Get to Know the Clumber Spaniel: the British Gentleman’s Hunting Dog

Why is this good-natured, handsome fellow so rare? The Clumber was one of the first dog breeds exhibited at dog shows, after all.

Caroline Coile  |  Mar 17th 2014


Walk down the street with a Clumber Spaniel, and you’ll have most folks scratching their heads. It’s too heavy for a Cocker Spaniel. Too short for an English Setter. The Clumber Spaniel is the stockiest dog in the Sporting group — and one of the rarest.

More interesting things about the Clumber Spaniel

  • He may be confused with the Welsh Springer Spaniel, but the Clumber is much heavier, has a much larger head with a deep lippy muzzle and tends to be mostly white. He may be confused with the English Setter, but the Clumber is much shorter, with a longer, much heavier body and usually a docked tail. Or he may be confused with the Cocker Spaniel, but the Clumber is taller and much heavier, and comes only in white with tan markings.

  • They can weigh up to 85 pounds, yet only be 20 inches high at the withers.

  • The Clumber is mostly white, with flecks or small patches of orange or lemon color, mostly found on the face or root of the tail. Clumbers never have black pigment, but instead have liver colored nose and lips.

  • The Clumber is the most laid-back and easygoing of the Spaniels.

  • The breed probably began in the 18th century from a heavy-headed dog called the Alpine Spaniel. When the French Revolution broke out, the French Duc de Noailles gave his entire kennel to the second Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Park in Nottingham, England. Over the next 30 years, the Duke of Newcastle’s gamekeeper developed and improved the breed.

  • Clumbers were one of the first dogs exhibited at dog shows, making their debut at an 1859 English show.

  • The breed became known as the British gentleman’s hunting dog.

  • Clumber Spaniels were one of the original eight breeds registered by the AKC when the AKC started registering dogs in 1878. They are in the Sporting group.

  • A Clumber named Brady won Best in Show at the Westminster dog show (1996); another Clumber won Best in Show at Crufts, the largest dog show in the world (1991).

  • Owners include Prince Albert (consort to Queen Victoria), King Edward VII and King George V.

  • Clumbers have always been more popular in England than in America. They currently rank 131st in AKC popularity, down from 120th a decade ago. Even in England, they have been labeled as a “Vulnerable Native Breed” by the UK Kennel Club, which means the breed has fewer than 300 new registrations each year.

Do you own a Clumber Spaniel? Have you spent time with one? Let’s hear what you think about this fascinating breed in the comments! And if you have a favorite breed you’d like us to write about, let us know that, too!

Interested in other breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.

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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier.

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