THE BREED FOR YOU?
There is no ideal pet any more that there is an ideal person or ideal job. Only you can decide whether the Clumber Spaniel is the ideal breed for you. This section aims to inform you about this breed, both positive and negative points, to help you make your mind up.
- The Clumber Spaniel has been called the ‘aristocrat of the spaniels’. His stately dignity and
thoughtful expression give him an air of self assurance which is peculiar to the Clumber breed. He is a breed that is full of character, quite a comedian and is a wonderful companion.
- He is the largest (in weight) of the spaniel breeds. He stands about 18” (46cm) to the shoulder and weighs between 65 and 85 lbs (29.5kg – 38.6kg). To compare with other breeds, he is shorter in height that the English Springer Spaniel and weighs about the same as a Labrador.
- He has a white coat (except when dirty), with beige (known as lemon), or orange markings. There are no other colours. The markings tend to be concentrated on the head although it is quite common to find the odd small patch on the body.
- The Clumber Spaniel is suitable as a pet, show or working dog ~ BUT he is not for the house proud, or for those looking for a dog of racing speed.
- His dignified yet gay temperament makes him a pleasure to have around the house as well as in the field. He has a constant ‘eager to please’ attitude and his friendly nature makes him suitable for mixing with other dogs.
- The Clumber is very loyal and affectionate with his family and friends although he can sometimes have a ‘reserved’ attitude with strangers. They like to play ~ although usually on their terms. They train readily but are obstinate when it suits them, however, with their desire to please and a bit of food or toy bribery, this can usually be overcome. They do not understand harsh treatment and can be quite sensitive to rough play. When he is happy and excited, he not only wags his tail, but his entire rear end! They make a good companion to children and will warn off any intruders with a deep bark. (As with any dog, you should never leave a young child and your dog together unattended and do not allow teasing as this may provoke an undesirable reaction).
Now for the drawbacks.
- A small amount of his lovely white coat is shed liberally ALL year round, but essentially a healthy dog experiences just the two regular moults a year. Being low to the ground and well feathered means that they return from most walks filthy. They also have a tendency to snore, loudly!
- Health problems may include hip dysplasia; eye problems such as entropion and dry eye; waxy ears and skin allergies. But all these are address in the breeding programmes of dedicated breeders and will perhaps one day no longer be associated with this breed.
- The Clumber needs regular exercise from 6 months of age. Two to three miles a day are probably ample. Most Clumbers like to swim.
- The Clumber does require regular grooming.
SHORT BREED HISTORY
The Clumber Spaniel is from the Gundog group of dogs taking its name from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, Clunbre being the name given to the area now known as Clumber in the Doomsday book. His purpose and design is to flush out game from thick undergrowth. Over the years he has adapted to the requirements of the field where an ‘all rounder’ dog that is capable of flushing and retrieving is preferred. He may not be as speedy as the Springer and Cocker Spaniels but he has an excellent nose and great stamina.
The origins of the first Clumber Spaniels are shrouded in mystery. A popular theory is that a Clumber type of dog arrived at Clumber Park from the kennels of the French aristocrat, the Duc de Noailles, during the French revolution. However, no one has been able to find any trace of the origin of the Clumber Spaniel in France. It is more likely that the Clumber Spaniel is a British
breed, bred from the old Blenheim Spaniel, which was a very different dog from the present day Blenheim.
There is a painting by F Wheatley of the Duke of Newcastle in Clumber Park in 1788 with four lemon and white dogs which are recognisable as the forerunners of the modern Clumber. It is widely known that these dogs continued their association with the aristocratic houses of Great Britain, culminating with
King George V’s love for and use of the Clumber.
The Royal Kennel produced a wonderful team of working dogs of excellent type and quality who also distinguished themselves in the show ring. The King rated his working dogs very highly and they were used as a team for beating in the vast rhododendrons which abound on the Sandringham Estate.
Both World Wars saw breeding operations virtually halted. As a result numbers declined to a very low level. It was up to the breeders of that period to rebuild the breed from the existing stock which remained. The person mainly responsible for maintaining the true Clumber of show and working
type at this time was Miss Reed, with her famous Oakerland prefix.
Any history on the Clumber Spaniel, however brief, would not be complete without mentioning the Raycroft Clumbers. Rae Furness came into the breed in the 1960’s and transformed it into the breed as we know it today. She bred numerous champions including the Best In Show winner at Crufts in 1991, Sh Ch Raycroft Socialite. Rae was affectionately known to the dog world as ‘Mrs Clumber’.
