Showsight Presents The Clumber Spaniel


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1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, the Clumber Spaniel is currently ranked #143 out of 195 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement?

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I have been involved in the breed for more than 35 years. We are consistently in the bottom tier. I don’t see it ever changing and I am good with that. The breed is certainly always in jeopardy of extinction should breeders continue to move away from the sport. This is something we should all be wary of. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? They do both. Because the numbers are so low it helps with containing health issues and moving a breed forward with healthy stock. One must make good health choices to retain the breed’s original make and shape while working to constantly improve the health challenges of a heavy-set breed. Is there a preference for color/markings in the Clumber Span- iel? There is no preference. Breeders generally have preferences, but color is immaterial to me. Can I provide an example of the breed’s playfulness? This breed has a wonderful nature. They have been called the “Clown Prince of the Sporting Group” because of their silliness. The size, bulk, color and somewhat awkwardness of their shape make them a bit unusual. The Clumber can do it all, just on their own terms and with direction. The biggest misconception about the Clumber? Without ques- tion, the most misunderstood thing about the breed is their speed. They are deliberate in gait—they are not slow. It should be a sus- tainable gait, not a walking gait. For me, after all of my time show- ing this breed, I am insulted in being told to slow down when my dogs are able to sustain a reasonable trot around the ring. I can assure you, off lead in a field they are not walking around. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Our breed is somewhat fortunate in that when our dog won BIS at WKC in 1996, the public became well aware of the breed and was taken by them. This was a pivotal time in the breed as breeders were finally able to create a companion market for them. This win brought great awareness to them. This also allowed for breeders to breed more which helps to create more dogs to breed from and sort out qualities more desirable for the breed. You cannot improve a breed without numbers. Increasing the dogs to breed from allowed people to find better dogs to breed to. It was really the beginning of great change in the breed’s health. What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? Because the breed has a niche market, there is little effect so far. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Quality animals are filled with promise in the breed. Over time, as they grow, we can sort them on breed specific virtues. We rarely do much evaluating of show dogs before 12 weeks. Prior to this time you have a keeper list and a place list. Sorting the litter into two parts. The best two of each sex and the others. The others leave first. The top two (maybe three if you get lucky) are watched and grow up until the adult teeth come in at 20-25 weeks. We don’t approve of showing dogs with poor bites and so we are very hard on denti- tion. It is a curse on a breeding program and none should be shown. The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Our breed’s proportions are challenging and most judges are trained to a generic type of animal. Very few bother to learn the true specific traits which define the breed (the same is true with more breeders too). The taller, higher on leg animal with the shorter back tends to fool both breeders and judges alike. They are pretty on the move and carry a tighter profile moving. None of that appeals to me, our breed is low on leg and long in body. They are covered with a thick skin and hair that undulates on the move.

3. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? 4. Is there a preference for color/markings in the Clumber Spaniel?

5. Can you provide an example of the breed’s playfulness? 6. What is the biggest misconception about the Clumber? 7. Does the average person on the street recognize him for what he is? 8. What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? 9. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 10. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? 11. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport? 12. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 13. What is your favorite dog show memory? 14. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. DOUG JOHNSON

Breeding under the world- famous Clussexx prefix, he has pro- duced more than 200 Champion Clumber Spaniels, Sussex Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels, and Eng- lish Toy Spaniels. Clussexx dogs have won more than 150 Best in Show awards and 15 national spe- cialty wins across four breeds. Mr. Johnson holds the distinct honor of producing twoWestminster

Best in Show winners, and he is the only breeder of Westminster Best In Show winners in two different breeds. The winners are Clumber Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Country Sunrise, “Brady,” in 1996 and Sussex Spaniel Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, “Stump,” in 2006. Stump, a veteran at ten years, is the oldest dog to ever winBest in Show at Westminster. Mr. Johnson was awarded the American Kennel Club’s Sporting Breeder of the Year award in 2005, Judge of the Year Nominee for 2017, and a Winkie Award Winner for Breeder of the Year in 2019. He is a member of the Santa Barbara Kennel Club, Hoosier Kennel Club, The Bloomington Indiana Kennel Club, and a lifetime mem- ber of the Clumber Spaniel Club of America. A founder in the Canine Conservation movement, Mr. Johnson strives to be a voice for all breeders who work tirelessly to produce and promote their breed of choice. Advocating for dogs is a passion, but also a responsibility to insure the successful longevity of unique breeds. Together we must continue to foster the best breeding prac- tices to keep breeds from extinction. I live in Bloomington, Indiana, and I am the co-owner and operator of several medical and non-medical home care agencies; Elders Journey Home Care and Comfort Keepers.



