The Clumber spaniel is a large sporting dog from England with short legs, a sturdy body, floppy ears, and soft, straight to wavy white fur with patches of yellow or orange. For a calm and steady companion by your side, look no further than this well-mannered breed. The Clumber spaniel is often described as dignified and determined; they make excellent family pets and reliable hunting dogs.
The largest of the game-flushing spaniels, the Clumber is a solidly built dog whose low stature belies its substantial size. Built to barrel through the underbrush and overcome tricky terrain, the Clumber spaniel is not keen on speed but unstoppable on the scent of a bird.
Today, the Clumber spaniel is a relatively rare breed in the United States that is beloved by a community of canine enthusiasts. The appeal of the Clumber lies in its versatility and even disposition. With sufficient exercise and attention, these dogs are at home in an apartment or self-assured enough to thrive in an active, outdoor environment.
Height: 18 to 20 inches (males); 17 to 19 inches (females)
Weight: 70 to 85 pounds (males); 55 to 70 pounds (females)
Coat: Medium-length, straight to wavy, and soft coat
Coat Color: White, often with yellow or orange markings
Life Span: 10 to 12 years
Temperament: Loyal, friendly, sweet-tempered, gentle, calm
Characteristics of the Clumber Spaniel
Clumber spaniels do best in the company of other pets and their human families. Highly trainable and having a friendly personality toward new people, this breed is a great choice for owners that socialize often and spend lots of time at home. Clumber spaniels are often noted for being loyal and patient with kids, but their sturdy size could inadvertently knock down small children, so proper supervision is necessary. Thankfully, their calm temperament and quiet nature make them great companions around the house. These dogs are also known for their floppy, drool-prone jowls, so owners should prepare for messy kisses from this loving spaniel.
|Tendency to Bark||Low|
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History of the Clumber Spaniel
The origin of the Clumber spaniel is subject to speculation, but it's likely that England can lay claim to this stately breed. This spaniel has been in existence since the 1700s when it was in high demand among nobility looking for hunting companions to flush birds. It’s thought that the breed as we know it today was first developed from Alpine spaniels (now extinct), Basset hounds, and Saint Bernards. Since the Clumber has hound-like features, a spaniel's instinct to flush and retrieve bird game, and the steady and devoted disposition of Saint Bernards, it’s not hard to see how this heritage is within the realm of possibility.
Clumber spaniels get their name from Clumber Park, located in Nottinghamshire, England. The Duke of Newcastle relied upon them as gun dogs. His gamekeeper, William Mansel, played a significant role in advancing the breed. Clumbers were kept by British nobility and breeding was restricted to these estates.
How the Clumber came to England, however, is up for debate. One popular (but unsubstantiated) theory is that the Clumber spaniel was a French breed exported to England for safekeeping during the tumult of the French Revolution. But there is some conflicting evidence to the validity of this theory, including a painting of the Duke of Newcastle hunting with dogs that bear a strong resemblance to Clumber spaniels that’s dated to 1788, which is a year before the French Revolution erupted.
Regardless, one thing that all breed historians agree on is that the Clumber spaniel was a much-loved and well-guarded gun dog among the nobility of England. In fact, no one except for wealthy estate owners bred Clumber spaniels. That changed during the mid-1800s, and the Clumber spaniel was first exported to Canada in 1844. After that, the breed quickly became an integral—but not prolific—part of North American dog breeding. It was included among the original nine dog breeds first eligible with the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1878.
A serious setback in the breed’s development occurred during World War I when breeding virtually ceased. Slowly but surely—much like the dog’s pace in the field—the Clumber spaniel revived from this setback. Today, these dogs are still a relatively rare sight in North America. Many breeders agree that they’re a well-kept secret, which isn’t so different from the breed’s early history as treasured companions on English estates.
Clumber Spaniel Care
The Clumber spaniel is an adaptable and easygoing companion, but it needs considerable time and effort from its family to thrive. To keep these dogs happy and healthy, owners need to understand and fulfill their grooming, exercise, and social needs.
Bred to be in the field, these dogs enjoy putting their minds and bodies to work. Provide your Clumber spaniel with at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise per day. One long walk or two shorter walks should keep your spaniel content to lounge indoors. While they’re not likely to be speedsters, they can enjoy competing in agility, obedience, and rallies. They’re also avid retrievers, so a solid game of fetch will put this bird dog in its element.
Take note that while Clumber spaniels are confident and self-assured, they were bred to be hunting companions that work in a pack. As such, they’re not well-suited to be left alone outdoors all day. In fact, if Clumbers are left alone for excessively long periods, they can become anxious or destructive.
While this breed isn’t a heavy shedder, its medium-length hair is prone to shedding all year long (with heavier fallout during the winter and spring). Brush your Clumber with a slicker brush several times a week to keep shedding to a minimum. It's also important for owners to brush their dog's teeth, trim their nails, and check their ears for dirt and debris. Clean the ears with a dog-safe ear cleaner as needed to prevent infections.
