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A Note To The Prospective Clumber Spaniel Owner

To be blunt, the Clumber Spaniel is NOT the dog for everyone. He may look heavy and slow, but there is nothing slow about him in either movement or thought. The long body is perfectly designed for perusing the very far reaches of your kitchen counters.

This particularly irritating habit is known in Clumber circles as counter surfing. Nothing is safe from their single minded pursuit of that which you have deemed not for them. They are also inventive souls, pulling open kitchen cabinet drawers to provide steps to kitchen countertops, and yanking open refrigerator doors to help themselves to the goodies inside. They have been found asleep on the kitchen table when their owners have returned home, having pulled out a chair to ease their way to forbidden territory.

The Clumber's coat is described as silky and straight, not too long, and extremely dense. It could also be described as being everywhere in your home, especially migrating to the darker hues, it prefers to accent black. Former dust bunnies will graduate to being dust dinosaurs as soon as you acquire a Clumber. That coat will also harbour deciduous leaves, evergreen needles, twigs, burrs, briars, pebbles, and the occasional hitch-hiking insect. Former specks of dust, barely visible, will become mountains of dog hair and debris. While most breeds shed twice a year, Clumbers shed constantly, forever replenishing that luxurious coat.

The Clumber has a large and massive head, and an overhung upper lip. This lip works quite effectively as a slingshot for slobber, or slime, if you prefer. Every Clumber owners' home has walls and sometimes ceilings decorated with glistening stalactites of slime. Each head shake means new deposits, and they have the habit of finishing a drink of water and shaking that head, exactly one step ahead of your arrival with a towel to wipe the excess from their lips. That same massive head also contains very powerful jaws, known to reduce furniture to splinters, shred shoes and clothing to wet lumps of indistinguishable material, and devour anything deemed edible. Therefore, all that may harm him must be kept out of his reach, and then some.

The Clumber, as a breed, is fairly healthy, but they do have problems that can be disheartening to the novice owner. First and foremost would be hip dysplasia. With this disease the ball of the femur does not fit quite properly in the socket of the hip. The severity is determined by the sloppiness of the fit. Very few Clumbers will pass the O.F.A.(Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) scrutiny. In England only the Otterhound has a worse record for dysplasia. The disease can be eased by keeping the young Clumber lean, that cute, pudgy puppy is a no-no, and never permitting the adult to become overweight. Regular exercise and careful diet management are a must.

Those soulful eyes are another source of problems, mainly entropion and ectropion. Entropion is the rolling in of the eyelid allowing the eyelash to touch or scratch the cornea. Ectropion is the rolling out of the eyelid, providing a pocket for debris and thereby infection. Both can be corrected by surgery, but C.E.R.F.(Canine Eye Registration Foundation) tested and registered parents are your best bet for a clear eyed puppy.

The ear canal is another incubator for bacterial growth. The ear canal must be kept clear of wax, and should be cleaned with cotton balls at least once a week. Trimming the hair short around the outer ear canal to increase air flow is also beneficial.

Hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid has been on the increase, but can be treated effectively with synthetic thyroid tablets.

If, after all this you are still considering the Clumber Spaniel, know that you will be rewarded with a kind and loving animal, whose only purpose in life is to please its' owner. Because of their superb temperament they love children, are willing workers in obedience, track like bloodhounds, and are one of the great bird dogs of the modern era. It was our choice and we have never regretted it.

John and Judy Darling


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