The Clumber Spaniel is a ‘country’ dog and is not really suitable for a home with no garden or an upstairs flat. They are a fairly adaptable breed who will readily fit in with your routine.
This breed likes company – especially yours, so it is not fair on to leave him for long periods on his own. A bored or lonely Clumber can become a destructive Clumber. When you do have to leave him, give him a variety of safe toys and things to chew on and leave him in a safe environment.
This will lessen the opportunity for him to be destructive. A crate (cage) is useful and can become your dog’s special place where he feels safe for short periods of time.
If allowed, the Clumber will adapt to any luxury they can get away with; such as using the sofa as their bed, or even better, actually sleeping on the bed with you. If you’d rather they slept in their dog bed then make sure they do so from the start. Don’t give in to them, however appealing and sorrowful a look they may give you. Once they have got away with it once they will try it forever
They should be prevented from running up and down stairs and jumping on and off furniture, particularly during their growing phase when irreversible damage to their growing bones may be made.
The Clumber gets on well with other dogs and having a second dog would provide mutual company and entertainment for each other. However, it is not advisable to have two puppies together.
Within a few days of collecting your new puppy, you should have your vet examine him to confirm that he is in good health – that he has no heart, eye, ear or other abnormalities.
The average life span of the Clumber Spaniel is 10 years, breeders aim to produce dogs healthy enough to make 12, and a few have been known to reach 14 or more.
All breeds have some incidence of defects and diseases and the Clumber is no exception.
Awareness makes you better prepared to deal with potential problems. The more common ailments have been outlined here.
Eye problems may include Dry Eye, Entropian and Ectropian. A properly shaped Clumber eyelid will often be looser than other breeds, but it should not roll in or out. It may be necessary to have the lids operated on if the condition is serious. However, it is advisable to wait until the head has fully matured (about two to three years of age) before considering surgery, as minor deviations quite often correct themselves as the head matures. It is quite normal for the lower lid to be of a diamond shape and this should not be confused as being ectropian.
The Clumbers heavy enclosed ear does make it prone to ear infections. Routine cleaning is recommended. Recurrent ear infections should be checked out by your veterinary surgeon.
The modern breed is battling against a high incidence of poor hip quality, but those from good working lines and most of those screened within Australia are not afflicted with bad hips, or bad hip dysplasia.
It is not unusual for growing Clumbers to exhibit shifting leg lameness, with no apparent cause. This is most commonly seen between the ages of 6 to 12 months. This lameness is self limiting and resolves itself once bone growth is complete. It may be the result of ‘growing pains’ or foot eczema due to fungal infections deep up between the pads.
The Clumbers long, low body structure may make them prone to neck and back intervertebral disc disease if they are not fit. This is usually seen in the middle aged dog. Some cases respond well to medical treatment aimed at reducing the inflammation around the disc.
Impacted anal glands can become itchy and sore. The major cause is dietary leading to stools that are insufficiently bulky to force sac expression during defecation. Increasing the fibre content of the dog’s diet can often cure mild cases.
Allergic dermatitis and food hypersensitivity occur in the Clumber Spaniel. These generally show themselves as skin irritation. Treatment depends on the cause.
Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia is a serious disease which has been encountered in Clumbers. Please report any cases you experience.
Hypothyroidism has also been encountered in Clumbers. However this club urges breeders to strive to breed puppies that will not exhibit this syndrome or any other health problem
It is quite common for bitches NOT to have their first season until they are over 1 year old, and this should not be a cause for concern.
To protect against more serious ailments, you should consider buying pet insurance which will cover any unexpected illnesses or accidents.
FINDING AND CHOOSING
Before you get a puppy be sure that you are willing to take on the responsibility of training and caring for him. You should have made a decision as to whether you would prefer a male or female.
Both sexes are pretty much the same in disposition and character, and both make equally good pets.
If you are unfamiliar with the breed then it is strongly advisable that you should go and see some adults before deciding that this is the right breed for you.
Clumber Spaniel puppies are rarely advertised and you should be prepared both to travel and to wait for a suitable puppy. You should always buy directly from the dog’s breeder.
For further information check the club’s website and check for Finding a Clumber link for current dogs available.
When you have located a litter, make an appointment to see the puppies. A puppy must (a rule of our governing body) be at least eight weeks old before you take him home. Some breeders prefer to keep them a bit longer; but most breeders will allow you to view the puppies prior to their ‘leaving the nest’ date. The puppies should be in clean surroundings. They should be well fleshed without being pot bellied. Their skin and coat should be supple and shiny and there should be no discharge from the eyes or nose. The mother may look a bit bedraggled as rearing a litter can take a lot out of her. However, she should not look half starved or dirty.
