Posts Tagged ‘clumber spaniel’

I think this Clumber has ectropion. It comes from The Illustrated Book of the Dog (1881) by Vero Shaw and Gordon Stables.

The Sussex spaniel is pretty moderate looking compared to the modern version, but the Clumber very much looks like it has ectropion.

This trait has likely existed in this dog ever since they were show dogs. Indeed, there were always likely a few dogs with the condition, even in working kennels.

Does that mean that this trait should be lauded in the breed?

Absolutely not!

This is a health condition, not a fancy point that should be rewarded in the ring.

Lots of dogs have historically had conformation issues that are bad for their health and welfare.

Field spaniels were bred to have such short legs and long backs that they were often crippled by herniated spinal discs.  Herniation of the spinal discs is much more likely in dogs with this conformation, and as a result, the field spaniel became quite rare.

Today, the field spaniel is bred with longer legs and a more proportional back.  It has fewer problems with its body.

It’s still not very common, but these days, no one is going out of the way to breed field spaniels with dinky little legs and a long back.

That’s what has to happen with Clumber spaniel eyelids.

If not, this breed will become nothing more than a giant version of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel.  A spaniel, yes, but one that might not be considered a true sporting spaniel anymore.


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The modern day Clumber spaniel is a very coarsely built dog. The eyelid condition known as ectropion is considered a breed trait.
Not all Clumber spaniels throughout its history were like this dog.

One of the most bizarre comments I ever received on this blog appeared on a post refers to the Clumber spaniel that lost its BOB win at Crufts this year after failing its mandatory health check:

I breed Clumbers in the US and in our standard, their eye should come to a V on the bottom lid…in other words, ectropion!… I have seen the bitch and her eyes are fine. The Ophthalmologist’s finding wer drom a much more though exam then the Crufts vet did and would have mentioned any lid problems, if they existed.

This is called cognitive dissonance.

Ectropion is a real health and welfare issue, but this breeder has declared it okay because the standard says so!

This is a winning Clumber spaniel in the UK. It has the breed feature known as ectropion. Rational people would denounce anyone who intentionally bred a defect like this. They would be even more incensed that a breed club would make it a point of excellence in a breed standard.

Breed standards were not written by God. They aren’t even divinely inspired.

They aren’t holy scriptures that cannot be revised or added to.

They are written by humans.  Many of these humans are so full of dog show dazzle that they cannot reason properly, and when it comes to revising standards, a lot of politics goes on. Very often these standard revisions are nothing more than  attemps to codify new fancy points that have been rewarded in the ring.

Standard for the AKC Clumber spaniel standard has some very contradictory language on ectropion. It does include the nonsense about the “v” on the lower eyelid, but then it states that ectropion is fault:

The eyes are dark amber in color, large, soft in expression, and deep set in either a diamond shaped rim or a rim with a “V” on the bottom and a curve on the top. Some haw may show but excessive haw is undesirable. Prominent or round shaped eyes are to be penalized. Excessive tearing or evidence of entropion or ectropion is to be penalized. Ears are broad on top with thick ear leather. The ears are triangular in shape with a rounded lower edge, set low and attached to the skull at approximately eye level.

Ectropion is defined by the US National Library of Medicin as “the turning out of the eyelid (usually the lower eyelid) so that the inner surface is exposed.”

That’s what that “V” on the lower eyelid is!

So this breed standard says that a dog must have ectropion to be a fine example of its breed, but then it says that ectropion is a fault.

Talk about stupid!

The truth is that Clumber spaniels haven’t always had this feature.

One of the biggest lies ever told about this breed is that it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.

Here’s the way Stonehenge had them depicted in The Dog in Health and Disease (1859):

Now, these dogs are quite different from that modern version, but even more recent individuals in the breed haven’t been ectropion-laden monstrosities.

These following images can all be found on Pai’s Dog Breed Historical Album on Photobucket:

1898 Clumber spaniel.

1898 Clumber spaniel.

1898 Clumber spaniel.

1901 Clumber spaniel.

1903 Clumber spaniel.

All that would have to be done is for the breed clubs to drop this nonsense about the V on the lower eyelid, and these dogs would be very similar to these dogs from over a century ago.

Now, it is true that when one peruses the images in Pai’s Photobucket album, there are some dogs with droopy eyelids.

