Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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An incredibly rare breed, the Clumberton is a mix of two relatively unpopular breeds; the Clumber Spaniel and the Bedlington Terrier. Why exactly the two parent breeds are not more widely seen is difficult to say for sure, but there are theories. It is likely that some may find the Clumber Spaniel (who is the largest of all of the Spaniels) to be too large and may struggle to cope with its drooling, snoring and shedding. When it comes to the Bedlington Terrier, it could be its feisty nature and destructive tendencies that put potential owners off.

The Clumberton will look like a leaner and less robust version of its Clumber Spaniel parent and comes in a wider variety of coat colours. Dogs tend to enjoy spending time with their own families but take a lot of encouragement and socialisation to warm to new people. Clumbertons are quite intolerant of being pushed about and, as such, are not the best choice for the younger family.

About & History

The Clumberton could potentially be bred to take advantage of the better traits of its parent breeds and to ‘move away from’ their less desirable characteristics. Similarly, cross-breeding can improve the health of the progeny when done responsibly. Though we do not know when the Clumberton first came to be, there is plenty to be learned about them from the interesting history of both their Spaniel and their Terrier parent.

The Clumber Spaniel

Clumber Spaniels are recognised by the Kennel Club within their Gun Dog Group and, while British, are rarely seen today even within their home country. They were first established during the late 1700s in Clumber Park, Nottingham. It was the Duke of Newcastle that is credited with originally developing the breed.

He was searching for a steady hunter that could keep pace even in thick undergrowth and who was also able to swim. Breeds, such as the Basset Hound and the now extinct Alpine Spaniel are thought to have been used in their development. On top of their strength, Clumber Spaniels were bred for their keen sense of smell and ability to track prey. Classed as a vulnerable native breed, without a distinct effort, it is quite possible that the Clumber Spaniel will soon become extinct.

The Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terriers are well-loved for their close resemblance to lambs, thanks to their long faces and curly, white or grey fur. They come from Newcastle Upon Tyne, a city in the North East of England where they originated in the 18th century. Though small, they were successfully used to hunt a range of prey including badgers and foxes.

While records are lacking, experts agree that breeds, such as the Whippet and the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier were used in their creation. Though not as uncommon as the Clumber Spaniel there are less than 500 pedigree pups registered a year with the Kennel Club in the UK. It’s likely that many dogs are simply not being registered but there is no denying that it is rare to see a Bedlington Terrier nowadays.


The Clumberton may inherit genes from either its Spaniel or Terrier parent so it can be tricky to predict their appearance and there is a good deal of variation from pup to pup, even within the same litter. However, as a general rule, they are more slender and petite than their Clumber Spaniel parent and have a longer, more streamlined face. Their brown eyes are small and relatively shrunken in their face. They have pendulous ears that sit close to their skull and are often covered in dense fur. Their tail is medium to long and should not be docked.

Once mature, the Clumberton weighs roughly between 16kg and 20kg, making them significantly smaller than their heavy Clumber Spaniel parent. They measure from 40cm to 44cm, so are a similar height to the Bedlington Terrier once fully-grown.

The coat of the Clumberton is not particularly long but is dense and thick, meaning it is prone to matting. Most breed members have wavy fur though, for some, it can form into tight curls. White and grey tend to be the predominant coat colours but patches of lemon and brown are sometimes seen.

Character & Temperament

When it comes to making friends, the Clumberton is not the quickest to catch on. Indeed, many are aloof and prefer to spend time around their closest family only. As they are wary of new people it is especially important that a big effort is made to socialise them thoroughly from a young age. Most will develop strong attachments with their immediate family members and will show them a good deal of affection.

Prospective owners should be aware that Clumbertons are not especially tolerant of younger children and can become snappy if not given enough space. Due to this, they must be introduced to children when they are still puppies and clear boundaries need to be set from the beginning. Interactions should always be supervised and it is important to use tools, such as baby gates and crates, to allow for a safe environment within the home for both the children and the dog.

No surprise given their history, the Clumberton has retained many of its hunting instincts and still enjoys having a good sniff and tracking down prey. They are usually an alert breed and will happily patrol their territory, keeping it ‘safe’ from unwanted intruders.


Smart but not always a willing training partner, the way to ensure quick results is to always have food treats nearby! Most Clumbertons will be highly food-driven and will respond best to positive reinforcement that tastes good. Implementing discipline from a young age can help to prevent any unwanted behaviours, such as anxiety or snappiness.


With a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, these are not the longest-lived dogs and there are a number of potential health issues that they can suffer from.


Eyelids that fold inappropriately inwards can cause chronic eye inflammation and discomfort. Thankfully, this condition can easily be corrected surgically. For most, they will need the eyelids of both eyes to be operated on and the sooner this is done the less risk that secondary complications, such as eye ulcers, will develop.

Hip Dysplasia

Mal-formed hips are a common issue in a large number of both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs. As signs tend to show up from a young age (less than a year old), owners should be on the lookout for any abnormal gait in their puppies.

X-rays can easily diagnose the condition. As is true for many health issues, prevention is always better than cure and we should be aiming to only breed from those dogs that are not affected by this debilitating orthopaedic disorder.

Copper Accumulation

A disease that is particularly prevalent within the Bedlington Terrier community, all breeding parents on this side of the family should be genetically screened to prevent it from being passed on to the Clumberton. It is the liver that is mainly affected and where the highest levels of copper are found.

Females are affected most often. The copper within the liver leads to cirrhosis and an inability to perform its basic functions. Most cases can be managed with diet change and copper binders alone.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While it’s true that both parent breeds are from working stock, the Clumberton has only moderate activity requirements and can get by just fine on a few short walks a day. They can be kept in most homes and do not require an abundance of space.

These dogs love to use their noses and should be allowed to sniff on a daily basis both indoors and out. Not only does this provide some exercise, it also stimulates their brains and makes for a more contented dog.


The most important aspect of grooming when it comes to the Clumberton is their ear care. Owners need to be prepared to check ears on a daily basis and clean them out as needed (typically once a week). Neglecting to do this can result in a chronic infection that is hard to treat and will cause a great deal of discomfort for the dog.

Brushing their coat every few days helps to keep it in good condition. Most will benefit from a professional grooming three or four times a year on top of this.

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