Clumber Spaniel dog breed: the discerning hunting dog

Molnár Enikő

2023. September 5 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The Clumber Spaniel was for a long time the favourite dog of the nobility, the "companion of kings". Its appearance to this day is dignified, a great hunting dog and companion.


The Clumber Spaniel may not be as charming as the Cocker Spaniel, but it has its own beauty and is no less lovable. It is well adjusted, loves its family and is even relatively patient with children. It is a calm and attentive dog, it has been a favourite of kings, including Edward VII, grandfather of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The clumber spaniel will sweep everyone off their feet with his friendly face.


Its origin before the 1700s is doubtful. There have been several theories about the Clumber Spaniel, but ultimately we always come back to the Duke of Newcastle and Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, from which it takes its name. One theory is that the dogs were imported from France to escape the country during the revolution. According to another source, these dogs had been living in England for a long time and were descendants of the Blenheim Spaniels (the white and chestnut-coloured Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). The imported dogs were brought to the Prince to update the genetic stock of the dogs already there. Another theory is that the English Springer Spaniels were crossed with Basset Hounds, creating the somewhat sad-looking, stocky hunting dog, the Clumber Spaniel. Some believe that they are descendants of a now extinct breed, the Alpine Spaniel, which would explain the yellow spots.

Clumber Spaniels have long been called the “Prince’s breed” or the “Mansell breed”. The latter name commemorated the Duke’s gamekeeper, who is generally credited as the “perfecter” of the breed: he bred them to be hardy and more robust in conformation, so that they could stand their ground as hunting dogs in the local environment. Since then, these friendly-looking dogs have been depicted in numerous paintings. They seem to have reached their present form around the 1800s, and have changed little since then. The FCI recognised the Clumber Spaniel in 1954 and the first official breed standard was published in 2010. It is now a rare breed, despite its long popularity.

Breed standard

This stocky dog is a massive and solid, proud to wear the title of the “heaviest spaniel”. At 46-50 cm tall, it weighs around 25-38 kg. Its coat is long and white with lemon or orange patches. It has a long nose and strong bone structure, and is a very muscular dog. The head is rectangular, the ears are large and drooping and the eyes are brown. Its tail usually hangs slightly downwards, held at the back. It belongs to category VIII. of the FCI, Retrievers, Flushing dogs, Water dogs.


Clumber Spaniels are described as intelligent, friendly, sometimes a little stubborn and mischievous dogs. Their “peaceful giant” appearance would give you no idea how active these dogs are. They are reliable and affectionate who, when “used” for what they were originally bred for, work slowly but steadily in the hunting field. The breed is not designed to be fast, but they are very tenacious and will go through “trenches and bush”. They love long walks especially if they have the opportunity to sniff around, and they also thoroughly enjoy swimming. They like to retrieve dropped objects (fetch), they are very playful and can be easily moved around the yard.

Despite appearances, the Clumber Spaniel is a very playful breed.

Despite their sometimes stubborn nature, they take obstacles well when it comes to learning. They have a gentle spirit, so a positive attitude is important. It is common for them not to do what is asked of them on the first try, and to think about their actions. Nevertheless, they are not bad to teach, as they like to please their owners. Not all breeds are the same and some dogs are slower to work, but that does not mean they are bad.

Ideal environment

The Clumber Spaniel is quiet, barks very little, mostly only when it really needs to. It gets on well with small children and would make an excellent playmate, as it is very patient and very kind. It enjoys spending time with its family, but also adapts well to working days when it needs to be alone. The Clumber Spaniel also gets on well with other dogs, it is mostly a matter of getting used to them. This breed is reserved with strangers at first, but is not hostile or afraid of them. It likes to have plenty of space, perhaps a yard to sniff around in, but can be kept indoors if it is handled well enough.


Their coat requires little care, with frequent brushing and 1-2 monthly bathing to maintain a good appearance and healthy coat. However, they are not easy to groom, as their long ears and wrinkles make it difficult for the owner. Their ears need to be cleaned often to avoid inflammation. The creases on their heads should be wiped frequently with a damp cloth to prevent dirt from accumulating in them. Keeping nails and teeth healthy is also very important.

Common health problems

They are lucky to be in good health, but they can have a number of problems:

  • Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemia
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Entropium (inward turning of the eyelid) or Ectropium (outward turning of the eyelid)
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Intervertebral disc disease

(Source: János Szinák – István Veress: Dogs of the World I.)

clumber spaniel breed description English dog breed hunting dogs

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