to one particular owner. Clumber Spaniel puppies are especially energetic, but as adults they are mellow and somewhat inactive. They are extremely affectionate and make good lap dogs, although they can be active and energetic during short playtimes. They often enjoy a good game of fetch; in fact, they have a particular propensity towards carrying things around in their mouths, which can lead to missing shoes and other household items. Clumbers can excel in hunting, tracking, retrieving, and obedience, and often make good therapy dogs.

Clumbers are gentle with children, but they do not always take well to strangers. Some individuals will greet visitors happily, although others will conduct themselves with more reserved dignity. Clumbers will get along with other dogs and household pets that they are raised with.

Perceptive and eager to please their master, the Clumber Spaniel is very easily trained. But be warned: they are good problem solvers and will find clever ways to raid the kitchen counters or cabinets. Positive reinforcement and a gentle hand are the key to training a Clumber; they simply won’t listen to someone who is harsh or aggressive with them. This breed does like to chew, so be sure to have plenty of chew toys or rawhides around. Teach them from an early age which items are appropriate to chew and which are not.

The Clumber Spaniel is a good apartment dog, as they need little activity to be happy. But, as with all breeds, they need daily walks to remain healthy. They are a good breed for people who like to take frequent walks. Many Clumbers even enjoy a good swim. Their coat is very dense, and they therefore prefer cool climates to warmer ones.

Breed History

The origins of the Clumber Spaniel are unusually cloudy, but it is commonly accepted that it was developed in France around the mid to late 1700’s as one of the first specialized breeds. Under threat of the French Revolution, the Duc de Noailles sent his entire kennel of prized spaniels to the Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Park in England for sanctuary (this is where the breed adopted it’s current name). It is believed that there, the spaniels were bred with Bassets Hounds and possibly some other local breeds. This combination created a birding dog especially well-suited for hunting in dense undergrowth. The Clumber Spaniel was a favorite among royalty, including Prince Albert, King Edward VII and King George V.

The first Clumber Spaniels were brought to the United States around the middle of the 19th century, and was one of the earliest to be recognized by the American Kennel Club upon it’s founding in 1884.

Body Structure and Composition

The Clumber Spaniel is a somewhat small but massive dog. It has a broad and massive head and a similarly wide, square muzzle. The ears and lips are both moderately long and pendulous. The neck is thick with loose skin and feathered fur. The dog is longer than it is tall, with a strong back and a level topline. The tail is carried level or slightly above the topline. The legs are well muscled but short in proportion to the body. The front feet are large, compact and thickly padded, but the rear feet are somewhat smaller.

The tail is sometimes docked, which in hunting lines serves to help prevent injury to the dog, although in companion pets is done largely for cosmetic purposes. (Tail docking has been outlawed in many countries.)

Medical Information

Hip Dysplasia occurs in particularly high proportion in the Clumber Spaniels. This degenerative condition occurs when the head of the thigh bone no longer fits into the cup provided by the hip socket, causing lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), 45.5% of the Clumbers surveyed between 1974 and 2007 had dysplastic hips. Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock evaluated by the OFA prior to producing a litter to help control the spread of this disease. (A similar condition called Elbow Dysplasia is also prevalent in this breed, although with seemingly less frequency.)

Some Clumbers Spaniels are also especially prone to eye disorders, including cataracts, dry eyes, Entropion (inward-turning eyelids) and Ectropion (outward-turning eyelids). Entropion and Ectropion can be corrected by surgery in most cases.

Clumber Spaniels are extensive shedders and slobberers, and therefore might not make good pets for neat nicks. Brush and trim this breed regularly, and inspect the ears and eyes frequently to help prevent infection. Closely monitor your Clumber’s food intake, as they do enjoy sneaking food whenever possible.

With this breed’s curiosity and love of carrying things in their mouths comes the tendency to swallow small objects, which can cause intestinal blockage. Be sure to monitor this breed in it’s youth to prevent such emergency situations.

Anecdotal Information

The Clumber Spaniel is one of the more rare breeds in the United States. According to American Kennel Club registration statistics, the Clumber’s ranking has hovered around 120th out of 157 breeds since 1997.

Only one Clumber Spaniel has ever won the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, in 1996: Champion Clussexx Country Sunrise (“Brady”).

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