Posts Tagged ‘working clumber spaniel’


It is very unusual for a rare breed to develop distinct working  and show forms.

However, the Clumber spaniel is splitting into show and working forms, just as the English springers and cockers have.

The working form of Clumber has longer legs and less bone than the show form. It is still a slower dog than the others. However, it’s not the St. Bernard of spaniels that the show form is. If you want soft-flushing dog that doesn’t move very fast, go with one of these.

Check out these galleries and this website.

Why are these dogs so different from the show dogs?

Well, they started breeding the dogs for working ability, and the dogs changed. Form follows function.

The tootsie roll spaniel, the breed most often compared to the Clumber, has not experienced any significant breeding for working ability in the past half century. Virtually every person who has one of these dogs is breeding it for the show ring with working ability being incidental (and virtually every person who has one is trolling this blog.) I’m sure someone can find a Sussex that works. That’s not the point. This breed is on the verge of extinction because it was part of the nineteenth century fad of breeding short-legged spaniels.

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Here’s footage of a Clumber hunting. Compare it with the working cockers in the earlier post. These dogs operate in very different manner. I’ve never seen a flushing dog operate with such sedation!

I have always wondered about this breed. Most of the gun dog breeds are similar in temperament. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is an outlier, because it’s far more protective than any of the other breeds in the gourp. The Clumber is also an outlier in that it apparently always worked game in this slow fashion. Now that it’s no longer being bred for that purpose, my guess is that it is even more sedate.

All sorts of theories exist about its origins. One is that a breed called an Alpine Spaniel, which I’ve never heard of and there’s no record of, was the ancestor of the breed. I wonder if this isn’t a cross between a St. Bernard and spaniel. The Clumber is almost exactly like a St. Bernard in behavior, just it has a spanielness to it. May there’s a touch of basset in the dog, too.

Whatever it is, my guess is most modern gun dog fanciers will go with springers. This dog is a museum piece. It has a wonderful history, but in utility, it’s certainly lacking.

BTW, flews have little to do with soft mouth, as I’m sure all the retriever people who saw this video screamed when they heard that part. If this were true, all the retrievers would have heavier lips than any mastiff. I have actually never seen a Clumber retrieve shot game, but maybe they do. I’ve only actually seen one Clumber in my entire life, but it didn’t act anything like what I expected a gun dog to act like.

Now this breed does well at conformation shows. One won Westminster a few years back. He’s depicted in that video, as is the one that won Cruft’s.

Now, as a pet, my guess is that such a sedate dog would be a better choice than a golden retriever or a springer spaniel, which are far more active dogs. It’s likely that this breed will be pet rather than a hunting dog, especially when it lacks the biddability and speed of all the other spaniels used for flushing.

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