Clumber Spaniel

Clumber Spaniel dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Clumber Spaniels is the heaviest of the Spaniels and originated in France. They later developed in England to retrieve and hunt prey birds wher they were very popular among noble hunters due to their work ethic and excellent sense of smell. Today, they compete and excel at many dogs sports but are mostly kept as companions and family dogs. The breed is active outdoor and enjoys engaging in physical activities and games with their families. They are known to be couch potatoes indoors, especially once mature, making them well suited for apartment living. They are not a demanding breed when it comes to physical activity, but their coat does require quite a bit of upkeep. The breed is also known to be prone to obesity and ear infections.

The Clumber Spaniels are friendly, sweet and have a calm and easy going disposition, making them an excellent addition to any family as well as a preferable breed for the novice owner. They get along with most people, children, dogs, cats and other animals. The Clumber Spaniels love attention and people, a fact that doesn’t make them a good choice for a guard dog.

They are considered to be a rare breed, and are fairly hard to find. Most reputable breeders have waiting lists for at least a year or longer waiting period.

Breed characteristics

Health and GroomingHigh
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog breed group:Sporting dogs.
Height:17-20 inches tall at the shoulder.
Weight:55-85 lb.
Life span:10-12 years.
Main Highlights
  • The breed is well suited for apartment dwelling as they are quiet and have low energy levels indoors.
  • They are considered heavy shedders and might not be the best choice for people with allergies or asthma. Their coat requires daily maintenance.
  • Despite their elegant appearance, they are known to slobber, drool, snort, track dirt into the house and pass gas. They are not a suitable breed for people who put a lot of value into a clean home.
  • They are prone to obesity and should be encouraged to exercise and stay active even in older age, as well as provided with a well-balanced diet.
  • They are the biggest of the Spaniel breed.
  • The Clumbers are avid chewers and are more likely to develop ill manners such as get up on counters, get into the garbage, steal food from children and raid the fridge, drawers and cupboards. It might be cute when they are younger but it should be discouraged.
  • They don’t tolerate heat very well and might become very dehydrated and hot without proper shade and water.
  • The Clumber Spaniels are a good breed for the first time or inexperienced owner as they are fairly easy to train and have an easy going disposition.
  • They are very good with children and other animals.
  • One of their absolute favourite activities is carrying things in their month.
Breed History

The Clumber Spaniels are believed to have originated in France around 1768. Not much of their history is known up until the middle of the 19th century, but it is suggested that the Duke of Noailles has shipped the dogs to his friend, the Duke of Newcastle out of fear of the approaching French Revolution. The breed derives their name from the Duke’s estate, Clumber Park in Nottingham where they were further developed by William Mansell, the game keeper.

It is believed that the Clumber Spaniels are descended from St. Bernards, Basset Hounds, Alpine Spaniels, Great Pyrenees and Bleinheim Spaniels.

They were especially sought after by the rich nobility of the period and were well known among hunters as excellent bird dogs. Among the famous lovers of the breed were King George V, Prince Albert and King Edward VII.

They were first introduced in Canada in 1844 by Lieutenant Venables who was stationed in Nova Scotia at the time, from there their popularity spread to the United States.

King George V was the one who redeveloped the Clumbers in 1925 after their near extinction following World War I.

They rank 139th out 155 different breeds according to the AKC, despite being a beloved breed, they are considered quite rare today with less than 200 puppies being born every year. Finding a reputable breeder might prove quite challenging, and one most likely would be put on a waiting list.


The male Clumber Spaniel measures at 18-20 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 70-85 lb. The females are usually smaller and measure at 17-19 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing 55-70 lb.

Personality and Character

The medium size breed is a good choice for the first time owner as they are easy going and fairly easy to train. They make a fine addition to the active family as well as for the less active individuals. They adapt very well to any environment and adjust accordingly.

The Clumber Spaniels do well in apartments as long as they are sufficiently exercised. They are not very demanding as far as physical activity goes and are happy with long daily walks or play in the yard, they also make great hunting partners, especially for the relaxed hunters who are looking to take their time and enjoy the experience.

The Clumber Spaniel are not a suitable breed for people who put cleanliness above all things. They tend to track dirt and debris into the house, drool, snore and pass gas quite frequently; they are also heavy shedders. But what they lack in tidiness, they make up with their playful antics. They particularly enjoy carrying things in their month and it isn’t unusual to spot a Clumber Spaniel carrying on with their business with two balls in their mouth or their favorite toy tangling from their jaws.

Another favorite is counter surfing, it is quite common for them to raid cupboards and drawers in search of tasty treats and entertainment or get into the garbage in search of treasures. They are avid chewers, mostly out of boredom but sometimes they are just looking for something to do. Crate training is highly recommended to protect the owner’s possessions when the Clumbers are left to their own devices.

The breed does well in obedience, tracking, rally, field trials and hunting events. They are highly intelligent and need a vent for their energy. Their favorite thing to do is to be around their family. They usually bond with all members of the family but sometimes pick a favorite and follow them around. They are a quiet breed and don’t tend to bark without reason.

The Clumbers are very friendly and are not exactly a dog guard material as they seem to love everybody they meet. They especially get along with children who tend to be their partners in crime when it comes to finding mischievous ways to pass the time.

Health and Potential Problems

The Clumber Spaniels are generally a healthy breed, but irresponsible breeding has left them vulnerable to health and temperament issues. Most reputable breeders or shelters make sure the dog or puppy has received a clean bill of health from the vet prior to adoption or purchase, some also test for genetic and hereditary conditions. Never purchase a puppy from a puppy mill as those operations are more concerned with financial gain rather than the physical and mental well-being of the animals. Often times the animals are kept in terrible conditions.