Having chosen your puppy, you may be required to leave a deposit, the remainder of the selling price being paid on collection of the puppy.
Having booked your puppy, some thought needs to be given for his arrival. A stout cardboard box placed on its side makes a good draught free bed. Bedding should be easily washable. A large pen or cage which could be used both in and outdoors would be a good investment. This will ensure that the puppy can be left in safety during the periods it cannot have your attention. Have a plentiful supply of toys that the puppy can chew on. Choose toys that are not easily destructible.
Puppies have a tendency to swallow broken off bits of toys, pebbles etc. Finally make sure that you have a stocked up on the food on which the puppy has been reared on.
When you collect your puppy you should
- -receive his kennel club registration;
- – his pedigree showing his ancestry;
- – a diet sheet of what he is currently eating, (frequency and volume);
- – details of his worming regime;
some breeders will also offer health insurance.
CARING FOR YOUR PUPPY
The most important time in a puppy’s growth is during the first 6 months of its life. To this end your puppy will need lots of UNINTERRUPTED sleep, frequent feeds and plenty of attention.
It is important that you follow the diet sheet given to you by the breeder. Do not change the puppy’s diet drastically, as this can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea. If the puppy is being finicky with its food, then remove it after twenty minutes and do not offer a substitute, as this can make the
puppy become a fussy eater. Clumbers are slow maturing dogs and it is important to keep the puppy at the correct weight, which is neither too thin nor too fat. Excess weight is detrimental to your puppy’s bone structure.
Your puppy will need to be vaccinated against a number of fatal diseases. Until the course of injections is complete you should not allow your puppy to meet strange dogs or walk on ground to which other dogs have access.
Your puppy’s skeletal bones do not harden off until about 1 year old. A puppy cannot take a lot of exercise without damaging the soft tissue. It is therefore most important not to over exercise your puppy as this can damage bone growth. Free exercise in the garden and plenty of undisturbed sleep is all that is initially needed to ensure healthy growth. Do not allow your puppy to run up and down stairs or jump on and off furniture, as being a heavy breed this can put the shoulder out and the dog will then forever move wrongly in front.
Regularly check your puppy’s eyes, teeth and ears. Eyes and ears should be clean, without discharge.
Puppies are always chewing unsuitable articles, so a daily check of the teeth will assure you that nothing is jammed between any of them that may cause inflammation and discomfort.
Ears should be regularly cleaned and any excess hair from under the ear trimmed out to help stop overheating which encourages yeast type infections.
Grooming should become a regular part of the puppy’s routine. This should include brushing, trimming and nail cutting. Knots between the toes should be carefully removed. Remove surplus hair from under the pads so that it is the pads and not hair that is in contact with the ground.
CARE OF THE ADULT
Grooming should be high on the agenda as a regular part of the dog’s routine. This not only keeps your dog in tip top condition but can provide an early warning of any potential problems.
Grooming includes brushing, trimming, nail clipping and bathing.
Brushing your Clumber regularly will promote good coat growth, as well as removing loose and
dead hair. A pin or bristle brush, comb and possibly a slicker brush (which will help remove any knots) are the required tools. Trimming excess hair from between the toes and under the pads will stop the feet becoming sore with clods of mud, or in the winter, with snow. Both can be very painful, and if your dog does go lame it is worth checking these areas first.
Eyes, ears and teeth should be regularly checked. Eyes should be bright and should not look sore.
Do not confuse showing haw as having sore eyes. The Clumber eye is supposed to be very slightly droopy and show haw. An eye cleaner such as a sterile eye stream makes an effective eye cleaner.
A Clumber head takes 2 – 3 years to fully develop. During this time there may be occasions when the eyes may discharge. Do not be too hasty about having corrective surgery as in 6 months time you may find everything is OK and you will have done more harm than good.
Clean his ears with a recommended ear cleaner regularly (eg 50:50 white vinegar and clean warm water. If his ears have a smelly dark discharge or appear sore then seek advice about possible fungal or bacterial infections. A dog that keeps shaking its head is often a sign of sore ears.
Keeping the hair on the neck under the ear flap trimmed will allow better air circulation around the ears, so keeping them cooler and minimizing ear problems.
Check the teeth to make sure they are clean and free of tartar. Regularly allowing your dogs ‘toys’ that are specifically for chewing will help keep your dogs teeth and gums clean and so help prevent dental disease.