I don’t know why these dogs were preferred over the ones with the tighter eyelids. It seems to me that is nothing more than the idiotic caprice of the fancy that picked upon this defective feature.

Dog showing has intentionally selected for an unhealthy feature in this breed, and it’s a good thing that the Kennel Club, the main registry in the Clumber’s country of origin, has decided to take this feature seriously.

The Dale Gribbles of the dog fancy continue to make up crap about this breed. They also are spreading easily falsified lies about the health of the dog that got disqualified at Crufts this year.

But it really doesn’t matter.

The facts are notoriously stubborn things.

Clumber spaniels didn’t always have ectropion as a breed feature.

And for the breed’s long-term health and welfare, its fanciers must embrace a back to the future breeding program that produces nice looking dogs with normal eyelids.

And if they don’t like it, then we can call them out for being obstructionist dinosaurs who don’t care about the welfare of their dogs.

I certainly am going to do just that.



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The most interesting story to come out of the Crufts 2012 debacle is the story of the Clumber Spaniel, Chervood Snowsun.

What makes it so interesting are the lies and the lying liars who tell the lies about this dog.

Lie Number 1:

In the immediate aftermath of the DQ, the owner called for an interview with the dog fancy’s Pravda organ, DogWorldTV. In the interview, she explicitly said the dog didn’t have ectropion.

Here’s the video:


I’ve been attacked  for saying that this woman denied ectropion. She’s not a native English speaker, so she may not have understood the word.

And that may have been.

But if you watch the video all the way through, the actual Clumber Spaniel Club in the UK comes to the defense of the dog and says there was no ectropion.

That is, the owner is not the only one lying.  The club is, too!

And this lie became obvious when someone managed to snap a photo of the official document describing Chervood’s Snowsun.

If you have a hard time reading the hieroglyphics of the veterinary profession, it clearly says this dog has bilateral ectropion.

You’d think that would stop the lying, but it did not.

On the Monday after Crufts, another lie came filtering its way through the paranoid natterings that have been filtering around online with the various Facebook groups that are out there claiming to be in defense of purebred dogs.

The dog was taken to a vet, and the dog’s eyes turned out to be normal. So it must be that the dog was healthy after all, and it was the card-carrying PETA member vet that caused the DQ.

Um. Wrong. There was no mention of the condition of the dog’s eyelids on that form.

It turns out that the whole thing is one giant piece of misninformation and lying through omission, as Chris over at BorderWars points out.  This lie is added to with another claim that this breed has passed its BVA/KS/ISDS eye scheme tests. These tests never look at the eyelids.

“The BVA/KC/ISDS eye scheme does not certify adnexal problems such as entropion, ectropion, distichiasis. Gonioscopy is not standard, but may be tested for separately. Entropion and Ectropion are very common in some breeds. Poor eyelid conformation is a source of pain and chronic low grade misery for affected dogs.”

There is no document that shows that this dog’s eyelids had ever been examined, except by the judge at Crufts.

The owner has engaged in deliberately dishonest behavior to get the sheep who will parrot talking points to defend show breeders at all costs. Chris writes:

So we have a perfect example of the owner of the dog making huge claims about how healthy this dog is because the breeder did all of 5 tests which looked at 3 joints (hips, elbows, knee cap), a limited survey of the eye, and one DNA exam for Exercised Induced Collapse.

The owner then gets caught at Crufts with a dog that has ectropion. Instead of admitting that the dog has this condition, as do many Clumber Spaniels, they lie and say that it does not have ectropion and that they have an exam result to prove it. But they are lying through omission.

You can’t pass a health check you never took in the first place!

There is no document, other than that from the vet at Crufts, that shows that anyone has ever looked at her eyelids.

This is a lie through omission. Most of the public doesn’t know that the check doesn’t examine the eyelids, so they assume that a document that says the dog is fine is somehow proof that the vet at Crufts unfairly targeted this dog.

If people are willing to lie about this dog and this condition, just imagine what sort of lies and misrepresentations are going with the other DQ BOB’s from this year’s Crufts?

