Our Clumbers
HPB Removal

HPB List Removal

Maureen Taylor was the Breed Note writer for Clumber Spaniels in Dog World and continues to produce her notes following the closure of the paper in June 2017.  She is always pleased to receive messages from around the world from avid readers of her column.  

Maureen looks forward to hearing from you.

Maureen with Fathom (English Setter) and Noggin (Clumber Spaniel)

Maureen wrote in Dog World about the removal of the Clumber Spaniel from the High Profile Breed List in September 2014:


DOG WORLD’s breed note writer Maureen Taylor said: "To say that Clumber owners are feeling ecstatic right now would certainly be an understatement; no more will the judge’s choice for best of breed be subjected to the veterinary tests that first hit our breed with such a bang at Crufts 2012.

  "Those who have undergone the vet check and had the stomach-churning fear that they may fail for some obscure reason will now no longer have to worry. That first of these checks took place at Crufts 2012 when Lana Levai’s much health tested Clumber Multi Ch Chervood Snowsun (Boom) failed, leading to considerable uproar not just from the Clumber benches but also from around the gundog group as people were stunned by the decision, particularly as Boom had been given very high honours by some of the finest judges in the UK and elsewhere earlier in her career.

  "You only need to count the number of national titles held by Boom to understand the shock that this veterinary opinion caused. I know that Lana was very upset and mystified by the decision, and she received messages of support from Clumberites around the world.

  "The first Clumber to pass one of the tests was Paul and Hilda Monaghan’s Tweedsmuir Dambuster, who is now a show champion. He passed the test more than 20 times and holds the distinction, we now know, of being the last dog to pass it. He was also the only other dog to fail it having gone lame after judging at National Gundog last month.

  "I am still confused as to when the criteria for being on this list changed. When the tests were introduced – much, it has to be said, to the surprise of Clumber exhibitors – we were told that all breeds with ‘excesses’ would be tested. In our case there was a suggestion of too much haw, frown, being too heavy and lameness, and yet the latest Kennel Club edict announcing that the tests are no longer needed says that it is because breeders have improved the health of our breed. To do this in just over two years is a remarkable achievement given the time it takes for breeding changes to have any real impact. Many of the dogs who were in the show ring in 2012 are still being campaigned successfully. Equally, many of those dogs whose names appear in the Breed Records Supplement along with their progeny are not from what may necessarily be called ‘show’ backgrounds.

  "As a breed we had no idea from where the KC amassed its information on the Clumber’s excesses. Accordingly, as I understand it, our health co-ordinator Carol Page and her health sub-committee went out to prove that the KC information was wrong. A survey to assess the weight of Clumbers was sent out, with the eventual results disproving the assumption that our dogs were all overweight or obese, although admittedly the weight of Clumbers did get out of hand back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. A number of us in the breed, however, had already taken steps to rectify this. Inevitably, there will be the occasional Clumber who is overweight as that appealing look and expression does get them the odd tidbit here and there, but then just take a look around the show rings where in most of them the odd overweight dog can be seen.

  "Although as a breed we do not have eye problems, everyone was encouraged to have their Clumbers eye tested and clinics at the Clumber Spaniel Club shows were organised; the results were then logged with the KC, and these showed that on the whole the breed had healthy eyes.

  "The Clumber is a minority breed but we have for years had a significant number of dogs being hip scored in comparison with other numerically larger breeds. Carol collated all the data on hip scores proving the vast improvement that had been made with regard to our scores over the last five to ten years. Many are now also elbow scoring. There was a good take-up for the PDP1 test which was brought in a number of years ago, again proving there was not a problem with this condition in dogs in the UK.

  "The Clumber Spaniel Club also encouraged members to keep down the breeding coefficients, something that we responsible breeders had already been doing for years. All in all, the breed has jumped through hoops to prove beyond doubt that we are serious with regard to the health of our Clumbers. Responsible breeders have been doing all that is physically possible to ensure their stock remain healthy and this is certainly not just a factor from the last two years. Those of us that care about the breed had already seen that work needed to be done and set about doing so well before the veterinary tests hit the show scene.

  "Many, me included, still believe that the KC’s badly-timed and knee-jerk reaction to a certain TV programme, which resulted in the high-profile breed list, was simply wrong. What the actual status of all of these high-profile breeds is in all probability anybody’s guess; in many breeds, a good chunk of the numbers bred are by people who do not show and are not members of a breed club.

  "My view is firmly that the vet tests have had no bearing whatsoever on the positive improvements we have seen in our breed – after the first failure at Crufts, and only one failure on a trivial issue since that time, there is surely little real evidence to go on. In addition, the number of Clumbers assessed by judges in the show ring provides an even smaller cross-section of the breed, particularly in our case as the breed has seen a significant fall-off in terms of the numbers entered at shows.

  "It remains to be seen if numbers being shown increase now we are no longer subject to the test. Sadly, we know of people who have left the breed and who are unlikely to return; that in itself is a great loss for the breed and a direct consequence of the tests.

  "Still we Clumberites are happy although I for one will save my celebrations until the vet tests cease for all breeds and we get back to a situation where the decision of the judge is final. In the meantime, those of us who truly care and are responsible and dedicated will continue to breed healthy Clumbers. Yes there will always be some who slip through the net, but the breed clubs cannot police all breeders.”

  Lana Levai, who lives in Croatia, said she was bitterly disappointed when Boom failed the check at Crufts ’12 following her bitch’s success in England and Europe.

  "She had been very popular with British judges and had won many groups and bests in show,” she said. "Two months before Crufts she had won a group in Italy under Frank Kane, who was BIS judge at Crufts that year and had been awarded by John Triwell who judged the group that year.

  "We had had all the vet checks carried out on Boom. She had been eye tested, hip scored and tested for PDP1, then a vet who’s not a breed specialist decided all of us – owners, breeders, judges and vets – are stupid! I was interviewed by DOG WORLD and I said I would never come to Crufts again. But then I saw how much support I had – from exhibitors, breeders and the Canine Alliance – even people from other breeds. So I decided that the best thing would be for all of us to stick together and fight. And I returned to Crufts the following year with Boom’s son who won BOB and passed his vet check. Then we were very happy; the treatment we received from the vet and the KC was very different to the previous year.

  "So we will never forget the stress of 2012 but we will keep going. I still think the high-profile list is silly, but our results will show who was right and who was wrong!”