The Clumber Spaniel, although now not a well known or easily recognized breed, was actually one of the first of the nine breeds of dogs ever recognized by the American Kennel Club. These spaniels, bred and developed in England, specifically in Nottinghamshire at the estate of the Duke of Newcastle, are the most stocky and heaviest of the spaniel breeds recognized by the AKC. They are somewhat similar in appearance to the Sussex Spaniel, which is also AKC recognized.
Although only measuring between 16 and 20 inches at the shoulder, these long bodied spaniels can weigh up to 85 pounds at maturity. They are similar in body shape to the Basset Hound, although that is really all that is similar between the two breeds. The Clumber Spaniel is a true spaniel at heart and makes a wonderful swimming retriever, despite its rather unusual body shape and size.
The Clumber has a typical spaniel head with a very square, longer and very strong muzzle and a noticeable stop, giving the head a spaniel profile. The skull is very wide and broad with a naturally round shape. The ears are higher set, carried slightly out from the skull and then hanging in a lobular shape or vine leaf shape to below the lower jaw level. The ears are carried forward, framing the face when the dog is at attention. The ears have longer, slightly wavy hair while the face has naturally short, dense hair. The eyes are deep set and forward on the face, deep amber in color. The eyelids, especially the lower lids, may by slightly loose, adding to the round shape of the eye when viewed straight on. The upper lip or flews are very long and hang well below the bottom jaw. This does make the Clumber Spaniel a naturally drooler, however this typically is only an issue after drinking. The breed is also rather well known for their snoring, which owners indicate is just another lovable trait.
The neck of the Clumber Spaniel is thick and short, blending in a massively deep and wide chest. Many people find the head, neck and chest of the Clumber Spaniel to somewhat resemble a slightly modified St. Bernard or Newfoundland's shape and general appearance. The legs are solid, muscular and short and should face forwards, not turned in or out. The body is long and solid, thicker rather than tucked up or lean in appearance. The show Clumber should also not appear to be fat, rather they are solid and well built all the way along the body. The topline or the line along the spine should be flat from the well developed withers through to the tail. The hind legs, like the front, should be very muscular, well set to the outside of the dog's body and in proportion to the rest of the dog.
The tail of the Clumber Spaniel is typically docked for show, but may be left natural as well. If left natural it is moderately long and carried level with the back when the dog is in motion. It is naturally feathered, as are the breaches, the neck and the backs of the front legs.
The Clumber Spaniel may have several different coat accent colors, but white is always the predominant color. They may have patches of lemon or orange markings on the coat, often found on the head more often than the larger parts of the body. Smaller spots along the legs are also common with this breed. The longer coat is very soft and silky and the dogs are known to be heavy shedders year round. Routine grooming will be a must for this breed.
The Clumber is very active as a puppy and needs routine exercise, play time, training and socialization, just like any dog. As a spaniel breed that is not now routinely used for hunting but rather as a companion dog, they crave human attention. The Clumber is another breed that needs positive training as harsh punishment only confuses them and adds stress to their training routines that translates into the dog not wanting to do anything. They are overall a very easy breed to train, however housetraining can be a challenge. This is partially due to the short legs that make it difficult to see if the puppy is positioning to go to the bathroom. Crate training and routine outdoor times after eating, drinking and exercise will be important in training routines. The Clumber is not a long lived dog although they do have a typical lifespan of about 10 to 12 years. Ear infections and allergies can be problematic with the breed but are easily managed with grooming and management routines.
The Clumber Spaniel is a rare breed of dog and is rather difficult to find in most areas. Part of the decline in the attention on the breed has to do with how the dogs mature. While they are very active as puppies, by about the end of the 3rd or 4th year these dogs dramatically slow down and become very inactive and sedate, particularly if they are an only dog or if the household is not really active. Even given the opportunity to exercise many mature Clumbers would prefer to just sit down and watch. Owners really do have to exercise these dogs as they will not self exercise and as a breed they are highly prone to rapid weight gain because of this trait. Dogs that are routinely kept active and have owners that monitor their food intake will not have this problem, but it is a factor that people considering the breed need to focus in on.
Generally the Clumber is a great companion dog for children of all ages, however younger, highly active children may not be the best match for an older dog. They are excellent with older, more considerate children although they will not be a dog that is eager to play, fetch and jog along with very active children. Most Clumbers have a naturally gentle behavior that makes them good for homes with cats and other pets and they are typically good with other dogs in the family.
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