Chris writes:

At the highest level of the sport under the greatest scrutiny you can imagine, a top flight breeder will still LIE through her teeth about what those health tests mean to deceive the public. Ectropion is not a joke, but neither is it a deeply held shameful secret. It’s widespread in several breeds and it’s easily diagnosed just from looking at most dogs with it. If the best of the best don’t have the stones to say “it’s epidemic in the breed and we’re willing to work on it, so what if we don’t win a ribbon for a few years while we try” then what can we expect them to say about the diseases which aren’t so superficial, aren’t so easy to diagnose by the public without benefit of breeder disclosure, and aren’t known to be so present in so many lines.

What about all the other diseases and conditions that have no test? That’s the vast majority of them. Will we still believe that the dogs these people breed are healthy when we have no data one way or another? Will we still accept their dangerous breeding practices, the ones that increase disease expression, when they claim to have healthy dogs because they have some results for a half dozen tests or less?

If they are willing to pretend that a simple eye exam clears their dogs of conditions which they know their dog does have but which the test does not actually cover, what other diseases will they knowingly cover up with such claims.

This owner is clearly using other people in the fancy, who are coming to her defense with this faulty information. I don’t know if the Clumber Spaniel Club members actually know the truth or if they are also being used in this manipulative scheme.  I would be highly surprised that they wouldn’t know the truth, and if they are, they are lying and manipulating people, too.

So if you’re going to defend this dog and her owner, you need a little stronger sauce than these tests and that vet report.

If  you can produce a document that says the eyelids are fine, you win.

If you cannot, then you know you’re being lied to.

And you should be angry with her and the Clumber Spaniel Club, not Crufts and not the Kennel Club.

All of this self-righteous indignation about the DQ’d BOB’s at Crufts is really getting old. The anger is being misdirected at the real culprits in this whole mess.

Paranoid rants about animal rights activists coming to take your dogs simply won’t cut it.

Every lie that is told about this dog or any of the others is further evidence for the animal rights lobby to present the dog owning public that the dog fancy is morally bankrupt and/or insane.

The way the dog fancy is handling this issue is proving it to be an entitled, selfish subculture that cares far more about nylon ribbons than it does about dog health.

That’s just about a step above Michael Vick in the eyes of the pet-owning public.

That’s not a good place to be.

It’s very hard to make rational arguments about anything, because people already think your either evil or insane.

So think about this when you write these paranoid little comments on my blog or those of others.

Your ass is showing.






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There was lots of crowing yesterday about a new eye exam on the Clumber spaniel bitch who got DQ’s from BOB at Crufts this year.

Now, the original paper work on the Clumber spaniel wound up online when someone managed to snap a photo of the DQ papers. The reason for the DQ should be clear to anyone familiar with the English language and the hieroglyphics that comprise the penmanship of most veterinarians.

Bilateral ectropion means that she has it both eyes.

Now her owner appeared before the media and then lied through her teeth about the reason for the dog’s DQ. She totally denied that the reason for the DQ was ectropion.

That lie wound up not spinning so well, seeing as the actual document on this dog had now become public knowledge.

So they decided to go to another vet for a second opinion yesterday.

And the result of the second opinion have been the source of a lot of misinformation online, especially on insane asylum that is the League Against Pedigree Breed Bashing, which I call the dog fancy’s “half-assed Legion of Doom.” Here’s what had them so excited yesterday:

Ah, so she didn’t have ectropion at all!  That vet at crufts really screwed her over!

Well, hold your horses.

Here’s what the report actually said:

The vet didn’t actually check for ectropion!

It was an examination of the eyes, yes.

But it didn’t look for that particular condition at all.

One must remember that the owner of this dog denies that the dog has any form of ectropion at all, so she may not have even asked the vet to check for it.

It’s because of the amount of spin about this dog that one should be skeptical of what is being said about all the others.

Most of the other DQ’s due to health at this year’s Crufts have remained silent. There are lawsuits pending, so they might not want to give away all the evidence in one fell swoop.

However, the bulldog people are also making some noise.

The Bulldog Breed Council has posted the reason why Jenny (“Jenneh”) was DQ’d at Crufts:

The top winning Bulldog in question has an old eye injury, it is not visible to the naked eye in the normal manner of being examined by the judge nor is it visible without pulling the dog’s eyelid down and a light being used.

It was a knock to the eye the dog had as a puppy and as had no ill effects and the exhibitor had not given this a second thought as a reason the dog would not be classed as healthy by the independent veterinarian on the day.

