Sussex Spaniel

Type: Gun Dog

Height: 13 - 16 inches.

Weight: 35 - 50 lbs.

Life Span: 11 - 12 years.

Litter Size: 5 - 6 puppies.

Country of Origin: Great Britain

Activity: Medium. The slow moving procedures of the breed may have led to other retrievers such as Labradors to become more popular.

Watch-dog: High. The Sussex Spaniel is more protective of its owners than the other spaniels.

Guard-dog: Medium


Description: The Sussex Spaniel is known as an excellent hunting companion. They are long and low, rectangular and with strong bones in appearance. Their expression is somber and serious. Unique to this breed is their rich golden liver color coat and a lower energy level than most spaniels. Joy Freer, the woman who kept the breed alive during the World Wars, stated, "There is no other animal which has his coloring except the lion..." The Sussex Spaniel is a small dog, only about 15 inches off the ground. They are too small for hunting rabbits, but love to hunt partridge and pheasant as they were once used for. If they are not hunted, they will find other birds, insects and mice to hunt. Sussex Spaniels have pendulous lips and long, low-set drop ears. Their fur is profuse, slightly wavy and heaviest at the legs, ears and tail. Although serious-looking, the Sussex is very easygoing and friendly. They will follow you around the house, as they have been referred to as a shadow. They are hard workers, protectors and singers. They enjoy being vocal and have been trained in the past to do so in order that a hunter will not lose them.  A good house dog and family pet, Sussex Spaniels are soft and affectionate with a placid outlook on life.

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Colors: Rich, golden liver shading to golden at tips of hairs, with the gold predominating. Dark liver or puce is undesirable.

Coat: Abundant, profuse and wavy, without a tendency to curl. It is an ample weather-resistant undercoat.

Temperament: Sussex Spaniels are determined and friendly. Easygoing and hard working, they will follow you around the house. They are also protectors and like to bark, making them a good watch dog. They are loyal and easy to train. Sussex Spaniels tend to attach to one person more so than a whole family. They are very devoted to their owners, and can be territorial of them. They like to

With Children: Yes, especially if raised with them.

With Pets: Yes, friendly, but may be bossy with other pets.

Special Skills: Field sports dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Regular grooming with a brush or comb is required to maintain the beautiful, shiny coat of the Sussex Spaniel. Keep ears clean, trim pads of feet. An owner of a Sussex Spaniel should make sure their ears and feet do not get caked in mud. Daily exercise is needed which should include a good walk on leash and the opportunity to play in a yard. Sussex Spaniels enjoy swimming and retrieval games. Sussex Spaniels have a mind of their own, but they are quick learners. Be consistent in your training. Early obedience training and socialization are important.

Learning Rate: Medium. Obedience - Low. Problem Solving - Low.

Special Needs: Grooming, socialization and training.

Living Environment: Sussex Spaniels can live outdoors as long as warm shelter is provided. They are best suited for a home with a fenced yard. An owner of a Sussex Spaniel must have time to groom and exercise them. The best owner for this breed would be someone living in a rural or suburban area.

Health Issues: Cardiac and liver problems, hip dysplasia, ingrown eyelashes, invertebral disc syndrome, and otitis externa (earaches).

History: Originating from Sussex in southern England, it is said they are a cross with the Clumber Spaniel and Bloodhound. Origination of the breed is given to Mr. A.E. Fuller of Rosehill Park, the county of Sussex in 1795. The Sussex Spaniel was mainly used to hunt partridge and pheasant. During the 18th century, the Sussex Spaniel was used as a field dog and had its beginnings here. In the 19th century it was used as a hunting dog on large estates. In 1862 the breed was first exhibited at Crystal Palace, London. At one point a larger breed named the Harvieston was developed from the same strain. This breed eventually became a progenitor of the Clumber Spaniel and the Bloodhound. During the devastation of the two World Wars, one woman earns the credit of helping the breed stay alive. This woman was named Mrs. Joy Freer. Mrs. Freer obtained ownership of a Sussex in 1923, and kept her membership until her death in 1984. She fed scraps to her eight Sussex Spaniels during the wars, and today nearly all of the modern Sussex attribute their origins to Mrs. Freer's eight spaniels. The breed had a small base to being anew, thus resulting in careful placement of each puppy in a good home. During the 1950s, a Clumber Spaniel was added to the Sussex lineage, and this helped improve the personality and bone structure of the breed. In the words of Joy Freer, "There is no other animal which has his coloring except the lion...[the Sussex] also have the same big bone and bit feet, and something of the same steady way of regarding you that a lion does."

First Registered by the AKC: 1878

AKC Group: Sporting Group

Class: Gun dog

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 8), KC(GB), UKC