The Clumber Spaniel is a breed of dog in the Sporting Group. Low to the ground and famous for its steady, slow, and rolling gait, the Clumber Spaniel is one the first Spaniel breeds to have been created for a specific purpose. This breed was recognized by the AKC in 1884 and AKC approved in 2001.
The average Clumber Spaniel stands from 17 to 20 inches at the withers and weighs between 55 and 85 pounds, with females being on the smaller side. Their dense, straight coat can shed constantly, and many Clumbers slobber and drool year-round. Regular brushing will help to keep the coat clean and control shedding. Clumbers will also snuffle and snore more than the average breed.
The history of the Clumber Spaniel is unclear. Current thinking is that the breed was developed by hunters and gamekeepers in the latter part of the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries – who bred dogs to fit function to practical demands. The breed name comes from the Duke of Newcastle's estate at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, England. A number of titled families and local gentry hunted in that area, known as "the Dukeries," with Clumber Spaniels, and apparently bred them with the Duke's dogs to create this fine hunting spaniel. Old pictures of this breed depict them almost always as white and orange, with less bone and smaller heads than today's breed. Clumbers were first shown in England in 1859. The breed came to North America in 1844, coming to Canada with a Lieutenant in Her Majesty's 97th Regiment stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first Clumber recognized by the American Kennel Club was in 1878, six years before the American Kennel Club was founded.
It is clear is that the breed was created to be low to the ground in order to quickly search through the underbrush while on the hunt. Its low and rolling gait was developed for endurance instead of agility or speed. This is a gentle, loyal and affectionate dog with an intrinsic desire to please.
Clumbers have a life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years, but they are prone to health problems which include dysplasia, skin allergies, ectropion, entropion, and a tendency to become obese. These are not high energy dogs, and they move at a pretty slow pace, but they do require daily walks to keep their weight under control and to alleviate boredom.
Clumber Spaniels are odd-looking, bottom heavy dogs who usually have no idea just how big they really are. They will try to climb on laps, or will lay on feet, with complete disregard for the comfort level of the person they are smothering. They are a happy breed, eager to greet anyone and everyone at the door. Clumbers are not guard dogs, they'll happily walk away with a stranger if you aren't paying attention. Excited Clumbers will pick up the nearest item that will fit in their mouths and shake their entire rear end while tail-wagging, which can lead to hours of laughter. They are polite dogs who rarely make a nuisance of themselves and would much rather sunbathe than alert you that the mailman is approaching.
Clumbers are very lazy indoors and may need a bit of prodding to leave the house, but don't let their laziness fool you - Clumbers need lots of activity. Luckily, their requirement is easy to fulfill. Daily brisk walks will do it, as Clumbers are not runners. They love to fetch, and can be entertained for hours with a ball and someone willing to throw. They can be raised in the city or the suburbs, though city dwellers should have a large enough living space that this "bull in a china shop" can move around in without knocking things over.
Clumbers are moderately easy to train. Positive reinforcement and a lot of treats are the only way to get a Clumber to do what you want them to do, but they pick up on commands quickly when they learn there is food in the deal. Treating a Clumber with a harsh hand will result in his absolute refusal to move. A Clumber who doesn't appreciate a trainer's tone will sit down and refuse to go any farther, so patience and enthusiasm must always be employed. Consistency is also very important when training a Clumber. They are like teenagers, always looking for a loophole in the rules and will test boundaries daily.
Clumbers are easy-going companions with very few behavioral problems as a breed. Separation Anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors, however. Proper exercise and mental stimulation can keep anxiety from developing.
The Clumber Spaniel is a long, low, substantial dog. His heavy brow, deep chest, straight forelegs, powerful hindquarters, massive bone and good feet all give him the power and endurance to move through dense underbrush in pursuit of game. His white coat enables him to be seen by the hunter as he works within gun range. His stature is dignified, his expression pensive, but at the same time he shows great enthusiasm for work and play.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The Clumber is rectangular in shape possessing massive bone structure and has the appearance of great power. The ideal height for dogs is 18 to 20 inches at the withers and for bitches is 17 to 19 inches at the withers. The ideal length to height is 11 to 9 measured from the withers to the base of the tail and from the floor to the withers. Dogs weigh between 70 and 85 pounds and bitches weigh between 55 and 70 pounds.
