This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
The field Spaniel is distinguished from the toy dog by his propensity to hunt game, and by his size and strength, which are sufficient to enable him to stand the work which is required in making his way through the briars and thorns of a thick covert, where he is chiefly employed. Although not used for water, where the water spaniel is pre-eminent, his coat must be of such a thick nature as to bear long continued wet, inasmuch as he is generally soaked with it, either from the snow on the briars, or from moisture hanging to them in drops, caused either by rain or dew. Hardihood, therefore, is essential, and though a little dog may possess it, there are few instances of anything under 12 or 14 pounds being able to stand the wet and labor of a day's covert shooting. The nose of the spaniel must be exquisite, or he will be unfit to perform his duties, which require him to follow out the pheasant, woodcock, or hare, to the well-concealed retreat in or under a thick bush, which either of them may have chosen.
A good and somewhat musical tongue was, by the old school of sportsmen, considered a desideratum, in order not only to give notice that the dog is on game, but also the particular kind which he is "questing," and which many good spaniels enable their masters to distinguish by a variation in their notes. Formerly this was thought so important, that if a spaniel happened to be mute, he was hunted with a bell round his neck, as is sometimes done with the setter when used in covert. In the present day, a very fashionable breed (the Clumber) is invariably mute; but as these dogs are chiefly used in aid of the battue, there is not the same necessity for them to give notice of their approach, as in the case of spaniels used either in wild-phea-aant shooting, or for cocks, hares, or rabbits. It will therefore ap pear, that, for every kind of covert shooting but the battue, we require a strong useful spaniel, capable of bearing exposure to the weather, and neither too large for the runs, nor too small to bear work. Added to these qualities, we want an exquisite nose, and a musical but not noisy tongue, which is all the more valuable if it will distinguish by its note the various kinds of game.
These dogs must also be readily kept under command, and must not be inclined to hunt far away from the shooter, or so fast as to prevent his following them. For various purposes a vast number of breeds have been established, more or less resembling each other, and a good many of them being now extinct, in consequence of the diminish-ed demand for their services since the introduction of battues and their attendant preserves, by which, as a matter of course, wild covert shooting is rendered much more scarce. All the spaniels have a marked down carriage of their tails, which they work rapidly when on game, but should never raise above the level of their backs. All these various breeds may, however, be arranged under two leading divisions; one known as the "Springer," and including the Sussex, Clumber, and Norfolk Spaniels, besides several others confined to their respective localities; and the other called "the Cocker," from his being chiefly used for woodcocks, though also good for general purposes.
The King Charles and Blenheim originally belonged to the second division, but they are now kept and bred for toy purposes only.
The Springer has a most tender and discriminating nose, is very tractable, and therefore easily kept in command. As has been already remarked, some are mute (as the Clumber), while others throw their tongues, as, for instance, the S;ssex and the Norfolk. All the springers are heavy and slow as compared with the cockers, and most of them soon tire, three or four hours' work being about a good average day's work. Hence, they are scarcely adapted for beating large and wild woodlands, and for this reason they are seldom used for cock-shooting excepting in small coverts frequented by this bird, and highly valued by the sportsman.
The Clumber Spaniel, which for a long time was confined to the Newcastle family, but has lately become very fashionable, is a remarkably long, low, and somewhat heavy dog. In weight he is from 30 to 40 lbs. Hight 18 to 20 inches. The head is heavy, wide, and full, the muzzle broad and square, generally of a flesh color. Nostrils open, and chops full and somewhat pendent. Ears long, and clothed with wavy hair, not too thick. Body very long and strong, the back ribs being very deep, and the chest being very round and barrel-like, the ribs at the same tine being so widely separated from each other, as to make the interval between them and the hips small in proportion to the great length. Tail bushy, but not at all woolly, the hair being waved only, not curled. It is generally cropped. Shoulders rather heavy and wide apart, arms short but strong, elbows not very well let down, fore arms strong, with plenty of bone, good knees, and strong useful round feet, but not very well up in the knuckles. The legs should be well feathered, and the feet hairy.
The hind legs are rather straight, and should, like the fore legs, be short, so that the dog altogether has rather a weasely appearance, but the body being considerably stouter in proportion than that animal's. The coat is very thick, but should be silky and wavy, not curled, except in the feather-ings, which are long and well marked. Color, yellow and white, or, as is most highly prized, lemon and white. This dog is almost invariably mute. The portrait given of Mr. R. J. LI. Price's Bruce may be regarded as a good type of the breed.
Fig. 18. - CLUMBER SPANIEL, BRUCE.