The adorable Clumber Spaniel is a large gundog typically weighing 39 kg and one of the breeds developed in the United Kingdom. It is a balanced, well-boned dog with an overall appearance of a strong, firm, and capable working dog with a thoughtful, kindly expression. Its coat colour comes mainly in white with either orange or lemon markings, but there are also brown- or lemon-coloured coated dogs. It is the largest dog of the spaniel family with a body longer than it is tall, similar in shape to the smaller Sussex Spaniel. It was used historically to flush game from heavy cover. It has a large square head with heavy eyebrows, a deep stop and a square nose and muzzle. The eyes are dark in colour and the lower eyelid is somewhat loose, while the large vine leaf-shaped feathered ears hang slightly forward. The eyes, the muzzle, and the base of the tail of the Clumber Spaniel are speckled with coloured markings. It has large round feet that are well-covered in hair and a low set well-feathered tail which is carried level with the back. A typical height for the Clumber Spaniel is between 43 and 51 cm from withers.
The Clumber Spaniel’s history is shrouded in uncertainty before the middle of the 1800s. However, one thing is for sure – the breed got its name from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, home of the Dukes of Newcastle. It is claimed that the breed originated in France because in 1770, Duc de Noailles of France presented dogs similar to the Clumber Spaniel to his friend, Henry Cavendish, the 2nd Duke of Newcastle. However, it is the Duke’s gamekeeper, William Mansell, who is credited with developing the breed in the UK. It is thought that the Clumber Spaniel is a mix of the now extinct Alpine Spaniel, the Basset Hound, and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Another theory that abounds is that the breed may have descended from the old type of Blenheim Spaniel and later mix with the King Charles Spaniel breed. The Clumber Spaniel was first shown in England in 1859. It is currently recognised by the Kennel Club as a “Vulnerable Native Breed” because puppy registrations usually fall between 160 and 220 yearly.
Affectionate, gentle, and loyal describes this breed best. It is a well-balanced dog, kind, and graceful. It is aloof with strangers more than any other Spaniels but it is typically not an aggressive breed. It is fairly inactive inside the house, often just seen curled up the couch sleeping. The Clumber Spaniel thrives on human companionship and may suffer from separation anxiety. It should not be left alone for long periods of time because it will become lonely and may channel its loneliness into destructive behaviour such as barking, chewing, and digging. This dog loves and lives for field work, although not as quick and agile as the other lighter spaniels, it will happily do its job perfectly even in the thickest of bushes, working with other Clumber Spaniels in a pack or as a solo beater. This breed absolutely loves the water.
Although it has an independent spirit, the Clumber Spaniel absolutely adores human companionship and loves to please his master. With that said, it is relatively easy to train in retrieving and learn new commands. It can be trained and it will excel not only in tracking and retrieving but also in obedience training and even agility. Clumber Spaniels have also gained awards of the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog scheme. As a gentle and docile breed, the Clumber Spaniel also makes a good therapy dog that can enrich the lives of those in hospitals and elderly homes. Like other breeds, training and socialisation should start early, particularly during the few months of puppyhood in order to raise a truly aristocratic, good natured and dignified house companion as this breed is known for.
The Clumber Spaniel sheds moderately throughout the year. Regular grooming is required to keep the coat healthy and the skin problem-free. If not regularly groomed, the featherings will tangle and will form mat which can lead to skin irritations. It is also recommended to keep the feet trimmed to prevent the formation of knots in between the toes which can affect the dog’s movement. Pay extra attention to the eyes and the ears. Inspect and clean when necessary to prevent the onset of eye or ear infections.
The Clumber Spaniel has an average lifespan of 10 years. This breed has a tendency to slobber and is very good at snoring. It is one of the slow maturing breeds and will take around two to three years before becoming an adult. As a large-boned and fast growing breed, puppies tend to suffer from temporary lameness between 6 and 12 months of age but typically subsides after the bones have fully developed. It is also prone to impacted anal sacs, a condition where the anal glands and their ducts become clogged or “impacted”, which can cause the dog to “scoot” or sit down on its hindquarters and drag its anal area across the floor. Treatment for impacted anal sacs is done by a veterinarian or a professional pet groomer. Another common health issue for the Clumber Spaniel is heat sensitivity, so it is wise not to leave the dog under the heat of the sun for long periods of time or it will become exhausted and dehydrated which can be fatal. This breed is also prone to eye diseases spinal disc herniation and canine hip dysplasia.
This large dog requires regular exercise to stay fit and healthy. Daily short walks or a game of fetch are good sources of physical stimulation, but too much running, twisting, and jumping could injure his long back. There are some Clumber Spaniels who are known to suffer from exercise-induced. Five to twenty minutes of gruelling exercise coupled with extreme excitement can cause weakness that leads to collapse. Like any other dog, exercise should be kept to a minimum, especially during the first few months as a puppy, gradually increasing the pace after the dog has reached past six months of age.
A Clumber Spaniel is sometimes a clown and a playful breed which makes it wonderful with kids. Children who play fetch with the dog will find it a wonderful playmate and a house companion. As a pack hunter, this breed goes along very well with other dogs, both within or outside the house. But like any other breed, it is important to properly socialise the puppy to prevent the onset of timidity at any point in his life.