It seems the Kennel Club are assuming that any mark on the cornea of any Bulldog is due to damage caused by eye disease, in this case this is simply not true, and will be taken up with the Kennel Club by representatives of the Bulldog Breed Council at a meeting on 23rd March which we hopefully will prevent situations like this re-occurring in future

In all other areas this bulldog is healthy and passed all requirements

No documentation of these claims has been provided.

So they are just claims.

Also known as rumors.

And seeing as there are so many falsehoods floating around about the Clumber spaniel, why should we accept what people are saying about the bulldog as being the gospel truth?

I am very skeptical that a vet would DQ a dog for something as minor as an old eye injury. It makes absolutely no sense why a highly qualified veterinarian, whose support for the Kennel Club and purebred dogs is exemplified in being the official health check vet at Crufts, would come up with some spurious reason to disqualify a relatively moderate-looking bulldog.

There has to be something more to the DQ than an old eye injury.

But no documentation has been provided for the public to see.

So why on earth would you believe these claims?

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Recumbent Clumber spaniel. Note the excess skin covering the eyes. NB: This is not the dog that got scratched from Crufts today. Please read this caption before commenting.

Another casualty of the new Kennel Club rules requiring a mandatory health check for certain high profile breeds is the Clumber spaniel. From the KC’s press release:

No dog representing the Clumber Spaniel breed will compete in Friday evening’s Best in Group competition at Crufts after it failed the new veterinary check that has been introduced to the show.

The Best of Breed award was not given to Clumber Spaniel, Chervood Snowsun, following its veterinary check, which was carried out by an independent veterinary surgeon. This means that it will not be allowed to continue into the Gundog Best in Group competition.

The Kennel Club has introduced veterinary checks for the Best of Breed winners at all Kennel Club licensed General and Group Championship Dog Shows from Crufts 2012 onwards, in 15 designated high profile breeds. This measure was introduced to ensure that Best of Breed awards are not given to any dogs that show visible signs of problems due to conditions that affect their health or welfare.

Jemima Harrison has some pics of the dog on her blog. Can we guess why she was scratched?

Jemima thinks it’s ectropion, and I have to say that’s probably the best bet.

This dog had several health clearance and has some gun dog qualifications.

My guess is that she is working on her Show Gundog Working Certificate, which she must have in order to be considered a full champion in the Kennel Club’s system.

See related posts:

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These images come from James Watson’s The Dog Book (1906):

These are very nice looking dogs. They look like they can tear through thickest cover and scent the most wily of birds.

As noted earlier, I think of Clumbers are actually a strain of old English land spaniel. Throughout the art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, we see the odd depiction of a relatively large, robust spaniel that is typically red and white.

Although traditional accounts say this breed is derived from some strain of flushing French spaniel, I think it is more likely that this dog is a surviving strain of this old red and white spaniel.

I don’t have any genetic evidence to prove this, but I do have artwork that is strangely beguiling:

Also from Watson's "The Dog Book."

France has no tradition of flushing spaniels. All of its “epagneul” breeds are index dogs, including the closest thing France has to a water spaniel, the Epagneul Pont-Audemer.

The Dukes of Newcastle never provided the detailed pedigrees of their dogs. After all, this breed’s origins appear to be in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and such records, if they existed, are probably lost.

The story that these dogs are derived from the dogs belonging to the Duc de Noailles seems a bit like the story that goldens are derived from Russian circus dogs. It is vaguely possible, but it seems a bit incongruous with our knowledge of dog society at the time.

I’m not saying this theory is wrong, but I think we have to consider the possibility that this is an old form of English land spaniel. It seems to fit the historical depictions of red and white spaniels.

But maybe the French origins theory is correct.

We just need more evidence.

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Bruce, a Clumber spaniel, circa 1880.

This image of Bruce comes from Stonehenge’s The Dogs of Great Britain, America, and Other Countries (circa 1880). His image is used to depict what an ideal specimen of his breed should look like, which is very similar to these modern working-type Clumbers in the UK. Imagine that!

The modern Clumber spaniel that one sees in the ring is result of breeding the exaggerated massive type. In essence, turning what is likely a derivative of the original red and white spaniel of England into a Molosser spaniel. The claim that these dogs came from some French nobleman sounds very dubious– a bit like the Russian circus dog theory that was so popular among golden retriever fancier. Red and white spaniels– even those of the old Clumber type– are rather common in the art work of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. One big reason to doubt the French origins theory is that France has no flushing spaniels. All of the dogs called “epagneul” from France would be better classified as HPR’s. They are not spaniels as we Anglo-Saxons know them.

