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