Clumber Spaniel

Although it has an active hunting background, most of the time the Clumber Spaniel will need to be persuaded to exercise. This breed is very sociable and does not make a very effective watchdog. It has retained its love for water and requires a gentle owner.


This large spaniel takes its name from the Clumber estate of the Duke of Newcastle, where it has been bred since the late 18th century.

The Clumber Spaniel has been described as ‘the aristocrat of the spaniel family’. A heavybodied spaniel, with a massive head and shortish legs, the Clumber is reputed to have begun its existence as a noble refugee from the French Revolution. According to popular legend, the Due de Noailles, fearing that his favourite dogs might be slaughtered, moved his whole kennel of spaniels to England. He presented them to the Second Duke, who kept and bred them on his huge Nottingham estate, Clumber Park, near Sherwood Forest. In 1788 the Duke had his portrait painted proudly surrounded by six descendants of those original dogs.

Unfortunately for this appealing story (repeated time and again in the canine literature), the spaniels were sent as a gift to the Duke of Newcastle from the French Due around 1770, long before the Revolution, which did not occur until 1789. Sadly, no detailed records exist to tell us the precise circumstances of the gift, but it is clear that the imported dogs were gratefully accepted, and were soon being developed at Clumber Park as a valuable new type of spaniel.

The Clumber Spaniel retained its popularity right through the Victorian period and on into the early 20th century. It lost favour, however, following World War II and has since become a minority interest. (According to Kennel Club registration figures, the Springer Spaniel is 100 times more popular than the Clumber, and the Cocker is well over 100 times more favoured.)


In personality, the Clumber is considered to be the most reserved of the spaniels. Matching its heavier build, its character is avuncular, strong, dependable, steady, friendly, intelligent and lacking in aggression. Other words used to describe it include dignified, solemn, proud, patrician and docile.


In addition to its very distinctive short legs and heavy, squarish muzzle with strongly developed flews, the Clumber spaniel has a low, heavy body; muscular shoulders; a deep chest; a long, broad back; a massive, flat-topped, squarish head with a sharply defined stop; dark amber eyes partly covered by heavy brows; a long, heavily furrowed double neck; an upper lip hanging down over the lower one; low-set, broad, triangularshaped drop ears; and a well-feathered tail that is customarily docked. Its silky, straight, and plentiful coat is long on the limbs and abdomen, and should be plain white with a few orange markings mainly on the head and limbs.

Height: 41-51 cm at the shoulder

Weight: 30-40 kg

Coat and Grooming

The straight coat comes in white with lemon markings. The mid-length coat needs grooming a few times a week. The coat needs to be cared for frequently, and should be trimmed at least twice a month, especially if the dog is kept indoors.


The Clumber Spaniel tends to put on weight easily, so keep watch over the diet. Hip dysplasia is a serious problem with the breed, although it is usually still very functional, and disk disease. Entropion has also caused concern but there has been some improvement recently.

Lifespan is generally 10-12 years.

Environment and Exercise

This breed requires a small yard and should be given daily exercise to ensure it will not get overweight. Long walks, swimming and tracking sessions are suitable activities. Avoid exercising in the heat. Mentally and physically, the Clumber grows and matures slowly.

Compatibility with Kids and other Pets

Kids and Clumber Spaniels are a great match. They also enjoy the company of other pets.

Puppies and Training

Generally, delivery of the two to eight puppies per litter is normal, but occasionally a cesarean is necessary. Obedience training, beginning with easy commands, should begin as early as possible, usually about four months after birth, and as the Clumber Spaniel learns slowly, patience and repetition are required.

Gallery of Clumber Spaniel