Firstly, the Clumber is a very large spaniel with dogs reaching a weight of up to 34 kgs (75lbs) and bitches 29.5 kgs (65lbs). Considering its weight the Clumber is very active.
A Clumber is always white with lemon or orange markings, the colour being mainly on the head, sometimes with patches or flecking meagrely spread on the body and legs. Other noticeable characteristics pertaining to Clumbers are their thoughtful kindly expression, large square head, and eyes showing “haw” ,which is to say that the lower eyelid is somewhat loose.
Regular grooming is required to keep the coat tangle free, the featherings will tangle and mat if neglected. It is best to keep the feet trimmed to prevent knots between the toes; for showing a little extra trimming is done to tidy the coat. Eyes and ears need to be kept clean.
Owning a Clumber
In fairness to the Clumber he is not a suitable dog to keep in a small or top floor flat or a house with a small garden. They should not be left alone all day while the owner is at work as they will be lonely and may become destructive. For the first few months in his new home the Clumber puppy should be allowed to start developing into the large dog he will become, by allowing him plenty of good quality food with bone-building additives, all the sleep he requires and only limited amounts of exercise and training. Both exercise and training can be gradually increased after six months of age.
There is an innate “feel” for field work in the Clumber, and while not as fast as the lighter spaniels, he will do the work of many beaters, leaving no cover nexplored and pushing his way into the thickest of it like a tank. His original work was as a beater, and a team of these great dogs must have been a marvellous sight. The Clumber has only one aim in life and that is to please his master, and so he takes readily to training in retrieving. Most dogs are as happy as a Labrador in water.
Of recent years, some Clumbers have also been successfully trained for tracking; others have readily taken to obedience training, including “heelwork to music” and even agility. Clumbers have also gained awards at all levels of the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme. The PAT Dog scheme enables dogs to visit and enrich the lives of those in hospitals and retirement homes and Clumbers have proved very able as PAT Dogs.
As a show dog, the Clumber is a striking sight and good specimens regularly win well in large variety classes and puppy stakes. More shows are providing classes for the breed and these are generally well supported by competitive and sporting enthusiasts.
There can be no parallel to the Clumber as a companion, but there are some disadvantages. He has a very white coat that sheds itself liberally over everything most of the year. His feathering and being low to the ground ensures that a lot of muck gets flipped up on his underside. He does have a tendency to slobber and he is very good at snoring!! Genetic problems include hip dysplasia and eye problems such as entropion and ectropion. The Clumber is also known for his independent spirit, often seeming willful and stubborn
In other respects the Clumber is ideal. He mixes well with other dogs of other breeds and is easily trained. In general the breed is long lived and will serve the boss and his family to the end. He will take about two to three years as a wild and loving youth before settling down into a truly aristocratic, good natured, dignified companion who, when he senses the time is right, will play the clown.
A British Heritage Breed
The Clumber Spaniel has always been a numerically small breed and puppy registrations usually fall between 160 and 220 each year. So few puppies each year means that availability is limited and potential owners may have a long wait before one may be obtained. In 2003 the Kennel Club identified the Clumber Spaniel as a Vulnerable British Breed.
The Club produces a booklet “Owning A Clumber Spaniel”, it costs £2.50 and is available from the Club Secretary.