The Clumber Spaniel is a gentle and intelligent breed that loves to please. Bred to flush birds from dense underbrush, Clumber Spaniels are determined, purposeful workers. When not serving as faithful hunting companions, they are mellow, affectionate, playful, and even humorous pets.
Clumber Spaniel History
The Clumber Spaniel is a French breed that experts believe the Duke of Noailles developed in the mid-to-late 1700s.
The prevailing theory is that the Duke of Noailles sent his spaniels to live with the second Duke of Newcastle in England—in Clumber Park, near Nottingham—during the French Revolution. There, the breed earned its name.
Over time, the Clumber Spaniel grew popular among many aristocrats and members of English royalty. Fans of the breed included Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, and King Edward VII—who ruled England at the beginning of the 19th century.
The Clumber Spaniel came to the United States in the late 1800s, and it was one of the AKC's nine charter breeds when the organization started in 1884. In 1972, the Clumber Spaniel Club of America formed; today, the Clumber Spaniel is a relatively rare breed in both the U.S. and the U.K.
Clumber Spaniel Traits
Clumber Spaniels are built long and low, with heavy, well-muscled bodies. Their rectangular-shaped and massive bone structure makes them appear strong and sturdy.
Coat and Coloring
The Clumber Spaniel's coat is dense, straight, and flat. Its weather-resistant texture is soft to the touch. The dog's ears are feathered slightly, with more moderate feathering on the legs and belly. They also have substantial frills around the neck.
Clumber Spaniels are primarily white with either lemon or orange markings, which help hunters see them when they're working within gun range. Freckling or spots on the muzzle and head are also common.
Distinctive Physical Traits
The Clumber Spaniel has an enormous head and heavy, furrowed brow. Their ears are triangular with a rounded lower edge and attach to their skull near eye level.
Clumbers have large, square noses that are colored shades of brown, including beige, rose, and cherry. Their dark amber eyes are large and deep-set, offering a soft, pensive expression. And their strong upper jaw overlaps the lower jaw, giving it a square look when viewed from the side.
Clumber Spaniel Temperament
Clumber Spaniels make good family dogs due to their affectionate, loyal, sweet nature. They are very playful and get along well with children and other pets.
However, Clumbers do tend to be aloof or even suspicious of strangers. But this doesn't typically keep them from being friendly when they encounter someone they don't know.
True to their spaniel heritage, Clumber Spaniels love to chew, hunt, and retrieve.
Clumber Spaniel Care
Clumber Spaniels need a high-quality diet that's appropriate for their life stage (e.g., puppy, adult, senior)—consider foods formulated specifically for large-breed dogs.
All dogs should maintain a healthy weight, but it's particularly important that Clumber Spaniels not become overweight. They already have a heavy build to support. So, any extra pounds will add further stress to their bones and joints.
To keep your Clumber's weight in a healthy range, monitor food intake—including treats—closely. Keep portions under control by using a standard measuring cup to measure out meals, and ensure treats make up no more than 10% of their daily calories.
Clumber Spaniels are above-average shedders, so you should brush them a couple of times per week. You can bathe them on an as-needed basis, but the folds on their heads should be cleaned with a damp cloth regularly. And any skin folds should be kept dry to avoid yeast infections.
Clumbers can be prone to ear infections. So, it's important to check their ears routinely and clean them often. As with all dogs, Clumber Spaniels' nails need frequent trims to prevent pain or issues caused by overgrown nails.
In addition to occasional professional dental cleanings, you should establish an at-home dental care routine that includes regular teeth-brushing and dental treats or toys.
Bred to be able to plow through dense cover while hunting and retrieving prey, Clumber Spaniels are considered the largest of all spaniels. But don't let their hefty physique fool you—Clumbers are active dogs that need regular exercise. Long walks, hikes, and backyard tennis ball games are fun ways for them to burn off energy.
Clumbers also enjoy exercise that takes advantage of their keen sense of smell and retrieving abilities. Activities such as tracking and hunting are great ways for them to stay physically and mentally fit. They're also good swimmers and relish the opportunity to show off their water skills.
Because they're intelligent and eager to please, Clumber Spaniels are relatively easy to train. However, they can also be independent-minded. So, if you don't keep training sessions interesting, they may search for more entertainment.
Clumbers are also quite food-motivated. You can use this to your advantage when you need to keep their attention or train them to release an inappropriate item (such as a slipper or a pair of sunglasses). Just remember to account for those treats when you're feeding your Clumber, so they don't lead to weight gain.
Clumber Spaniel Genetic Health Conditions
Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase 1 Deficiency
Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Phosphatase 1 (PDP1) Deficiency is a metabolic disorder characterized by exercise intolerance.
Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) is a neuromuscular disorder which can cause incoordination and weakness, resulting in collapse, after periods of strenuous exercise.
Knowing if your Clumber Spaniel is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Annette Louviere, DVM