CHAPTER XXV. THE SPORTING SPANIEL

All research so far has failed to carry their history back any further than the last quarter of the eighteenth century. About that time the Duc de Noailles presented some Spaniels, probably his whole kennel, which he brought from France, to the second Duke of Newcastle, from whose place, Clumber Park, the breed has taken its name. Beyond this it seems impossible to go: indeed, the Clumber seems to be generally looked upon as a purely English breed.

From Clumber Park specimens found their way to most of the other great houses in the neighbourhood, notably to Althorp Park, Welbeck Abbey, Birdsall House, Thoresby Hall, and Osberton Hall. It is from the kennels at the last-named place, owned by Mr. Foljambe, that most of the progenitors of the Clumbers which have earned notoriety derived their origin. Nearly all the most famous show winners of early days were descended from Mr. Foljambe's dogs, and his Beau may perhaps be considered one of the most important “pillars of the stud,” as he was the sire of Nabob, a great prize-winner, and considered one of the best of his day, who belonged at various times during his career to such famous showmen as Messrs. Phineas Bullock, Mr. Fletcher, Mr. Rawdon Lee, and Mr. G. Oliver.

There has been a great deal of lamentation lately among old breeders and exhibitors about the decadence of the breed and the loss of the true old type possessed by these dogs. But, despite all they can say to the contrary, the Clumber is now in a more flourishing state than it ever has been; and although perhaps we have not now, nor have had for the last decade, a John o' Gaunt or a Tower, there have been a large number of dogs shown during that time who possessed considerable merit and would probably have held their own even in the days of these bygone heroes. Some of the most notable have been Baillie Friar, Beechgrove Donally, Goring of Auchentorlie, Hempstead Toby, and Preston Shot, who all earned the coveted title of Champion.

The Field Trials have, no doubt, had a great deal to do with the largely augmented popularity of the breed and the great increase in the number of those who own Clumbers. For the first two or three years after these were truly established no other breed seemed to have a chance with them; and even now, though both English and Welsh Springers have done remarkably well, they more than hold their own. The most distinguished performer by far was Mr. Winton Smith's Beechgrove Bee, a bitch whose work was practically faultless, and the first Field Trial Champion among Spaniels. Other good Clumbers who earned distinction in the field were Beechgrove Minette, Beechgrove Maud, the Duke of Portland's Welbeck Sambo, and Mr. Phillips' Rivington Honey, Rivington Pearl, and Rivington Reel.

The points and general description of the breed as published by both the Spaniel Club and the Clumber Spaniel Club are identical. They are as follows:—

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HEAD—Large, square and massive, of medium length, broad on top, with a decided occiput; heavy brows with a deep stop; heavy freckled muzzle, with well developed flew. EYES—Dark amber; slightly sunk. A light or prominent eye objectionable. EARS—Large, vine leaf shaped, and well covered with straight hair and hanging slightly forward, the feather not to extend below the leather. NECK—Very thick and powerful, and well feathered underneath. BODY (INCLUDING SIZE AND SYMMETRY)—Long and heavy, and near the ground. Weight of dogs about 55 lb. to 65 lb.; bitches about 45 lb. to 55 lb. NOSE—Square and flesh coloured. SHOULDERS AND CHEST—Wide and deep; shoulders strong and muscular. BACK AND LOIN—Back straight, broad and long; loin powerful, well let down in flank. HIND-QUARTERS—Very powerful and well developed. STERN—Set low, well feathered, and carried about level with the back. FEET AND LEGS—Feet large and round, well covered with hair; legs short, thick and strong; hocks low. COAT—Long, abundant, soft and straight. COLOUR—Plain white with lemon markings; orange permissible but not desirable; slight head markings with white body preferred. GENERAL APPEARANCE—Should be that of a long, low, heavy, very massive dog, with a thoughtful expression.

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IV. THE SUSSEX SPANIEL.—This is one of the oldest of the distinct breeds of Land Spaniels now existing in the British Islands, and probably also the purest in point of descent, since it has for many years past been confined to a comparatively small number of kennels, the owners of which have always been at considerable pains to keep their strains free from any admixture of foreign blood.