  • Colitis: A condition which is caused by an inflammation of the large bowel. The most well=known symptom is mucus or blood in soft stool, the condition is usually treated with dietary adjustments.
  • Entropion: An eye condition that causes the eye to roll inwards, injuring or irritating the eyeball. The condition can be surgically corrected in severe cases.
  • Ectropion: An eye condition that causes the eyelid to sag or roll out, leaving the eye exposed and prone to infection and irritation. The condition can be surgically corrected in severe cases.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A condition that occurs when the body is unable to regulate and maintain proper thyroid hormones levels. May cause baldness, lethargy or obesity. The condition is usually managed with medications and dietary adjustments.
  • Hip Dysplasia: A hereditary condition common among dogs, occurs when the femur doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket. May cause lameness and discomfort. The condition is usually managed with pain medication and can be surgically corrected in severe cases.
  • Opinal Disc Herniation: A condition that is caused by compression of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include leg paralysis, back pain, neck pain or loss of sensations. The condition is treated with pain medications, movement restrictions or surgery in severe cases.

With proper diet, sufficient exercise and regular vet visits, your loyal companion will remain by your side for many years to come.

Care Features

As most dogs, the breed requires early socialization for their proper development. The process of introducing the dog to new people, children, other animals, different scenarios and environments should begin as soon as possible and preferably at a young age. Early socialization is crucial for them to grow up to be a well-rounded and emotionally balanced dog. Puppy kindergarten is highly recommended as the introduction takes place under professional guidance and also helps develop a bond between the dog and the owner.

Crate training is also a recommended tool in the dog’s training regime. The crate serves as a special spot for the dog to retire to when needing space or tired, it assists in house training and relieving separation anxiety, but most of all it helps with the Clumber Spaniels chewing habits. They enjoy to chew on things and get into garbage, counter surf as well as raid the fridge, cupboards and drawers. The crate helps protect the owner’s prized possessions and the house from a Clumber Spaniel looking for something to do. Durable and hardy toys should also be provided and offered on a consistent basis to provide entertainment and to prevent them from going after things they shouldn’t.

The Clumber Spaniels are fairly easy to train although they are blessed with a stubborn streak and if they sense that the handler is meek, tend to refuse to obey commands. They also become more wilful and stubborn when they are treated harshly. For the most part, they are a fairly easy going breed and only require firm corrections. They require a confident, consistent and calm handler who can set rules and boundaries and reinforce them in the form of treats and plenty of praise.

They need daily exercise and come alive outdoors. The Clumber Spaniels are content with long daily walks or play in the yard, and are fairly lazy indoors. They shouldn’t be left outside for long durations of time, especially in hot climates as many develop heat sensitivity and can become dangerously dehydrated and hot without shade and water.

Feeding Schedule

The Clumber Spaniel will benefit from 2-2.5 cups of high quality dog food a day, divided into two meals.

Each dog’s nutritional requirements are different and depend on their age, size and activity levels. For example, puppies of most breeds tend to consume more food to accommodate their rapid growth and development.

It is recommended to go for rich in nutrients and free from unnecessary additives and fillers such as grain, specially formulated diet. Better diet goes a long way in providing your companion with healthy skin and coat as well as mental and physical vitality.

Another thing to remember is that the breed is prone to obesity due to their low energy levels indoors, its important to encourage them to exercise and stay active as well as providing them with a diet that better suits their needs.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The breed’s weather resistant coat is soft, dense and thick. It’s medium length and straight, lying flat on the body with slight feathering on the stomach, ears and legs. The common colours are usually white with orange, lemon or brown markings.

The breed sheds a lot and requires daily maintenance of their coat in the form of brushing or combing to avoid mats, tangles and hair in every crevice of the home.

Their shedding might make them a poor choice for people with asthma or allergies as well as people who don’t want to or can’t keep up with the cleaning. On top of the shedding, the breed also tends to track mud and debris into the house which gets caught in their fur.

Their ears also require weekly attention, the floppy shape makes it easy for moisture to be trapped in the air canal and cause reoccurring ear infections.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The breed usually gets along great with children. They are gentle and affectionate and make a fantastic four legged friend to the younger members of the family, especially if they are properly socialized or raised together. They also tend to be overprotective of their small friends, It is important to educate children on the proper way to approach a dog and teach them space and respect towards dogs and animals in general. Every year a large number of dogs are surrendered to shelters, put down or abandoned because adults have failed to reinforce or educate children about proper dog handling etiquette. Any tail or ear pulling must be immediately discouraged. Play time between children and dogs should be supervised by an adult at all times.

The friendly Clumber Spaniels are usually peaceful towards other dogs, cats and critters. Due to their breeding, they might need to be supervised around the family birds until they learn that the birds are part of the pack. The dog’s attitude and temperament largely depend on their breeding, environment, handler, socialization and training methods.

The Clumber Spaniel makes a great addition to any family. They are more than happy to accompany their owner on long walks or hunting trips and they are just as happy curling up by the fire and enjoying their human’s company.

They adapt very well to any living situation and enjoy life in the city just as much as they enjoy life in the country. They are a friendly and affectionate breed towards everyone they meet and especially their pack. Children tend to bond very quickly with the Clumber Spaniel and become their accomplices in crime, developing a beautiful relationship.

The only downside to falling in love with the Clumber Spaniel is that they are considered rare with fewer puppies born each year. However, they are well worth the wait. They are gentle and easy going and will keep you entertained for many years to come. They are a beautiful companion and people who fell in love with the Clumber Spaniel often admit that the only thing better than one Clumber is two…or more.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.