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Time is running out for the true working Clumber spaniel. Equally so for all minority breed spaniels, although some will arrive at their extinction by a different route from others.

Perhaps the easiest to understand is the road chosen by those who maintain that a successful working dog can be produced from a dual-purpose show and working strategy. Unfortunately, most are quickly defeated by the inbuilt conflict, accompanied by the sound of crashing between two stools. There are exceptions of course, and where they are evident, we have invited them into our working minority breed spaniels tent. Janey Sutherland is an obvious example, and her kennel of Welsh Springers feature in our member’s page.

The plight of the Clumber spaniel is not so simple. Long divided from their show counterparts the working dog has diversified to such an extent that they appear to be two separate breeds. The working contingent can be seen mainly in the Working Clumber Spaniel Society, and this bold move by James Darley almost 40 years ago has indeed produced a ‘working type’ of Clumber more inclined to take its ‘standard’ from authentic Victorian paintings of the working dog than a KC standard which still needs an urgent update.

We continue to support the Working Clumber Spaniel Society (WCSS) and its aims. However, the improved health of the breed (hips, eyes and trainability) presents its own challenges. Many prospective Clumber owners are seeking out the working type as healthy pets, and the lack of a robust selection of members naturally leads to relaxation against the Society’s original hard-core objectives. Whilst one could not say this is necessarily harmful to the breed, it changes the nature of the working type over time.

For that reason, The Clumber Spaniel Gundog Club (CSGC) is born, not to divide but to amplify the voice of those who are interested primarily in the working ability, and therefore trainability, of the lines of those breeders and handlers aiming for the Clumber (and always of other minority breed spaniels) which can offer excellence in its work. But how is this to be done?

With most Clumber handlers happy to settle for a standard often woefully inadequate at the side of the mainline Cocker and Springer Spaniels we see that the skilled spaniel handler is not attracted to a Clumber. The problem is that there are all too few such handlers within WCSS and the Society does little to encourage them. Sometimes the reverse. The vast majority of Clumber owners do not have Cockers or Springers and many fail to even appreciate the standard now demanded in field and competition.

Clumbers from some key lines are now showing that, without losing their Clumber working style, they can be effective hunting animals, far more capable than their current image suggests. CSGC aims to get good Clumbers into the right hands and encourage high level Cocker and Springer handlers to bring their knowledge to keen Clumber handlers. It’s the obvious next step along a road to salvation and there is no time to waste. Parkforth and Huddlestone have brought Paul Matthews and Roy Ellershaw to the breed with huge effect. We want more, the breed deserves it.

That is why The Clumber Spaniel

Gundog Club was formed.

John Smith-Bodden 1st October 2022

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