Description & History

The Clumber Spaniel derives its name from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, once the seat of the Dukes of Newcastle. Although Clumbers are known to have been kept there at the end of the eighteenth century, Clumber Park is not thought to be their place of origin.

One theory is that they were brought from France by the Duc de Noailles about the time of the French Revolution and given as presents to the second Duke of Newcastle, who further developed them. No records of these spaniels have ever been found in France so it must be presumed their origin lies elsewhere.

A further theory which is put forward is that the breed's forebears are the old Sporting Blenheim Spaniels created by John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722).

A painting of the Duke of Newcastle's spaniels in 1807 depicts three of these dogs with his gamekeeper William Mansell. They were described as "cock-flushers" and although a smaller spaniel they were clearly of Clumber type.

The Clumber was a favourite of King Edward VII and also of King George V, who re-established the breed at Sandringham in the 1920's. After his death the Clumber stud was gradually dispersed.

After the Second World War the breed was only seen in the show ring, until the late 1980's when it once more gained popularity in the field. They are now bred as either working or show dogs. The former are smaller and lighter.

The Clumber differs from other members of the spaniel family, being slower, heavier and lower to the ground. Originally a pack hound, it is a silent hunter and a first class retriever.

Rosamund Walters.

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