puppy is the miniature of what the dog will be as an adult. I can’t tell you the number of wrong choices I would have made if I picked them at eight weeks of age. Head, bone and substance are there at eight weeks, but don’t see the length to height proportions that are so necessary to the breed come into play until the 12-14 week range. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Long and low, the first words in the General Description section of the standard. I gave the breed presentation at the Michigan Sporting Dog seminars for many years and getting the correct height to length proportions was always the hardest for the judges to train their eye for. The Clumber proportions are nine tall to eleven long and the length is measured from the withers. That makes for a breed that is significantly rectangular. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I’m the president of the Kalamazoo KC and we routinely ask this question at the board level and the membership level. We try to draw people into the club and to participate in any of the dog sport activities. It could be obedience, agility, scent work, track- ing or conformation, but just get them involved and exposed to the many wonderful things they can do with their dogs. My ultimate goal for the breed? To be a healthy breed that pet companion owners, performance activities owners and conforma- tion owners can be happy with. My favorite dog show memory? Winning Best In Sweepstakes at the 2004 National under British breeder judge Andy Shaw with owner-handled Ch Nexus Blind Faith. JAN A. SUTHERLAND I discovered dog shows at the early age of eight. My husband and I have been showing, hunting, training, and breeding Clumber Spaniels for over 25 years. This is a breed that is not for everyone. One of the first eight recognized by AKC, it is currently ranked #143 of 195. The rarity of the breed is what drew me to the Clum- ber. More often than not, the average person is confused as to what this long, low, substantial, white Spaniel-type animal is. Is it a large Cocker Spaniel, Saint Bernard mix, or Bassett Hound? Very seldom is it recognized as a Clumber Spaniel. And when you tell someone “Clumber Spaniel,” the most frequent response is “Oh, a Clumberland Spaniel!” This is where Meet the Breeds and Pet Expos come into play. I am a big supporter of educating the public as to how amazing these canines are. If you can live with hair, slob- ber, and wet kisses, this is the breed for you. They are comedians; they are full of life and energy. Clumbers can keep you smiling and entertained. I can come home after a long commute and stressful day to a waggy-tailed Clumber with a stuffed animal in its mouth. Although Clumbers are generally mellow, they’re more than couch potatoes. They can be amazingly athletic, not the slow-moving old- gentleman’s hunting dog as believed. They are highly animated, stylish in their own Winston Churchill way. These characteristics should translate in the show ring. The biggest misconception that some judges have is that this breed should be shown at the walk. In the field very seldom will you see a Clumber walking after being released to hunt. Clumbers hunt with gusto in the pursuit of birds. In order to demonstrate reach, drive, and Clumber roll, these ani- mals need to move out. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a race around the ring, but an extended trot as often seen in the field. The last thing I would like to mention about this breed is “sub- stantial” does not mean fat. Owners have a tendency to let these canines get overweight. Please, please do not do this. One of the biggest health issues is neck and back problems. Clumbers are long and low which will add extra load to the back and neck. By let- ting your pets get overweight, a cookie here a cookie there, you are decreasing their lifespan. Love your Clumbers with attention, not cookies.

They have a rolling gait with short legs and a wide, massive body. These are important breed specific qualities. My ultimate goal for the breed? I know I am leaving this breed better than when I started. The breed has made great progress in overall improvement. I hope to have people start to raise the bar and produce dogs that are correct to the breed standard in outline and body mass, but also have the genetic clearances we require for breed- ing. I would love to see more people concentrating on breeding to dogs that are clear in hip and elbow dysplasia. These are pretty basic tests, but our breed still struggles to get them all to pass in the same animal and then have them be the right shape with a perfect bite! JIM FANKHAUSER I acquired a show quality

Saint Bernard puppy in 1972 when I was 20 years old. I was involved with Saints for about seven years and then I took an absence from purebred dogs. I have been involved with Clum- bers using the Nexus prefix since 1994 and have been a breeder on over 100 American champions. I have also bred two national

specialty Best Of Breed winners. I have also been chosen by the membership to judge the Clumber national in 2007 and 2014. Cur- rently, I am the president of the Kalamazoo Kennel club and the Clumber Spaniel Fanciers of Michigan. I judge the Sporting Group, the Working Group and about 2/3 of the Herding breeds. My wife, Shirley, and I live out in the country in Schoolcraft, Michigan. I have been retired from the Pfizer Company for nine years. We live in a house that I built from the foundation up about 30 years ago. I have also taken up the hobby of model rail- roading in the last year and I am enjoying building this miniature transportation system. Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? Twenty years ago the breed was in the bottom 25% in registration and we are still there today, while our number of registered dogs per year has gone down. I’d like to see our numbers go up, but I don’t see it happening. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? Having less than 200 dogs registered a year keeps the breed with a very small gene pool and all the issues that go along with a small gene pool. Popular sire choices only add to the problem. Finding a dog you want to breed to is often a compromise. Is there a preference for color/markings in the Clumber Span- iel? The standard says a primarily white dog. The standard allows colored ears or not, color around the eyes or not, freckles on the muzzle and legs and as few body markings as possible. That gives the breed a lot of marking options on a “primarily white” dog. Given the choice between two dogs of otherwise equal qualities, I would go with the dog with less color. The biggest misconception about the Clumber? The Clumber is a gentleman’s Sporting dog and is a slower moving flushing Spaniel. That does not mean that he is not an athletic dog that can be moved at an easy going gait (not raced) around the ring. The Clumber does not need to be walked in the ring, as some judges do. Judges that insist that this breed be walked are 30 years out of date with our breed. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Not all. I love hearing back from owners about the many questions they get about what breed they have. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? There seems to be the belief in a lot of breeds that the eight week old