One thing you may not know about the Clumber is that this breed is known for drooling. Clumber kisses come with plenty of slobber thanks to the breed’s flappy flews (the canine equivalent of upper lips). However, the dog hair and an occasional dollop of drool are the most significant considerations when it comes to Clumber spaniel care. With regular baths, an average amount of exercise, and plenty of love, you’ll have a well-balanced and healthy dog to share your home with.
The Clumber spaniel is known for its intelligent and easily trainable nature. When it comes to basic obedience, these dogs excel without too much extra effort from their owners. Simple lessons can begin when puppies are as young as six weeks old, but more advanced training can continue through your dog's life. This breed is eager to learn and responds well to positive reinforcement methods that don't involve punishment.
As with any dog breed, provide proper socialization for your Clumber spaniel early in life to ensure that they’re friendly toward people, children, and other animals. When it comes to stranger danger, the Clumber spaniel isn’t overly shy about new faces, but it also isn’t quick to sound the alarm. In fact, Clumbers are a relatively quiet breed that isn’t known for barking often.
Common Health Problems
A breed with a long pedigreed history, the Clumber spaniel isn’t overly plagued by health problems, but it is susceptible to a few common conditions. Some of these concerns can be mitigated with testing, like hip and elbow evaluations, an ophthalmology exam, and PDP1 testing for a rare genetic enzyme deficiency.
You should also know that the Clumber spaniel has an affinity for carrying things in its mouth, thanks to its bird retrieving instincts. This can easily lead to the dog ingesting a foreign object that causes health complications and may even require surgery. Teach your Clumber not to chew on household objects and only provide safe toys for your pet to play with or chew on.
The following are common health problems encountered in Clumber spaniels:
- Elbow and Hip Dysplasia: Dysplasia is caused by a malformation in your dog's joints as they grow, and this painful condition may require surgery in severe cases.
- Hypothyroidism: Also known as underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism prevents the body from producing healthy levels of important hormones.
- PDP1 Deficiency: This enzyme disorder is common in Clumber and Sussex spaniels, and it causes exercise-induced collapse.
- Entropion or Ectropion: This inherited condition causes an eyelid to become flipped out (ectropion) or rolled inwards (entropion).
- Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): Also known as a herniated disc or slipped disc, IVDD affects your dog's spine and can cause extreme pain or even paralysis.
Diet and Nutrition
Ask any Clumber spaniel owner, and they’ll likely tell you that these dogs are opportunistic eaters. These spaniels take advantage of food left unattended on counters or tables, and despite their somewhat short stature, they're surprisingly skilled at overcoming vertical challenges to steal a snack.
Feed your Clumber spaniel in moderation with high-quality dog food. They’re food-motivated, so treats can be an effective training incentive—but don’t overfeed these dogs. With the breed's long, low stance, weight gain can cause excessive strain on the back and lead to problems like IVDD or joint strain. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine a healthy meal plan based on your specific dog's age, weight, and activity level.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Clumber Spaniel
The Clumber spaniel is a relatively rare breed—it ranks at number 143 of the AKC’s 197 breeds—but there is a devoted community of Clumber spaniel breeders in North America. While it's not common to find these dogs in shelters, your local shelter can likely introduce you to similar spaniels available for adoption. The Clumber spaniel community is also committed to caring for its own, and rescue groups exist to house and re-home these gentle dogs. It’s worth investigating breed-specific rescues to save a Clumber in need.
Litters of Clumber spaniels are limited in the United States, but it is still possible to find a responsible Clumber breeder and secure a position on a waiting list. Puppies from breeders typically cost between $800 and $1,500, but prices can vary based on pedigree and availability.
To start your search, check out breed-specific rescues, the national breed club, and the AKC:
Clumber Spaniel Overview
Adaptable and well-suited for various homes, even apartments
Docile nature with little aggression
Easy to train
Drools and sheds considerably
Tendency to ingest foreign objects
Some genetic lines are prone to serious health concerns
More Dog Breeds and Further Research
If you’re considering the Clumber spaniel, you’ll likely benefit from further research on this dignified but delightful breed. Owners of Clumbers, along with breeders and rescues, can provide insight into day-to-day life with these dogs.
These similar breeds can also make wonderful additions to your family:
There's a whole world of different dog breeds out there. With a little research, you can find your perfect match!
Are Clumber Spaniels Rare?
Clumber spaniels aren't the rarest dog breed, but they are somewhat difficult to find compared to common canines in the United States. Clumbers rank at number 143 of the AKC’s 197 registered dog breeds.
Can Clumber Spaniels Be Left Alone?
Especially loving and attached to their owners, Clumber spaniels should not be left alone consistently. This breed is prone to separation anxiety and may become destructive when lonely or bored.
Are Clumber Spaniels Cuddly?
Clumber spaniels are known for being very affectionate toward their families, making great dogs for households with kids and pets alike. This breed loves to spend time with its people and other dogs.