Buying a Clumber Spaniel Puppy

Buying a Clumber Spaniel Puppy

(The W’s of looking for a Clumber Puppy)


The first question, why a Clumber Spaniel? You do realise they slobber shed and snore, if you are remotely house-proud, then Clumber Spaniels are not the dog for you.

So, the first thing you should do is decide if a Clumber Spaniel suits your lifestyle. There are several events through the year – look for “Kennel Club Discover Dogs” where you can meet a Clumber Spaniel in the flesh, talk to the owners and come away with slobber and white hairs on your clothes!

Why is this appearing to be so negative? Well Clumber Spaniels are a native vulnerable breed. Native because they hail from Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire; and Vulnerable because there are less than 300 puppies born every year, so breeders want to be certain that their precious offspring will not find themselves somewhere they are not wanted because they don’t suit the owner’s lifestyle and either get passed on, passed back to the breeder or find themselves in Rescue.

So, research, research, research and reading this article is a good start


Patience is a virtue and with such a low number born every year, you may well have to wait for the right puppy, if you are searching and one is offered – you are either lucky or be suspicious!

WHAT (Working or Show?)

The Clumber Spaniel is a gundog, but like all species, some show better traits than others!  There are breeders who work their dogs, breeders who both show and work and those who just show. Just because breeders don’t work their dogs, doesn’t mean that they will not have any working instinct, they all do to some extent, it just needs bringing out!

The Kennel Club has a Breed Standard for the Clumber Spaniel, this describes the “perfect” Clumber Spaniel in words. If you start looking at the UK Clumber Spaniel population you will observe that in some areas there has been some divergence from that standard and some of the working lines are much lighter than the breed standard suggests.  What Clumber Spaniel you decide to buy is of course your decision; however the Clumber Spaniel has been bred to go through the heavy undergrowth and as such has short muscular legs and a strong neck. They work the ground slowly (compared to Springers and Cockers) but methodically. This also means that if a Clumber Spaniel does not want to move, you will not be able to persuade it physically! (If of course you can persuade your Clumber it was its idea, it will gladly move in the direction you want!)

WELLBEING (Health Tests)

The Clumber Spaniel has had a number of health issues with hips and eyes, by careful breeding, these problems have been reduced and poor hips and loose eyes are much less prevalent. There is also a hereditary issue of PDP1, although only one carrier has ever been detected in the UK, but the PDP1 test is mandated by the Kennel Club if puppies are to be registered. 

Of more concern, Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC), Incomplete Ossification of the Humeral Condyle (IOHC) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) have recently come more to the fore. Details of each of these issues can be found in the Clumber Spaniel Health UK knowledgebase and brief details of each follow:

Both parents should have had their hips scored and will have been given a hip score - a high hip score is not favourable. Clumber spaniels can be affected by hip dysplasia.

There are some eye conditions that you should be aware of within the breed.

PDP-1 is not a common condition in the UK, as noted above.

EIC is a condition every potential owner should be aware of before the purchase of a puppy. It is a recessive genetic condition and you should check that both parents are tested so that you are aware of what status your puppy may be. Whereas a carrier will never have the symptoms of EIC, if you are looking to breed your puppy in the future, you may want to consider finding a puppy that is EIC clear at this stage.

IOHC is a horrific condition that affects the elbow(s). The end of the upper arm bone does not fuse properly and not only could your dog have mild intermittent lameness, there is also a risk of elbow fracture with minor trauma. There is no genetic test for this condition but the breeder should be aware of any elbow fractures in their lines.

PRA is a condition that may be in the breed as a late onset. There is a genetic predisposition for it but this has not been fully researched.

Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI)

Finally, you need to be find out what the Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) of the proposed mating will be. Any good breeder will be able to tell you. It is possible for you to do it as well, all you need are the registered names of the Sire and Dam and to put them into the Kennel Club COI calculator – you can also get details of any health tests that have been sent to the KC as well.

The current CoI for Clumber Spaniels is 17.9, so any proposed mating should be at worst at that figure, but really should be much less. 


As well as being patient (WAIT) expect to have to travel. Sometimes a long way, even just to talk to the breeders. There are a number in the UK, litters are not that frequent, and they are spread the length and breadth of the UK!

Chin WAG (struggling to get W’s now!)

It is essential that you meet the breeder and that they meet you before you decide if you would like to go on their Puppy List (or even if they are happy with you!)

Meet their dogs, meet the breeders, they will ask you lots of questions about your lifestyle, your plans and how you plan to look after the puppy. At the same time, you need to ask them about the Sire and Dam, the health tests they have performed ask to see the health test results or as stated earlier, use Kennel Club mate select Health Tests Finder and with the KC name they can be found and the CoI. Look at the temperament, Clumbers should be reserved, but not anxious. Some will be chilled, others full-on. What suits your family?

Ask the breeder about the Puppy Contract, read it carefully. Will there be any endorsements? If there are, what will you need to do to have them lifted (if you want them lifted!) 

Ask about “aftercare” – again, any good breeder will be willing to answer any of your questions after you have taken the puppy home, they should stay in touch for as long as required.

WINNER - Taking your Puppy Home

At a minimum your breeders should send you puppy home with a bag of the food that the puppy has been eating and the signed contract. That is probably the minimum, some breeders will also send the puppy home with;

  •  A piece of fleece the puppy has used (familiar smells);
  •  A toy the puppy is familiar with;
  • Water to reduce the risk of a tummy upset. By mixing the water puppy is used to, gradually converting them to your home water.


Don’t be surprised if you puppy is unsettled for the first few nights, it has been taken away from everything it knew that was familiar. I am not saying that you will not love it, but the puppy has to understand that and there may be a few broken nights. But it WILL pass! Remember, though it is your home, it is all new and unfamiliar to your puppy.

If there are any issues, contact your breeder, they should be your first port of call. Because they are a rare breed, very few veterinary surgeons are familiar with them and before anything drastic is performed, speak to your breeder!


I hope this hasn’t put you off Clumbers, that wasn’t the idea, more the “Eyes Wide Open” so you know that what you are going to get – a lovable snoring, shedding and slobbery companion that will do everything you ask of it (as long as it was what it was planning to do) and give you lots of love and cuddles in return.

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