The head is massive with a marked stop and heavy brow. The top skull is flat with a pronounced occiput. A slight furrow runs between the eyes and up through the center of the skull. The muzzle is broad and deep to facilitate retrieving many species of game. The nose is large, square and colored shades of brown, which include beige, rose and cherry. The flews of the upper jaw are strongly developed and overlap the lower jaw to give a square look when viewed from the side. A scissors bite is preferred. The eyes are dark amber in color, large, soft in expression, and deep set in either a diamond shaped rim or a rim with a "V" on the bottom and a curve on the top. Some haw may show but excessive haw is undesirable. Prominent or round shaped eyes are to be penalized. Excessive tearing or evidence of entropion or ectropion is to be penalized. Ears are broad on top with thick ear leather. The ears are triangular in shape with a rounded lower edge, set low and attached to the skull at approximately eye level.
Neck, Topline, Body
The Clumber should have a long neck with some slackness of throat or presence of dewlap not to be faulted. The neck is strong and muscular, fitting into a well laid back shoulder. The back is straight, firm, long and level. The brisket is deep and the ribs well sprung. The chest is deep and wide. The loin arches slightly. The tail is well feathered and set on just below the line of back; its trimming minimal, serving to tidy the feathering to allow for a natural appearance and outline. The tail is normally carried level with the topline or slightly elevated, never down between the rear legs. The tail may be docked or left natural, both being of equal value. If docked, the tail's length should be in keeping with the overall proportion of the adult dog. If natural, the tailbone should extend to the point of hock, but should not extend to the ground.
The Clumber shoulder is well laid back. The upper arm is of sufficient length to place the elbow under the highest point of the shoulder. The forelegs are short, straight and heavy in bone, with elbows held close to the body. Pasterns are strong and only slightly sloped. The front feet are large, compact and have thick pads that act as shock absorbers. Removal of dewclaws is optional.
The thighs are heavily muscled and, when viewed from behind, the rear is round and broad. The stifle shows good functional angulation, and hock to heel is short and perpendicular to the ground. Lack of angulation is objectionable. The rear feet are not as large or as round as on the front feet but compact, with thick pads and are of substantial size.
The body coat is dense, straight and flat. It is of good weather resistant texture, which is soft to the touch, not harsh. Ears are slightly feathered with straight hair. Feathering on the legs and belly is moderate. The Clumber has a good neck frill and on no condition should his throat be shaved. Evidence of shaving is to be penalized. The hair on the feet should be trimmed neatly to show their natural outline and for utility in the field. The rear legs may be trimmed up to the point of the hock. Tail feathering may be tidied. Trimming of whiskers is optional.
Color and Markings
The Clumber is primarily a white dog with lemon color or orange color markings. Markings are frequently seen on one or both ears and the face. Facial markings include color around one or both eyes, freckling on the muzzle and a spot on top of the head. A head with lemon/orange markings and an all-white head are of equal value. Freckles on the legs and/or a spot near the root of the tail are also frequently seen and acceptable. The body should have as few markings as possible.
The Clumber moves easily and freely with good reach in front and strong drive from behind, neither crossing over nor elbowing out. The hocks drive in a straight line without rocking or twisting. Because of his wide body and short legs he tends to roll slightly. The proper Clumber roll occurs when the dog, with the correct proportion, reaches forward with the rear leg toward the centerline of travel and rotates the hip downward while the back remains level and straight. The gait is comfortable and can be maintained at a steady trot for a day of work in the field without exhaustion.
The Clumber Spaniel is a gentle, loyal and affectionate dog. He possesses an intrinsic desire to please. An intelligent and independent thinker, he displays determination and a strong sense of purpose while at work. A dog of dignity, the Clumber Spaniel may sometimes seem aloof with people unknown to him, but in time he will display his playful and loving nature. The Clumber Spaniel should never be hostile or aggressive; neither is acceptable and should not be condoned.
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Sources: American Kennel Club