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The Clumber Spaniel is a breed of dog of the spaniel type, developed in the United Kingdom. It is the largest of the spaniels, and comes in predominantly white with either lemon or orange markings. The name of the breed is taken from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire where the breed was first developed.
It is a gundog that specialises in hunting in heavy cover. They are gentle and loyal, and can act aloof with strangers. They have several habits which could be considered disadvantages, including a constant shedding of its coat and snoring.
The history of the breed is uncertain prior to the mid-19th century with two theories being prevalent. Clumber Spaniels have been kept and bred by various members of the British Royal Family, including Prince Albert, King Edward VII and King George V.
They were introduced into Canada in 1844, and in 1884 became one of the first ten breeds recognised by the American Kennel Club. The breed can suffer from a variety of breed-specific ailments varying in severity from temporary lameness due to bone growth whilst young to hip dysplasia or spinal disc herniation.
The Clumber Spaniel is the largest of the spaniels, and is long and heavy-bodied, standing only 17 to 20 inches (43 to 51 cm) in height but weighing from 55 to 85 pounds (25 to 39 kg). It is similar in shape to the smaller Sussex Spaniel. The Clumber has a heavy bone structure, has a massive ‘melting’ head with a mournful and dopey expression, a square nose and muzzle, and large vine-leaf shaped ears.
Freckles on the muzzle and front legs are common. Its coat is dense, weather-resistant, straight, and flat with feathering around the ears, belly and legs. Clumbers are predominantly white in colour with lemon, brown, or orange markings around the eyes, and at the base of the tail.
Their temperament is described as gentle, loyal and affectionate, but dignified and aloof with strangers. They can appear to be a sedate breed and enjoy curling up on the couch, eating and sleeping.
Clumber Spaniels shed at a medium pace and require to be brushed and groomed frequently. Clumbers tend to drool because of their very droopy flews. Clumbers have minds of their own. Puppies are especially curious and playful. The breed has a trophy mentality and the dog has an incessant need to carry something most of the time; unfortunately this can lead to health issues as they may ingest the items. Clumber Spaniels have the tendency to be more reserved with other dogs, until they have warmed up to them.
The breed has been used to hunt pheasant and partridge, in both small packs and alone. It is well-suited for work in upland hunting in dense cover, and although the Clumber is rather slow in the field compared to other spaniels, it is a quiet worker with a fine nose and good stamina.
The broad muzzle of the breed allows it to retrieve a variety of game. Clumber Spaniels can be very content indoors or out, but mostly wherever their owner is, is where they seem most pleased. Clumber Spaniels do not have a frequency to bark and are more considered companions in the home rather than a watch dog.
Because Clumber Spaniels are large boned and fast growing, they can suffer from temporary lameness from between six and twelve months of age, with this lameness subsiding when bone growth is complete. Another common condition that the breed suffers from are impacted anal sacs and the dog may require them to be emptied by a veterinarian. The final common condition that the breed has is heat sensitivity: if Clumber Spaniels are left without shade, they can become uncomfortably hot and dehydrated.
In addition, Clumbers often have difficulties conceiving and giving birth, and may require caesarian sections. Some dogs may suffer from sensitivity to anaesthesia. The most common severe health conditions in the Clumber Spaniel are entropion/ectropion eye conditions, spinal disc herniation and hip dysplasia. They have an average lifespan of 10-12 years with a median around 10 years.
The breed’s history is uncertain before the middle of the 19th century. One theory is that it originated in France, stating that the Duc de Noailles at the time of the French Revolution gave his kennel of prized spaniels to the Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.
The theory goes, that the now extinct Alpine Spaniel was bred with Basset Hounds, and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog also known as the Great Pyrenees. A second theory is that it is descended from the old type of Bleinheim Spaniel, which was later to be incorporated into the King Charles breed of Spaniel. Originally these dogs were large gundogs, colored lemon and white whereas the modern breed of them is a much smaller lap/toy breed of dog.
What is certain is that the breed took its name from Clumber Park and that the Duke of Newcastle’s gamekeeper, William Mansell, is credited with their development and improvement. Prince Albert, the Prince consort of Queen Victoria, was a fancier and promoter of the breed, as was his son King Edward VII, who bred them at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
The breed was shown in England from 1859 onward. They are referred to in Queen Victoria’s diary: on October 16, 1840, she wrote, “Walked out directly after breakfast before Albert went to shoot. He had his 7 fine Clumber Spaniels with us and we went into the Slopes, with such a funny old Gamekeeper, Walters, in order that I should see how the dogs found out their game. They are such dear, nice dogs.”
Until the mid 19th century the breeding of the Clumber Spaniel was mostly restricted to the nobility. During World War I breeding was stopped entirely causing their numbers to decrease to a record low. In 1925, King George V re-developed a line of Clumbers in the Royal Kennel and were used in the fields in the Sandringham Estate.
Sh. Ch. Raycroft Socialite, bred by Rae Furness and owned by Ralph Dunne of County Cavan, Ireland, won the coveted honor of Best In Show at the 1991 Crufts Centenary Show.
The Clumber Spaniel is currently recognised as a Vulnerable Native Breed by the UK Kennel Club, which means it is a breed which fewer than 300 new registrations each year. Other spaniels recognised as such are the Field Spaniel, Irish Water Spaniel and Sussex Spaniel.
Retired Gentleman’s Spaniel
Gun Dogs (UKC)
16-20 inches (41-51 cm)
55-85 pounds (25-39 kg)
Average $1200 – $1500 USD
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