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By Cindy Brizes

I t is believed that the Clumber Spaniel was the result of cross- ing some form of the Alpine Spaniel and a type of Basset Hound. When training the Clumber, these traits can be seen and should be adjusted for. While many of the other Spaniel breeds will naturally stay close while hunting and take easily to the quartering pattern that is typical of many of other Spaniel’s hunting styles, the Clumber will rely much more on its nose. In a hunt test, you can often see a Clum- ber make a bee line to a bird that it had scented many yards away. And the long, low, sturdy build of the Clumber is perfect for pushing through the thickest cover, as it was bred for in England. While some of the other Spaniels may be hesitant to enter a thick patch of briars or underbrush, the Clumber will plow right in. I often tell potential Clumber Spaniels owners that while the Clumber Spaniel is

the couch potato of the Sporting Group, this is a relative term. While Clumbers do not have the energy of an English Springer Spaniel, the pointers, or the set- ters, that doesn’t mean it spends its life just laying around doing nothing every day. A well-bred Clumber Spaniel needs to be structurally sound enough to hunt thick fields of cover all day. In addition to structure, there are other traits that were bred into the Clumber to help it with the work it was meant to do — coat color and texture, amount of loose skin, and eye shape are some of these traits. Many new Clumber puppy owners are surprised at the amount of energy that a Clumber can have and, as with other sporting breeds, this energy needs to be channeled to keep it from becoming destructive. Clumbers can get bored doing the same activity over and over again so it can be a lot of fun for the dog and owner to try di ff er- ent venues. While I have trained and

competed with Clumbers in most AKC venues including conformation, obedi- ence, rally, tracking, hunting and agility, the Clumbers especially excel in tracking and hunting. Th ere aren’t many Clumbers that par- ticipate in obedience or agility but it can be done. Again, training needs to be struc- tured to work with the spaniel/hound background. At times, the Clumber can appear to su ff er from attention deficit dis- order. But, if you can keep the training interesting and minimize boring drills, you can excel in obedience and agility with a Clumber Spaniel. In tracking and hunting you can really see the superior nose and birdiness of the breed. You need a well-structured dog to compete in these events — a Clumber with the proper structure will have no prob- lem covering rough terrain in all types of weather to succeed in tracking and hunt- ing. Clumber puppies are quick learners

178 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2014

at tracking and can earn a Tracking Dog title before the age of one. For hunting, the Clumber should have an obedience foundation but then let them go and watch them hunt. While the Clumber doesn’t cover the field with as many steps as the other Spaniels, it has more than covered the field with its powerful nose. When working a hunt dead (lost bird) exercise, you just need to point a Clum- ber in the right direction, then stand back and wait for it to work the area until it finds the bird and then come trotting back with the bird. And finally, what is it like to live with a Clumber Spaniel. Th ey are characters! With that smooshy face and swishy walk, you can’t help but laugh at a Clumber. Th e down side is shedding which is done on a regular basis and then depending on the dog, there could be snoring or drool- ing. But, if you can live with the hair, you will have a wonderful, loving companion that loves to join you on your adventures and provide entertainment every step of the way. BIO Ms. Brizes began

showing Black and Tan Coonhounds in the late 1980s. After training and competing in con- formation and obedience with her

coonhounds, she acquired her first Clum- ber Spaniel in 2000. She began breed- ing Clumber Spaniels in 2009 and has produced Clumbers that have excelled in conformation and performance events. Ms. Brizes has trained and competed in multiple venues with her Clumbers including conformation, obedience, rally, agility, tracking and hunt tests. Some of her most notable achievements include Group placements, Award of Merit at the Clumber Spaniel Club of America (CSCA) National Specialty, BOB at American Spaniel Club, HIT at three CSCA Nation- al Specialties with two di ff erent Clumbers, obtaining Junior and Senior Hunter titles on three di ff erent Clumbers, and earning the CSCA Gable award for versatility with two di ff erent Clumbers.

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