Over the past five years I have been invited to give the Clumber Spaniel lecture to the trainee judges in Western Australia. Many questions were asked about the correct proportions required on the ideal Clumber. Last year I thought I would try to find something written about proportion in the Clumber but proportion in the Clumber Spaniel is not a subject that many authors have covered. The American standard states body proportions however it does n ot go into head proportions at all.
Well ruler in hand, I gathered together as many photos and books (worldwide) as I could and I measured the length, width, and depth of as many instantly recognizable heads as possible. Heads that were atypical were not measured. The results were surprising in their consistency of the rations measured.
The following article is the result of these investigations.
Every physical attribute of the Clumber Spaniel is a reflection of the purpose for which the dog was bred. To find, flush, and retrieve game from heavy scrub where the game was scarce.
Let’s look at the requirements for a dog of this purpose:
1. must not be too tall, otherwise he will get tangled up in the scrub
2. must be strong, to push through the scrub
3. have a large head and strong neck, so that heavy birds may be easily carried
4. strong, straight bone, to carry the large body
4. have good endurance and ground covering strides, to find the scarce game without tiring
6 stoical and determined, a dog that shies away from pain and is reticent would be useless in these conditions
7 be a silent worker, to avoid scaring game away
8 be easily seen by the hunter, if you can’t hear him, you want to to see him
9 not be too fast, to keep within gun and sight range
We have just described a long, low, heavy dog with a large head, well constructed, a natural tenacity for hunting, and white in colour. In short, A Clumber Spaniel!
The finer points of the Clumber standard are also explainable by considering the dog’s original purpose; for instance, the Clumber frown which not only gives the dog a thoughtful expression but acts as a crash helmet to protect the dog’s eyes and frontal sinuses as he thrusts forward, head down, scenting through treacherous vegetation. Akin to the blade on a bulldozer, a very apt picture to keep in mind when looking at the Clumber Spaniel.
Proportions, however, are not easily deduced from the current (1995) standard. The American standard explains that the ratio of length of body (from withers to root of tail) to height (from withers to ground) should be 11:9.
I would also like to add that the length of leg (point of elbow to ground) should be half the total height and that the brisket should extend well below the point of elbow.
Shoulder angulation and substantial hindquarters with (correct turn of stifle) are more important than length of loin to the Clumber’s overall appearance of length.
Head proportions, the standard discusses are in terms of massive, square, medium length. The muzzle heavy and square. Not a lot to go on or produce the ideal picture.
Muzzle width to skull width should be 0.6:1 (6:10)
Muzzle length to skull length should be 0.45: 1 (4.5:10)
Muzzle depth to skull depth 0.6:1 (6:10)
as illustrated in Figure 3
If the muzzle is too short, the dogs scenting ability and game carrying capacity will be compromised (see Figure 4).
A dog of this type is also often too broad in skull, making the head heavier and more tiring to carry.
A muzzle that is too narrow will interfere with dog’s ability to carry a heavy bird and will restrict scenting ability.
When the dog is down faced (planes of muzzle and skull not parallel), the air flow through the nostrils to the frontal sinuses is impaired, as will the dog’s scenting ability, not to mention the atypical appearance.
A Clumber that is too long in muzzle is not correct type, and it will appear Setter-like in head.
A cutaway flew on any head shape is also not ideal, the required squareness is compromised, as are the well developed flews. Figure 7 shows both these faults.
Now if you find a Clumber with the ideal proportions, he still has to fit into the right sized package! An adult male Clumber should be ideally (standard in use in 1995) weigh 36kg and a female 29.5kg. There is no height in the current standard, but bear in mind that the English Springer Spaniel standard (in use in 1995)states that is is the highest on leg of all the British land spaniels. The standard height for an English Springer is 20 inches. The Clumber therefore by extrapolation be under 20 inches. An awful lot of dog in a short package.
When judging Clumbers look for a dog that fills the eye from all angles. Keep in mind the dog’s purpose. If you are still having problems, picture a giant breed (St Bernard or Newfoundland) that has been bleached and shrunk, add a bit of bulldozer, and you have a Clumber Spaniel.
Robbie is the owner of the Bowhouse Cavalier King Charles and Clumber Spaniel Kennels based in Perth, Western Australia. Her showring success with our breed has been fantastic, particularly with Ch Erinveine Regal.
this article was published in Clumbers Celebrated 1995