More Than a Window into the Soul

The Clumber Spaniel’s “work place” is extremely heavy undergrowth thick with bramble, briars and thickets. What would deter most other dogs will not phase the Clumber who merely fights her way through the interference to get her bird.

And therein lies the explanation for the Clumber Spaniel’s specialized “peepers.” Eyes may be windows to the soul, but if one perceives sadness in the Clumber Spaniel, they would be incorrect. The breed’s expression is due largely to the diamond or “v” shape of the eyes,  and the fact that they show “haw,” the nictitating membrane, or inner eyelid of the dog, and a breed characteristic.  This unique eyelid shape serves to flush out any debris that has gotten into the dog’s eyes from his working environment of heavy brush. Had the dog a tight, more traditional shaped eyelid, debris would stay in the eye causing irritation until someone washed out.  The Clumber’s heavy brows, designed to help cover the eyes, help ensure that while pushing her way through heavy vegetation, the dog’s eyes are safe and comfortable.

This fact doesn’t keep uninformed “do-gooders” from leveling unkind (and ignorant) charges that the dog has something wrong with its eyes. While a condition known as ectropion is sometimes seen, one shouldn’t confuse the normal, diamond shape of the breed’s lower lid with that condition. A properly shaped Clumber lid will often be looser than other breeds, and the haw often shows. Period. The proper lid, while loose, shouldn’t roll in or out, and drooping isn’t unusual because Clumbers are supposed to have a lot of loose skin on their heads and faces.

We’ve read that in the course of writing and rewriting the standards, there was fair amount of controversy (among dog people? shocking) because there were different opinions on the presence of haw, and how much was too much. In the end, it was decided that a moderate amount of haw was necessary to fix breed type.

Image: “Clumber Spaniel” by DJ Rogers – k9artgallery

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