The largest of the flushing Spaniels, the Clumber Spaniel is a burly bird hunter. Their history begins to be traced in England in the 1700s, where they were heavily developed by the Duke of Newcastle and named for his home, Clumber Park. This breed later became a favorite of other British Royals through the generations, and they are featured in many portraits over the ages.
The Clumber Spaniel arrived in America during the 1800s, and was one of the ten charter breeds used to initiate the American Kennel Club, or AKC. They were traditionally used as flushing and retrieving dogs on the hunt, though enthusiastic, they are often considered a better choice for more relaxed hunters.
Clumber Spaniel Appearance
Larger in size than most other Spaniels, the Clumber weighs in a wide range, with some females as small as 55 pounds, with large males reaching up to 85. They are 17-20 inches at the shoulder, with a massive head. The body has a base coat of white, and the dog may have lemon or orange colored markings. Their hair is rather long, with some feathering, and a great deal of shedding. Their heavy jowls are also prone to a great deal of drooling.
Though laid back and often called a “gentleman’s dog” (they do have a royal history, after all), Clumber Spaniels are also mischievous and enthusiastic. They enjoy the company of both other dogs and people, including children, providing they have been properly socialized. However, due to their rambunctious nature, Clumber puppies may be a bit much for small kids. As they age, a calm demeanor generally takes over. In fact, this breed makes an excellent candidate for therapy dogs due to their calmness.
Clumbers have a life expectancy of 10-12 years, and don’t expect them to spend much time as a couch potato. They prefer to be occupied, and a bored Clumber can be trouble. It may be in an owner’s best interest to crate train their Clumber Spaniel if the dog will be spending much time unattended. When left to their own devices, Clumbers have been known to get into and eat just about anything, and wreak havoc on furniture. To prevent these tendencies, entertainment such as puzzle toys and plenty of exercise can be beneficial.
Caring for a Clumber Spaniel
In addition to being prepared for the breed’s interesting tendencies, prospective owners must be ready to accept the fact that fastidious housekeeping will be a challenge when a Clumber becomes part of the family. Hair and drooling are unavoidable with this breed, though they come with the rewards of a calm and playful addition to the home.
As this breed is a heavy boned, sturdy type, it is important that they not become overweight and put undue stress on their joints. Unfortunately, they are quite prone to obesity, especially since they are extremely opportunistic when it comes to food. It is important that the weight of the Clumber be monitored and food intake adjusted as necessary. While their food motivation is great for training purposes, it is important to keep treats under control and to prevent an excess consumption. Table scraps should be avoided in favor of healthier options.
While Clumber Spaniels are very athletic, they are not fast paced athletes. They do not enjoy sprinter activities such as running or biking, but rather prefer strolls and the like. However, they do often enjoy participating in competitions such as agility and field trials. As hunters, they of course enjoy playing ball, whether with the kids or an automatic fetch machine.
Clumber Spaniels do not need excessive amounts of exercise, but their workouts should occur daily to maintain health and wellness, in addition to helping alleviate boredom.
Clumber Spaniels are intelligent, and often like to “think things through” before doing them. This can make training a challenge at times, as the dog can get distracted as they consider their options. They require consistency and reminders of their learning. It is not recommended that Clumbers be left alone unattended until after extensive training and as a more trustworthy adult.
While Clumbers are not just considered hunting dogs anymore, they are still excellent retrievers for sportsmen who are interested in upland bird hunting. Although not naturally suited to water, they have been known to willingly retrieve ducks as well. If one plans to utilize their Clumber a hunting problem, it is a good idea to start field training at a young age. If the owner is not well versed in this themselves, connecting with an experienced training will help get their hunter off to the right start, both in terms of understanding his role and responding to commands in the field.
As discussed previously, Clumbers love food, and it can be a great training tool when used in moderation.
Like many other Spaniels, Clumbers can be susceptible to eye problems such as entropion and ectropion. They may also suffer from hip dysplasia. Another issue is pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase 1 deficiency, a disorder that is inherited. It can cause heart and lung problems along with exercise intolerance.
The Clumber Spaniel Club of America is involved in the Canine Health Information Center, or CHIC. CHIC is a health registry that helps breeders achieve certification by submitting clean bills of health, such as hip certifications from their veterinarian. Purchasing a Clumber puppy from a breeder that holds CHIC certification is a step towards preventing future health problems.
Grooming will help the Clumber stay looking and feeling well. 10-15 minutes of brushing three times a week will help maintain his coat. This will help cut down on the owner’s vacuuming time, though investment in a good dog hair vacuum is recommended with Clumber ownership. Bathing is recommended once a month or as needed.
- Sussex Spaniel: The AKC calls the Sussex a “cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a torpedo”. These heavy-fronted dogs appear to be constantly frowning, which is in direct opposition with their cheerful personalities.
- Field Spaniel: These sweet, trustworthy dogs are said to be excellent with kids, cats, and other dogs.
- Basset Hound: Famous for their mournful eyes, Basset Hounds are anything but sad. Low-key dogs in the home, they are stubborn on a scent, with excellent noses. They are topped by only the Bloodhound when it comes to scenting ability!
- Grand Basset Griffon Vendeen: A French breed, these dogs are said to be hard to tire. However, they are fortunately not high-strung, with excellent stamina in the field.
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon: An all-purpose gundog, this is a low-shedding breed whose harsh, bristly coat requires little in the way of grooming.