Your Clumber will benefit from the occasional bath.
Regular worming should be carried out for all worms. Do not assume that just because you haven’t seen any worms that your dog is worm free.
Check your dog regularly for fleas and ticks. Fleas are an all year pest and tend to be more prevalent where there are cats present. Fleas cause itching, restlessness, skin allergies, anaemia and transmit internal parasites such as tapeworm and viral infections. It is important to treat the entire
dogs environment (bedding, carpets, kennel etc), as well as treating the dog. PLEASE NOTE that products for treating the environment are generally not suitable for treating the dog.
Ticks are generally a summer time nuisance. Ticks are activated by carbon dioxide and so usually attach themselves around the head area. Do not attempt to pull the tick out as they have a firm grip and leaving any part of the tick behind can cause an abscess to form. A safe method of getting the
tick to release its hold is to dab the tick with neat alcohol.
Look out for itchy ‘hot spots’ on your dog’s body. Treat with a drying agent such as Curash, and if that is not successful consult the breeder or a trust If left untreated you could end up with full blown wet eczema.
Females will usually have their first season at about 12 months of age. The timing of the first season varies greatly, so do not be alarmed if your bitch has her first season as early as 6 months or as late as 18 months. Subsequent seasons will follow approximately every 6 – 9 months. A season usually last for approximately 3 weeks. During this time you should keep your girl away from the boys!
Adult Clumbers need daily exercise. They can cover a grand distance at a steady pace. They are not designed to cover miles at a fast gallop. They should be allowed to run freely, although some road work is advantageous for muscle tone and keeping nails short. Their nails are too long if they click on the ground as they walk. If this is the case then they will need to be clipped.
Most adult Clumbers enjoy their food, so care must be taken to watch their waist line. Many skin problems are attributable to diet. If you are unlucky enough to own a dog that suffers from skin allergies then you may want to consider feeding a specific type of diet. It may take a bit of trial and
error to establish the diet that best suits your Clumber. When introducing a new diet, do so slowly over a few days. The results may not be immediate, but at no time should your dog’s condition worsen. If after 3 -6 weeks there has been no improvement, then consider trying a different type of diet.
Although your dog is no longer a puppy it stills needs love, someone to play with and to be cuddled so please make sure you spend time with your dog.
There are no hard and fast rules with regard to feeding. A good quality commercial dog food and a small quantity of dog treats will normally satisfy pet nutritional needs. Having said this, when you get your puppy, it is going to grow a lot in the first six months. A twelve week old puppy can consume a large amount of food in its three or four meals. Your breeder will have supplied you with a diet sheet which you should stick to until the puppy has settled into its’ new environment.
After that if you wish to change the food he is on then do so slowly over a week, mixing it with his existing food.
There is no truth in the belief that a bitch should have a litter for her health’s sake. If you do not intend to breed you may find it more convenient to neuter your dog. If you take this option then please wait until your dog is sexually mature before doing so. However do not consider neutering just for your convenience, removal of any sexual organs can and will impact on the dog’s long term health so consider this before placing your dog under surgery.
Clumbers are not ‘do it’ yourself whelpers. It is unlikely that you will wake in the morning to find your bitch has whelped all by herself and the puppies are nicely delivered and cleaned up. You will need to be there throughout the performance to fret over and lend a helping hand as appropriate.
And that is just the start of it. Having a litter is very time consuming and if the puppies are reared correctly it is hard work. That said, this club welcomes new people to the realm of Clumber breeding if those people undertake to breed happy and healthy breed representatives and make every effort to place any pups they don’t want in good and suitable homes.
If you do decide to breed then think carefully as to which dog would best complement your bitch.
You should take an objective view of your bitch’s good and bad points, and look to improve on the bad whilst maintaining the good. It is helpful if you can see other puppies that have been sired by your chosen sire, to get a feel for the sort of progeny he is producing. In all likelihood the nearest stud dog will probably not be the ideal one to use with your bitch. Consult your original breeder for their opinion.
Once you have reared your puppies it is your responsibility to ensure that you have found suitable homes for them all; and you should be prepared to provide an after care service for the new owners, where they can contact you for further advice; and if the unfortunate need arises you will help with any re-homing.
Please note that the club recommends that breeders use any and all appropriate health screening schemes on all potential breeding stock.
article by Anita Roberts
originally titled Owning a Clumber Spaniel by Anita Roberts
Australian edition prepared & edited for Clumber Spaniel League Victoria 2007
(Editor J Irving)