The English Flush

The Clumber Spaniel is the largest of the AKC flushing spaniels, a dog bred especially for working “under the gun” while hunting partridges, pheasants, and ducks.  These dogs are methodical workers who inspect every bush, and when a bird is located, a Clumber will get in closer and freeze long enough for the hunter to notice and reach for the safety before the dog pounces hard to flush the bird. 

Europeans call this an “English Flush,” and while some people also refer to this as a “hesitation flush,” the latter is more descriptive of a Clumber that slows down and stalks a bird like a cat if a bird doesn’t make a lively break from cover. Both behaviors are common in spaniel breeds that have their hunting roots in England, and Clumbers have it naturally; some experts believe this is a throwback to the “original breed type” when shotguns weren’t as powerful or accurate as they are today, and dogs worked in a line through the brambles. Birds were sometimes injured, not dead, and Clumbers came to approach every bird as if it was wounded, but with every intent of catching it.  Even today, Clumbers often find the bird that other breeds miss.

Many hunters value this trait as it gives them time to prepare for the shot, and some owners have reported their dogs trying to bat down a flushing bird with their feet and pin it to the ground resulting in a dispatched bird with no marks on it.  

Image: Clumber Spaniel print from 1906 by Vernon Stokes is offered here by Ginny, owner of plaindealing

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