Also of note in the Stonehenge piece is the discussion of the Clumber spaniel’s size:

The Clumber Spaniel, which for a long time was confined to the Newcastle family, but has lately become very fashionable, is a remarkably long, low, and somewhat heavy dog. In weight he is from 30 to 40 lbs. Height 18 to 20 inches (pg. 112-113). [Emphasis is the result of my editorial commentary].

If one peruses the AKC standard, the height hasn’t changed at all– still 18-20 inches at the shoulder.

But the weight goes from 55 to 70 pounds for bitches and from 65 to 85 pounds for dogs!

Do the math on that.

The height has remained the same, but the weight has more than doubled!

The show ring has selected for a much more massive dog than the original animals were, and it is very likely that this massive size never would have cut the mustard with the Dukes of Newcastle.

No other spaniel approaches this weight, though the heaviest Irish water spaniel dogs do approach 70 pounds. And the maximum height for an IWS is 24 inches at the shoulder, which is significantly taller than the Clumber, which could have him outclassed by 15 pounds or more.

The maximum weight for a Labrador in the AKC is 8o pounds, but their maximum height is 24.5 inches at the shoulder. And labs have that conformation– at least in part– so they can handle swimming in very cold water. Though they are often used as flushing dogs, that was not their primary purpose.

Unlike the Clumber spaniel.

There is no real reason for the massive size in Clumber spaniels– except for the vanities and caprices of the fancy. And as I noted earlier, the large size and heavy build are handicaps for a spaniel working on land. Allen’s rule and Bergmann’s rule have a corollaries we  shouldn’t ignore in domestic dogs. A big dog that has shorter limbs and a more heavily built body is going to overheat much more easily than a more gracile one or a smaller one. Those are simple biological facts. Dogs overheat much more easily than humans do. 75 degrees Fahrenheit is a heatwave for many dogs– especially if they are running hard.

No one is saying the these dogs should be English springers.

But they shouldn’t be St. Bernards masquerading as spaniels.

Stop handicapping breeds with mythology. There is no evidence that these dogs are French or have St. Bernard in them, though both may have evolved from a Swiss spaniel breed. The Germans do have a tradition of a flushing spaniel, which currently manifests itself in the Wachtelhund breed. Perhaps the Swiss had a similar dog and when that was bred with the red and white Sennenhund-type, that became the St. Bernard as we know it today.

Believing that the Clumber spaniel is a St. Bernard derivative has resulted in the institutionalization of massiveness within the breed standard, and extreme conformation in the ring either leads to obsolescence, as is the case with the Sussex spaniel, or type variances, as we have seen in English springers and English cockers.

This is why breed history is important. One very hard to believe story about a breed’s origins can have great effects upon how the breed is developed.

Historical narratives give certain ideas about conformation more power than others.

And that’s why we have to get right. And the only way to get it right is to ask questions.

And in dogs, asking questions gets you in trouble!

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Even though Clumber spaniels are quite uncommon, there are enough of them to foster the development of a distinct working type and a distinct a conformation type. It is not as extreme as it is with English cockers and English springers, but it exists.

The conformation type is heavier-built and approaches the St. Bernard in conformation. The working type is more moderate in build, as one can see with this retrieving Clumber.

It is amazing to me that these two types have evolved, and rarer breeds tend to remain more or less similar in appearance. One only has to look at flat-coated retrievers to see that this breed doesn’t vary as much in type as the closely related goldens and Labradors do.

Rarer British gundog breeds and those from the European continent tend to have less divergence in type than the more common British breeds.

It would be interesting to find out why Clumbers have started down this particular split. This breed is the traditional working spaniel in the UK, and it is very likely that certain strains existed solely for work. And from those strains, this type of Clumber developed.

I am having some difficulty determining which type came first. Historical depictions of this breed include both gracile and heavy-set forms.

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Clumbers with child

If anyone knows any of the details about this painting, I’d love know about them.

These Clumbers appear to have sabling or perhaps tricolor in their spotting.

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More undocked Clumbers

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